Bloggers Corner

Visit Alle's 5 Star Reviews and check out author Carolyn Arnold and her two new releases.

Alle's 5 Star Reviews


Today's guest is Jill Borak and she is going to share with us her experiences from her recent trip to Backspace Agent-Author Seminar.

What I Learned at Backspace

Ernest Hemingway once said that writing, at its best, is a lonely life. I completely disagree. Sorry, Papa. My proof is the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar, which I attended last month.

Backspace was my first writers’ conference, and I’m happy to share the lessons I learned with you.

Lesson #1: Go in with a Plan.

I was at an odd place in my writing when I showed up for the conference. My previous novel was queried out, and my current novel was still a work in progress. So I wasn’t there to pitch to agents. But I did go in with a list of goals: find potential beta readers, introduce myself to the keynote speaker, chat with at least a half a dozen agents.

Your plan may be completely different. Maybe you want to pitch the heck out of your manuscript, or polish your query to a high luster. Maybe you’ve got some industry questions you want answered. Just don’t go in without a plan, or worse, with the expectation you’re there to get a contract. Although some few, some lucky few, have signed with agents at or after Backspace, it’s a tad unrealistic. Besides, there’s so much more to get out of the conference.

Lesson #2: Agents Aren’t Just for Pitching.

I should point out, in case you don’t already know, the Backspace Conference doesn’t have formal pitch sessions. Instead, writers meet with agents in workshops to discuss their query letters and opening pages. It’s as low-pressure as meeting with agents could possibly get.

When I approached agents, I wasn’t interested in pitching. I was looking for information. I don’t want to give you the impression that I had memorized each agent’s latest sales figures, or digested all the industry scoop from Galley Cat and Publishers Marketplace. Truthfully, I chatted a lot about Dave Matthews.

But I also talked with an agent about a book I loved that was repped by his colleague. He told me the inside story of how that book almost didn’t get published. I probably would not have had that conversation if I was in pitch mode. Just by treating agents like the wonderful people they are, I learned so much about the writing biz.

Lesson #3: Surround Yourself with Writers.

Agents aren’t the best thing about Backspace. (No offense, agents.) It’s the writers.

Although the agents were universally fantastic, accessible, and generous with their time, they were not the highlight of the conference for me. Without a doubt, the best thing about Backspace was meeting all those fantastic, accessible, generous writers.

The other writers at the conference aren’t just attendees. They’re not your competition for face-time with agents, either.

The other writers are your potential beta readers. My entire workshop group (shout out to the mystery/thriller folks!) has stayed in touch and a few of us are already critiquing each others’ work.

They other writers are ready-made cheerleaders. Maybe it’s the bond forged through common hardship. Maybe it was something in the water. I’m not sure. But everyone I met was incredibly supportive. I’ll never forget the giant group hug, that second day of the conference, after one of our newly-formed friends got The Call from an agent. Somehow, his success seemed like a success for all of us.

So you see, writing is not a lonely life at all.
When not surrounded by other writers, Jill Borak is hard at work on her next novel. When not hard at work, she is probably fiddling around on the internet. Visit her blog, Ripped from the Pages, here.
My blog: Ripped from the Pages