It's been over a week since RWA15 ended. I've caught up on sleep and family time, unpacked and finished the laundry. My conference brain is recovered, I've read lots of recaps, and I've had time to mull over the takeaways.
I think the one absolute about any writing conference is that people will experience it differently. A large part of our conference experience is a result of who we are and what we bring to it. So, with that caveat, and based on my conference experiences this year, I give you my personal,
Top 10 Things I took away from RWA15:
10. If you attend RWA National during an anniversary year, you get cool gifts. This was RWA's 35th National Conference. Each attendee at the Rita/GH Gala received this lovely pen/business card case set and their very own golden chocolate RITA.
9. Newsletters - I heard this in both traditional and Indie workshops. The best PR you can do for your book is write the next one, but beyond that you need to build a base and keep in touch with your readers. A newsletter helps you do that more than any other forum. Bella Andre talked about how her built-in audience awaits the release of each book because her newsletter tells them it's coming and gives them a reason to look forward to it. You can start out small and build, but do a newsletter.
8. Literacy signing - a reader’s dreams come true. Imagine a room full of hundreds of your favorite authors waiting to chat with you and sign your books. It’s crowded, loud, crazy fun, and it’s all for a good cause.
From the RWA website:
In 2015, Romance Writers of America raised more than $48,000 to benefit literacy programs — bringing our total donations since 1990 to more than $900,000. This year's beneficiaries are ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Partners, and Literacy Assistance Center.
7. Books - lots and lots of books - everywhere. If there weren’t enough for you at the literacy signing, there were books everywhere for the next three days. I came home with 30 free books, but I could easily have had double or triple that many. I was trying to be good and only taking books I knew I'd read. But basically, I could have had as many books as I could carry. Almost covers the cost of the conference right there. Of course there is shipping if you're not local (and pain meds if you are and try to schlep them all home on the subway). My mother is delighted with all the Love Inspired books I got for her!
6. Public Service Message - Not too many people ever attend the AGM, but you should! That's how you learn what's going on and get a chance to have your voice heard. Much gratitude goes out to the board members and the office staff who dedicate so much time to running this organization. They are unfailingly polite, helpful and cheerful. Not to mention amazingly organized and efficient!
5. Harlequin gives THE best parties. They really know how to show their appreciation of their authors.
|Photo credit - Harlequin|
4. Don't believe that there's no place for you at RWA if you write Inspirational. Want proof? Just look at this photo from the Love Inspired Meet and Greet.
And because conference was in New York this year - ALL of the LI editors were present. What an amazing opportunity to hear from the editors themselves, learn what they are looking for, pitch your stories.
There's also the FH&L Chapter (Faith, Hope & Love). FHL always opens the conference with a Prayer Service and this year they had a wonderful panel of Inspirational agents and editors to offer information specific to the genre.
4 1/2 - Conferences in New York are expensive, but if you can swing it, they are the one venue to attend because like I said above - ALL the editors attend. There were plenty of empty editor/agent appointment slots.
3. You WILL learn something new. No matter how long you've been writing or how advanced you are in your career, there's always someone who knows something more than you do. I attended an amazing workshop with a forensic anthropologist that made me lose all track of time (and miss a book signing I'd planned to attend!). I also attended a workshop on writing romantic suspense given by Brenda Novak and Laura Griffin. Lots to soak in there!
Tina’s fangirl moment came from that workshop.
Want info about writing for traditional? Indie? Or maybe going hybrid? There's a workshop (or 5) for that. Just a sampling - Barbara Freethy and Bella Andre did a 90 minute Q&A so that people could pick their brains for everything they know about going from Trad midlist to Indie Mega Success. There were workshops like: Breaking into the Lucrative UK market, Don’t Drink the Kool Aid, The Boxed Set: Beyond Basics. (When the conference flash drive becomes available, definitely consider buying it. Watch this site for more information. )
If you're serious about Indie publishing, you could also have attended a trade show of vendors or met with representatives from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks who were available to answer questions and give advice.
2. The reminder over and over again - write. Write your best book. And then do it again. Keep doing that, regardless of changes in the market, regardless of highs and lows in your own career. Barbara Freethy's Keynote was an inspirational tale of how she reinvented herself over and over again.
To go with that - in the Q&A, Barbara said she spends 15 minutes a day on Facebook. Think about that - 15 minutes on FB, 5 million books in print. Draw your own conclusions. :)
and … DRUMROLL
My #1 takeaway from RWA15 is
1. It IS all about who you know - your friends. Old friends, new friends, your chapter friends, your Facebook friends, your Seekerville buddies, friends from your publishing house.
Alison Stone described RWA15 as her Facebook feed come to life. That's a pretty perfect description. If you ask me, the best part of RWA is the people. From the Board to the hundreds of authors and fans at the literacy signing, to the members who volunteered to help in a variety of capacities - it is all about the people you know and come to know.
So let’s talk. If you went to RWA, what would make your top 10 list? If you didn’t go, what do you wish you’d been there to experience? Or tell us about other conferences you have attended. What have you learned?And here are the future sites for the RWA Conferences.
Cate Nolan lives in New York City, but she escapes to the ocean any chance she gets. A devoted mom, wife and teacher, Cate loves to leave her real life behind and play with the characters in her imagination. She’s got that suspense writer gene that sees danger and a story in everyday occurrences. Cate particularly loves to write stories of faith enabling ordinary people to overcome extraordinary danger.
You can find Cate on
Her website - http://www.catenolanauthor.com/
And just in time for this Seekerville appearance, Cate’s debut release, Christmas in Hiding, arrived last Friday. One lucky reader will get an advance copy. Just tell us in the comments if you’re interested. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.