Will you be attending the Nationals? The national conference for RWA (Romance Writers of America) or just “The Nationals” for short. This year’s event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 15-18, 2009.
I attended the conference for the first time last year in San Francisco. There was nothing small about this conference. Being held in one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world made it the perfect setting for a writer. And as a first timer I learned and experienced more then I ever thought possible. Over five days I learned quite a few things I hope to put to good use on my next conference trip.
· Go with a friend. I originally planed on going alone but my writing buddy (Jackie) was able to go with me. We were able to share all the ups and downs of being the new writers on the block.
· Make and take business cards with you. Check. But you need to remember to pass them out and not forget them in your hotel room.
· Go a day early. We did and it was worth it to be able to check out the host city without the worries of meeting or schedules.
· Take a fold up wheel bag. Thanks go to Sandy for this tip. It wasn’t until the second day that I truly understood how many free books I could conceivably come away with.
· Don’t stress over the workshop list. So many classes to choose from left our minds in a mess for the first two days. Then a wonderful thing happened. You too can buy the Conference C.D. for one amazing low price. This piece of advice brought the realization that we could play hooky, take a nap, or get something to drink (Starbucks was in the lobby of the hotel) or (god forbid), get more books. Six weeks later the C.D. arrives and you can listen to all the classes you missed at your leisure.
· Introduce yourself and say hi. To everyone you meet. This is a difficult thing to do if you are an introvert but this is the best place in the word to practice. Say hi when you sit down in a class, standing in line at a book signing and to the people sharing your table at the luncheons. Many of these people will be first timers also and will be glad someone else said hi first.
· Take your camera with you everywhere you go. A photo opportunity is a terrible thing to waste. Yes I did forget it in the hotel room. Twice. Ask. Most of the authors and presenters are happy to pose for a photo with or without you in it. Most will ask you to email them a copy.
· Have fun. This should be a given. But it can be easy to lose sight of this important goal under all the desire to step up your writing career. So just remember to take a deep breath and let it out slowly and look around you. See the people around you and take in all emotional electricity. Store it all away to be remembered and used another day.
The last best thing about going to the conference for me was five days of no laundry, no dishes, no cleaning, and no 9 to 5. No demands except from myself, no expectations except for myself and no responsibilities except to myself.
I’m looking for more tips to add to the list. Give me your best shot.
I was so energized by the Conference and the City by the Bay that I can hardly wait for the next one. Plans are already being made. Think San Diego.
You can start with a small taste of what a conference is like with a local one day trip. Check out our writing friends at Central Valley Writers and their l day symposium.