Local Author Days - Writing the Query & Landing the Agent

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Event Details

Local Author Day is the Santa Barbara Public Library’s annual community event that looks to support the local writing community and increase community awareness of local author contributions in Santa Barbara. The 2021 Local Author Days: First Impressions Matter will offer two workshops to take place over two weekends. These will be virtual workshops open to all community members.


Writing the Query & Landing the Agent

with Ellen O’Connell Whittet and Aaron Shulman


Why do you need a literary agent and how do you get one? This workshop from two published authors will take you through the process of approaching literary agents, from pitching your book in savvy terms, to crafting a query letter that is both compelling and professional. Participants will study examples of query letters, listen to hard-won advice on mistakes to avoid, and receive feedback from fellow participants and the workshop leaders on a draft of a query.


The Game Plan 

The First Workshop - Day 1, January 30

  • Talk about our querying experiences; explain the role of the query; engage in analyzing workshop leaders’s queries.

  • Anatomy of a query. What each paragraph needs to accomplish.

  • Breakout rooms in which workshop leaders will listen to individual pitches and give feedback.


Between Time

Homework: Write your full query.


The Second Workshop - Day 2, February 6

  • Breakout rooms in which workshop leaders will listen separately to workshop participants’ queries, and participants can also offer feedback to peers.


About the Workshop Leaders:

Ellen O’Connell Whittet is an essayist and lecturer who teaches in the Writing Program at UC Santa Barbara. Her memoir about coming of age in ballet, What You Become in Flight, was released in spring 2020.

Ellen has written for Paris Review, Buzzfeed, Vulture, The Atlantic, New York City Ballet, Allure, Teen Vogue, The Rumpus, Lenny Letter, Bustle, Catapult, Literary Hub, Salon, Post Road, Prairie Schooner, where she won the Virginia Faulkner Award, Redivider, The Nashville Review, the Harper Perennial Anthology The Moment (2012), and on the Ploughshares Blog. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Aaron Shulman is the author of the non-fiction historical narrative The Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain’s Most Notorious Literary Family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2019). A former Fulbright scholar, his work has appeared in The Believer, The New Republic, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, El País (Spain), Hazlitt, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among many other places. He is the co-owner of the book-coaching agency Splash Literary.



Event Type(s): Library Program
Age Group(s): Adults
Presenter: Ellen O’Connell Whittet and Aaron Shulman
Jen Lemberger
(805) 564-5621

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