James River Writers is a nonprofit writing organization located in Richmond, Virginia, about one hour from Charlottesville. They host a monthly Writing Show, master classes, social gatherings, and an annual multi-genre conference. Their programs focus not just on the craft of writing, but on the important writing topics we need to consider, like their recent panel discussion on censorship and book banning. Of all the conferences I attend, this one’s closest to home.
One of my first agent pitches happened at the 2016 James River Writer’s Conference. This session was a free perk offered to all conference attendees—a rarity in the writing world. If you’re working on a book, I highly recommend these pitch sessions!
Let me set the stage for my pitch session.
It was 11:00 A.M. on a Saturday morning. I’d had three too many cups of coffee and worried that I was on the brink of a deodorant malfunction. Five other writers waited in line with me. The woman in front was pitching a historical romance. Neither one of us had done this before. During our ten-minute wait, we whispered our pitches to each other then said good luck as we were ushered to our respective tables.
After our whirlwind meeting, we hugged in the middle of the hotel lobby, celebrating our pitching victories. Both agents had requested our manuscripts.
During that morning’s opening event, Executive Director Katharine Herndon had said, “Welcome to your tribe.”
It’s hard to create that vibe when the literary interests of your audience are so diverse. But somehow Katharine and her team pulled it off. If she hadn’t, there’s no way two introverted strangers would’ve shared that long mid-conference hug.
Last year, I served as one of the 2020 James River Writers Conference presenters and witnessed Katharine’s staff transition their annual conference to an online format. Not only was the transfer seamless, but the conference meet-and-greet opportunities maintained that same sense of connection I’d felt at past events. I attended this year’s conference as well, and again their execution was flawless.
Over the past two years, I’ve encouraged clients and students from across the country to attend. After the 2020 conference was over, one wrote to me and said attending the 2020 James River Writers Conference made her feel like a real writer. It gave her the courage to keep working on her writing goals.
She’d claimed her space as a writer just like I had at the 2015 Creative Nonfiction Conference.
Perhaps you live far from Richmond, and you’re wondering why you should support this organization. I’ll give you four self-serving reasons.
- Agent pitch sessions will help you get clear on your project. Pitch well, and the agent will give you their email address and request a submission. That connection means they’re more likely to open your email and thoughtfully consider your work.
- If one of your dreams is to publish a book, making connections at literary organizations well in advance of your book launch is essential. Signing up for the JRW newsletter or a membership will help you better understand what they do and how you can be of service.
- It takes a village to raise a writer. While a homegrown writing community is essential, it’s also important to branch out. Perhaps you want to be on a conference panel or would like to find an author who can serve as a launch partner. Someone in a distant city might be just what you’re looking for.
- Since many of their events are currently online, and it’s free to sign up for their newsletter, you have absolutely nothing to lose.
But you have lots to gain by supporting them, including tickets for this week’s drawing for a $30 gift card to New Dominion Bookshop, PLUS one copy of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book, The War of Art, Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction, Doodling for Writers, The Best of Brevity, The Business of Being a Writer, and a signed copy of My Monticello by Jocelyn Johnson.
You’ll also be entered in my grand prize drawing for a one-year membership to James River Writers, a 3-pack of webinars from The Crow Collective Online Writing Workshops, one Jane Friedman webinar of your choice, a 10-page manuscript review plus one-hour coaching session with me, and a query letter review by Allison K Williams.
Generously donate $100 or more and you’ll get access to a mindful writing class scheduled for early 2022 and a chance to win a storytelling coaching session with Amy Eaton.
Not bad, for doing something that could serve you so well.
Financial donations and memberships to James river writers, hippocampus literary magazine, and brevity, are worth 3 tickets into this week’s drawing.
To make a donation to James River Writers, click here.
To sign up for a membership, click here.
Other ways you can earn tickets by supporting James River Writers:
- Following them on Facebook and Twitter,
- Subscribe to their e-newsletter
- When you see them sharing their programs and the accomplishments of their writing family through their communications, you can then turn around and share them with your sphere of influence, helping us all reach a wider audience.
To enter this week’s drawing, send me an email.
Please include the amount of your donation or a screenshot of your donation or social media support.
To learn more about the challenge or how supporting Brevity, Hippocampus Literary Magazine, or any other literary nonprofit can help you score tickets for this challenge, click here.
The deadline for this week’s drawing is Monday December 13 2021 at 7:00 PM EST.
Thank you in advance for your literary citizenship.