Spring 2015 Newsletter

Women's National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter Newsletter

upcoming events and news wnba-sf chapter Chapter President

12th Annual Pitch-O-Rama:
Meet the Agents and Editors


Are you ready to pitch your book?

Take advantage of this rare opportunity for writers of all genres, women and men, to pitch one-on-one to the Bay Area’s best publishing professionals in an intimate, informal setting— at an affordable price!

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8:00 am – 12:30 pm 
For men and women!
Women’s Building, Auditorium, 
3543 18th Street
(b/t Guerrero & Valencia Streets)
San Francisco CA 94110 

Continental Breakfast 
Free pre-pitch coaching and ongoing mentoring 
Two one-hour pitch sessions and more!
After the sessions, a panel presentation explores:
“Steps to Publishing: Editing”

Click here to see the list of agents and editors!

Pre-registration required, space limited!
Cost: $65 WNBA members, $75 non-members, 
$90 walk-ins, if space available

A rare opportunity to pitch to literary agents and acquisition editors in a private, supportive setting and receive feedback from some of the best publishing professionals in the Bay Area.

This year we are pleased to announce rental of a vast, 2-story space with acoustical panels: the Auditorium in the Women’s Building, heart of the Mission District. With plenty of space for sound to diffuse, we promise to make this an exciting and productive event for all.

Help us promote this event, our annual fundraiserby downloading this 2-page flyer!

Please fill out this form to register. You may pay with a credit card or check–both options are available.

Women's Building

Women’s Building

Join us at the historic Women’s Building during Women’s History Month!


Women's National Book Association San Francisco ChapterDear WNBA-SF Chapter Members,

Happy International Women’s Day 2015! WNBA is not quite as old as IWD (1911), but certainly our organization is part of first wave feminism (1917).

This month, Women’s History Month, we’re excited about our 12th Annual Pitch-O-Rama on March 28–a supportive, informal setting with an amazing lineup of six local literary agents and six local acquisition editors. This is a great opportunity to pitch in a conversational style and receive personal advice—with the possibility of a request for a query letter, a book proposal, or the first ten pages.

Co-chair for the event, Vicki DeArmon, has outdone herself in booking a stellar lineup of pitchtakers. In addition, our WNBA member pitching coaches include some of the most expert: Catharine Bramkamp, Patricia V. Davis, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, Julia Park Tracey. They will provide pre-pitch sessions and be on the floor throughout the sessions, mentoring. Our entire volunteer team is poised to facilitate, prepare breakfast treats, and greet you at the door!

So, please share our annual fundraising event within your writing community! Consider sponsoring an emerging writer if you’re not able or interested in attending.

More opportunities: 

WNBA-LA Chapter, Writers Conference, Saturday March 14th! Your WNBA friends in Los Angeles are collaborating with Mt. St Mary’s University to present a writers’ conference with a line up of speakers that are local, national, and international. Check it out at www.lawritersconference.org They hope you can attend! It’s worth the drive…they promise!! 

SF Chapter Upcoming Events: Save the Date!

  • April 8th: Effie Lee Morris Lecture, 4:30 – 8:00 pm, SFPL Main to feature honoree Chris Raschka
  • May 1st: Members Only Dinner with author Elizabeth Evans on tour
  • May 16th: Meeting/Mixer Oakland Main Library with featured Member/Author, KJ Landis
Kate Farrell

Kate Farrell

As always, thank you for your support!

Kate Farrell,
SF Chapter President

Featured Member Interview

Interview written by Catharine Bramkamp

Christina Nichol

Christina Nichol

Christina Nichol, author of a debut novel, Waiting for Electricity, has garnered kudos and positive reviews that every author dreams about.

“Like Kingsley Amis with a social conscience, Christina Nichol combines an ear for the absurdities of globalized English with an acute awareness of the everyday sufferings and indignities of daily life in post-Soviet Georgia. The result is a pitch-perfect dark comedy that tracks the myriad miscommunications among ‘global partners’ and next-door neighbors and combines them into one of the most powerful novels yet written on the effects of globalization.” 

                                 —Marco Roth, author of The Scientists

However, capturing that dark comedy and learning about daily life in post-Soviet Georgia was not necessarily easy or quick. Christina originally traveled to Russia as a child, traveling with her grandfather on a “Peace Cruise.” It was there and then that she fell in love with the Soviet Union. 

She explains: “After the nation collapsed I kept going back to post-Soviet countries, fascinated, and sometimes a little alarmed, at how they were recreating their identities. I didn’t go to Georgia originally intending to do research. I was trying to get back to Kyrgyzstan, I country I had lived in the prior year. I applied for a Soros Foundation Fellowship and the only openings they had left were in Azerbaijan, Mongolia, or Georgia. I had seen some Georgian sword fighting dances when I was in Russia so I opted for Georgia. I spent a year there, initially, and then continued to return periodically.

WaitingElectricity_Cove “I spoke some Russian so I could get by, though a friend of mine started telling all the shopkeepers to refuse to speak Russian with me so I would be forced to speak Georgian. Since I was teaching English, a lot of my colleagues and friends spoke English so that helped. Slims Achmed (the hero in the novel) was based on a man I knew who went to the U.S., to Louisiana, to study law and came back a George Bush fan. I wanted to write about what might happen if a character went to San Francisco instead. The voice of the character originally came to me with the sentence, ‘My name is Slims Ahmed and I live in the 12th century.’”

To read more, click HERE.

How Not to Freak Out and Get Humiliated When Pitching to Agents

Andy Ross

Andy Ross


When it comes to rejection, I’m a real wuss. I don’t think I could ever pitch my writing to an agent. I’m amazed at how courageous writers are, and I always feel shame when I know that I have hurt someone with a rejection. In my job, I get plenty of rejection letters from editors in response to my submissions. I estimate I have received over 5000 in my few years at this job. Sometimes it seems a little like my social life in high school. 

Many of my pitches are for memoirs and novels. Here’s what I can tell you about how publishers evaluate these genres. So many of the published memoirs are driven by celebrity. These are, in reality, book-like glitzy packages, usually written by someone other than the putative author. For those of you who like that kind of book, I refer you to Kardashian Konfidential, St. Martin’s Press (2010), written by God only knows who. For the rest of us, it’s almost impossible to find a publisher for a personal memoir.

Certainly there are some examples of family memoirs that have succeeded. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls comes to mind. Or The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. These books rise to the level of high literature. They’re the exceptions though, and I can only imagine the difficulty they must have had finding a publisher. I’ve represented some very good memoirs. Yes. As good as The Liar’s Club. I couldn’t get them published. No dishonor. Just disappointment.

Similarly with fiction. And I have written about this as well in a previous blog post. Literary fiction is especially difficult to get published for the simple reason that it rarely sells enough to be a profitable venture. Most editors evaluate 200-500 novels a year. All of them have been heavily vetted by agents. Most of them are good enough to get published. An editor may acquire 10. And the rejection is usually based on marketing, not on aesthetics. (“This book is too dark for book groups.”  —  “This book seems too quiet.”) As a result I only represent a few novels a year. Most of the greatest novelists of our time have experienced these kinds of rejections

 To read more, click HERE.

BOOKTALK! The Buzz in the World of Books

To read more, click HERE.

Meet the 12 Agents and Editors for Pitch-O-Rama 2015! These impressive publishing professionals bring years of experience and will provide advice, direction, and next steps for your literary project!  Scroll down to meet the 4 Coaches.

Peter Beren

Peter Beren

Peter BerenLiterary Agent and Publishing Consultant, is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR). He has more than thirty years experience in the publishing industry and has held such posts as Publisher, Sierra Club Books, Founding Publisher, VIA Books, V.P. for Publishing at the Palace Press Group and Acquiring Editor for Jeremy Tarcher. As a Literary Agent, he specializes in nonfiction with an emphasis on illustrated (art and photography) books. His clients include: Art Wolfe (The New Art of Nature Photography), Jack Katz (The First Kingdom) and Laurence Boldt (Zen and the Art of Making a Living). An author himself, he has published 7 books, including The Golden Gate: San Francisco’s Celebrated Bridge, The Writers Legal Companion and California the Beautiful. He started his career as one of the founding staff members of the Boston Phoenix, an alternative newsweekly:  http://peterberen.com/

Amy Cloughley

Amy Cloughley

Amy Cloughley, is an agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates. Keeping with the agency’s unique legacy of The Reece Halsey Agency, she strives to represent the highest quality writing. Amy came to the agency with a background in editing, writing, and marketing. She seeks literary and commercial fiction, mystery/suspense, as well as narrative nonfiction projects


Donna Galassi is VP Associate Publisher for Avalon Travel and Seal Press, members of the Perseus Books Group. Avalon Travel publishes the Rick Steves and Moon guidebook series. Seal Press is a publisher of books by and for women. Donna’s area of responsibility is marketing and she is on the acquisitions committee for both imprints.  She has experience in brand management, niche channels, and the use of marketing technologies in book campaigns and for platform building. In the industry for more than 25 years, Donna can speak to the changing ways that books are marketed and the role of the author in marketing and publicity. Donna’s favorite categories are fiction, memoir, and travel lit. For more information, visit: avalontravelbooks.com & sealpress.com

To read more, click HERE. 



WNBA SF Chapter Board Contact Info Join-Now_btr6my6_0

WNBA 2014-2015 BOARD

President: Kate Farrell

Vice Presidents: Open

Treasurer: Sherry Nadworny

Secretary: Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Membership Chair: Jane Glendinning

Blog Managing Editor: Open

Featured Member Interview Editor: Catharine Bramkamp

Social Media Manager: Open

Past President & Webmaster: Linda Lee

Annual Membership 2014-2015

Welcome new members! Thank you to members who renewed.

Your membership dues pay for our FREE public events, for MEMBERS’ ONLY Mixers, for our Literacy Initiatives, SFWC and SFPL sponsorships.

The WNBA National Directory is now being upgraded and will soon launch! We hope to see your name and expertise listed there.

Consider donating to WNBA National to support its awards program and its upcoming 100th Anniversary in 2017, through this 
PayPal link or by mailing a check to the address below:

Women’s National Book Association

PO Box 237, FDR Station

New York, NY 10150