Publishing | Intensive

Agent Master Class: Pitching & Publishing

Pitching & Publishing, led by literary agent Monika Woods, focuses on writing persuasive prose aimed at convincing people to read your work. We'll start theoretical and then apply our analysis of what's persuasive and what's not to your own writing: first day topics will include the idea of "selling" language, the basics of a pitch, and audience consciousness. On day two, we'll move on to pitching yourself, the tone of proposals, and finally, workshopping individual query letters. Students will walk away from this class with a workshopped query letter they're confident and excited to share with the world.

Day One:

- Intros

- Lecture on "selling" prose and the publishing landscape

- Monika's catalog copy show & tell

- Query letter basics

- Group interactive logline exercise

- Q&A

Assignments for next class:

- Writing the first draft of your own query letter for workshopping

- Finding good, contemporary catalog copy and finding catalog copy you think doesn't work for in-class analysis

Day Two: (Before this class, please submit your draft query letter to Monika for editing)

- Students' catalog copy show & tell

- Lecture on persuasion in unlikely places

- Social media spotlight

- Query letter workshop


- Personalized query letter feedback

- A workshopped query letter ready for submission

- A new awareness of the idea of "selling" prose

- A new perspective on self-promotion as a writer

- Greater familiarity with the way publishing does its business

Monika Woods

Monika Woods is a writer and literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. She is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course and has worked at Trident Media Group and InkWell Management, where she worked closely with leading voices in contemporary literature. Her interests include literary and commercial fiction and compelling non-fiction in food, popular culture, journalism, science, and current affairs. She lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, with her husband, son, and two cats.


"Monika Woods is as much of a genius in her writing as in her editing. She has a way of seeing huge potential in an unfinished manuscript and finding just the right bit of insight to make everything snap together. When I was ready to submit my book to publishers, she held my hand the entire way, pitching the book in a compelling and accurate way and offering insight into publishers’ comments."

Chelsea Martin client and author of CACA DOLCE

"Monika's sensitivity as a reader was instrumental in helping me understand what aspects of my novel were the strongest, and her skill as a writer ensured that those strengths were effectively communicated to the editor that acquired it."

Nick Mancusi client and author of the forthcoming novel THE RUINS

"Monika's help has been invaluable when it comes to distilling a full length story into the essence of what it is. She's generous and thoughtful in cutting to the heart of why a piece of fiction is important, and should be read. Any copy about my own work that she's written or helped me write has absolutely sparkled, and it often feels like she understands my work better than I do! Most importantly, she always manages to be true to the spirit of whatever story we're talking about, while also honing in on exactly the elements within it that will most grab a reader's attention, whether that reader is an editor or a potential book buyer. She's one of the most brilliant readers I've had the pleasure of encountering in twelve years of book publishing, and I trust her book recommendations inherently, both because they almost always check out, and because the way she describes them is irresistible. While I'm lucky enough to have Monika as my own agent, I also sometimes have the pleasure of being on the receiving end of a pitch from her, and I almost always end up cracking whatever she's sent me before day's end."

Caroline Zancan editor at Henry Holt, client, and author of LOCAL GIRLS and the forthcoming WE WISH YOU LUCK