Friday, August 3, 2012

What's in a Conference? RWA 2012

Trying to take my booty, eh?
I was a first timer at Nationals this year--a conference virgin, you might say. I really enjoyed all the crazy energy and interesting workshops. I would recommend anyone serious about a publishing career attend at least one conference. There's something for everyone.

New writers -

You can take craft workshops and learn everything you need to know from plotting to the final draft. Classes on setting, characters, and research run throughout the course of the conference. Research materials are available in the bookstore. Published author, unpublished writers, editors, and agents are everywhere, inspiring you to continue, answering your questions, and cheering you on. 

Catherine Rull, GH finalist for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.
Ready to be published writers -

Workshops are available on contracts, understanding rejection, and what to expect when you get the call. Spotlights on publishing houses give you an idea what the different houses are looking for, and what each editor hopes to see. Individual pitch sessions help you to meet, and hopefully share your work, with agents and editors you might not speak with under other circumstances.

Julia Quinn, Historical Romance

Published authors -

Librarian's/bookseller's days can help you meet the people who want to buy your books. Hosting workshops can get your name to readers, writers, and bloggers that might not know about your books. The goodie room and author signings can get your books and swag into their hands.Editor and agent appointments can help you when you are looking to find new representation or a new house. Conferences are also great chances to meet editors and agents you might not have met, both from your own house/agency, and from others you might one day work with.

All writers - 

Cherry Adair, Romantic Suspense
The conference is not just a chance to see published authors like Julia Quinn and Nora Roberts and get signed copies of their newest works, though those perks are nice. The after hour parties and meet and greets are great too. Moderating workshops and volunteering for other duties can be an excellent opportunity to meet people you might not otherwise meet. Plus, at RWA conferences, there are PAN and PRO retreats as well.

Conference is a chance to network with authors at your level and above. It's a way to learn about writing from some of the best and brightest in the industry. Where else can you ask Jane Ann Krentz and Susan Elisabeth Phillips whether they listen to music when they write or how they decipher the GMC for their characters? The chance to learn goes far beyond the workshops. Every person you talk to throughout the conference, from the writer beside you to the agent you pitch, to the editors hosting the spotlight, has something to pass along.

 A few random things to remember -

View from the GH table at the awards dinner
  1. Watch your conduct. This is a small business, and while you want to be yourself, you don't want to get really drunk and toss your cookies on an editors shoes. You will be remembered, but not for the reasons you want to be. 
  2. You will get more free books then you know what to do with. Plan accordingly.
  3. Bring dress and casual shoes. (Same with clothes.) You don't want to have aching feet on day one and be unable to walk by day two.
  4. Everyone will be tweeting, so don't say or do anything you don't want on the internet and respect it when people ask you not to tweet what they are saying.
  5. If you really want to go to two or three workshops at once, which will happen all the time, check to see if one is not being recorded and go to that one. You can buy the tapes for the others, but that unrecorded one is a one shot deal.

 I hope I've answered questions about conference and why you should attend. I enjoyed my conference experience, and I loved meeting the talented and helpful people I met. It was a blast, and I hope to see you all at the next one. 

Robin Delany


  1. Great tips, Robyn! I can't wait to lose my conference virginity in Atlanta next year! : )

  2. Wonderful advice. I would also add, if you plan to meet up with someone, make plans in advance. I tweeted.