Wednesday, June 14, 2006

RWA National-getting ready for conference.

Ever been to RWA National's annual conference? Want to go to RWA National's conference? Well here's a little overview of what to do, what to expect, how to dress and how to have a rockin' good time at RWA National.
This year it's in Atlanta, Hot-Lanta. Yes, in JU-ly, it's going to be friggin' hot and humid, but this is a conference that you actually attend the hundreds of workshops and rarely leave the hotel. I am leaving the hotel to scurry my desert-rat butt over to the Atlanta Aquarium for a luncheon given by the Passionate Inkers, the erotica chapter of RWA. So a few blocks of heat and humidity is worth having a luncheon catered by Wolfgang Puck! (sorry, food gets me off on other channels.)
Get there early! I can't stress enough-early, early, early! As in a day or two early. Beat the mad rush of conference goers who will be checking in an registering by the hundreds, if not thousands. There are approximately 2000 people signed up for this conference and every one of them shows up! My entourage and I are arriving on Tuesday. We can get checked in quickly and head to the bar where the real action is. (more about that later) Then we can register Wed am at our convenience, not swim upstream against everyone else and head to the bar again for afternoon refreshents. (again, more later)
This is a conference you will attend. There are huge numbers of workshops that are for the very beginning, unpublished writer all the way to the advanced and published writer. Workshops are broken down in categories such as craft (which I highly recommend), publishing, marketing type of category, industry, spotlights on publishers and a variety of others. I tend to focus on craft as much as possible, because if you don't know the craft, you aren't going to have a good foundation in writing.
Attend workshops. If you are in one and in 15 minutes you are not engaged, leave and find another. People come and go from workshop rooms constantly. If you are concerned about disturbing the others, sit in the back near the door.
Most of the workshops are taped, so if you miss one because you have to attend a chat with Nora Roberts, (my queen), well then go see Nora and buy the tape for the other workshop. Tapes are available by the end of the conference so you can actually have them in hand and take them home with you.
This is a conference where you will actually learn something about writing! What a concept. You will also have opportunities to hear directly from the publishers and their editor and just what it is that they want. And don't want from a writer. These are called: Spotlights. Go to them. Most are taped, but some aren't, and you don't want to miss a chance to stand up in front of 500 people that you don't know and ask an editor a question. Saves on postage, so you don't have to send a query letter.
Then there are the networking possibilities. Carry business cards with you that list some way of contacting you, but don't put your entire life on your card or you're at risk for identity theft. You might meet another writer you want to connect with again. You might even happen to be in line behind an agent, having a conversaion and don't realize she's an agent. Once you introduce yourself, you can give her a business card. If you happen to be in an elevator with an editor, don't pitch your book to her. Say hello, but that's it.
When you have your editor-author appointment is the time to pitch. If you hang around the appointment table, you sometimes can pick up extra appointments, but you must be ready to pitch at a moment's notice. (I picked up 5, yes, f-i-v-e appointments my first year of conference this way.) If the editor isn't interested in your story, (it's not a novel until it's published), pitch a second idea, but have a second one ready. Don't be afraid of editors, they are people too, but don't waste their time either.
Then there's the bar. (Finally, we get to the good stuff!) A lot of networking and meetings are conducted in the public places of the hotel as well as the bar. Many well-known authors and agents can be seen swilling a few in the bars. I plan to swill a few of my own, though I'm not well known, yet.
There is something called :The Goody Room where an abundance of free, yes something is free at the conference, promotional items and books provided by many, many writers. So stock up and take some back for your chapter members who didn't make it.
Bottom line: if you are interested in or are currently writing anything related to romance, get your ass to RWA Nationa's conference. If not this year, next year. Their web site is: I will write a separate post about the Literacy Event!


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