When I attended the SDSU Writer’s Conference

February 3, 2015 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

San Diego State University (SDSU) Extensions Program had their 31st annual Writer’s Conference this January, featuring all writing genres. As a 198–(you guess) SDSU Journalism grad, I’ve wanted to attend this conference for several years. Now that my daughter attends SDSU and my sister agreed to fly down from the Bay Area and join me afterward, it seemed a no-brainer, right?

I looked forward to meeting children’s books agent, Caryn Wiseman, from Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. and Simon & Shuster Children’s Picture Book Editor, Alyson Haler. Allotted ten minutes each, in a semi-pitch session that resembled speed-dating meets American Idol, I received great feedback from both and a request for re-submission after editing.

I’d like to share a few nuggets gathered at the conference that apply to most genres.
From Agent Betsy Amster of Betsy Amster Literary:
*Regarding queries–make sure the first paragraph is easy to understand. “This ______ (word count) _________(genre, like distopian or historical, etc.)__________________(category, like YA, etc) is about…..
In the second paragraph, plunge into the scene.
In the third paragraph of your query, it’s okay to say you’re excited about this book and why.

*Amster said, “Agents love blogs.” Nuff said.

Book Architecture, an author-help website (www.bookarchitecture.com) encourage blogging, too, using wordpress, (wordpress.com) the easiest site. (I’ll vouch for that) Blogging ideas offered: writing advice, excerpts from your manuscript, how hard the writing life is. Blogs, along with newsletters, increase traffic to your web site or social media page.

Picture book author, Susan Katz (“My Mama Earth,” “ABC, Baby Me,” and Scholastic’s upcoming “ABC, School’s For Me!”) said publishers are scrambling for non-fiction because of the recent adoption of new common core standards. You can download the ap for Common Core Standards to align with your manuscript. Social Studies and Science curriculums are not the same statewide but the other subjects are.

Katz said you can form a focus group of age appropriate kids and ask them what they want to know about the topic you’re writing about, whether non-fiction or fiction.

I enjoyed this three day conference, even managing to soak up a few minutes of San Diego poolside sun, between workshops, and meeting some lovely writers–one from my home state, Colorado. Great mid winter break!


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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