2011 Backspace Writers Conference Agenda


DAY ONE – Thursday, May 26

The Backspace Agent-Author Seminar brings together aspiring authors and top literary agents for a full day of small-group workshops and panels with ONLY literary agents on the program.


Thursday Agents: Jeff Kleinman, Lois Winston, Rebecca Strauss, Kathleen Ortiz, Meredith Barnes, Rachel Vogel, April Eberhardt, Roseanne Wells, Tamar Rydzinski, Kristin Nelson, Jessica Regel, Louise Fury, Emily Keyes, Nicole Resciniti, Nicholas Croce, Michelle Brower


7:30 to 8:30 – Registration

8:30 to 9:15 – Agent Panel – “What Literary Agents Want” (Rebecca Strauss, April Eberhardt, Emily Keyes, Roseanne Wells, Jessica Regel)

9:30: to 10:15 – Agent Panel – “Query Letters That Work” (Nicole Resciniti, Lois Winston, Nicholas Croce, Rachel Vogel, Meredith Barnes, Michelle Brower)

10:30 to 12:00 – Query Letter Workshops*

12:00 to 1:30 – Lunch

1:30 to 3:30 – Opening Pages Workshops**

3:30 to 4:00 – Mixer

4:00 to 5:00 – Agent Panel – “The ‘Wow’ Factor – What It Is, How to Get It” (Jennifer DeChiara, Tamar Rydzinski, Louise Fury, Kathleen Ortiz)


Evening  Workshop  7:00 to 9:00 – “Buy This Book!” – a role-playing workshop with Jeff Kleinman from Folio Literary and Andrea Walker, Vice President and Editorial Director of Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. (please note: this workshop costs $45, and is not included in the conference registration)

Participants are assigned roles in a publishing house; then “sell” their manuscripts to the Editorial Board.  Fast-paced, fun, and educational, this workshop will not only explain how publishing works, but more importantly will force attendees to view their work dispassionately, from the eyes of an editor (or agent). Participants must complete a single-page “tip sheet” on site for review and discussion.


*Query Letter Workshops – consist of no more than 15 writers and at least two literary agents. The writers will take turns reading their queries and should expect to receive honest, objective feedback from the literary agents in each group. Groups are organized by genre.

**Opening Pages Workshops – the group of writers will remain the same from the morning session, but two new literary agents will join the group in the afternoon. The writers will take turns reading their opening pages and should expect to receive honest, objective feedback.

The purpose of the small-group workshops is twofold: to get that all-important exposure to the literary agents actively seeking material in your genre, and to learn from them what’s working, what’s not, and what might need to be changed to better position your work for success in today’s publishing climate.

Learn more about the effectiveness of the Backspace Agent-Author Format and small-group workshops.


DAY TWO – Friday, May 27

Two-track conference program: panel discussions, workshops, and master classes taught by agents and bestselling authors, including:


  • Keynote address by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry
  • “Agents and Editors, Working Together” with Scott Hoffman and Rachel Griffiths (Scholastic)
  • “Building Your Non-Fiction Proposal” with Jeff Kleinman and Elizabeth Letts


Friday Agents: Kristin Nelson, Suzie Townsend, Scott Hoffman, April Eberhardt, Diana Fox, Jeff Kleinman, Dan Conaway

Friday Editors: Rachel Griffiths (Scholastic), Brittany Hamblin (Harper Collins)


9:00 – 10:00

Track One: Children’s, Young Adult Fiction Panel: A.S. King, Barb Ferrar, Jonathan Maberry, Adrienne Kress (A.S. King, panel master)

Track Two: Women’s Fiction Panel: Kelly Simmons, Jael McHenry, Keith Cronin (Keith Cronin, panel master)


10:00 – 11:00

Track One: Literary Fiction Panel: Susan Henderson, Dan Conaway, Brittany Hamblin (Kelly Simmons, moderator)

Track Two: “Social Media Fast Track for Authors” – workshop: Don Lafferty


11:00 – 12:00

Track One: Thriller/Mystery panel: Dennis Tafoya, Jonathan Maberry, Sara J. Henry, Lois Winston (Karen Dionne, moderator)

Track Two: “Tales from the Trenches: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction” – panel: Kristin Nelson, Jeff Kleinman (A.S. King, moderator)


12:00 – 1:30 Lunch (on your own)


1:30 – 2:30

Track One: “Selling the Book: The Agent-Editor Relationship” – panel: Scott Hoffman, Rachel Griffiths (Karen Dionne, moderator)

Track Two: “Building Your Non-Fiction Proposal” – workshop: Jeff Kleinman, Elizabeth Letts


2:30 – 3:30

Track One: ““Contracts, Foreign Rights, E-Books, and other Inscrutable Aspects of Publishing You’ve Always Wanted to Know”” – Diana Fox, Kristin Nelson, Scott Hoffman, Suzie Townsend

Track Two: “Making Money as a Writer” – workshop: Jonathan Maberry


3:30 – 4:30

Track One: “The New Era of Publishing” – workshop: April Eberhardt

Track Two: “Understanding the Editorial Mind: How to Have a Creative, Problem-Free Relationship with an Editor and Freelance Editor” – workshop: Jerry Gross


4:30 – 5:30

Both Tracks: “The Power of Positive Writing!” Keynote Address: Jonathan Maberry


Immediately following Friday’s conference program every registrant is invited to an author booksigning and cocktail reception, including hors d’oeuvres and an open bar!


DAY THREE – Saturday, May 28

All-day “Writing the Breakout Novel” workshop with literary agent Donald Maass!

Registration: 8:00 – 8:30

Workshop: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 (one hour break for lunch; lunch not included)

This is the can’t-miss portion of the 2011 Backspace Writers Conference. Uber-agent Donald Maass, President of the Donald Maass Literary Agency, will be conducting his always-popular “Writing the Breakout Novel!” workshop. This intensive, hands-on workshop for advanced fiction writers teaches the techniques that make any story feel big.  For writers who want to take their fiction to the next level, this workshop shows them how. Participants should bring a WIP and writing materials.

DMLA represents more than 100 authors and consistently sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas. Donald Maass’s writing on fiction careers and advanced fiction technique have established DMLA as a leading agency for fiction writers.

All agents of DMLA are members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR). In addition to being members of the AAR, the agency also holds memberships in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Romance Writers of America.

Maass founded DMLA in 1980. He is himself the author of fourteen pseudonymous novels and of the books The Career Novelist (Heineman, 1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (Writers Digest Press, 2001) and the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Writers Digest Press, 2004). He also teaches week-long intensive workshops based on his books.

Maass’ workshops lead participants through practical writing exercises that plumb depths of character, raise stakes both public and personal, add plot layers, heighten sense of time and place, strengthen point of view and voice, deepen themes, transform openings, and develop the brainstorming skills that produce consistently original stories. With over 25 years of experience, Maass has helped hundreds of authors transform their careers, and now you can share what they learned at the 2011 Backspace Writers Conference.

Register today to ensure your spot at the Agent-Author Seminar and Maass’ “Writing the Breakout Novel” workshop before both events sell out!

All the camaraderie and vindication wanes in comparison to the hour I spent in a trance with a man who simply asked questions…My head was buzzing…the hour flew by entirely too fast.” – Jeanette Schneider, 2010 Backspace Writers Conference Attendee

“Unquestionably the best of all writers’ conferences, this two-day annual conference has leaped to the top with its emphasis on quality, not quantity. There are no formal pitch sessions. Instead, you’ll have the opportunity to attend quality workshops and mingle with some of the best editors, agents and other publishing professionals in the industry in a comfortable, non-aggressive atmosphere.” — Bibliobuffet

Pitch Sessions vs. Small-group Workshops
Which approach is better for YOU?

Nonfiction Writers Click Here
Do you write nonfiction? Discover why the Backspace Writers Conference is for you.