Friday, July 20, 2012

Maximize Your RWA Experience

Many writers are headed to the Romance Writers of America Convention in the next few days.  It is a magical span of sharing, support and celebration of our craft and genre.  For those of you who are just venturing to a convention for the first time, I thought I'd share some nuggets of wisdom I've gleaned over the years.
Maryland Romance Writers at RWA 2011
~ Always wear color to a conference. In a sea of 2,143 attendees at RWA last year, black was the predominant color. But I wore a ruffly purple shirt one day, and an apple green dress the next. Can't begin to tell you how many people approached me to compliment me on the color of my clothes. Why does this matter, you may ask? Because it opened a conversation. Standing in line for 15 minutes at a book signing is a perfect opportunity to chat - but sometimes it can be difficult to engage a total stranger. I had lovely chats with soooo many different people, at all different stages in their career. People opened up to me in the bathroom line, the coffee line, the book signing get the picture.
~ We deserve a huge round of applause. Why? Because I learned a shocking statistic. 80% of Americans say they'd like to write a book. 2% of that 80% actually start to write. And only 5% of that 2% finish writing a book. Makes us sound rather special and elite, doesn't it? Go writers!

~ Don't hang out with our chapter buddies all the time (picture above notwithstanding).  At every breakfast and lunch, aside from a friendly 'hello', I steer away from people I already know.  After all, we can catch up at next month's meeting.  I purposefully sit down at tables where I know NOBODY.  The amount of networking you will get over the span of each meal is phenomonal.  Then, the last night of the conference after the awards, you can congregate with all your chapter besties and share the tales of how many wonderful people you met.
~ Hang out at the bar. No matter how overpriced the drinks. Everyone who is anyone congregates there. Example: I had a great evening with a group of women I'd never met before. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I discovered one of them was a multi-pubbed author leading my session. You are there to network, so don't hold back!

~ Everyone is approachable. Authors, agents and editors don't care if you've only written your first chapter, or if you're on the NYT bestseller list. They respect your passion for the genre, and are happy to chat. Romance writing doesn't have the clear cut cliques or power divisions as other professions. We are an empowering, friendly sisterhood. So don't be intimidated, whether in person or on a blog post - get out there and get engaged!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tips. Maybe we will meet!

    Jenna Grinstead