Last month I attended RWA Nationals Conference in New York. This year was my third year attending and it is my Do-Not-Miss event each year. I also attend a lot of local conferences in Alberta, and I try to get to as many others as possible, but RWA Nationals is a must. For many reasons.
First-the opportunity to meet my online author friends, who have become such an important part of my life through social media is the number one reason I attend. Writing is often a solitary, lonely profession and having a circle of author friends that are just a Tweet or Email away is so precious. We learn from one another, we share in the joy of new contracts, new book releases, that first glimpse at new covers, etc and we vent to one another and express frustration during challenging days. So, whenever there’s an opportunity to be in the same place at the same time, I jump at the chance. Real hugs and sharing a cocktail beats virtual ones any day.
Second-the opportunity to network with editors and agents and get valuable face-to face time is worth the cost of the conference. Agent and Editor appointments are a great way to get you and your work noticed, but also the publisher spotlight events offers a lot of great insight into the options available and provides insight to what each house is looking to acquire. They explain how the acquire, how they promote, expected turnaround times on submissions and what each individual editor likes to read.
Third-As a published author attending the conference, there’s also the wonderful perk of being invited to the publisher parties. Harlequin’s is unbeatable, but I’ve had the pleasure of attending several over the last few years and each one is fantastic. Working so hard every day, it feels great to be recognized by the publishers in this fun, exciting way. And letting loose with fellow authors and editors is another great way to connect beyond the writing.
Fourth (And probably most important for new authors)- The workshops! RWA Nationals (as well as so many other great conferences) offers everything from Craft sessions to Marketing sessions. Each one is hosted by published, experienced and successful authors who are more than happy to share their expertise on various publishing topics. They also have research sessions that are fantastic and also chat sessions with our favorite authors. I learn so much every time I attend and while it can be an overwhelming four or five days of cramming info into my brain, I always come back feeling energized and ready to get back to work with my new knowledge. (After I sleep for a few days, of course:))
And most conferences also offer the opportunity to buy a recording of the sessions, so you don’t have to stress over which ones to attend and which ones to miss.
So, as you can tell, I highly recommend attending conferences if at all possible. The amazing contacts and friends you get to meet and the knowledge that you will take away is worth the cost and effort of attending.
Can’t wait for RWA16 in San Diego! Hope to meet you there!