Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Newbie does the RWA Conference in San Francisco

The 2008 Romance Writers’ Conference in San Francisco, CA was the first time I would be attending a writers’ conference. I was nervous and scared as a “newbie” and truly did not know what to expect. There were authors and some on-line friends I have communicated with, but what if they met me and decided to run away and I would be left alone with no one to talk to?
I had joked that I was going to find one of the hotel plants to hide behind, peeking out as everyone had fun. I raised my concerns to various friends and family members and they laughed at me, thinking my fears were ridiculous. And how right they were.

If you are an aspiring author or have the writing bug and want to network and meet some amazing people, I recommend a conference like RWA. It is the perfect way to learn so much about the publishing industry in general. The four days are very intense with so many workshops, and other events at your disposal. You think you will have a moment to relax? Go to the beach instead. The RWA conference is filled to capacity with thousands of women and some men who are just like you! Don’t be surprised if one of your favorite authors decides to sit down next to you just to chat. And, it is expected that you go up to people and introduce yourself. Do not be afraid or scared! I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to sit in the corner and watch all the activity pass me by. I held my head high and made sure to introduce myself to strangers no matter who they were.

I also recommend you arrive a day early, just to get a good lay of the land. RWA officially starts on Wednesday and ends on Saturday night. I allowed myself to arrive on Monday with some friends, and we took a few days to see the sites and mentally prepare ourselves for what is to come. Don’t be surprised if you begin to see a crowd of people hanging out in the lobby or at the hotel bar. A lot of networking and meeting and greeting goes on there. Registration is very easy, that is where you pick up your badge with your name, and affiliation if you have one, along with a bag that has a schedule of workshops and even free books! Free books you say? Well, for the price of the conference, which some may think is bit steep, you will take home a ton of books that are all included in your conference price. Almost every publisher in the romance industry has free signings from Thursday-Saturday and you can have as many books as you can grab. Expect to put aside some money to ship your bounty home because don’t be surprised if you have over 100 books in your hands.

Along with the workshops that begin early Thursday morning and into Saturday afternoon, there are two luncheons you may attend with great food and a keynote speaker, which is usually a big author in the romance genre. The food is excellent and I also recommend you go to these since you sit at big tables where you can meet some new people. I was very lucky to meet an author that I have communicated in the past with and we decided to sit at a table together with total strangers. There is nothing to be worried about because everyone is so nice and very open to conversation.

Another important recommendation is to volunteer. I volunteered at the Reader for Life Literacy Autographing Signing on Wednesday night that is an event where all the proceeds go to charity. (Almost $60,000 was donated) I was responsible for selling raffles and that gave me the opportunity to walk around the floor and see over 500 authors sign their recent books and interact with their readers. This is an open for the general public and it is for a good cause.

For those who feel they are ready to try and get published, you can schedule some time with the editor from the publishing house of your choice and give them your “pitch” for your book or books you are trying to sell. I know of about five aspiring authors who met with multiple editors and agents and even though their time may only be ten minutes, they felt their experience was a good one. Actually all of them were asked for partial or full manuscripts that they quickly sent through email to the person they met with.

Overall, the 2008 Romance Writers’ Association Conference was an experience I will never forget. I was enlightened, thrilled and overjoyed to have met some of the most intelligent and amazing people in the publishing world. Next year, RWA is in Washington D.C. and I will definitely attend. And if you decide to come next year and it is your first time, forget about hiding behind any plants, you will come to the conclusion that there is no need to hide or stand in the corner. You will be welcomed into the fold with smiles and hugs. And I hope to be one of those to help you along, just as I had many help me this year.

Kate Garrabrant
Romance Reviews Today reviewer


Anonymous said...

Oh a romance writer not thats steamy isn't it, lol. I have always had a spot in my heart for romance novels (sigh). How did you like the hotel, was it really nice? The reason I ask is because I work for Hampton Inn and I'm always curious about how other places treat the patrons and also I wanted to tell you about our current promotion ;-D

Hampton Inn is offering 10% of their best rate available until 9/1/08 we’re also giving away some great prizes leading up to the TEAM USA competing at the Olympic Games. Good Luck and glad you didn't hide behind a plant :-D;jsessionid=SXEZ4FIZDCG4OCSGBJF2VCQ?it=specials,dreams&cid=om,hx,dreams,specials

Sarah B


Check out this funny video, called "Ballad of a Traveler", it is hilarious. He totally sums up the travelers experience:>

Anonymous said...

oops should have used spell check. I meant..."now thats steamy"