Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Missing the RWA Conference Already

Next week is the Romance Writers of America's annual conference. It was supposed to be held in Nashville, TN, but the terrible flood there forced a move to Orlando, FL. I sure hope the "tropical wave" off the east coast of Florida, which is supposed to turn into a tropical storm or hurricane, doesn't cancel or delay the travel plans of attendees. That would be a terrible double-whammy!

I had planned a road trip with some writer friends to Nashville, but opted not to go to Orlando for the RWA conference there since I'm going in September with my husband for a vacation. Now as I think about all my friends and associates heading to Orlando, I have mixed feelings. Yes, the conference costs a lot of money. On the other hand, it's fun and sometimes advantageous to network with others. You get very tired, but also very exhilarated. You wish you had a book in the RITA awards, but you also cheer for your friends who do.

In the end, you have to balance family, career, money and opportunity. But really, isn't that what we always do?

If you are an aspiring writer, often it's good to start by going to a local or regional conference first. The RWA national conference can be overwhelming, especially if you are still unsure about what you want to write, which publisher you want to target, or whether or not you need an agent. At a local or regional conference, you can meet published authors in a more relaxed setting and listen to them talk about their experiences. You can ask questions, and if the conference is at a hotel, the bar/lounge is the place to meet up. You have a better chance of getting an appointment with an editor or agent who is actively seeking new clients. The volume and variety of workshops isn't always so overwhelming. (Sometimes when I get my RWA national conference schedule, I can't decide which workshop is best for me, which ones I want to buy as recordings, and which ones I can skip to go shopping with friends!)

One of the best things about the RWA national conference is the booksigning, which benefits adult literacy groups. Publishers donate books as requested by authors who are attending. The room is huge, filled with all kinds of authors and books, from Nora Roberts to the newest member who just saw her first e-book published. Of course, the Harlequin American authors always have a good presence there and it's a wonderful opportunity to catch up with titles you might have missed. At the end of the evening, the author can either purchase her left-over books (with that money going to literacy also) or sign and donate them to local entities, such as women's shelters. If you get the chance to attend one of these booksignings, please come and buy books.

Next year I may see you in New York City. The conference starts June 28th at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I'll be there! Until then, happy reading and writing.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my favorite recipes here on the Harlequin American Authors blog on the 4th of every month. On August 4th, I'll be on a road trip with my friend Rebecca Russell, who wrote for Silhouette Romance, but I'll still have the recipes up for you to enjoy.


Estella said...

I would love to go to RWA someday!

Leigh Duncan said...

Victoria, I'll be one of those brand new authors at the Literacy Signing, and I can hardly wait! Wish you were coming, though.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I hadn't even made the connection with the latest tropical storm. I know folks who will be in Florida as well as those who could have made the trip if it had been in TN but not now.

Safe travels!

Victoria Chancellor said...

Estella, I hope you can go someday. If not to attend, at least come hang out with us at the literacy signing! The upcoming schedule is on the RWA website, so see if there's one near you.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Leigh, I know you'll have a great time at the signing, although sometimes near the end we tend to get restless. Also, when you look at the long check-out lines, you can sometimes panic! Take lots of pictures and make sure friends take photos of you at the table with your books. Have a sign-up sheet for email addresses to add to your reader contacts. Pass out a short excerpt of your next book. (I use landscape, 3 column format in Word and then fold it so it's easy to carry.) Hope those suggestions help! I'll see you next year in NYC, when I'll actually have books to sign.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Julie, looks like the Tropical Storm Bonnie will miss Orlando entirely and head across the south end of Florida toward the Gulf. Here in Texas we might even get some rain, always a bonus in July!

Cathy McDavid said...

I'm not going this year either and will so miss the conference. You can bet I'll be in NY with you, Victoria.

Cathy Mc