Friday, July 23, 2010

What to do if you're not going to RWA

Maureen wrote a great blog about RWA for first timers, well this is for writers who would like to go, but can't for whatever reason.

RWA is an amazing experience, and a great place to meet people, but there are other great ways to make writing connections without having to get on a plane. (Maureen should be writing this. Of all my writer friends, Maureen is the best at doing this, but she already blogged this week:)

First of all, get out to a local RWA meeting. Seriously, you'll meet other writers face to face, and feel like you are part of a community. They are really friendly people and if you have questions, chances are they'll be able to answer them.

Take a writing course at your local college. Molly, Maureen and I, as well as the two other members of our critique group all met at a writing romance course we took. I enjoyed the course, but really loved how it brought all of us together.

RWA allows you to make one editor appointment, and one agent appointment. Sadly, face to face meetings with industry professionals are hard to find close to home, you can check out agent blogs, and a really well written query can work as well as a face to face pitch.

Aside from personal committments, I had a couple of reasons to not attend the national conference this year.
First and foremost, I'm not published, so I wouldn't be going to promote a book, or connect with my editor or agent.

While pitches can work really well to get you past the query stage, two pitches aren't a lot. Smaller conferences usually offer the chance to pitch to more than two people and there is a greater chance you'll meet them casually at the bar.

There are a lot of choices in workshops, and while they are amazing to attend, I can order the CD' online for $100. Which I really do recommend, especially if you are a beginning writer.

Lastly, I've promised that I'm going to write 10,000 words in the five days I would have spent at Nationals. At this point, as much as I would love to see everyone, and reconnect with old friends, writing is probably a better use of my time.


Maureen McGowan said...

Oh! 10K next week! Awesome goal, Sinead! My goal is to write 500 a day while I'm down there.

This was a great post. I've seen writers on loops etc. complain that they'll never get published because they can't afford or don't have time to go to conferences. Which is, um, ridiculous and just another big old excuse for not trying.

It always comes down to the writing. Doesn't matter whether you've "met" the agent or editor through a query letter or a pitch meeting. And while there are a lot of intangible benefits to knowing a lot of writers, it's not going to get you published...

Stephanie Doyle said...

See in hindsight - I almost wish I had done the conf. thing before being published.

I went to my first right after I got bought because I was going to have dinner/lunch with my editor and I thought that face time was important.

I missed out on a lot of the "craft" workshops that would have been good for me. Because once I was published - I focused on the business side only.

Now - I do more craft workshops. Some have me rolling my eyes. But others have been good.

And so true that conferences don't get you published.

But they're fun and for me vitally important because it's really the only 4 days out of the a year I get to talk about writing with writers.

At least since this blog started....

This blog has been huge for me. So thank you again DWT.

Maureen McGowan said...

I totally agree, Steph. And I expect Sinead does, too. So much to learn at conferences at every stage of your career.

But there might be a law of diminishing returns after a certain number of conferences, if you don't have "promote my books" or "meet with my agent and editor" to add to the benefits.
I'm with Sinead on the "I think I now need a reason other than learning the craft and networking to justify spending so much money."

Not that I don't learn something new every year, or meet more people.. But if I add up all the money I've spent on conferences... better not to think about it. la la la...

But I'm a recovering conference whore. Went to an embarrassing number back when I on my first agent hunt. And smaller conferences WAY better for that.

Eileen said...

I think the smaller regional conferences are fantastic, especially if you're going to actually attend the workshops. I learned so much from them when I was starting out. Now it's harder to find a workshop that's going to cover a lot of material I haven't seen before. I mean, there's always something good, some little kernel of information it seems, in every workshop, but it's not the mind-blowing experience it was when I first started out.

I didn't attend a national conference until I'd sold either. I didn't feel like I could justify the expense or the time away from my kids (remember I was a single mom at the time and going away for a week meant dumping my kids on a friend or a sibling for that time). It's been invaluable on the networking front, but my foot was already in the door a little bit and that made it MUCH easier.

Sinead M said...

Conferences are a tough decision, when I went to my first, I didn't have children, and so five days away was easy to manage, and fun.

Now, three small children later, it's a huge deal to find the time. I did find them really useful and I'm really glad I went.

But I agree with Maureen on the law of diminishing returns. And I'm so incredibly lucky to have close writing friends within an easy distance so we can get together and talk writing.

If not, I'd be jonesing to go to several conferences a year.

Eileen said...

I'd like to say one more thing about the conference. This blog has TWO members that are finalists for the most prestigious awards given out by the romance writing community. I know we talked about it when the nominations came out, but I want to note one more time how incredibly awesome Molly and Maureen are.

To receive a nomination for the Rita or the Golden Heart, your work has to be of incredibly high quality. You two completely rock the house. I feel privileged to be your blog sister.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Yeah! Ditto to what Eileen said.

Maureen McGowan said...

Aw. Thanks, guys. It is a privilege to know both of you, too

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