Books Track

2023 Virtual Annual Conference: Books Track

Writing and publishing a book is hard work, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Writing and publishing a book has never been easier, but it can still be a confusing path. Sessions in this track offer insights relevant to both first-time and veteran authors on craft, planning, marketing, and the business of books, so you can deliver your best work and build an audience eager to read what you write.

Sessions: Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Tuesday Book Sessions

Pathway to a Published Novel

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. ET

What particular skills can an author, their agent, and their editor bring to the magic of publishing a book well? In this intimate look inside the process, panelists will share how they’ve worked as a team to edit and market Sarah Cypher’s unconventional debut novel, “The Skin and Its Girl,” for its April 2023 publication by Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House. What is expected of the writer during the editing and marketing processes? How does each person’s literary expertise overlap–and differ? How does each role support the other two while launching a writer’s career?

Chelcee Johns is a Senior Editor acquiring literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and narrative nonfiction titles that teem with agency, intellect, and heart at Ballantine, an imprint of Random House. A few of her recent titles include Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera, a New York Times Editors Choice pick; Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel, an Amazon Best Book of 2022; and, The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule soon to be an FX series.

Sarah Cypher is a freelance book editor and author of The Skin and Its Girl (Ballantine, April 2023). She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Creative Writing Fellow in Fiction, and a BA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, and others, and she has been a resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center. She grew up in a Lebanese Christian family near Pittsburgh and lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife.

Adam Schear is a literary agent at DeFiore and Company, where he focuses on literary fiction, YA, memoir, popular science, and idea books. He is a graduate of Tulane University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Based in Milwaukee, Kristine Hansen is a past ASJA board chair and conference co-chair. Covering travel, design and food, she’s the author of three non-fiction books published by Globe Pequot Press: Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin: How America’s Most Famous Architect Found Inspiration in His Home State and Wisconsin Farms and Farmers Markets: Tours, Trails and Attractions. She’s also at work on a novel about the art world and recently completed Stanford University’s Online Writing Certificate program.

The Care and Feeding of Authors: A Ghost’s Guide to Managing Client Relations

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET

One of the hardest parts of being a ghostwriter — especially for those new to the field — is negotiating the unusual relationship with the authors who hire you. Ghostwriters frequently become so much more than a writer to their clients. This panel, which ASJA is presenting in collaboration with Gotham Ghostwriters, unpacks a relationship that might find you serving as a confidant, therapist, publishing consultant, or business advisor on top of being a writing partner and collaborator. The panelists share how to build and sustain trust with total strangers, manage expectations with sizable egos, and not infrequently, draw blood from a storytelling stone.

Dan Gerstein is founder and CEO of Gotham Ghostwriters, the country’s premier ghostwriting agency. Featuring a network of more than 3000 experienced freelance editorial pros, Gotham specializes in sophisticated, long-form writing (such as books, speeches, and reports) for authors, speakers, and thinkers who need expert help telling and selling their stories.

Catherine Whitney is a New York nonfiction author who has co-written and ghostwritten more than 50 books in a variety of fields, including biography, memoir, history, politics, criminal justice, economics, women’s issues, health and medicine, parenting, and business. She has coauthored Bret Baier’s presidential series, including the number one New York Times Bestseller, To Rescue the Republic: Ulysses S. Grant, The Fragile Union, and the Crisis of 1876; Fortune CEO Alan Murray’s Tomorrow’s Capitalist; Steve Case’s The Rise of the Rest; Jane Pauley’s Your Life Calling; Gretchen Carlson’s Getting Real; Mike Giorgione’s Inside Camp David; Lee Iacocca’s Where Have All the Leaders Gone?; Sam Zell’s Am I Being Too Subtle? Adventures of a Business Rebel; John Burris’s Blue vs. Black; Judge Judy’s Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever; Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea; GMA’s Robin Roberts’ From the Heart: 7 Rules to Live By; and Nine and Counting: The Women of the United States Senate, with nine women senators.

Dr. Marcia Layton Turner has authored, co-authored, or ghostwritten more than 75 nonfiction books, published by both traditional and independent presses. Her specialty is business and how-to topics and she has covered everything from leadership to real estate to big data, generations in the workplace, and international business, to name a few. Past projects have become New York Times bestsellers, award-winners, and commercial successes.

She is also the founder and executive director of the Association of Ghostwriters.

Marcia recently wrote her dissertation for the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) degree from Temple University on the business of ghostwriting.

Navigating the Road from Journalist to Novelist

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET

Journalists have a range of skills they can build on when they turn to writing fiction, from writing on deadline to using only the most relevant details to create meaning. Yet agents and editors routinely flag manuscripts written by journalists for less positive reasons. In this session, award-winning author and novelist mentor Kathryn Craft discusses the predictable (and understandable!) pitfalls that can beset journalists who start writing fiction and how to correct them to make the end product more successful, and saleable!

Kathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, and the author of chapters in Author in Progress and The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing from Writers Digest Books. Her sixteen years as a freelance developmental editor at follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic and arts journalist. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she is an active member of Pennwriters and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she served as 2020 Guiding Scribe. Kathryn leads writing workshops and retreats, mentors novelists through her Your Novel Year program, served as adjunct for Drexel University’s MFA program, and is a regular contributor to top writing blog Writer Unboxed.

Writing Cross-Genre

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. ET

After a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalism career, Desiree Cooper pivoted to creative writing and has straddled genres ever since, daring to write on her own terms and winning national awards in flash fiction, short film, essays, and children’s literature. In this talk, Cooper – most recently the author of a children’s book, discusses embracing the freedom to play across genre lines and how that doesn’t have to stop you from building a cohesive and growth-focused author career.

Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, has won numerous awards, including the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award and a 2017 Michigan Notable Book. Cooper’s flash fiction and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, Forward: 21st Century Flash Fiction, Electric Literature, River Teeth, The Rumpus, and in the seminal anthology, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion. Her essay, “We Have Lost Too Many Wigs,” was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2019. Her first children’s book, Nothing Special, was published by Wayne State University Press in the fall of 2022.

Sessions: Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Wednesday Book Sessions

Writing a Book and Getting It Done

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. ET

You have a great idea for a book (fiction or nonfiction), and you’ve started. Or you’ve mapped it out. Or the idea is dangling in front of you, and you just don’t know where or how to begin. So many people stagnate or stall when writing a book, but you can do it! With the right planning and support, we’ll work step-by-step to start, make progress and maintain motivation to see it through to completion. This session helps writers build a structure and a container for getting all the way through writing a book. We’ll touch on setting realistic expectations, plotting out a timeline, establishing motivators and accountability, and of course, creating a detailed plan for the book that becomes your road map to a complete first draft.

Lynne Golodner (she/her/hers) is the author of eight books and thousands of articles as well as a marketing entrepreneur, writing coach and host of the Make Meaning Podcast. Her first novel, Woman of Valor, will debut in September 2023. In 2007, she created Your People, a marketing and public relations company with a focus on storytelling that guides authors in building their brands and marketing their work. In 2023, Lynne founded Scotia Road Books, an independent publishing imprint for women over 40.

Lynne’s writing has appeared in Great Lakes Review, Saveur, the Chicago Tribune, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, the Detroit Free Press, Porridge Magazine, the Jewish Literary Journal, The Good Life Review, Hadassah Magazine, The Forward, Valiant Scribe, Story Unlikely, The Dillydoun Review, QuibbleLit, bioStories and YourTango, among many more publications. Plus, one of Lynne’s creative nonfiction essays was a finalist in the 2021 Annie Dillard Creative Nonfiction contest at Bellingham Review.

Lynne teaches writing around the world, leads writers retreats and facilitates The Writers Community. She fuses her marketing expertise with her writing background in webinars and masterminds focused on arming writers with the tools to market their work and build consistent author brands.

Building an Audience for Your Book

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET

Anyone who makes the bold decision to put their ideas out into the world wants to reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, too many think it’s a question of numbers—the more people you can get in front of, the better. Ultimately, reach is expanding audience plus lasting impact. Learn from book-marketing entrepreneur Becky Robinson how to create reach for your book.

Becky Robinson (she/her/hers) is the Founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in digital and integrated marketing services and public relations for book authors, including business leaders, coaches, trainers, speakers, and thought leaders.

In April 2022, Becky published her first book with Berrett-Koehler Publishers titled, Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause. The book takes an in-depth look at what it takes to achieve the greatest possible influence, provides valuable advice for targeting key audiences, offers a variety of practical steps for cutting through the noise, shares best practices for cultivating community, and reveals effective strategies for growing an online presence.

The Power of Social Media to Market Books

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET

Social-savvy authors Annie Cathryn and CL Walters will talk about how engagement is more important than just posting content (and how to make engagement easy and fun). They’ll share how promoting other authors actually promotes your books, and how to start a conversation based on the themes in your book(s). Plus, they’ll touch on branding and consistency in social media marketing, which is ever-changing but excitingly easy to penetrate.

CL Walters writes in Hawai’i where she lives with her husband, two children, and acts as a pet butler to a plethora of pampered fur-babies. She’s the author of the several titles ranging from Young Adult to Adult and independently published them all. While fiction is her first love, she has also worked as a ghostwriter for nonfiction work as well. Prior to that, her day job was as a teacher.

Annie Cathryn has always dreamed of becoming an author and lives by the motto, “Creating is Living.” The Friendship Breakup is her debut book baby, born out of love. When not writing or reading, she’s organizing her personal library collection by color, and discovering delectable chocolate. She earned a journalism degree and a master’s in communications from Marquette University, and lives in Chicagoland with her husband, daughter, and two fur babies.

Memoir Mastery: How to Tell Your Story so it Sells

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. ET

Writers with an incredible personal story often struggle with where to start telling their tale, how to share it effectively with an agent, publisher and the reader, and leverage it in ways they could only imagine they could. However, understanding what it takes to actually tell your powerful story in an impactful way to get it out into the marketplace and attract attention and visibility can seem like a mystery of its own. In this presentation, Jennifer S. Wilkov, multi #1 international best-selling author, award-winning freelance writer and Hollywood business consultant, will show you how to master the art of crafting your personal story into a memoir that sells! Discover how to present your amazing story, determine where to begin it on the first page, and start using it to attract more readers, agents, producers, publicists, press and clients.

Jennifer S. Wilkov supports first-time writers and seasoned authors with the essentials to become a bestseller: a great project, a strong platform and a well-polished pitch, presentation and hook for their book, television project, film, or theater project. She passionately teaches and educates writers as a speaker and program producer of workshops, at writers conferences, and for groups such as the Writers Guild of America and New York Women in Film & Television where she leads the Writers Group as a platinum member and teaches online for writers’ resources such as Writer’s Digest.

Sessions: Thursday, June 15, 2023

Thursday Book Sessions

The Many Ways to Publish a Book in the 21st Century

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

The ways to get a book published have changed dramatically and plenty of people are starting their own imprints to blow up traditional notions of what works and what doesn’t. This panel of entrepreneurial publishers will be moderated by ASJA member Lynne Golodner, who launched her own press this year.

For half a century, David Crumm has been one of the leading American journalists covering religious diversity in the U.S. and around the world. For 35 years, he worked for major newspapers, primarily reporting in the U.S. but also with occasional postings in Europe and Asia. In 2014, he co-founded a cooperative publishing house,, to publish books about diversity, peacemaking and resilience. Front Edge publishes Christian, Jewish and Muslim authors, and authors of no particular religious affiliation. The team also has published several of the leading books encouraging LGBTQ inclusion in mainline religion.

Almost half of the Front Edge book projects also involve partnerships with major nonprofits, foundations or universities, including United Way, PBS Kids, Michigan State University School of Journalism, Cass Community in Detroit and other institutions. Over the past two years, the publishing house has worked through a public health grant with a dozen nonprofits, including Area Agencies on Aging, on a strength-based book for families considering the inevitable milestones of aging.

In addition, since 2007, David’s team has produced the weekly online magazine,, which covers religious and cultural diversity and specializes in news of important new books and films as well as global holidays and festivals.

Elizabeth Gowing was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and completed her MA at the Institute of Education, University of London. She worked in primary education in Hackney, Lambeth and Islington as well as in education policy before moving to Kosovo in 2006. There she co-founded charitable NGO The Ideas Partnership.She is the author of six books. Her most recent, written together with Robert Wilton, is No Man’s Lands: 8 Extraordinary Women in Balkan History. She has also translated two books from Albanian.

At the end of 2021, Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti appointed her to his cabinet as adviser on community affairs. Elizabeth is a partner in Elbow Publishing.

Lynne Golodner is the author of eight books and a forthcoming novel, and founder and publisher of Scotia Road Books, a hybrid publishing imprint for women over 40 with strong voices that need to be heard. She is a former journalist and current marketing entrepreneur.

It’s Never Too Late to Write a Book

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET

We tend to think that successful authors were published when they were young- we’re talking early 20’s or before. But some of the most well-known authors didn’t get published until their 40s, 50s, or later! Maya Angelou was 41 when her first book came out, and Frank McCourt was 66. It’s never too late to write a book and launch an author career. In this panel, we’ll hear from four authors who had satisfying, fulfilling careers before they became book authors. They’ll talk about how to make a successful pivot, and how to choose a publishing path to achieve your goals.

Barbara Stark-Nemon, has written the award-winning novels Even in Darkness and Hard Cider. Her current work in progress is a 17th century European coming of age refugee story. Barbara has degrees from the University of Michigan in English, Art History and Communication Disorders. She writes novels, essays and short stories, and speaks at conferences, literary events, libraries and book clubs. She lives, writes, swims, cycles, gardens and does fiber art in Ann Arbor and Northport, MI

Lisa Peers is a writer with a passion for smart, funny love stories with well-deserved happy endings. She is the author of Love at 350°, a lesbian romantic comedy slated to be published by The Dial Press in fall 2023. She is also the author of Love and Other B-Sides, a rock-and-roll rom-com, and the novella Eros & Psyche: a Myth of Love Lost and Won. She is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel.

Martha Anne Toll‘s debut novel, Three Muses, is shortlisted for the Gotham Book Prize and won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction. Three Muses has received glowing tributes since it came out in September 2022. Toll writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. She brings a long career in social justice to her work covering authors of color and women writers as a critic and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe Magazine, The Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll is a member of the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Anne-Marie Oomen’s memoir, As Long As I Know You: The Mom Book won the AWP Sue Silverman Award Nonfiction Award. She wrote Lake Michigan Mermaid with Linda Nemec Foster (Michigan Notable Book, 2019), Love, Sex and 4-H (Next Generation Indie Award for Memoir), and others. She edited ELEMENTAL: A Collection of Michigan Nonfiction (Michigan Notable Book). She teaches at Solstice MFA at Lasell University (MA), Interlochen’s College of Creative Arts (MI), and conferences throughout the country.

Mining Your Life for Story

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET

When it comes to writing a book about your personal life or family, the same storytelling skills you use as a journalist can be leveraged to create a long-form work of fiction or nonfiction. Learn how to capitalize on your well-honed interviewing, investigative and reporting talents to explore your personal or family history in greater depth than a story published/broadcast by traditional news media. See how the two mediums of expression (news and book writing) compare and how you can navigate the crossover in your own material. Some of the subjects discussed in this session include: how to know when a life experience, news story, or idea is worthy of playing out in a book, what research tools are available to add depth and credibility, and how to turn facts into fiction or recreate history without an interview.

Roni Robbins is the author of Hands of Gold, a book of fiction based on her grandfather’s life published last year. It was a 2022 American Fiction Award finalist, family saga, and a 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarterfinalist, historical fiction. Robbins is an editor/writer for Medscape/WebMD. Her articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, Forbes, the New York Daily News, Adweek, Mother Nature Network, and Healthline, among others. She was previously a staff writer for Florida Today/USA Today, The Birmingham News, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle/American City Business Journals.

Using Substack to Build Success as an Author

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. ET

Book marketing begins with the launch of your book but it doesn’t end there—far from it. Building an audience post-publication is a great way to build buzz for your next book and continue to sell long after pub date. Moyer has succeeded in turning Substack into a lead magnet for readers and also an income stream, but that’s just one way authors can make money and create community over time.

Melinda Wenner Moyer is a journalist, author and professional speaker. She is a contributing editor at Scientific American magazine and a regular contributor to The New York Times. She is a faculty member in the Science, Health & Environmental Reporting program at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Her first book, How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes, was published in July 2021 and won a gold medal in the 2022 Living Now Book Awards.

Melinda was the recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Science Journalism award from The Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the 2019 Bricker Award for Science Writing in Medicine. Her work was featured in the 2020 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology.

Lynne Golodner is an author, writing coach, publisher of Scotia Road Books and marketing entrepreneur who helps authors build their brands and market their writing. A former journalist, she has six nonfiction books and two poetry collections already published, and her debut novel, Woman of Valor, will release September 26, 2023.


Early Registration – Through May 15, 2023
$275 – Full Registration
$200- Track Registration
$125 – Single Day

Regular Registration – After May 15, 2023
$325 – Full Registration
$245- Track Registration
$175 – Single Day

Client Connections (members only)
$65: Bundled with full conference registration
$75: Bundled with single track registration
$85: Client Connections only

Non-Member Rates

Early Registration – Through May 15, 2023
$325 – Full Registration
$245 – Track Registration
$175 – Single Day

Regular Registration – After May 15, 2023
$375 – Full Registration
$285- Track Registration
$225 – Single Day

Check out the other tracks and snack chats!

Journalism Track

From high-level craft discussions to practical tips and techniques you can use immediately, this year’s journalism track uncovers new markets, provides pitch opportunities, and delivers techniques to improve your writing and reporting skills and ways to build your business in this dramatically changing field.

Learn More

Content Marketing Writing Track

From blog posts to white papers, our content marketing track will get you primed for more clients and more assignments. Whether you’re an experienced content writer or just branching out into this lucrative field, you’ll get up-to-the minute insights, featuring some of the most accomplished and knowledgeable freelance writers and clients in the country.

Learn More

Snack Chats

These host-led conversations are designed to be informal, informative, and fun! Topics include podcasting 101, starting a literary salon, getting into ghostwriting, secrets from ASJA award winners, how to “unretire,” and more. Each day of the conference will feature three snack chats open to all that day’s attendees. Snack chats are included in the price for full, track, and single-day registration.

Learn more

Full Conference Details

Learn from the best and most successful professional freelancer writers in the country

Our keynote speakers, expert-led sessions, and small-group discussions offer insight and connections in the worlds of freelance journalism, content marketing, and nonfiction books. Click below for full information.