Toni Lopopolo speaks to the Independent Writers of Southern California on Monday, April 1, 7:30 pm, Veterans Memorial Bldg., 4117 Overland Ave. at Culver Blvd., Culver City.

According to Andre Schiffrin, former head of Pantheon Books, “The publishing world has been through more changes in the past 10 to 15 years than it had in the 100 years before that.” And that’s putting it mildly.

Today, E-books, Kindle, and iPad literature apps are poised to “take over” hardcover book publishing as we know it. What new opportunities – and pitfalls – does this present? How has the change from emphasizing professional career authors (e.g., Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates) to “overnight superstar” reality-TV and celebrity authors changed what – and WHO – editors and agents are looking for? How have the new electronic platforms affected self- and small-press publishing – and how will authors and writers make their living in this brave new world?

With the demise of Borders and Blockbuster, the continued downsizing and “rebootings” of iconic magazines like Newsweek, Variety, and US News & World Report, and turmoil at the remaining major publishing houses – even as the four-year-old Great Recession finally shows signs of beginning to lift – it is more important than ever to find out how to advocate for yourself, how writers will be able to make a living, and how to navigate these game-changers in the 24-hour spin cycle that is today’s publishing world.

IWOSC’s stellar March/early April panel includes top names from every aspect of the industry, from literary agents and booksellers to publicists and social-media coaches and self-publishing gurus (and we’ll be following up on April 29th, of course, with our annual AGENTS PANEL!). They include:

E-MAIL RESERVATIONS REQUIRED — Reservations by email only. Email to make your reservation to this event. Please write “IWOSC Reservation” in the subject line. You will receive a confirming email from IWOSC, and your name will be on a list at check-in. For proof of your reservation, bring a printout of your email or show a smartphone version of your “sent” email or confirmation. Please arrive by 7:15 pm to be seated. Doors open to everyone at 7:15 and people will be admitted as space permits. Reservations close at 5 pm Saturday, March 30.  Walk-ins permitted, if there is space. Information: (310) 773-8075. If you reserve and can’t attend, please notify the office, .

IWOSC, the Independent Writers of Southern California, is a nonprofit association, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, providing support, tools, and resources to help self-employed professional writers in Southern California since 1982.   Please visit us at

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Carl Sagan Quote About Books

carl sagan quote about books

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Ventura County Writers Weekend – Nov 3 & 4

Two Days of Education for Writers of All Genres

Seven information-packed seminars over two full days will feature leading Southern California publishing professionals discussing today’s hot topics. Speakers include: literary agents, publishers, book publicists, published authors, social media experts, book shepherds, editors, writing instructors, and more.

Literary Agents Panel – important changes in publishing that every writer needs to know. Saturday, November 3, 3:30 pm to 5 pm: Listen to three top west coast literary agents discuss the rapidly changing world of book publication. Learn what New York is looking for and about new, small niche houses that offer an alternative to the legacy publishers on the east coast. Literary agents scheduled to speak: Toni Lopopolo, Dana Newman, and one more to be confirmed. PIPW executive directorKate Sexton Kaiserwill moderate the panel.
Memoir – the hot genre publishers are looking to buy Sunday, November 4, 10 to 11:30 am: New York publishers are looking for memoirs; personal narratives that touch the hearts of readers, and tell a unique story with a strong voice. Two successful memoirists will discuss the process, how to define the real story, and focus on the strengths of the characters. Speakers: Author and instructor, Diana Raab and author, Reyna Grande Literary agent and writing instructor, Toni Lopopolo will moderate.
Women Writing about Women for Women Sunday, November 4, Noon to 1:30 pm: Women buy 80% of all books sold in America. Female authors are taking over the bestseller lists. Publishers are looking for more books to attract this vibrant market. Listen to an agent discuss what she hears from acquiring editors in New York publishing houses, and two authors whose new books clearly targets this market. SPEAKERS: Literary agent and writing instructor, Toni Lopopolo, Robin Winter, author of the just published novel, Night Must Wait, and author Roberta Raye, who is a co-founder of Ojai WordFestAuthor Promote Thyself creator, Kate Sexton Kaiserwill moderate the panel.
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Coming Soon–The Hollyweird Series by Toni’s client E.Van Lowe

The official publication date of the first in the Hollyweird book series is set.  August 30th is the release date for The Zombie Always Knocks Twice by E.Van Lowe.

Author, Amanda Ashby says “I love everything about this fabulous, funny, snarky book.”

If youd like to read a sneak peek, the Bookish Brunette has included one as part of last May’s Zombie Craze (

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Susan Setteducato’s Reflections on Editing

By Susan Setteducato

“The best writing is re-writing.”- E.B White, Elements of Style

After I finished the first draft of my first novel (now Book Three in the McCool Saga) I began sending out queries. I had 600 pages, I announced with pride, which I had copied word for word from ten spiral notebooks. Within about two weeks the responses started rolling in. After a half-dozen of these, I began looking up rejection-statistics on published writers to make myself feel better. Then the tide turned. I got four requests for pages.

Susan SetteducatoI sent out my pages and received back two unceremonious ‘no’s’, plus one positive response which had been sent to me by mistake (an intern confused me with another writer). Then I got the bomb. An agent telling me in emphatic language to call off my blitz campaign. “You need an editor,” she said. “And you need to revise.”

Editor? Revise? Hmmfff. But I stopped. Then a friend told me about a Novelist’s Boot-Camp being offered at a place not far from where I lived. “You have to have written a whole novel,” she said. “And you have to apply to get in.”

Well, apply I did. Within hours I received a response from Toni Lopopolo, former Editor at St. Martin’s Press turned Literary Agent. She cut to the chase, too. “Take out all the ‘ly’ adverbs and ‘ings’, then send it back.” I thought she was nuts but I did it. An agent was giving me a chance. Continue reading

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Toni’s advice to first time novelists

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein99% of the submissions I see are from first time novelist.  Seldom do the manuscripts make me care for the protagonist(s).  Seldom have these writers ever taken courses in fiction writing with reputable instructors or in universities with reputable fiction writing courses. Seldom do they turn to  excellent books  that “show” them how to master the skills of fiction writing: story, character development, point of view, voice, plot, pacing, and how to write charged dialogue, setting, other skills.

Recommended Reading

don't use adverbsSeldom do the writers, who send their pages to this agency, know they use “hack” writing.  Hack meaning now overused by almost every writer.  Starting a sentence with the “as” parallel, or its brother, the gerund (e.g  Having shot her, he turned on his heel and said as he passed, “So long, sucker.”).  That’s a double “hack” by the way.  Or the adverb plague that a lot of writer’s still lean on: “I hate you!” she said furiously.  The exclamation point to show the reader how really angry “she” is ( as though punctuation conveys emotions); then the tacked on adverb to make sure the reader knows what the writer meant. (Insecure writer flag)  I see all this over and over and if I didn’t have my dogs to show me how they live with joy in the moment, I’d grow sad. Once in a great while, something will come to the agency that shows writing that reads like  pure silk, my hackles remain smoothed,  my editing pencil goes untouched.

Because I find so many would be novelists, who’ve worked hours and hours, wrote pages and pages, and most of that work needed heavy editing, I developed a course for writers and began giving workshops.  That started in 1992, and continues to this day.  What I learn from some of those who attend my workshops, or the bootcamps in tandem with Shelly Lowenkopf, is that though some have taken courses, worked in writing groups, no one ever taught them to master the basic skills, e. g. point of view.

I’m proud to say, one of these writers, who took the pen name of Robin Winter, I was able to place with a publisher last month. Ms Winter and I have worked together since October 2010. She worked hard rewriting the entire ms over and over. And finally, after submitting to several publishers the last draft, we found an enthusiastic publisher in Imajin Books of Edmonton, Canada. I am so proud.

Several other writers are almost to the point of delivering a finished manuscript to this agency, after working with me for many years. Because writers do have to work at day jobs, keep house, raise children, take care of aging parents,  their writing takes time to polish and refine. I understand.

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Join Toni at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference Sunday, July 22

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Sunday, July 22, 2 pm, Los Angeles Valley College

Join Toni Lopopolo, literary agent and famed lecturer, as she discusses: one-dimensional characters, dull dialog, not writing from real life, POV, telling not showing, and five more essential issues every first novelist should consider.

Learn more about the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference

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