Elizabeth: Conference Countdown

2014RWAAs Justine mentioned yesterday, the RWA National conference in San Antonio is just two weeks away. In preparation, I went through the list of workshops that will be offered to decide which ones I want to attend so I can make the most of my time there.

At the first RWA conference I went to in New York a few years back, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I had no real plan of action other than making it from the airport to the hotel without getting lost (and maybe making time for a quick trip to the Empire State Building). My goal was to see as much and learn as much as possible. I tried to fit in as many workshops, signings, and events as I could in three short days. It was a great conference, but not the same kind of experience I’m looking for this time around.

The conference workshops are organized into tracks – career, chat, craft, marketing, publishing, etc. – and this time I’m focusing on the marketing and publishing area, since that is the stage I’ll be in (productive muses willing) in the next couple of months. I’m also focusing more on networking this time around, attending a variety of sessions by agents and editors. The writing community is still a relatively small one, so this is a good chance to get to know more of the players.

There will also be time for some fun sessions, like the “Jayne and Susan’s Excellent Adventure” workshop with Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The two of them put on a great workshop that, if history is any guide, is sure to be standing-room-only. It will also be a nice way to keep my mind off my agent appointment later in the day where I’ll be pitching my book for the very first time.

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll have learned a lot about marketing and publishing, made new connections, had a chance to connect with some of the other Eight Ladies, and successfully convinced an agent that my manuscript is worth taking a look at. If I’m really lucky, I may even be able to make time for a side-trip to the Alamo.

I’ll let you know how it all goes after the conference. For now, it’s back to back to the manuscript so I can hit the pre-conference word-count goal I set for myself earlier this year. Fingers crossed on that.

Have you attended any writing conferences (or will you be at RWA National)? If so, are you the type to plan  ahead or just figure it out as you go along?

16 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Conference Countdown

  1. I’ve been going to these conferences for a while, and I almost always have a pretty good time, no matter what I do or whom I meet. I’ve always treated the conference like a vacation, where I stay in a nice hotel and have the opportunity to bathe myself for three or four days in the experience that is Romance Novelists. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

    • Kay – looking forward to seeing you and the other ladies too. I’ve treated the last conferences more like business meetings than vacations. I’m going to try and remedy that a bit this time around.

      • I like the vacation concept, because that way if your pitches don’t go well, and you don’t catch the author of your dreams for an autograph, then you still had a good time being part of the crowd and hearing fun talks. And then professional and networking gains are just a plus.

        • Excellent strategy Kay. The vacation concept is much more likely to result in a positive experience than stressing out would.

  2. I’ve been to two WorldCons as a fan (WorldCons are large, yearly conventions for science fiction and fantasy fans — this year they are in London, and I wish I were going, but I’m not). Such a great opportunity to meet people. Waiting for a session to start, you can get into some really nice conversations. Although, it’s not always the best gambit to ask someone who is carrying a well-thumbed book, “Oh, what are you reading?” You may be in for a very long, one-sided conversation!

    I know there’s a strong writing side to the conventions, too, but I haven’t stumbled over to that side.

    • I’ve never been to one of the fan-type conventions but they do sound like a lot of fun. I know what you mean about asking someone what they are reading. At RWA, asking what they are working on can get the same long, one-sided conversation. It can be really interesting to hear the kinds of things people are working on though.

  3. Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.” I looked through the guide and earmarked some things I’d like to see, but I also plan to be pretty fluid about changing my mind if something else sounds more interesting once I get there. Waaay looking forward to my first RWA conference.

    • That sounds like a good plan Jeanne. Sometimes you get to a workshop that sounded great in the description but doesn’t work for you in person and sometimes one will catch your eye unexpectedly. It’s good to be fluid and flexible. I have only a few “must-see” items on my list for that very reason.

  4. I’m looking forward to RWA also. I’m up for a trip to the Alamo and I think Kat is, too. Last year, I focused on the craft track but found that, after all the McDaniel craft classes we had with Jennifer Crusie, most of them were either reinforcing things we had already learned or applying what we learned in other ways. They were certainly still very valuable, but I feel like I can expand into some other areas. There are a couple of interesting research workshops and some marketing/blogging ones, too. I’ll see you all there and I’ll be proudly displaying Eight Ladies Writing on my badge.

    • Michille – I focused on the craft-track last time as well, but I feel like I’ve got a good foundation in that area, so it’s time to expand. I’ll be right there with you with Eight Ladies Writing on my badge. I think we’ve all made a lot of progress in the past year.

  5. I’m going to my first writing conference this weekend. It’s a much smaller affair than the RWA, but it’s the British equivalent (the RNA or the Romantic Novelists Association national conference).

    I’ve booked up a full schedule of workshops, but my real aim in going is to meet as many people as possible and really just to make friends – so, if there’s anyone else going to the RNA conference who reads this blog, shout out and perhaps we’ll meet up in the glamorous location of Telford!

    And to all of you who are lucky enough to be going to the RWA Nationals – have a great time and I can’t wait to hear all about it afterwards.

  6. This is my third (really my second–I had to leave early last year) RWA conference. I’m somewhere between planning it out and winging it (see my post on RWA on Friday!).

    I’m enough of a newbie though, not to have figured out the 8L on the badge thing. Did I mess up? Is it too late to get that on my badge?

    PS: Yes, I’m going to go to the Alamo!

    • Kat – no worries about the badge. A few us us just added “Eight Ladies Writing” as the second line on our badge. You may still be able to do it at the RWA site, or you can just write it on later if you want. Hope this year’s conference works out better for you than last time.

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