2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference: Five Questions with Literary Agent Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

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agents and editors, giving you unprecedented access to top-tier publishing professionals — many of whom interact with unpublished authors only through conferences.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 Richard Curtis, president of Richard Curtis Associates, at the 2016 conference:

1. What’s the best advice you can give to writers who are currently polishing their pitches and query letters in preparation for the 2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference?
In the opening sentence or two, state what category it is (romance, fantasy, thriller, YA) and the key concept. “In my romantic thriller, Laura returns home from work to find her roommate gone, her drawers ransacked, and a Post-it in some kind of code affixed to the toilet seat.”

Don’t oversell your story or get too cute — remember, agents have read it all and are more impressed by understatement than by hard sell and gimmicks.

If you have no track record, say so.  We all began at the beginning once. I personally am not impressed by self-publication credits.

I wouldn’t push too hard about your marketing or social media skills. Just tell me a story I’ve never heard before.

2. Can you share one of the best/worst opening lines from query letters you’ve received?
This was the best and worst at one and the same time: “In my detective mystery ___________, a septuagenarian coroner working in Communist Indo-China in the 1970s solves a mystery by calling on the local spirits.”

I said to myself, “This I gotta see!” It turned out to be a delicious book, I sold it and seven or eight sequels that are as hard to pitch as the first one was.

3. What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
Any book my mother read to me.

4. If you had to choose only one, what’s your favorite book?
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.

5. What do you hope to find at the 32nd Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference?
As I’m giving the keynote address, I hope to find attentive listeners who are interested in both the past and future of the book industry.

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.