On the write track: La Jolla Writers Conference opens Oct. 25

La Jolla author Jonathan Mayberry leads a workshop at the 2018 La Jolla Writers Conference.

The La Jolla Writers Conference enters its 19th year with keynote speaker Heather Graham (the New York Times best-selling author, not the actress) as well as authors Dale Brown, Susan Miessner and George Galdorisi. The conference takes place Oct. 25 to 27 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, and is limited to 200 attendees (to keep class sizes down).

Classes address a wide variety of subjects including branding, how to find your hook, and how an author website should look. Each follows a 50-minute lecture with a 50-minute interactive workshop. Opportunities to get feedback from publishing professionals are also available.

“We offer free pitches,” said conference organizer Antoinette Kuritz. “You come into a room with a panel of agents and publishers with a screenwriter, and you get two minutes to pitch your idea and why you’re the only person to write this.”

Kuritz, a book-development expert and literary publicist who lives in Clairemont, said she’s seen “agents throw their cards at people” during some of those meetings.

Randy Sutton, an ex-Las Vegas police officer who penned “A Cop’s Life” and other books, told the Light he attended the conference multiple times and found it to be “an amazing experience.”

“I met many wonderful authors and folks who love writing,” he said. “And I made fantastic connections — including a woman who became my agent.”

Kuritz said she started the La Jolla Writers Conference in 2001 because “we were just on the cusp of print-on-demand and I saw how much the industry was going to change.”

According to Kuritz, print-on-demand meant that signing with a publishing house might keep authors from ever gaining the rights to their books back. (She explained that typical contracts don’t allow rights to revert until a book goes out of print.)

“But now, all a publisher has to do it put a book on print-on-demand and technically it’s still in print,” she said. “So, in 2001, instead of a contract like that, I wanted to warn writers to ask for contracts where their rights revert back when sales fall below a certain number.”

Kuritz said this conference is unique because it is not an income stream for her or any of its participants.

“Everyone involved donates their time — from the keynotes who fly themselves in to us,” she said. “We only charge what it costs to put it on. We are a pay-it-forward conference.”

IF YOU GO: The 19th annual La Jolla Writers Conference takes place Friday to Sunday, Oct. 25-27, at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, 3777 La Jolla Village Drive. Registration is $395 including all panels and two dinners. Complimentary admission is available, via the Madge Blakey Scholarship, to three aspiring writers who are current students or teachers or active or retired military. lajollawritersconference.com