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Writers Conference Attracts Worldwide Talent

The 28th annual event attracted aspiring writers from as far away as Australia.
An aspiring writer speaks with an agent at the SDSU Writers' Conference.
An aspiring writer speaks with an agent at the SDSU Writers' Conference.

Aspiring writers from across the globe — some as far as Australia — traveled to San Diego for the 28th annual SDSU Writers Conference to learn and be critiqued.

The SDSU Writers Conference, held in January, featured workshops taught by 50 faculty on a variety of topic areas, the opportunity to meet with and be critiqued by leading literary agents and editors, and networking opportunities with other writers.

'An amazing experience'

Sharon Smith, a San Diego resident who is hoping to publish in mainstream fiction, said the workshops really made this conference an amazing experience for her.

“I really enjoyed the seminars and learned so much on how to improve my writing skills,” said Smith.

Approximately 250 individuals attended the conference, according to Becky Ryan, conference co-director and staff member for conference organizer, the SDSU College of Extended Studies. She is happy the conference continues to gain a national reputation for being among the top writers conferences in the country. Yet at the same time, she thinks the relatively small scale is what makes it a special experience.

“We want to keep the conference what it is so participants continue to have an intimate experience,” said Ryan.

Success stories

The SDSU Writers Conference has a history of being the starting place where several best-selling authors got their industry start. Margaret Dilloway (How to Be an American Housewife) met her first agent at the Conference.

Marjorie Hart, then 81, attended the 2006 SDSU Writers Conference to learn how to self-publish her memoir, Summer at Tiffany. Instead, she left the event with an agent and an “Editor’s Choice Award” for her manuscript.

Debut novelist Lynn Sheene found an agent at the Conference for her book, Last Time I Saw Paris, which was published in 2011.

Future of publishing

The SDSU Writers Conference prides itself on being on the cutting-edge of publishing topics. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.com, represented that edge with his keynote address that focused on the future of publishing.

Smashwords is an e-book publishing and distribution platform for e-book authors, publishers, agents and readers. He has seen from his business how e-books and independent publishing are a growing trend in the industry.

“In 2008, Smashwords published 140 e-books. By the end of 2011, that figure grew to 92,000,” Coker said. “You all in this room determine the fate of big publishing.”

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