2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference: Five Questions with Editor Amy Stapp of Tor/Forge and Tor Teen

Amy Stapp

Amy Stapp

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agents and editors, giving you unprecedented access to top-tier publishing professionals — many of whom interact with unpublished authors only through conferences.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 Amy Stapp, an editor at Tor/Forge and Tor Teen, 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?
I think a knowledge of the marketplace is so helpful. It’s one of the first questions I ask authors: Tell me what it’s like. You’d be surprised how many authors are writing in a genre that they don’t read much in. I love when a newer author is able to frame the query in a way that allows me to easily see how we might market this book. That being said, while it’s fine to say that your book is “just like” the next XYZ New York Times best-selling author, it’s more helpful to be a little more specific (and also realistic!) when you’re giving comparative titles. My story is a combination of X and Y books that you may have heard of, and my writing style is similar to Z, and I think there’s a market for this book right now because of the popularity of A … The first ten pages is all about the hook, so please don’t worry about trying to explain things too deeply. I promise I can pick up on what’s left unsaid.

2. Can you share one of the best/worst opening lines from query letters you’ve received?
“I know you said you don’t acquire SciFi/Fantasy, BUT…” (Seriously, y’all, I really and truly don’t acquire SFF.)

OR “I know everyone keeps telling me that vampires/zombies (etc.) aren’t selling anymore, but mine will and here’s why…”

OR “I don’t know if you’re going to like this, but…”

3. What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
When I was young, I began stealing books from both of my grandmothers’ bookshelves. One grandma introduced me to Francine Rivers and the other grandma introduced me to Nora Roberts (okay, she didn’t know I was sneaking Nora Roberts, but that’s where I found them). So I fell in love with love first (in all its various genres), and mystery and suspense second (through Nancy Drew and Matlock of course). 🙂

4. If you had to choose only one, what’s your favorite book?
Anna Karenina. I don’t know what it was, but it’s just so lovely, and was one of those books that’s just always stuck with me.

5. What do you hope to find at the 32nd Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference?
I’m really hoping to find some great suspense or contemporary YA [Young Adult]. I want something that makes me think, a book where there are multiple layers at work. Like every reader, I want something I can’t put down, that will keep me up all night!