I recently attended the Backspace Writers Conference in New York City, from 24-26 May 2012, and I'd recommend it to anyone who can find the time and money to invest in it. I believe this is true for those who are looking to self-publish or go the traditional route.
This was my first conference, and I met a lot of other first-timers, too, including one my fellow She Writers, Jessica Null-Vealitzek. We had a great time! The mixing and mingling, the people, the entire experience was pretty awesome, never awkward. It was like the smell of possibilities waiting to be realized was in the air. At least, that's how it was for me.
Many of us expected it to feel like an American Idol audition, or worse, like a cattle call audition at one of those scammy model searches of my youth. But thank goodness, it was NOTHING LIKE THAT!
In fact, over three days of seminars, panel discussions, workshops, and a social mixer, I met over a dozen agents, and several best-selling authors, as well as about a hundred new connections and networking opportunities with authors across all genres. The energy, experience, feedback and advice that was packed into those three days was amazing.
A lot of the attendees brought sample pages and queries to critique sessions, and some even participated in one-on-one sessions (at an additional cost) with agents who represented their kinds of work. Applause to everyone who had the nerve to expose themselves even more. Me? I was a bit of a wimp. I didn't take pages or a query for the workshops. One of the agents even joked that I was "auditing" the conference.
I'll admit also, that some of the attendees were kind of pushy, and some of them liked to hog the little bit of time that the agents and authors had between panel discussions and workshops, but that was mostly okay. I got what I bargained for, which was information and insight, but I also got a nice shot of enthusiasm and more confidence to keep pushing along with my work. The agents noted that they tend to remember writers who attend conferences, like Backspace, because they have demonstrated a different level of commitment to their work and to getting published. I can dig that.
And although I will continue to press forward with my plans to publish writers here at New Renaissance Ink, I will not close the door on opportunities to query and publish using the traditional models that these conferences highlight. Several of the guests at Backspace were actually successfully published outside of the traditional model, including Darcie Chan and Maria Murnane.
These authors highlight the fact that there is no real reason to restrict ourselves as writers to one model or the other. All we must do is be committed, and be able to tell and sell good stories. If the others writers conferences are anything like the Backspace Writers Conference, they are excellent investments for helping writers who are serious about the craft of writing to reach their publishing goals.