Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Despite the misleading fun of long sessions at the bar every night, this is a business conference. Every interaction, no matter how small in a bathroom or elevator or luckily ending up next to them at lunch, is a potential job interview. You are selling yourself and your professionalism along with your book.
If your publisher is awesome and puts your book cover on an elevator wrap (even if your room is on the 1st floor!) you will find an excuse to walk past said elevator multiple times a day.
Does your chapter want to release an anthology as a fundraiser? If you license the rights through a publisher, your royalties are passive income and not taxed. If you self-pub it, you must pay taxes.
The annual Harlequin party at RWA is the stuff of legend. I've heard of people who wanted to contract with them just to get INTO the party. Well, all I'll say is that the hype - 100% correct. They had chefs hand-frosting cupcakes with a toppings bar. Amazing.
If your publisher asks you to participate in a spotlight, find out what time it is before agreeing. I kid. In actually, being a featured author in the Carina spotlight was one of the best things I did all week. At least half a dozen people stopped me throughout the conference to say how helpful my comments were. And that is what this conference is about: sharing your knowledge, and paying it forward.
Liliana Hart is amazing. Her success, and work ethic, are remarkable. If you are at all interested in ever self-publishing (or being a hybrid author, which was the newest, hottest trend this year), go see her speak. Or Bella Andre. Both will blow you away.
You will go home with many, many books. I was much more selective this year, and only came home with 38. Have stuffed all but four onto my bookshelves. Good thing we're moving so I have an excuse to buy another one!
Good newsletter tidbit - try to keep them under 600 words. Short and snappy, with only five sentence paragraphs, holds attention better.
There is apparently a huge problem with rabies in raccoons all along the Appalachians (learned that at the fascinating workshop by the CDC's Elite Disease Detective Corps).
Don't miss a single opportunity to brand yourself and your books (as illustrated by the awesome author of 1920s erotica, Stephanie Draven). Knowing your brand and sticking to it can make a huge difference.
Be sure to accept any and every offer from your publisher that could equal exposure. You can nap when you get home. Complain about the bags under your eyes (like I did, when I found out the interview I agreed to oh-so-happily would be videotaped), but suck it up and do it, because opportunities don't always repeat. Do everything. Talk to everyone.
Although the food may be questionable (I was served an identically sauced chicken breast three days in a row), go to the keynote luncheons. Go to the RITA awards. You will hear profoundly moving speeches that will motivate you for months to come. Kristan Higgins made me laugh uproariously, weep three separate times, and made me feel so unbelievably proud to share my gifts as a romance writer with the world.
Take lots of pictures. Because you and your chaptermates (waves wildly at MRW peeps) will never look so fabulous as at RWA.