BinderCon NYC 2016 Sessions

SATURDAY, October 29, 2016

9:00 – 10:00am, Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th Street
Registration and light breakfast


10:00am – 11:15am, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Opening keynote with Anna Quindlen and Leigh Stein


11:30am – 12:45pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
It’s Not You, It’s Me: Why Good Work Gets Rejected
(Elizabeth Frank, Stephanie Foo, Ayesha Pande, Joanna Rothkopf, Maria Gagliano)

An agent writes “Wonderfully written, beautifully done, not for me.” An editor writes “We can’t use this, but please try us again.” Why does this happen, and what does it mean? A panel of editors and agents will provide a behind-the-scenes look into the factors beyond the merit of a work which lead to rejection, from saturated subject matter to lack of personal resonance. Panelists will discuss how they shape their lists or their issues and recommend how to make the most from the blow of “no” (hint: create a submission strategy!) No advance sign-up required.


11:30am – 12:45pm, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
Pitching 101 with BUSTLE

What goes in a perfect pitch? From a senior editor who reads a high volume of pitches every day, learn what to say (and more importantly, what not to say) in your initial correspondence, and tips on appearing professional and concise. In the second half of the workshop, we’ll look at a couple of pitches from workshop participants and offer constructive feedback—so if you have a pitch you’ve been dying to send somewhere, bring it here first! There will be time for Q&A. No advance sign-up required.


11:30am – 12:45pm, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 7th Floor atrium
Dear Agent: How to Write A Killer Fiction Query
Janet Reid (Query Shark)

Learn to craft a compelling query that introduces your work and entices a literary agent to ask for more. Come away with a list of things to avoid, and a list of things to include. Opportunities for Q&A, of course. Bring your own query if you want it used as a class example (not required). Advance sign-up required.


11:30am – 12:45pm, Room LL101, 41 Cooper Square
Screenwriting 101 with Jenny Lumet

No film school required, absolute beginners encouraged!

This two-part session will offer the essentials: What IS a screenplay? What does it look like? Why does it begin? Why does it end? How many pages should it be? How many acts? How is it the same or different from writing a novel or a play? What is the one thing that is indispensable to all screenplays?

We’ll look at structure, emotional arc, and character building. This will be a wild and woolly, rapid fire, and very practical look at the ABCs of screenwriting, with prompts and exercises, that will hopefully help illuminate my favorite method of storytelling. Advance sign-up required.

Please note this is a workshop in two parts. Attendees who sign up are expected to attend both sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.


11:30am – 12:45pm, Room 215FB, 7 E. 7th Street
Freelancing and Taxes: Know Your Writeoffs
(Natalie Slaughter)

Many freelancers assume that they aren’t entitled to writeoffs if they don’t make much money, if they have another primary career and more. From convention fees to printer paper, even your rent can be a tax writeoff. Find out what receipts you should be saving before April! Advance sign-up required.


12:45 – 2:00pm
Break for lunch on your own


2:15 – 3:30pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Book Editors, But Were Afraid to Ask
(Hannah Wood, May Chen, Kristine Puopolo, and Emily Gould)

Are you interested in a career in publishing? Eager to know what happens when a submission lands in an editor’s inbox? Curious about what editors actually do all day? Inspired by the popular Editor “Binders Ask Me Anything” session on Facebook, we’ve put together a diverse panel of editors from across the industry, who will draw on their varied personal and professional experience to answer your burning questions! Non-traditional publishing models can also be addressed. From the publishing process to good and bad author behavior to rejected projects that went on to be great successes, (almost) nothing is off-limits. No advance sign-up required.


2:15 – 3:30pm, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
Body Politics: Writing Reproductive Rights and Justice During the War on Women
(Irin Carmon, Britni de la Cretaz, Dr. Cynthia R. Greenlee, Steph Herold, Gloria Malone)

How do you write about abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, among other issues, in a hostile political and social landscape? This panel of journalists, bloggers, nonprofit thought leaders and researchers will discuss how to confront the difficult topic and assignment; the power and perils of sharing personal stories in the age of trolls; and what “balance” means when writing about stigmatized and divisive issues, especially when working with editors. They will also discuss their own trajectories and best practices for writing about reproductive and sexual health, gleaned from their own diverse experiences. Panelists will address career and publishing transitions, such as moving from article to book, from blog to journalistic writing, and how to convince mainstream editors that they need to cover reproductive and sexual-health issues or that you can write about other topics. No advance sign-up required.


2:15 – 3:30pm, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 7th Floor atrium
Authentically Awesome: Personal Branding for Writers
Dr. Raye Mitchell, Andrea Guevara

Building an integrated brand is your ticket to expanding your presence as a writer on the world’s stage and thereby increasing your profitability.

These days, every writer is told they need a platform, but simply having a platform is not enough. You need to have a solid brand strategy that speaks to the authentic you. After mastering your skills as a writer, owning a solid brand is one of the most valuable intellectual property rights you have to expand your reach, audience, influence, and profitability as a writer. Building an integrated brand strategy is easier than you think. This workshop will simplify the branding process and help you learn what you can do today in order to: clarify what your brand is, how you can gain a following by sticking to what you hold most dear, and identify the best ways to catalyze your unique brand. As a bonus, we’ll also share insights on how you can integrate purpose, activism, and cause-based passion into your brand strategy. Andrea Guevara, writer, branding expert, Digital Media Coordinator at PEN Center USA, and Brand Director of BinderCon, and Dr. Raye Mitchell, branding expert, Harvard lawyer turned entertainment producer, author, and social entrepreneur, will guide you through a hands-on workshop to help you start improving your personal brand immediately. Advance sign-up required.


2:15 – 5:00pm, Room LL101, 41 Cooper Square
Speed Coaching
Sign up for a twenty-minute session with a coach. Due to limited availability, we ask that you limit yourself to one slot total.
Signups are open first to BinderCon scholarship recipients, then to everyone else. The purpose of this opportunity is to help level the playing field for writers who are working through dynamics of power and exclusion in the publishing industry beyond gender; for example, ethnicity/race, non-binary gender identity, sexual orientation, age, education, and genre. One symptom of oppression is isolation: trying to do everything alone. Curated by binders Linda González and Minal Hajratwala, Speed Coaching aims to ease the isolation by providing facilitative, encouraging, growth-oriented mentoring to attendees who may not have had previous opportunities to experience coaching that prioritizes their writing craft and goals.
Please note that coaches have different specialties; where applicable, their bios and websites note particular areas of expertise to help you choose.
Advance sign-up required.

Speed Coaching FAQ

What is coaching?

The hallmark of coaching is self-responsibility. The client sets the agenda for the session and the coach follows that. You can expect clarifying questions to assist you in deciding next steps and moving your work forward.

What can we accomplish in a 20-minute session?
More than you might think! The more focused you are coming into the session, the more you will get out of it. Some possibilities:

  • Hone and practice your speed pitch for Sunday.
  • Discuss a sticking point in your writing or publishing process.
  • Strategize about how to integrate writing more effectively in your life.
  • Focus energy toward initiating or completing a writing project.
  • Set realistic goals for your writing career.

How is coaching different from other services?

Coaching isn’t therapy or editing. It focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change based on the client’s focus. A coach can help you develop by drawing on your own competence to discover the best decisions for you.
Do I have to be signed up for speed pitching in order to do speed coaching?

No. These are totally separate events. You can have coaching for any topic involving your writing and career.
Where can I find out more?

Check out the coaches’ websites in their bios, and read this roundtable involving three of the coaches who will be at BinderCon NY 2016:
Will my coach read my work beforehand?

No. All of the coaches are volunteering their time, and schedules have a tendency to change at the last minute, so pre-reading isn’t feasible. Introduce yourself and your work briefly to the coach at the beginning of the session.
I have a question that isn’t answered here.

Please email the organizers, and, with questions.


2:15 – 3:30pm, Room 215FB, 7 E. 7th Street
Book Criticism Workshop
Margot Mifflin
We’ll begin this book review workshop by introducing three critical questions to consider before you write. Then we’ll discuss nuts and bolts: balancing summary with critique, deciding when and whether to avoid spoilers, checking your review for fairness, and ensuring your individual voice lends style and authority to your writing. We’ll practice all of the above by using a short story as a model. And we’ll close with a brief discussion about the industry: where to find advance publication information, good outlets for breaking in and getting clips, and how to pitch and place reviews at paying outlets. Advance sign-up required.


3:45 – 5:00, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Writing about intersectional disability in poetry, YA fiction, news commentary, blogs and beyond
(Beth Haller, Kathi Wolfe, Emily Ladau, Day “Deena” Al-Mohamed, Sonya Huber)

Narratives about both real and fictional disabled people should not be infused with inspiration or dripping with pity, but how do we persuade editors, publishers, fellow writers and other media makers to create full-bodied disabled characters? How can we move disability out of the realm of ableist metaphors in our writing? How can we write more fully about disability identity when it merges with other identities? How can we use writing as a means of sharing stories that lead to better dialogue about key issues regarding disability? This panel will offer guidance and insight for writing about disability in three-dimensional and intersectional ways. No advance sign-up required.


3:45 – 5:00, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
Close to Home: The Beginner’s Practical Guide to Travel Writing
(Lori A. May, Meredith Bethune, Leslie Hsu Oh, Felice Neals, Hillary Richard)

Travel writing isn’t always about faraway or pricey locales. In reality, travel writing begins much closer to home by offering intimate and expert perspectives on the familiar. Our panel of travel and food writers shares tips for breaking in, transitioning to bigger markets, and writing travel across the genres. We’ll discuss how to grow from what you know, and how social media can build a travel writer’s platform and readership. From queries and pitches to finances and scouting locations, our goal is to offer newcomers ideas and inspiration. No advance sign-up required.


3:45 – 5:00, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 7th Floor atrium
Make Your Brand A Book: Creating, Pitching, and Selling a Kickass Non-Fiction Book Proposal
(Blair Thornburgh, Monica Odom)

You—yes, you—have what it takes to get a book deal!

Seriously: literary agents and publishers are always hungry for fun, intriguing, thought-provoking, and original material to make into books. But for lots of writers, bloggers, and journalists, pursuing publication can feel like a big leap into the unknown. Never fear! This workshop will teach you everything you need to know about creating and selling a non-fiction book proposal, from generating ideas and honing your angle to leveraging your platform and searching for an agent. Agent Monica Odom and editor Blair Thornburgh will discuss best practices, pitfalls, and trends in publishing, as well as the nuts and bolts of formatting a proposal, writing a query letter, and communicating with agents and publishers. And though the workshop session is aimed at writers looking to turn an existing blog/column/web project etc. into a book, there will be time for Q&As and discussion of other avenues to publication as well. So, if you’ve ever daydreamed, considered, or just wondered about how to get started on making your ideas into book—this is the workshop for you. Advance sign-up required.


3:45 – 5:00, Room 215FB, 7 E. 7th Street
Let’s Get Down to Business
Let’s Get Down to Business will answer the common question “I’ve received an offer of representation, now what?”, expanding on all aspects of the agent-author relationship, pitfalls you’ll want to avoid, and how the business of publishing books works after you’ve signed with an agency. Advance sign-up will begin in early September, with priority given to VIP ticket holders.

SUNDAY, October 30, 2016

10:30 – 11:45am, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Sports Journalism panel
Jenisha Watts, Latria Graham, Mary Pilon, Elena Bergeron
Description TK


10:30 – 11:45am, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
This Woman’s Work: The Appropriation, Marginalization and Plagiarism of Women’s Writing And What We Can Do About It
(Amanda Ann Klein, Lyz Lenz, Julie Schwietert Collazo, Liana M. Silva, J. M. Henderson)

A freelance pitch you sent being given to a staff writer. Calling out someone for referencing an idea you’ve written about extensively and being met with what amounts to “I’ve never heard of you or your work.” Your blog post or article being “curated” by another site, without so much as a link or a nod to the original. Whether you’re a freelance journalist, an essayist, or an academic, if you’re a woman who puts words on a page, this has happened to you. And if you’re a woman of color, a woman in the early stages of your career, or a woman who doesn’t have institutional affiliation or support, you’re even more likely to be affected.

We’re proposing a panel that shines a hard light on the practice of appropriation, marginalization and outright theft of women’s writing — an acknowledgement that this happens, a deep dive into why (hitting on issues of privilege and discrimination) and a discussion of how to addressthis issue in a way that empowers writers to not only call out publications and individuals without jeopardizing their careers (the number one reason people don’t speak up), but to amplify the work of fellow female writers and thinkers so that those who casually lift from others and use “But I didn’t even know about your book/article/piece!” can no longer rely on an individual writer’s lack of visibility as an excuse.

Too often we treat this intellectual theft as a hazard of doing business in the digital age, assuming that by sharing our work, we are somehow “asking for it” when that work is taken and its value credited to someone else’s account and that as individuals we have little recourse in the face of powerful publications and more well-established peers. This is unacceptable. No advance sign-up required.


10:30am – 4:30pm, Room LL101, 41 Cooper Square
Speed Pitching


10:30 – 11:45am, Room 215FB, 7 E. 7th Street
Screenwriting 101 with Jenny Lumet

No film school required, absolute beginners encouraged!

This two-part session will offer the essentials: What IS a screenplay? What does it look like? Why does it begin? Why does it end? How many pages should it be? How many acts? How is it the same or different from writing a novel or a play? What is the one thing that is indispensable to all screenplays?

We’ll look at structure, emotional arc, and character building. This will be a wild and woolly, rapid fire, and very practical look at the ABCs of screenwriting, with prompts and exercises, that will hopefully help illuminate my favorite method of storytelling. Advance sign-up required.

Please note this is a workshop in two parts. Attendees who sign up are expected to attend both sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.


12:00 – 1:15pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Obscenesters: Queer writers outside your comfort zones
(Tina Horn, Yana Calou, merritt k, Milcah Halili Orbacedo)

The potential of the written word to disturb and offend is more relevant now than ever before. Conservatives continue to demand that literature reflect certain values, while progressives push for an understanding of the traumatic effect that extreme content can have. Yet some of the most important literature and journalism emerges from an urgent need to disrupt the status quo; and if you’re going to make an omelette, you might have to offend a few eggs. Between censorship and trigger warnings, how do we preserve a space for writing that experiments with sex, violence, profanity, bodies in flux, and other extreme subjects?

Join four queer nonfiction writers as we make the case for the social good of unladylike language and disgusting subject matter. Each of us is fascinated by content that makes people squirm: pleasure, plain, power, profanity, blood, skin, and guts. The subtext of our work — death, consent, race, trauma, and money — is even less polite.

Some questions we will address: How does fear of stigma prevent us from writing the unpretty truth? How is shock and provocation gendered? On a prose level, how do we claim profanity in the name of the feminine? Is it good for society when art makes us uncomfortable? What happens when women and queers wield bad words and taboo subjects? What possible literary value can be found in the abject? How is profanity a useful tool for clapping back against patriarchal and colonial control? Are we just doing this for attention?

This panel will honor the history of women and queer writers who push the envelope of impropriety, from Kathy Acker to Toni Morrison to Patti Smith to Sybil Lamb. Attendees may leave the panel eager to tap into their own vulgar sides. No advance sign-up required.


12:00 – 1:15pm, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
First-Time Authors After Forty
Priscilla Warner, Tracey Helton Mitchell, Mira Jacob, Lisa Sharkey, Sherry Amatenstein

These women prove that while you can’t become an Olympic runner after a certain age, there is no expiration date when it comes to getting published. The benefits of seriously pursuing a literary career – you have more life experience, you have been through so many ups and downs (and therapy!) that you have gotten better at not personalizing rejection. Rather, you can more easily dust yourself off, work on your craft, and submit again. Here are the secrets of some amazing literary late bloomers, as well as a renowned editor who can share what it takes to succeed in this increasingly difficult and competitive business! No advance sign-up required.


12:00 – 1:15pm, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 7th Floor Atrium
Get the Yes: Crafting Your Best Application for Residencies, Fellowships, Grants, and Workshops
(Grace Jahng Lee, Glendaliz Camacho)

Whether you’re applying for a writing residency, fellowship, grant, scholarship, or workshop, the process can be anxiety-provoking. How do you even find out about these opportunities? How do you decide which to apply to? What does an artist statement include? Who will write your recommendation letters if you lack literary networks? What do you include in a writer’s CV if you have no/few publications? How do you select your best writing sample? What are strategies for dealing with multiple rejections? For residencies, additional nail-biting may emerge: How do you take time off from work and family obligations to disappear into the woods to write for weeks? How will you finance your residency if you still have rent/bills to pay while away?

As women without MFAs who didn’t pursue writing until their 30s, the workshop leaders found themselves together on a residency on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. With experience as both applicants (awarded 15 residencies within two years and numerous grants, fellowships, scholarships) and selection committee members, they will share strategies to help participants to craft their best application package. They will provide an overview of funded opportunities for writers and lead an interactive workshop with exercises targeting the basic elements of every proposal. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of a past application or one in-progress. A resource handout will be distributed. Advance sign-up required.


12:00 – 1:15pm, Room 215B, 7 E. 7th Street
Email Newsletter Workshop: Learn How to Build an Audience and Grow Your Brand
Jacque Boltik & Nishat Kurwa

Everyone – from established media companies to freelance writers – seems to agree that as a writer you need to promote yourself, and that you really should be doing that via an email newsletter. After all, it’s the only way to truly own the ability to consistently communicate with your audience.

But what can make email so effective? What does it take to launch a successful newsletter that subscribers (aside from your mom) will really want to read? What are the different types of newsletters, and what strategies might work best for you?

In this workshop, you will learn a step-by-step approach to creating engaging content, the principals of modern email design and practical solutions for creating templates, as well as best practices for maintaining and growing your audience. Advance sign-up required.


1:15 – 2:30pm
Break for lunch on your own


2:45 – 4:00pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Page to Stage to Screen Panel
(Ashley Lauren Rogers, Pamela Redmond Satran, Susan Kim, Sharbari Zohra Ahmed)
Description TK


2:45 – 4:00, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square
Writing About Mothers & Daughters
Sandra Rodriguez Barron, Betsy Lerner, Elizabeth Crane, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Beth Boyle Machlan

Motherhood is a sacred institution in most cultures and therefore is generally not discussed in a negative or even honest light. The idea behind this panel is to create a discussion of the topic of mothers and daughters that goes beyond the platitudes and simplistic, idealized portrayals of what is a primal and deeply formative relationship; one that is often rife with conflict and ambivalence. Mainstream books about the mother-daughter bond can leave certain readers out in the cold, with a sensation of a deep loss and loneliness. Conversely, writing about love, acceptance, and gratitude for our mothers and daughters often only scratches the surface of the meaning hold in our lives. It makes perfect sense to try to open a vein and try to grapple with the subject, but how can we write about our mothers and daughters without causing trouble? What do we risk by choosing to tell our version of the story? Our panel will address their individual approaches, both in terms of craft and in life. The fiction writers will address the artistic options that the form offers, especially in terms of privacy and storytelling. No advance sign-up required.


2:45 – 4:00, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 7th Floor
Write Your Heart Out: Writing, and Selling, Personal Essays
(Lisa Selin Davis)

In this workshop, we’ll learn both the craft of writing powerful personal essays and the science of where, and how, to place them. Half of the workshop is writing-intensive, with exercises to start and polish essays. We will be generating ideas for pieces, as well as examining types of personal essays, from xoJane-style “It happened to me” pieces to longform reported personal essays. Participants should come prepared to write!

The other half of the workshop is nuts and bolts, and intended to be useful and actionable for participants. We’ll be covering both the literary and the logistical, including titles, potential outlets, query letters, etiquette, and how to talk to your parents the day after you’ve published some ultra-revealing essay about them in a national newspaper. A BinderCon attendee from Lisa’s 2014 workshop placed an essay in the New York Times. Advance sign-up required.


2:45 – 4:00, Room 215FB, 7 E. 7th Street
25 life-changing tools and apps for freelance writers
(Abigail Edge)

Freelancing is an increasingly viable career path for many writers and journalists, especially those who need more flexibility in their work, or those in newsrooms at risk from cuts. This engaging and informative session will focus on free or low-cost tools covering areas such as:
• monitoring topics and generating ideas,
• social media tips and tricks,
• organization and productivity hacks,
• web and newsletter platforms,
• expensing and invoicing.

Advance sign-up required.


4:15 – 5:30pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Closing keynote: Porochista Khakpour and Elif Batuman in conversation with Allison Wright

5:30 – 7:30pm, Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 E. 7th Street
Happy Hour