LJ Writers Conference covers craft, industry, marketing

The Ninth Annual La Jolla Writers Conference, one of the country’s top such events, will be held Nov. 6-8 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego. This year’s keynote speakers include New York Times bestselling authors Jane Green, Lisa Gardner and Eileen Goudge. The three-day program features lectures and workshops from more than 20 faculty members, all of whom participate with the intent of sharing their experience to help others.

“Every year we pull together a group of people who are successful in different areas of the publishing industry, and we pay it forward,” conference founder Antoinette Kuritz said. “These are people who give of their time to come and support the conference. There are many years we’ve gone into the red to put this conference on, but it’s something we do to give back to the writing community.”

Part of what makes the La Jolla Writers Conference such a valuable resource for writers is the fact that the lecture and workshop content goes way beyond craft basics. While attendees can learn about the art of memoir and powerful dialogue, there are also sessions covering the business end of publishing.

Kuritz, a literary publicist by day, said she sees a lot of books from authors who don’t understand the industry, a shortcoming that can make the difference in getting published or not. “The competition, not just for store shelf space but for buyers, is fierce,” Kuritz said.

Also taking into account the variety of options for publishing – including self-publication and small presses – Kuritz felt it was important to create a conference that educated writers not only about writing but also about publicity, marketing, selecting and working with an agent, how to write a query letter, how to put together a proposal, and how to develop a platform.

“I think that’s part of what makes us so successful,” Kuritz said.

Following the second La Jolla Writers Conference, at which time the event outgrew all of the venues in La Jolla but decided to retain the name, Writer’s Digest voted it “one of the 84 conferences in the country worth your money.”

The registration fee entitles participants to a 1-to-4 teacher/student ratio; three social gatherings/meals; pitch sessions; more than 50 interactive lectures and workshops; and the opportunity to network with agents, authors and publishers.

Aaron Snyder has attended the conference for the last two years and will be returning this year as a published author. His nonfiction book, “The New Diabetes Prescription,” comes out in February from Creative Arts Press.

“What we don’t understand as a group is that great writing is not enough to get published,” Snyder said. “I had finished my manuscript … but knew a lot more about my subject than publishing a book. I didn’t know about agents, having a platform or the need to be able to summarize what your book is about in less than 100 words or 60 seconds. Through the conference, I gained great contacts who were able to help with all these steps that I was nowhere near ready to do on my own.”

Kuritz, who runs the conference with her son and business partner, Jared Kuritz, said the conference has come a long way from its inaugural year, when more than two-thirds of the registrants canceled because of Sept. 11.

“Last year was the first year we had to turn people away,” Kuritz said, adding that people should move quickly to make the 200-person cap on registration. “There’s something about being among other writers that validates the fact that even if you aren’t published, you are a writer.”

Ninth Annual La Jolla
Writers Conference
When: Nov. 6-8
Where: Paradise Point Resort & Spa, Mission Bay
Full conference cost: $435, sans lodging
2009 faculty: Four New York Times bestselling authors, five literary agents, the former editorial director for Writer’s Digest Books, multiple editors and experts in nearly every genre. Information/registration: (858) 467-1978, www.lajollawritersconference.com

Did you know?
Books published annually in the U.S.:
2005: 176,000
2006: 192,000
2008: 440,000
- Source: Antoinette Kuritz, publicist

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