If You Want an Agent, You Need Backspace

I learned about the Backspace Writer’s Conference the way I learn about most things: Twitter. An author I follow tweeted about his new agent and his blog detailed the experience (Backspace played a huge role).

I cannot emphasize enough what an amazing opportunity this conference provides to authors looking for an agent. Unlike most writing conferences that offer a couple of anxiety-ridden pitch sessions, Backspace provides genre-specific workshops where authors spend hours having their query letters and opening pages critiqued by agents seeking new clients.

Not all participants receive offers of representation, but at the very least they should come away inspired and informed enough to make their manuscript query-ready. I received multiple requests for my women’s fiction manuscript, but of equal importance was the opportunity to connect with writers who have become beta readers, cheerleaders and swoon-worthy drinking buddies.

I’ve also completed a children’s chapter book that I’m ready to query, but only YA was being represented in the workshops. Luckily, Backspace offered agent/editor panels on both days and writers were able to pitch their work to them following the sessions. This allowed me to connect with agents who represent children’s fiction (more referrals and requests for pages).

Since I went totally budget on the accommodations and was able to score a cheap flight, the entire conference cost me just over $1,000—obviously a significant chunk of coin, but think of it as an investment in yourself…that’s how I sold it to my husband 😀



Filed under Author events, Getting published, Inspiration, Motivation, Starting up, Writing resources

10 responses to “If You Want an Agent, You Need Backspace

  1. Trish Loye Elliott

    I’m soooo looking into this conference for next year! Thanks for the info, lady.

  2. Okay – dumb question (especially since I read your blog posts about the conference, but I was too busy worrying about how the Serb would cook chicken nuggets to notice the details): Did you attend the Agent/Author event and is this different from the Writers Conference? Do both offer the opportunity to meet up one on one with a variety of agents?

    In case you can’t tell, I’m INTERESTED.

    Who wants to be my roommate in May?
    p.s. I look bad in hats, too.

    • Lori Dyan

      I love that you prioritized nuggets over the conference (which is the opposite of what I did…). Aside from the panels to start/finish the day, where everyone is together in one big room, the conference is nothing but small workshops with you, 2 agents and other writers in your genre.

      2 agents in the morning critique your query, 2 different agents in the afternoon critique your opening pages. At the end of the conference, 8 agents have met with you in this workshop setting. I had 15 others in my group and we had to read our work in front of each other.

      Maybe it’s because we were women’s fiction, but the group was incredibly supportive and lovely to be around. There was also a ‘refine your pitch’ thing in the evening, but I didn’t bother with that. I ended up with 12 requests for pages/full ms between both of my projects!

      There are no craft workshops focusing on pacing, how to write dialogue, etc. It’s just you and agents. It. Is. Life. Changing.

      p.s. you should hook up with Trish (comment above yours) because she is as divine as you (BUT, I suspect she looks great in hats… #luckybitch).

      • I love that you hash tagged a comment! I’m totally going to go to this conference, Julie. We should touch base closer to the date.
        BTW, I don’t have thick beautiful hair like you, Lori. Hats are definitely my friends.

  3. I love that you had such a great experience at Backspace, and I await news of your agented-ness, which will no doubt happen soon. And I would love to meet some of your new conference pals.
    Why don’t they have opportunities like this in Canada?

  4. The woowoo says you will have an agent early 2012. I’m SO excited for you!

  5. Elena Aitken

    Awesome that you had such a great conference! I agree…me thinks you’ll be agented soon. 🙂

  6. Wow, it sounds AMAZING! I’m glad you had such a great time. Also, I’m srsly jealous, lol.

  7. urbanfantasywriter

    So glad I read this post! Excited! I’ve already registered for the conference in May. The opportunity to meet with 8 agents during the workshops sounds….amazing.

    Did you do the 10 minutes/10 pages thing? Any advice on that part?

    • Lori Dyan

      That is actually new – the format is a bit different from what I experience – but it’s exciting! I would just get your “elevator pitch” down cold so you can give the agent a quick overview of what the story is about (by quick, I mean 3 sentences max) and then remember to breathe during the meeting. 😉 Don’t waste time on too many pleasantries, but do remember the agent is a real person and is there to see you succeed, so try not to be (too) nervous. And GOOD LUCK! Let us know how it goes for you!!!

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