View Full Version : [Writers' Forum] Backspace / Backspace Writers' Conference

Trapped in amber
12-18-2004, 02:15 AM
This site looks really good, and has lots of interesting things on the free homepage, but it costs $30 a year to subscribe to the forums. I've never come across that before. I'm quite interested in joining, so I was wondering if anyone here knew if they were legit.?
They do have a five day free trial, but there was a PayPal thing to fill in first and I wanted to check if there's anything wrong with this.



www.bksp.org/index.shtm (http://www.bksp.org/index.shtm)

aka eraser
12-18-2004, 03:18 AM
That site was founded by a few break-away members of Writers Net. It's legit but somewhat controversial. If you go to www.writers.net/forum/ (http://www.writers.net/forum/) and click on the Published Writers board, then the "Discussion for established writers" thread, you'll see what I mean.

Trapped in amber
12-18-2004, 03:37 AM
Thanks aka eraser, I read the thread (and looked at a few others) and think I got most of what was happening. It was a little strange, but it does look like they're on the up and up.

08-03-2005, 11:58 PM
Still an active community.

08-04-2005, 12:17 AM
And subscription-only message boards show up from time to time in many other areas. It's not necessarily a sign of a scam. Depending on the nature of the forum, they may allow non-subscribers to read without posting.

08-04-2005, 06:30 AM
I'm an active member of Backspace. If anyone has any questions about it, I'd be happy to answer. Feel free to post here, or send me a PM.

05-19-2007, 07:53 AM
This is an old thread but hopefully someone will take notice of my question and clue me in. I noticed Backspace has about 500 members while this has over 13,000. Backspace has a more professional presentation. I already donated $30 to this site because I am so happy here, and I have no income since I am writing full time, so shelling out another $30 for Backspace is a little much for me right now w/o feeling there are any real advantages.

Linda Adams
05-20-2007, 04:23 AM
The $30 gets you to their message board, which has a monthly session with an editor, agent, or writer where you can ask questions about the publishing industry (and archives of the past ones). All the guests writers are people you'd know and probably have read.

Because it's paid, the message board also tends to have less problems than the free ones--you don't get nutcases coming in and getting stupid.

And it's the only board I've seen with more of an emphasis on thriller than sci-fi/fantasy.

05-20-2007, 04:38 AM
Can we help it if we're good at the online forum thing?

(Spa fon? Squa tront!)

05-20-2007, 04:48 AM
Thanks Linda, I appreciate it I am exclusively nonfiction and am working on four books. Three are in various states of progress and the one I am working on full time is a memoir. I will be working on the memoir exclusively until it is done. From your experience is BackSpace strong on memoir? I did notice there seems to be a little less drama over there and that may be related to the weeding out you spoke of.

Silver King
05-20-2007, 05:19 AM
...I did notice there seems to be a little less drama over there and that may be related to the weeding out you spoke of.
Heck, if all the drama were weeded from this site, you'd be left with a lot of dry soil.

As Eugene O'Neill would say, "Long live drama!"

05-20-2007, 07:34 AM
The sites looked alike to me in the beginning because they use some of the same templates, but I am starting to see that they are unique and I can definitely benefit from both.

Linda Adams
05-20-2007, 06:14 PM
Thanks Linda, I appreciate it I am exclusively nonfiction and am working on four books. Three are in various states of progress and the one I am working on full time is a memoir. I will be working on the memoir exclusively until it is done. From your experience is BackSpace strong on memoir? I did notice there seems to be a little less drama over there and that may be related to the weeding out you spoke of.

Not sure, to be perfectly honest. My books are fiction and thrillers, so that's what I tend to look for. :)

However, I did forget to mention that agents do look at the Backspace boards and even at some of the queries posted for critiques. Jeff Kleinman (Folio Literary) popped on one day with a general comment on queries. I think it was mentioned in the FAQs that occasionally someone has been able to make contact through the Q&A's with the agents.

There's also a LOT of published writers. There's always a huge list of people with a new book coming out in their monthly newsletter.

05-20-2007, 08:52 PM
Thanks to everyone for the info!

05-21-2007, 12:38 AM
I'm a member and I think it is great. Almost everyone on the sight is either a published author, agent or editor. And many of the non-published writers go on to become just that (not that there aren't the same here, there totally are and I love AW, but because there is a fee and because of it's reputation the ratio is greater is my point). They also host a conference in NY (it'll be in two weeks around the same time as teh BEA).

Yes it's 30$, but it is an excellent learning opportunity, as well as networking opportunity. And the people there are very nice and professional.

05-21-2007, 08:54 AM
I joined, and I am glad I did. This forum is definitely larger, but Backspace has some agent inteviews and other things you only get through paid access. Since it was only a once a year fee, i tried it. I am also a non-fiction writer. At first I was disappointed that there was so much fiction info, but later I started visiting again and realized there was plenty of helpful info for me too. Worth far more than $30 imho.

I have not read the controversy posts mentioned above yet, maybe I'd better. :)

03-16-2008, 04:57 PM
Have any of you ever been to the Backspace Writers' Conference?

03-16-2008, 07:41 PM
Yes, twice. There's usually a terrific keynote speaker (sometimes two), interesting and informative workshops and panels (disclaimer: I was on one of the panels last year and will be again this year), and the chance to hang out with writers at all stages of their careers. And, since I'm a member of Backspace, I get to see my online friends in person--but I think most of the attendees are not members (although many join up after the conference), so you shouldn't feel left out.

Is there anything specific you want to know?

03-16-2008, 10:29 PM
Heh, when I first read the title of this thread I thought someone wanted to talk about how much they use the 'backspace' key when editing. ^__^

03-16-2008, 10:40 PM
Marlys: Thanks for the information. I was actually just at your site a few days ago!

I've never been to a writers' conference before, and I'm not sure what to really expect. I guess I'd like to know if the agents are approachable or if there are so many other writers there that if you don't know anyone, you never really get a chance to speak to them.

I've got a novel I'd like to begin shopping around to agents. It is sort of a "quiet horror" or good old fashioned ghost story -- I'm still trying to peg it.

Would you say this is a good conference for a first time conference attendee?

Claudia Gray
03-17-2008, 12:07 AM
I'm going (and speaking!) this year, although I haven't actually registered yet -- I'll be doing that tomorrow.

09-16-2009, 04:09 AM
Anyone use the Backspace message boards? Do they have Children, MG, or YA boards?

Do they offer critiques?

I've heard good things about them, but my main reason for using the boards are user feedback on my writing, which is great here. However, I know there's lots of agents over there.

Since they are the one's I'm trying to impress I thought the boards might be worth the $40 fee (yes, you read they correctly forty buckaroos!)

I wrote them asking if they could provide me read only access, or if they could at least give me a list of the different forums.

I wasn't impressed with the reply, which was basically, No. Just paypal us $40 and if you don't like the boards you can cancel within five days.

I didn't care for that reply for lots of reasons. Mainly, work might interfere and I might not be able to even post anything for a week.

Anyone use the backspace boards???

PS. I love the water cooler! I just want to check out the grass on the other side.

09-16-2009, 04:21 AM
I should add that their reply was prompt and courteous. It just didn't seem like they were willing to take the time to cut and paste a list of forums for me.

09-16-2009, 11:02 PM
Moving to Bewares & Background Checks--

09-17-2009, 12:33 AM

I'm not a member (yet) since I don't write books, but I do know co-founder Karen Dionne somewhat. Several years ago she and I were both members of another forum where moderation was extremely relaxed. A member made things very, very scary, and at that time Karen and others began Backspace. From the beginning it has done well. I know several professional authors who belong, and they say it is extremely good.

Five days seems like enough time to evaluate it. Even if you don't get to post you will get sufficient opportunity to see the forums. But if you are worried, you might mark your calendar and put a Post It note on your monitor to remind yourself of the deadline for the cancellation date. And did you know you can see a list of the forums (http://www.bksp.org/upload/index.php) here?

09-17-2009, 01:43 AM
Thanks, that is exactly what I was looking for! Not sure if this wasn't listed on the website, or if I just missed the link.

Thanks again!

10-03-2009, 04:51 PM
It sounds great. Do they do one in NYC every November? If so, I'll probably wait until my WIP is finished next year.

10-03-2009, 10:41 PM
Here's Karen's latest post about it: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=157353

10-03-2009, 10:46 PM

10-03-2009, 11:10 PM
Colleen Lindsey has good things to say about it.

10-08-2009, 06:08 AM
Has anyone ever attended the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar? It looks like they hold one every November. Is it worth the time/money?

Karen Dionne
10-12-2009, 10:03 PM
Thanks for your interest in our Backspace conference! To be honest, I'm not sure if we'll have another Agent-Author Seminar in November 2010 or not, since my second novel publishes that October, and it's tough to plan a conference and promote a novel at the same time. (We did not have a November event in 2008 for this reason.) The next scheduled Backspace event is the 2010 Backspace Writers Conference May 27 - 29 in NYC.

Here's a look at the November 5 & 6 program, along with an explanation of the small-group workshops that will be sent to conference registrants in the next day or two. We're very excited about the program, and honestly think this is going to be our best event yet!


Program Schedule


9:00 - 10:15 "What Literary Agents Want" Paige Wheeler (moderator), Jennifer DeChiara, Holly Root, Paul Cirone, Adam Schear, Michelle Brower

10:30 - 12:00 Query Letter Workshops

12:00 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 - 3:00 Query Letter Workshops

3:00 - 4:00 Mixer

4:00 - 5:00 "First Contact: Query Letters That Worked" Stephany Evans (moderator), Janet Reid, JL Stermer, Diana Fox, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Jennie Dunham


9:00 - 10:15 "The 'Wow!' Factor: What It Is, How to Achieve It" Jeff Kleinman (moderator), Laney Katz Becker, Lois Winston, Miriam Kriss, Alexandra Machinist, Gina Panettieri

10:30 - 12:00 Opening Pages Workshop

12:00 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 - 2:30 Opening Pages Workshop (continued)

2:30 - 3:15 "Agents and Editors, Working Together" Scott Hoffman, Daniela Rapp (editor, St. Martin's Press)

3:15- 4:00 mixer

4:00 - 5:00 "Breaking In: The Secret to Becoming a Published Author" Colleen Lindsay (moderator), Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Jason Allan Ashlock, Matthew Mahoney, Elizabeth Evans

Workshop Format

The format for the query letter and opening pages workshops is the same: In small groups of no more than a dozen authors, two agents react to authors' material as the author reads aloud as though they'd received it as a submission, stopping the reading when the material stops working for them, and explaining why.

Authors should be prepared for honest, objective feedback. Naturally, if an agent loves the work, authors are welcome to submit their material at the agent's invitation. But if suggestions for improvement are offered, as is most often the case, authors should not be discouraged. Because these are workshops and not pitch sessions, authors whose materials were not as well-received as they had hoped can apply the suggestions that resonate and submit to these same agents later, according to the agents' regular querying process.

Query Letter Workshops: On Thursday, there will be two query letter workshops, one on the morning and one in the afternoon, so that authors can rework their queries if they wish during the 1 1/2-hour lunch break.

You may revise your queries using your own laptop, or by writing them out in longhand. If using a laptop, be sure to bring a flash drive so you can save and print the revised version.

A printer and copier will be available at the conference registration desk in the upstairs lobby, where for a small fee, you can make copies of your new and improved letter for the afternoon workshop. You can avoid the last-minute rush on the conference printer by having copies made at either Kinkos or Staples, both 3 blocks from the hotel. A map and directions will be available at the conference.

You don't have to rework your query during the noon hour if you feel it doesn't need changing, since you'll be reading your letter to a new pair of agents in the afternoon. However, you will still need an additional 15 copies of your letter for distribution in the afternoon workshop.

Authors who have more than one project are welcome to present a different query letter in the second workshop.

Opening Pages Workshop: While the Friday opening pages workshop is also conducted in two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, authors' opening pages will not be reworked during the noon hour, since it's just not practical to revise in such a short period of time.

Instead, the afternoon workshop will take up where the morning readings left off until everyone's opening pages have been considered. Because authors' opening pages will be read only once, if you'd like feedback from a specific agent in the group to which you've been assigned, you may ask to have your opening pages read either in the morning, or in the afternoon.

At the end of each small-group workshop, there will be an opportunity for general discussion and to ask questions. Additionally, the 15 minutes between program parts, and the hour-long mixer both afternoons provide plenty of time for registrants to speak with all of our attending agents. There's no need to be shy about approaching agents - remember, agents come to our conferences because they're looking for great projects!

10-12-2009, 10:16 PM
Thanks, Medi! I'd missed your post.

Karen, it sounds wonderful. My WIP isn't far along... but wow! I may still do it. Thanks so much for the information.

Karen Dionne
10-12-2009, 11:35 PM
Thanks, backslashbaby. We've been refining this format over the course of several conferences thanks to feedback from both registrants and agents, and I really think we've nailed it this time. The program will be very relaxed, lots of free time to chat with agents, and a nice mix of direct feedback and general information. Plus the ratio of authors to agents is VERY favorable (at this point, 75 authors and 25 agents).

Naturally, a person with a finished manuscript who's ready to query will get the most benefit from this event, since they can follow up on agent interest immediately. But having a finished manuscript is not a requirement, and in a way, that author is in a good position too, since they can take the agents' comments into account as they finish their novel. One person who's coming this November who also came last spring told me she's bringing a different manuscript that she wrote over the summer, based on what she learned at the conference last spring.

The main purpose of our Backspace events is education. If writers understand the business and have a better grasp of what they need to do in order to break in, they're more likely to succeed.

No matter what you decide, best of luck!

10-13-2009, 01:04 AM
Just FYI, Karen's posted some details here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=157460

10-13-2009, 01:23 AM
Thanks, CaoPaux!

Emily Winslow
10-13-2009, 08:39 PM
Just chiming in to say how much I like the Backspace forums.

I find them especially helpful with specific, non-hypothetical publishing process questions. For example, one might ask about marketing through Facebook or the timing of a book's launch or what to do when you get a new editor. Within a week, you'll have something like 6-10 replies, most from authors published by major houses, replying from specific experience. It's been very, very helpful to me.

I joined around the time I got my agent or book deal (I forget which), which was good for me. That's what I recommend to others, though unpublished members may speak up--perhaps they find it helpful in a different way than I do.

10-13-2009, 08:48 PM
I'm a Backspace Member and I find some of the members pretentious, but most are extremely helpful. There are many published authors on the boards, as well as agents, who chime in to answer questions and help novices. It's a place for professional camaraderie and good advice.

08-02-2010, 03:05 AM
Updating link: http://www.bksp.org/

08-21-2011, 08:09 PM
Hello all, I've got a bit of a newbie question.

I was interested in signing up for the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar, but the no pitch thing has me a bit confused. I've never been to any sort of writer's conference/seminar before, but I do know that many have pitch sessions.

Is it a red flag that Backspace does not have one?

08-21-2011, 08:52 PM
I was interested in signing up for the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar, but the no pitch thing has me a bit confused. I've never been to any sort of writer's conference/seminar before, but I do know that many have pitch sessions.

I haven't been to this one, but have a pitch ready anyway. Opportunities happen.

It doesn't hurt to write it out beforehand, and practice with a friend or a voice recorder until it sounds natural. You need a short one ('elevator pitch') and a longer one (for a longer opportunity, say, over a lunch or while playing Frisbee).

Concentrate on what's different about your story, not as much on the conventional parts which will be much like everyone else's.

08-21-2011, 09:07 PM
Not a red flag at all. It's a great seminar, and has resulted in many authors becoming agented (including a friend of mine). The workshops allow agents to read your material, instead of just pitching them a quick elevator style pitch. The panels are great just for education. And because it is a relatively small conference you get to mingle and chat with everyone, including the agents, in a casual way as well.

I do agree with dangerous that it never hurts to have a quick answer to "what's your book about" ready. But please, believe me, Backspace is extremely above board.

For anyone else interested, you can find more info about the seminar is here (http://www.bksp.org/). And here's a list of the agents attending:

Stephany Evans (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/stephany-evans/) (FinePrint Literary Management), Paige Wheeler (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/07/paige-wheeler/) (Folio Literary Management), Janet Reid (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/07/janet-reid/) (FinePrint Literary Management), Nicole Resciniti (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/04/nicole-resciniti/) (The Seymour Agency), Jeff Kleinman (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/jeff-kleinman/) (Folio Literary Management), Rachel Vogel (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/01/rachel-vogel/) (Movable Type Literary Group), Jenny Bent (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/jenny-bent/) (The Bent Agency), Joanna Volpe (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/joanna-volpe/) (Nancy Coffey Literary Management), Becky Vinter (FinePrint Literary Management), Lois Winston (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/lois-winston/) (Ashley Grayson Literary Agency), Katharine Sands (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/05/katherine-sands/) (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency), Michelle Brower (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/michelle-brower/) (Folio Literary Management), Sandy Lu (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/06/sandy-lu/) (L. Perkins Agency), Louise Fury (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/04/louise-fury/) (L. Perkins Agency), Rebecca Strauss (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/rebecca-strauss/) (McIntosh & Otis, Inc.), Roseanne Wells (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/01/roseanne-wells/)(Marianne Strong Literary Agency), Nicholas Croce (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/04/nicholas-croce/) (The Croce Agency), Moses Cardona (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/07/moses-cardona/) (John Hawkins Associates), Weronika Janczuk (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2010/12/weronika-janczuk/) (Lynn Franklin Associates), Jennifer Laughran (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/2011/07/jennifer-laughran/) (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) and more to come!

08-21-2011, 09:20 PM
It's a top-notch conference, and well-regarded by the industry.

One of the best guides to the quality of a conference is the list of speakers; who are they?

That list Toothpaste posted has some exceedingly well-respected agents.

08-21-2011, 10:47 PM
Two of my friends have attended Backspace, and both of them received offers of representation from agents they met there. They absolutely rave about this conference.

01-06-2012, 10:16 PM
Thanks mods for moving this to the correct place! My questions are answered so I deleted the original post.

Karen Dionne
11-14-2012, 08:27 PM
Save $125 through Feb 1!

2013 Backspace Writers Conference (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/) – May 23-25, 2013 - New York City

Three days of panel discussions, workshops, and one-on-one editorial critiques. Mingle with agents, editors, and bestselling authors in a relaxed, friendly and helpful atmosphere in the heart of the publishing world!

Keynote Speaker: award-winning young adult author A.S. King

Workshop instructors: Donald Maass, President, Donald Maass Literary Agency; Lane Shefter Bishop, Producer, CEO, Vast Entertainment; New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry

Agents: Jeff Kleinman (Folio Literary Management), Kirsten Neuhaus (Kirsten Neuhaus Literary Agency), Suzie Townsend (New Leaf Literary), Jessica Regel (Jean Nagger Literary Agency), Laura Biagi (Jean Nagger Literary Agency), Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown, Ltd.)

Authors: Keith Cronin, Karen Dionne, D.E. Johnson, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Maureen McGowan, M.J. Rose, Heather Webb

We’ll be adding many more faculty members in the weeks to come. Watch the conference website (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/) for details!

www.BackspaceWritersConference.com (http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/)

Ari Meermans
11-14-2012, 08:38 PM
Hi, Karen. Hold on to your seat for a second while I move your announcement to BR&BC. I keep telling myself that someday I'll be able to make it to the conference. Someday. :)

All the best,


Karen Dionne
11-17-2012, 03:33 AM
Thanks, Ari - it would be lovely to see you!

The Suspense Author
09-10-2015, 01:53 AM
I saw that there was already a post about BackSpace, but it didn't answer my question. I realize they have some sort of writing conference in NYC, or at least did at one point, but what about their online writing conferences? They're a lot cheaper than the ones you actually have to travel to, plus you can enjoy them from the comfort of your home. From what I gather, there is 20 authors and 4 agents. Among other things, you get to pitch to all four agents. The best part is that the conferences are genre specific so that saves you from pitching to agents that don't handle your genre. Too good to be true or are these as amazing as they sound?

09-10-2015, 07:26 PM
Welcome, Suspense Author. Please add to existing threads rather than make new ones. Thank you. (Both merged.)

The Suspense Author
09-11-2015, 02:47 AM
If i reply to this thread my question will never be answered

The Suspense Author
09-11-2015, 02:49 AM
If I reply here my question will never be answered. This thread is dead.

09-11-2015, 03:23 AM
The thing is, when you post in an old thread in BR&BC, people see that there's a new message and come and look and potentially reply.

It's the way this section of the forum works, and some of us read AW via the "New Posts" link.

I haven't done any of the online Backspace conferences personally, but my agent was involved in the SF/F one. So, yes. Legit. Real agents from real agencies and all that. If I were starting out now, I'd certainly look at these kind of workshops to get the bar up on my writing and to form connections with folks in the industry.