Path to Publishing Panel: Does Social Media Really Sell Books?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020  – 6:00pm
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

Book Passage, SF Ferry Building, presents a powerful panel discussion of one of the most popular subjects generally introverted authors want to know about. WNBA-SF’s own Elise Marie Collins joins members of the Author’s Guild to clear up many of the myths and truths about social media for writers.

Presented with the Authors Guild and the Women’s National Book Association

Authors often hear that they should spend time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a half dozen other platforms building an audience for their writing. Handled adroitly, social media can prove to be a powerful tool. This panel discussion will cover specific examples of entranced audiences, signed deals, and careers launched from writers who have made social media work for them.


Laird Harrison
A genre nonconforming writer, Laird Harrison has published journalism and poetry, fiction and essays for magazines, literary journals, newspapers, book publishers, and websites, and worked in radio and video as well. He teaches at the the Writers Grotto.

Nayomi Munaweera
Nayomi Munaweera’s book Island of a Thousand Mirrors won the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize for the Asian Region. She found her agent and first publisher on Facebook.

Lyzette Wanzer
Lyzette Wanzer is a San Francisco writer, editor, and creative writing workshop instructor. Her work reflects the peri-racial, social, and economic experiences of African-Americans and others. She’s a true believer in LinkedIn, and has taught many workshops on that topic.

Elise Marie Collins
Elise Marie Collins has consulted with small businesses, authors, and alumni associations on social media marketing and believes that a social media plan should be intuitive, fun, and seamless. Helping students and clients form healthy lifestyle patterns is Elise Collins’ passion and life purpose. She has taught yoga for the past 20 years and is the author of several books on healthy living, including her latest, Super Ager: You Can Look Younger, Have More Energy, a Better Memory, and Live a Long and Healthy Life. Elise enjoys sharing yoga wisdom and current scientific research.

Nilofer Merchant
Nilofer Merchant, a tech executive of 25 years is now an author of 3 non-fiction books reshaping work to create more value by valuing each of us. Named one of the top 50 management thinkers of our time by Thinkers50, and top 10 HR thinkers by HR Magazine, Nilofer has given a TED talk that has been cited 300 million times.

Building a platform is now standard for all authors and writers. But what does this mean? Platform these days must include all forms of social media. Writers frequently and fearfully ask: Do you have to have a following to write a book? Yes and no! It NEVER hurts to develop your social media chops! The short answer: In general, social media cultivation helps you get traction, unless you’re lucky enough to have a book idea that catches on like wildfire.

Social media is like kindling for that fire. You put your ideas and see which ones light up! Social media is a great way to spread your ideas, bring fans on board, and spark conversations. 

Meet the Agents & Editors: Pitch-O-Rama 2020

Join us at our new venue in Noe Valley!
Bethany UMC Church
1270 Sanchez Street (at Clipper) SF, CA 94114

Saturday, March 21, 2020
8:00 am – 12:30 pm 

It’s Pitch-O-Rama PLUS!
Includes a continental breakfast and pre-pitch coaching.
$65 WNBA members, $75 Non-members
Men Welcome!
Limited to the first 60 ticketed attendees

Meet the Agents and Editors for Pitch-O-Rama Plus 2020!

These impressive publishing professionals bring years of experience and will provide advice, direction, and next steps for your literary project! 

Jim Azevedo is the marketing director at Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published ebooks, serving over 130,000 independent authors, publishers, and literary agents. Since 2008, Smashwords has helped authors around the world release more than 470,000 titles and distribute their work globally to top ebook retailers, subscription services and public libraries. Prior to joining Smashwords in 2011, Jim built his career in marketing & PR for high-tech companies. Although Smashwords is a self-publishing platform, Jim loves helping authors sharpen their pitches and book descriptions. He credits his journalism education when it comes to guiding authors, and himself, to “get to the point” with messaging. Jim is open to discussing all genres.

Peter Beren, formerly Vice President, Insight Editions, Publisher of Sierra Club Books, Publisher of VIA Books and an Acquisitions Editor for Jeremy Tarcher. Peter Beren is a literary agent and a book publishing consultant to authors and independent publishers. He is the founder of The Peter Beren Agency, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also author or co-author of eight books, including The Writers Legal Companion (Basic Books), California the Beautiful (Rizzoli) and The Golden Gate (Insight Editions). As a publishing consultant, Peter works with independent publishers, self-publishers, and authors to help them make the most of their publishing opportunities. He represents selected nonfiction projects as a literary agent to help authors obtain publishing contracts.

Karly Caserza, Associate Agent,  Fuse Literary, was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Northern California as a child. She obtained her Business Marketing degree and has been a Freelance Graphic Designer for over 10 years. In addition to designing a wide range of print and web promotional material for clients, Karly creates book covers for Short Fuse and promotional graphics for Fuse authors. Karly has a deep love for characters with a strong voice and seeks out stories she can get lost in. Diversity in genre fiction is a major bonus. She specializes in middle grade and young adult genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary).

Michele Crim is the West Coast literary agent for Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management, a boutique agency based in New York City. They represent authors such as Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Cal Peternell and Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma, and MBG recently signed Moby to do a cookbook for his new award-winning restaurant, Little Pine. They work with chefs, food, and lifestyle writers and also represent fiction and narrative nonfiction writers, worldwide. Among others, Michele now represents Yumiko Sekine, founder of the beloved international brand Fog Linen Work; Allison Arevalo, best-selling cookbook author with a new book, The Pasta Friday Cookbook, coming out in September of 2019; and Charleen Badman, James Beard nominee and celebrated chef-owner of FnB Restaurant and Bar in Scottsdale.

Suzy Evans (remote access only) is a literary agent, attorney, and author who holds a Ph.D. in history from UC Berkeley. In the adult market, she’s looking for narrative nonfiction, history, science, big idea books on controversial social issues, riveting, elegantly-written memoir (recent favorites include Barbarian Days and When Breath Becomes Air), self-help, parenting (bonus points for humor!) and small quirky books that make her smile and think about the world in new and surprising ways. On the children’s front, she’s seeking MG nonfiction, YA fiction that tackles difficult issues in bold, daring ways, and graphic novels that bring history, literature, and fascinating historical figures (think Socrates! Machiavelli! Hamilton!) to life. She’d also love to find a thriller that has “MOVIE!” written all over it. Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency 

Nancy Fish: In her long career in publishing, Nancy Fish has worked in almost every iteration of the book business. Having been publicity and marketing director for major houses including  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins and Pereus as welll as small indies, freelance publicist and copywriter, and bookseller at legendary shops on both coasts, Nancy now manages the Path to Publishing Program, and all the writers programs, at Marin County’s three-store treasure trove, Book Passage. Ask her about them. Nancy is open to discussing all genres.

Becky Parker Geist is CEO of Pro Audio Voices and has been in the audiobook industry since 1981. As an audiobook publisher and producer, Becky has produced and/or narrated hundreds of titles, helping authors leverage their content through audio – even if it is the first or only format of their book to get publishedTypically working with authors and publishers who are challenged in reaching their widest audience, the Pro Audio Voices team provides audiobook production, including complex and unusual projects, and the Audiobook Marketing Program™ to help authors increase their impact. Committed to leadership, Becky serves as President of Bay Area Independent Publishers Assoc. and a Chapter Leader of Nonfiction Authors Association.

Georgia Hughes is editorial director at New World Library, publisher of the Joseph Campbell Library and The Power of Now. She acquires and edits nonfiction books in the areas of spirituality, sustainability, animals, business, women’s issues, and personal growth. Recent acquisitions include Spiritual Envy by Michael Krasny, Dreaming the Soul Back Home by Robert Moss, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them by Allen and Linda Anderson, Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee, and The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner. 

Jan Johnson is Publisher Emeritus at Red Wheel Weiser & Conari Press acquiring select books for each imprint. Before launching Red Wheel/Weiser, Johnson worked at Tuttle Publishing, HarperOne (when it was known as HarperSanFrancisco), Winston/Seabury Press and as an independent book doctor, rewrite editor and editorial consultant for corporate and independent publishers. Johnson has worked on many bestsellers including Codependent No More, Random Act of Kindness, Oprah pick The Book of Awakening, and Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Brenda Knight began her career at HarperCollins, working with luminaries Paolo Coelho, Marianne Williamson and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Knight was awarded IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year in 2014 at the ALA, American Library Association. Knight is the author of Wild Women and Books, The Grateful Table, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. Knight is Editorial Director at Mango Publishing and acquires for all genres in fiction and nonfiction as well as children and photography books. She also serves as President of the Women’s’ National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter and is an instructor at the annual San Francisco Writers Conference.

Georgia Kolias is an Associate Acquisitions Editor with New Harbinger Publications, the foremost publisher in proven-effective psychology and personal growth books for adults and teens. Before joining New Harbinger, she worked in nearly every other aspect of the book world, including: literary management, publicity, book selling, the public library system, and teaching creative writing. She is actively acquiring books in the areas of psychology, self-help, spirituality, social justice, gift books, women’s issues, third phase of life, teen empowerment, spiritualism/occult, practically applied spirituality,  LGBTQ+ queer, and POC issues. She is always interested in work from authors who are emerging leaders in their fields and actively engaged with their potential readers. She welcomes proposals from LGBTQ+ queer, POC, and all other underrepresented voices interested in making positive change. Georgia holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Role Reboot, The Manifest-Station, and various anthologies. Her debut novel, The Feasting Virgin, will be published July 2020.

Lisa McGuinness is a twenty-five-year veteran of the publishing industry. As publisher of Yellow Pear Press, Lisa has worked in the editorial, sales, and production divisions during her tenure at Chronicle Books. In addition, as a writer, developmental editor, and project manager, she has worked on books for Running Press, Barefoot Books, Chronicle Books, and Accord Publishing, as well as custom publications for Starbucks, Gap, the Exploratorium, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Nordstrom. She has authored several books including Hoppy Trails,  Catarina’s Ring,  Meaningful Bouquets,  Caffeinated Ideas Journal, Bee & Me and Baby Turtle’s Tale (the later two co-authored under the pen name Elle J. McGuinness ), and The Dictionary of Extraordinary Ordinary Animals. She is the founder of Yellow Pear Press ( and acquires books in the categories of lifestyle, gift, self-help, inspiration, children’s and fiction. You can find her at

Laurie McLean, Partner, Fuse Literary, Laurie McLean spent 20 years as the CEO of a publicity agency and 8 years as an agent and senior agent at Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco. Following her stint as the CEO of a successful Silicon Valley public relations agency bearing her name, Laurie was able to switch gears in 2002 to immerse herself in writing. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the State University of New York and a Master’s Degree at Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School of Journalism. At Fuse Literary, Laurie specializes in adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, suspense, horror, etc.) plus middle-grade and young adult children’s books.

Randy Peyser sells non-fiction manuscripts in all genres and speaks nationally about how to get book deals. She also serves on faculty for CEO Space International where she teaches about writing book proposals. She is the author of: The Write-a-Book Program; Crappy to Happy as featured in the movie, Eat Pray Love; and The Power of Miracle Thinking. Her clients’ books have been in Oprah and Time Magazines, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller Lists, in airport bookstores, Office Max and FedEx/Office stores, and on Hallmark TV. Her work is featured in: Healing the Heart of the World; The Marriage of Sex and Spirit; Secrets of Shameless Self-Promoters; and the national bestsellers, Networking Magic, Guerrilla Publicity, and The Profit of Kindness.

Andy Ross opened his literary agency in January 2008. Prior to that, he was the owner for 30 years of the legendary  Cody’s Books in Berkeley. The agency represents books in a  wide range of subjects including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, religion,  children’s books, young adult,  middle grade, literary and commercial  fiction, and cooking. However, he is eager to represent projects in most genres as long as the subject or its treatment is smart, original, and will  appeal to a wide readership. In non-fiction he looks for writing with a strong voice and robust narrative arc by authors with the authority to write about their subject. For literary, commercial, and children’s fiction, he has only one requirement– simple, but ineffable–that the writing reveal the terrain of that vast  and unexplored country, the human heart. (AAR).,   

Lara Starr has made her mark in publishing starting at Collins, Conari Press, and Chronicle Books. A bestselling author of several books, she is also a producer to KGO Radio. Starr is a creative professional with expertise in public relations, marketing, media production, and special events. Currently at Insight Edition, Starr is a children’s book specialist for Path to Publishing.

Brooke Warner is founder and publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of What’s Your Book? and How to Sell Your Memoir. She Writes Press publishes fiction and memoir for women authors and readers. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. She sits on the board of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW). Her website was selected by The Write Life as one of the Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014. She lives and works in Berkeley, California.

If you want to see what they all look like, click here!
Better yet, register and meet them in person with your pitch!


Novel Approaches to Outlining and Marketing Fiction: Another Reason to attend SFWC 2020!

Come join two of our WNBA-SF Chapter board members in a great presentation blending their expertise and experience.

Brenda Knight, Publisher, Author and Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte, Author present “Novel Approaches to Outlining and Marketing Fiction

This is where the “bookends” of writing meet. Hear unique insights from a prolific and popular writer on the outlining and writing of fiction along with insider secrets from a veteran of Harper Collins marketing and sales that you can use for marketing your book. Get tips on how to create the “who”, “what” and “what ifs” in outlining “must read” fiction, along with strategies for success with social media, publicity, blogging, and more, all designed to draw positive attention to your work. Get information on how to sign up for the Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter’s March 21, 2020, “Pitch-O-Rama Plus” to learn more about the “4 Ps” that lead to publication.

Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte is an Oakland multidisciplinary writer whose works artfully succeed in getting across deeper meanings about life and the politics of race and economics without breaking out of the narrative, with Oakland often serving as the backdrop for her touching and often hilarious works. Her first book, A Dollar Five-Stories From A Baby Boomer’s Ongoing Journey (2014) has been described as “ rich in vivid imagery”, and “incredible.” Her second book, All That and More’s Wedding (2016), a collection of fictional mystery/crime short stories, is praised as “imaginative with colorful and likeable characters that draw you in to each story and leave you wanting more.” Her latest book, Running for the 2:10 (2017), a follow-on to A Dollar Five, delves deeper into her coming of age in Oakland and the embedded issues of race and skin color with one reviewer calling it “… a great contribution to literature.” Her fictional story, “Uncle Martin” was published by Medusa’s Laugh Press Summer 2019. She currently has a novel in progress titled “Betrayal on the Bayou,” slated for publication in early 2020. She is also a contributor to award winning author Kate Farrell’s upcoming book “Story Power,” an anthology on how writers build and create their stories.

Brenda KnightBrenda Knight began her career at HarperCollins, working with luminaries Marianne Williamson, Mark Nepo, Melody Beattie, Huston Smith and Paolo Coelho. Knight served for 8 years as publisher of Cleis Press & Viva Edition, winner of the IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year Award in 2014. Knight is the author of Wild Women and Books, The Grateful Table, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. Knight is Associate Publisher at Mango Publishing and acquires for all genres in fiction and nonfiction as well as children and photography books. She also serves as President of the Women’s’ National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter and is an instructor at the annual San Francisco Writers Conference.


Options to Make Your Book Marketing More Effective

By Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, author of The Gift of Crisis​ 

If there is one thing I’ve found out about book marketing it’s this: everyone is not your customer.

As a reader, this makes sense. You don’t want to read every book that’s out there yet, when you publish your own books, why does that knowledge suddenly become irrelevant?

You suddenly want everyone in the world to read your book. It doesn’t matter if it’s the silver-haired grandmother in Texas, the roughneck in Alaska, or the mouthy teenager next door — you simply now insist your book appeals to every demographic on the planet and no one can convince you otherwise.

So, you share your book links everywhere and sit back and wait for the sales to roll in. 

And then…


According to Worldometer as of this writing, over 40 thousand books have been published and we’re only a few days into the New Year! 

Within this publishing phenomena, how can one book stand out and/or connect with the right readers? 

Well, you make your book marketing more effective.

Here are a few options you may not have considered.


  • Take the time to determine your ideal reader


What is your reader most likely to carry in their backpack, handbag, or briefcase? Is your ideal reader a teen girl, a business person, or a blue-collar worker? Once you’ve determined who your ideal reader is, the next step is to find out where your people hang out online. 

Here are some place to look:

  • Hubspot: If you don’t know a lot about demographics or marketing, this is a great place to start. Their services are a tad pricey, but the blog is free.
  • Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that provides tons of great info about our world. You can use it to find out where your demographic/ideal reader spends time on social media. Enter the search terms you’re looking for about demographics and it’s likely in there. 
  1. Goodreads quotes
    This seems like such a simple and obvious suggestion, but believe it or not I recently got this straight. I’ve had a Goodreads profile for some time now. Even though I often search online for quotes and inevitably Goodreads shows up in the search, it never occurred to me list quotes from my book on my profile! You never know when your work may appear as others search for quotes. On the author profile there is also an “ask me questions” feature, which is a good way to connect with readers. Additionally, Goodreads is a great place to connect with genre readers – for free! 
  2. Quote graphics
    quote "the time to be with your heart is precisely the time when it feels most difficult, most out of reach and the last option"My website is hosted by WIX and I have to be honest…if asked, I would happily do a promotional spot for WIX’s stellar customer service. Beyond great customer service, they have a marketing tool that allows users to create beautiful quote graphics that can be posted on all social media platforms. The picture is an example of one of my favorites that was made through my website.
    Canva is also an excellent source for creating graphics. However, you will have to research the correct sizing for the graphic you create. Depending on which site you want to share it to, if the dimensions are off the site you post the image on will cut off the edges or stretch the image, distorting it and sometimes making it blurry. It’s helpful to name the pictures as you save them as “A World without Butterflies — Insta” or “A World without Butterflies — FB cover” etc. so you’ll know which graphic can be used for which site based on the dimensions.
  3. Podcast interviews
    Shortly after my book was released I received several interview requests. Considering this was the first time I had ever done anything like this, I was quite nervous. It was interesting to see how differently each interview was conducted and how the information came across. I had to get used to watching AND listening to myself on video and in audio interviews. Consider podcast interviews great practice for book signings, speaking engagements, interacting with the public and representing yourself as a writer. One of the best interviews I have ever done to promote my book was on The Soul Directed Life podcast with Janet Conner. Overall it was a spirited exchange between two people with a genuine interest in my book’s subject matter.
  4. Quora
    I’ll admit, Quora didn’t appeal to me for a long time. However, it’s another great way to find your audience. If you’ve written “How to Start a Podcast without Looking Silly,” go onto Quora and find people asking questions about how to start a podcast and provide a creative and honest answer, while also linking your article in the answer.
  5. YouTube readings
    Recording readings or making quick videos on the topics you write about is a good way to draw readers to your site and your writing. You can create a 10 minute video discussing your book and reading a few key paragraphs and share on your (newly created) YouTube channel (the one with 3 followers). You can also post the video link to your author pages on Goodreads, Amazon, and your website.
  6. Use smaller sites like Mirakee and Flipboard
    Mirakee is a great place. It’s a visual site with a younger following. Flipboard allows you to post articles like a collection of online magazines that people can follow.
  7. Contact your local newspaper
    You never know! I emailed one of my local newspapers to get information on how to get my book featured beyond a paid advertisement. The editor responded, “If you can make it relevant to the community, we’ll run a feature.” Done!
  8. Create author share groups
    Creating a small group of 3–5 people who agree to do a share rotation of work. If there are three of you, each person can share their “promo-of-the-day” link or two to the group, and as you make your promotional rounds you share yours, then theirs, and they do the same for you. Set an agreed number of sites to share to and number of shares so you each benefit from the sharing collaboration.
  9. ManyStories for Medium
    ManyStories is part of the Penname platform. Penname is a platform of integrated websites dedicated to content distribution and discovery; a place where writers grow their audience and readers discover stories. ManyStories links to the original article link and selects stories to share on the front page of the site each day and will notify you if your work is selected to distribute. If you’re already a writer on Medium, it’s great because it allows writers to find new readers who are not part of the Medium  platform and allows writers to find a pool of writers, with a disproportionately high number of active Medium writers, as well.
  10. Business cards/face-to-face interactions
    Yes. Good old-fashioned business cards. The business card I use now is version number 5! It took several different versions before I finally created a business I am absolutely proud of. When I hand my business card to someone, I am so grateful that my presentation is strong and well-prepared to represent myself as a writer. When I am out and about and a natural conversation strikes up with someone, I’ll give the person my business card and invite them to read my writing. The title of my book is listed on the back of my business card and they can search my name and find my writing on various platforms. Considering we live in an infinite universe full of infinite possibilities, you never know what can happen as a result of these brief encounters!
  11. Focus and learn
    You can’t be everywhere, all the time. It’s inefficient and exhausting. A good approach is to narrow down tactics, or start slowly, and see what works. Toss what doesn’t. The definition of efficacy is the power to produce an effect. The more you learn what works for you, the better prepared you are for the next book launch. And the next.
  12. Do what you can, then let it go and live your life.
    As a writer, there comes a point when you simply have to let go. The book is written, you’ve poured your heart into it and then you have to let it do what it’s meant to do…not always at your direction or on your preferred timetable. A relationship with a book is very similar to the relationship a parent (or caregiver) has with a child. Eventually the child will grow up and have a life of its own. Until then, you do everything within your power, means and resources to provide a good start, a good foundation and then…all you can do is let go. You let go and trust your very best efforts will contribute a life – an existence – that will thrive and touch people in ways you could not have imagined. 

I’d love to hear your feedback. Share what works for you and what doesn’t below in comments!

Bridgitte Jackson Buckley is a freelance writer, author and ghostwriter whose focus includes spirituality, transformational documentaries, and in-depth interviews. She is a former contributor to General Religion on the National circuit of as the National Spirituality Examiner. She’s interviewed many New Thought luminaries including Eckhart Tolle, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and Elizabeth Gilbert. As a freelance writer, she has written online articles for Examiner, Tiny Buddha, Recreate Your Life Story, Thrive Global, Medium, Gaia and Patheos’ Spirituality Itself. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has traveled extensively throughout Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additional travels also include Hong Kong, Malaysia and (her favorite adventure) Thailand. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, three children and Miniature Schnauzer.

Launch a Successful 2020 at SF Writers Conference!

February 13 – 16, 2020
Intercontinental Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

Join us and help us promote WNBA-SF at the San Francisco Writers Conference!

This will be the 17th Celebration of Craft, Commerce, and Community for all writers. Attendees will join with 100+ presenters and fellow writers from across the country and around the world at this year’s event. The SFWC events are consistently rated among the friendliest, top writer’s conferences anywhere.

Presenters this year will include bestselling authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers from major publishing houses. There will be experts on self-publishing, book promotion, platform building, social media, and author websites. SFWC has one of the largest faculties of any writer’s conference.

The four-day event is packed with 100+ sessions for writers–from the craft of writing to the business of publishing. There is copious networking with the very people who can advance your writing career, an opening gala, three keynote speakers, lots of social interaction with other writers, and evening Open Mic readings and pitch sessions. There will be exhibitors with services and tools for writers, including WNBA-SF Chapter, who will also present sessions.

If you are working on your book, getting ready to publish it, or looking for ways to promote an already published book, this is the event you need to attend. TO REGISTER for the 2020 San Francisco Writers Conference, CLICK HERE!

The San Francisco Writers Conference kicks off Thursday evening with separate Master Classes, taught by the conference headliners, our own Brooke Warner and Jonathan Maberry, among others. The Master Classes continue Sunday evening on an array of topics, open to all. Register HERE for Master Classes.  

Be sure to check out the Screen Writing Summit and the Poetry Summit, also with separate registrations. And don’t miss the FREE, Open to the Public events, like the Writers Coffeehouse Friday evening with Jonathan Maberry and the Children’s Event Friday morning with Armand Baltazar.

The conference runs–pretty much non-stop–through late afternoon on Sunday. If you can stay longer, there is a no-host dinner where you can keep the networking going with SFWC presenters, staff, and volunteers. That’s the entire Presidents’ Day weekend..and then some!

We are proud that so many of our WNBA members will be presenters and volunteers at this conference including: Brooke Warner as a Keynoter, Brenda Knight, Joan Gelfand, Nina Amir, Linda Lee, Mary E. Knippel, Martha Conway, Kate Farrell, Barbara Santos, Helen Sedwick, and more!


Five Reasons to Review a Book and a Brief How-To

By Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target

I’m embarrassed to admit how little I appreciated the importance of book reviews until my own book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, was published. Before that, I posted the occasional review on Goodreads and didn’t even know that some publisher sites (including Mango) accept reviews. I rarely left a review on Amazon.

How times change. Now I am ever-so-slightly obsessed with (I’m always obsessed with something) checking all those sites for reviews of my book. And I’ve gone so far as to spend your precious time telling you about it.

Why Leave a Review?

So just why should a person, especially a busy person with lots of competing interests and precious little time or energy, a person such as you, review the books you read?

  1. To Remember the Book

I’ll go ahead and date myself. I’m old enough that I sometimes forget I’ve read a book, even if it seemed “memorable” at the time. It’s a bit frightening, but also enlightening to scan a review I’ve written. It refreshes my recollection and sometimes makes me want to read the book again.

  1. To Forget the Book

Perhaps it’s part of my mental health challenge, but I don’t think I’m alone here. If I read a deeply moving (or deeply disturbing) book, I get “stuck” in the story. Characters and scenes stroll and scroll through my mind when I should be doing other things. Often I can’t sleep. I toss and turn, trapped by the book. But if I write a review, capturing the essence of what is looping through my mind, it releases me and helps me move on.

  1. To Keep Yourself Honest

Many of us skim when we read. I’m no different. But in order to leave a detailed review, I must read deeply. If I want to review the book, I allow myself to slow down, sink in, and really pay attention. As a result, reading regains a pleasure it once lost.

  1. To Share Your Joy (or Pain)

If I enjoy a book, I want other readers to know. If I detest a book, I want other readers to know. If I didn’t finish a book, I want other readers to know that too. Having said that, I do my best not to pan a book just because it wasn’t what I expected. I’m referring to the 3-star review Marko Kloos received because his novel wasn’t a 36-count package of Jimmy Dean sausages.

  1. To Applaud the Author

I’ve always loved authors. Since my earliest days, people who created books out of thin air were my heroes. But now that I have personally gone through the entire process of not just writing a book and finding a publisher, but also marketing the book, I hold other authors in even higher esteem. I want to shout from the rooftops, “You did a really difficult thing! Great job!”

What Makes a “Good” Review?

As a published author, I appreciate the numbers game. Any positive review is lovely and a review of more than two sentences feels like a gift. But the reviews that stay with me are the ones in which the reader shares something personal about themselves and how the book made them feel. One reviewer said “Nita is inside my head.” Another wrote, “I had to stop at the end of one paragraph and call my mom.” Personal connections like these bring me to tears.

When I write reviews now, I remember how it felt to read reviews of my own book. I search for a place where I connect deeply with the book and share that with the author. This type of review achieves all the things I listed above and writing it feels fabulous since it provides the opportunity to cheer someone else along this twisting, winding, writing path.

[This article originally appeared in Nita’s blog, Bum Glue.]

Nita Sweeney is the author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, which was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award and the Dog Writers Association of America Award. Her articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, books, and blogs including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, The Taos News, Spring Street, Pencil Storm, WNBA-SF, It’s Not Your Journey, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, Bum Glue, publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Columbus, and coaches writers in Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Nita has been featured widely across media outlets about writing, running, meditation, mental health, and pet care. She was nominated for an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award and her poem, “Memorial,” won the Dublin Arts Council Poet’s Choice Award. When she’s not writing or coaching, Nita runs and races. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-eight half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than ninety shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog.

The WNBA-SF Has Your Back!

Join or Renew Membership today for Awesome Benefits!

Agents have told us that writers who belong to organizations like WNBA are more attractive because they demonstrate a commitment to the literary community. 

So if you’re a writer trying to get published, joining WNBA-SF Chapter makes you more attractive to agents!
If you’re not a writer, but a lover of the written word, joining WNBA makes you more interesting because you become part of a community of amazing women who are writers, editors, agents, publishers, booksellers, librarians, publicists, bloggers and more!
As a member of WNBA-SF Chapter, you can meet some of your favorite authors and get to know women who are on the cusp of being published and will soon join that list of your favorites! You’ll have interesting discussions about beautiful writing, share the challenges of finding an agent, learn about the current state of publishing and get tips on how to promote a self-published book, or how to pick the right read for a book club.
Joining WNBA-SF Chapter really does make you more attractive and interesting! 

NOW is the time to join (or renew if you are already a member) so that you can take advantage of these great benefits:

  • Meet publishing professionals face to face at WNBA mixers, readings, writers’ conferences, educational events and at our successful Pitch-O-Rama where many local authors met agents that led to publishing contracts!
  • Promote your book or business: For $30/year a published author or publishing professional member can have two book covers or logos on the WNBA/National home page and link to their business blog and website.
  • If you use @WNBA National, the national organization will often favor or re-tweet your tweets, increasing your following.
  • As WNBA member, you are eligible to submit an article for consideration in the Bookwoman – the national newsletter that goes to all 11 chapters and every member. And you can list your recent news in Member News.
  • Link your blog or website to the SF chapter. Attend as many in person meetings and events as possible to get to know people. Then there’s a good chance that you will make some really great connections.
  • Having WNBA on your resume is a plus, as it has helped many women move their careers forward, and agents like to see that you are part of the local literary community.
  • Discounts on WNBA events and opportunities to participate as a volunteer at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference and San Francisco Writing For Change and showcase your book at local book festivals and bookstores.
  • Ability to promote and sell your book or expertise at specified events.
  • Teach a class or present your book at one of our Mechanics Institute Library San Francisco events in 2020 for fantastic visibility to the public and the large MIL membership!
  • Participate in our or Litquake readings or book fairs.
  • Great way to network!!!!

You can join or renew now by going to this page. There is no application requirement to join. Become a member or renew your membership to enjoy the benefits for the whole year. Jump on your computer and sign up today.

30 Day Writing Challenges

By Elizabeth Kauffman

November got me thinking about how a 30-day challenge makes you a better writer. Of course, my favorite 30-day challenge is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), where writers commit to writing 50,000 words of new fiction in a month. There’s something about knowing I have to write at least 1,667 words a day if I want to hit that 50,000-word finish line that lights a fire under me in ways that my “regular” life doesn’t. I can push past the voice of doubt for just a little while to achieve my goal: words on the page.

Maybe NaNoWriMo doesn’t seem tempting to you at all, though. 30-day challenges are good for more than just rushing past your inner critic. They give you space to learn about your writing in a way that your regular practice can’t. And you can find (or create) a 30-day challenge for just about any aspect of your craft, and maybe even convince other people to join in with you.

Here are five ways a 30-day challenge makes you a better writer:

1) You give yourself permission to try something new.

Maybe you’re a non-fiction writer, but you’ve always wanted to try writing short stories! Or maybe you’ve always wanted to write poetry, but you’re not sure you’re any good at it. Or maybe you want to challenge yourself to create content for your blog. Give yourself 30 days to try something that’s outside of your usual writing routine. Your other writing will be there when your 30 days are up and you’re ready to get back to it. And asking yourself to think outside of your usual creative box will refresh you to bring new inspiration back to your usual work.

2) You give yourself a finite timeline.

Thirty days can seem like a long time, but it’s really not. Dedication and versatility are essential skills in your writer’s toolkit. You know how most people give up on New Year’s Resolutions before the year is half-over? A 30-day challenge offers you a shorter timeline for a reason. It’s not about permanently changing your habits, it’s about trying something radical for 30 days and finding out what you learn by the end of it. The finite timeline allows for you to try, fail, and pivot with no strings attached. 

3) You get to collect data on your writing process for 30 days.

Because hopefully your 30-day-challenge stretches you outside your comfort zone, sometimes you’ll have to push yourself to write, even if the muse isn’t ready and waiting. You’ll have to plan some, and wing it on the days when the plan goes horribly wrong. Maybe you’re trying out writing at a different time of day, or writing a certain number of words every day, or using the Pomodoro method to increase your productivity. As you progress with your challenge, make sure you keep track of what works and what doesn’t work so that you don’t get stuck. Then use that data to help make your regular writing practice stronger.

4) You can plug into a community of writers who have the same goals.

Some of the bigger challenges like National Novel Writing Month or Story-A-Day have built-in communities that you can join for the benefit of mutual encouragement and inspiration. But thanks to the magic of social media, even if you make up your own challenge, you can probably find others willing to test their writing limits with you. Post about it on Facebook or Twitter and see who else is game. You can broaden your writing community and try something new at the same time!

5) You might discover a new passion.

When you try something new and different with your writing practice for 30 days you might find that you actually enjoy the new direction you’re taking. The key is giving yourself space to experiment. Of course the converse is true, too. People have strong feelings for and against every aspect of the writing craft. But don’t take someone else’s word for what’s best for you and your writing. How can you know what you’ll love or what you’ll hate unless you give it a try?

At the end of 30 days, you’ll have a giant pile of 50,000 words, or a stack of stories, or 30 blog posts, (or more!) to show for your effort. Sure, it’s probably not perfect, but that’s not the point of the challenge. You’ll have honed your skills as a writer. You’ll have learned your writerly sweet spots (how many words per minute/hour/day/week you can do comfortably, what time of day you write best, etc.). And you’ll be a better writer for having pushed yourself to try something new, even if it’s only for 30 days.

Elisabeth Kauffman is an editor, an author, and an artist. She edits fiction and memoir for independent clients as well as for publishing companies, and coaches writers to find their voices and connect to the magic in their creative lives. Using creative writing exercises along with tarot, visualization, and more tactile forms of art, she encourages her clients to take risks and tell stories that matter. She volunteers for and speaks at the San Francisco Writers Conference, and with local writers’ groups. She is currently represented by Bradford Literary Agency and hopes to publish her first book (a tarot deck and guide for writers) in the near future.
Elisabeth grew up reading Mary Stewart, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the like. She loves creative, imaginative storytelling, and regularly obsesses over board games, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter. Learn more about her at or email her at

From Novel to Netflix: Mentoring the book-to-film path with Trisha R. Thomas

By Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, author of The Gift of Crisis​ (October 2018)

Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not always a meeting for coffee and reporting back. It can happen in a variety of different ways, like meeting an author at a book fair and requesting an email interview.

Unlike my usual manner of attending events without having gone over the complete schedule, for some reason before going to the Leimert Park Book Fair, I looked through the online schedule in its entirety and noticed a book-to-film panel discussion. How did I miss that when I made plans to attend?! I immediately switched gears in preparation to arrive two hours earlier to attend the panel discussion.

When I arrived at the book fair with my 12 year-old son, who is also an avid reader, we hurriedly walked to locate the main stage where the panel discussion was scheduled to take place. Unfamiliar with the venue, we stopped at the information table on the 1st floor and were directed to the 2nd floor. We got off the escalator and walked to the end of the hall (as directed).

No stage.

We went back down the escalator and asked a second volunteer for the location, but were again erroneously directed to the opposite end of where we needed to go. Finally, we found the main stage and I quickly found a seat. My son went to look out the window. This isn’t his genre. No dragon and sorcerer discussions here.

I was prepared to learn all the wonderful ins-and-out of a subject matter completely foreign to me. ‘Tell me something I don’t know!’ I thought as I eagerly positioned myself to listen to the panel, which consisted of a one-on-one with authors Trisha R. Thomas, Nappily Ever After and Michael Datcher, Americus.

Nappily Ever After, based on the novel by Thomas, an award-winning author of literary fiction, was made into a feature film on Netflix starring Saana Lathan.

Nappliy Ever After Trailer (2018) Netflix

I had many questions, but because we had difficulty locating the main stage we arrived five minutes before the panel discussion ended!

After both Thomas and Datcher left the stage to sit at the book signing table, I wasn’t sure what to do with my unanswered questions. I stood near the line for the book signing table while my son repeatedly requested a $5.00 slice cheese of pizza and two attendees asked if I was in line or not.

I carefully considered my most pressing question:

As an African-American woman writer, how did she break through the book-to-film barrier?

I took a deep breath and decided to request an email interview with Thomas.

She agreed.

BJB: How can writers, specifically women writers of color, break through to have their book considered for a film option if their literary agent does not query film agents?

TT: I have found it helpful to have a literary agent who specializes in book publishing and a specific agent for film development. Two different agencies.

BJB: What is the most important thing you wish you had known prior to having your book made into a feature film on Netflix?

TT: Before having Nappily Ever After made into a film I ended up writing 8 more books in the series. I kept writing about Venus (Violet) to see where her journey was taking her. I actually hoped it was going to be a series so I wanted to be prepared with her full life trajectory, falling in love, falling out, and finding herself again.

I don’t have anything I would’ve done differently.

I have a library of cool stories under my belt that I wouldn’t have had if I’d just been sitting on my hands waiting for the film to happen.

BJB: What plans do you have to mentor or offer guidance to African-American women authors interested in the book-to-film path of writing?

TT: I have a few writers that I’m mentoring right now.

I suggest if you’re looking for a mentor you start locally where you can have a personal relationship as well. Go to conferences and meet the person you’d like to bounce ideas from and have a real interaction. The next step is exchanging contact information and your goals.

Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and information. It’s not solely about achieving goals. It’s also about coming together; coming together in unexpected ways to help each other.

You may not have the same goals as your mentor, but what you do have are similar intentions to create inspiring and creative content. This is why each and every person who is intrinsically inspired to create in whatever form — be it writing, painting, drawing, photography, or singing — is important. What you think and feel and how you share your creativity with the world carries a distinct vibration of inspiration.

The wonderful part is there is room for everyone.

Not only is there room, there is a collective need for similar creative intentions to be expressed in a variety of ways because there are a variety of recipients.

Your work touches differently than that of your mentor and because of this it’s crucial to have supportive camaraderie; someone who is willing to share information and encourage you as a writer to keep going — to let your creative voice be heard.

Bridgitte Jackson Buckley is a freelance writer, author and ghostwriter whose focus includes spirituality, transformational documentaries, and in-depth interviews. She is a former contributor to General Religion on the National circuit of as the National Spirituality Examiner. She’s interviewed many New Thought luminaries including Eckhart Tolle, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and Elizabeth Gilbert. As a freelance writer, she has written online articles for Examiner, Tiny Buddha, Recreate Your Life Story, Thrive Global, Medium, Gaia and Patheos’ Spirituality Itself. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has traveled extensively throughout Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additional travels also include Hong Kong, Malaysia and (her favorite adventure) Thailand. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, three children and Miniature Schnauzer.

NaNoWriMo – Tips for Success

by Nita Sweeney

When someone asks HOW to start writing, what they often want to know is WHERE to start writing, as in, “Where should my story begin?”

If it is November and they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, the annual challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction during the thirty days of November, about which I’ve written many times, the person’s question is premature.

Come to think of it, regardless of whether or not it is November or whether or not they are participating in NaNoWriMo, the question is still premature. In order to begin, a writer, new or otherwise, doesn’t need to know what words will follow the heading “Chapter One.” They just need to start writing.

But let me add a caveat. I write from my gut. I feel my way through. Not everyone is like this. Some people need to think a piece through or draft an outline. They may need extensive notes and research, especially for longer works. All that is fine, of course. But at some point, they just have to dive in.

That’s where writing practice saves me.

Decades of doing timed writing with no agenda except to put words on the page sidesteps the potentially paralyzing question of where the story should start. I figure it out by writing. I get in there and wallow around. Research or plotting or planning I’ve done ahead of time only serves me once my fingers are hammering the keyboard. I have to turn on the spigot and then, once the water is flowing, I’ll see what crevices it naturally wants to enter.

What is writing practice? It’s what I learned from best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. Timed writing. Set a timer and go. No thought. No crossing out or back spacing. No wondering if what I just wrote makes any sense. No stopping until the timer dings. It’s freeing and terrifying and the only way I know how to work. It’s the engine beneath everything I write.

And, it is just my way. I would love to hear about other ways in the comments.

Nita Sweeney
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2019, all rights reserved

Nita Sweeney is the author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, which was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. Her articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, books, and blogs including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, The Taos News, Spring Street, Pencil Storm, WNBA-SF, It’s Not Your Journey, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, Bum Glue, publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Columbus, and coaches writers in Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Nita has been featured widely across media outlets about writing, running, meditation, mental health, and pet care. She was nominated for an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award and her poem, “Memorial,” won the Dublin Arts Council Poet’s Choice Award. When she’s not writing or coaching, Nita runs and races. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-seven half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than eighty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).