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

We’re going virtual!

Saturday, June 13, 2020
8:00 am – 12:30 pm 

It’s Pitch-O-Rama PLUS!
Includes 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.

Elisabeth Kauffman is an editor, an author, and an artist. She is NOT taking pitches, but will help you hone your pitch. 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

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



  1. […] June 13: WNBA-San Francisco’s Meet the Agents & Editors: Virtual Pitch-O-Rama Plus 2020 starts at 8am. Get details and register. […]

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