2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference: Five Questions with Agent Sarah Smith of David Black Literary Agency

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

If you’re a writer with a dream, get one step closer to being a writer with an agent. Learn how to hone your craft, your pitch, and your query, at the conference with a long history of launching careers.

The SDSU Writers’ Conference was among the first to pioneer 1:1 appointments with agents and editors, giving you unprecedented access to top-tier publishing professionals — many of whom interact with unpublished authors only through conferences.

The 32nd annual conference is Jan. 22-24, 2016 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley. Register now for three days that could change your writing life.

Meet literary agent Sarah Smith of David Black Literary Agency, at the 2016 conference:

1. What’s the best advice you can give to writers who are right now polishing their pitches and query letters in preparation for the upcoming SDSU Writers’ Conference?
Do your research! When talking about their projects, writers should be able to compare their books to books that have already sold or other authors writing today. Where would your book sit in a bookstore? Also, when meeting with agents or editors, I would encourage writers not to oversell themselves. No one likes feeling like they’re being sold on something. Just relax, and have a conversation. Last thing—ask questions about the process. That’s what we’re there for!

2. Can you share one of the best/worst opening lines from query letters you’ve received?
I can’t think of any specifically, but, per my answer to question 1, I would caution writers against overselling in their query letter. Any opening paragraph that claims to be JUST the book that is going to change my life sends up red flags.

3. What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
There are so many! I would say either the Charles Dickens my grandfather would read to me, or Sharon Creech’s books, particularly Walk Two Moons and Absolutely Normal Chaos! I still love them.

4. If you had to choose only one, what’s your favorite book?
It’s almost impossible for me to say! But two books that I always come back to are The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

5. What do you hope to find at the 32nd Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference?
I hope to find some new, fresh voices and connect with people who are passionate about books and the written word.

The 32nd Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference is Jan. 22-24, 2016 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley. Register now for three amazing days that could change your writing life.

For more information, visit neverstoplearning.net/writers, call (619) 594-0670 or email sdsuwritersconference@sdsu.edu.