I have multiple personalities. I am a full-time librarian and part-time romance writer. While attending the awesome Romance Writers Association national conference I realized there were some subtle differences between this conference and the library conferences I have attended in the past.
- Networking, networking, networking. It isn’t easy, but networking in your field is important. The writers I met (biased sample size, LOL), at this conference were there to connect with people as much as they were there to learn about their craft. I do know librarians that are very good at networking, however I was at a library conference recently that began each and every program with the explicit instructions to introduce themselves to people on their left and on their right.This was not needed at RWA. Often moderators needed to quiet participants down prior to beginning a session.
- Friendliness, helpfulness, and checking your ego at the door. I found my fellow RWA attendees to be, on the whole, very friendly and helpful. The “First-timer” ribbon on my badge was a very effective icebreaker. Several times I spoke with presenters following a program panel or when I encountered them on the escalator. All were open and willing to chat, even if they were a NYT bestselling author and I was just a lowly unpublished author. Conversely, I can easily recall approaching program speakers at library conferences and having them listen to me with half an ear while scanning the room for someone more important or influential that they could ditch me for. Boo.
- Chicago-North Rocks. Okay, so I knew this already, but the fact was really driven home as I met several writers who don’t attend chapter meetings because they are too far away or the meetings are not productive. I firmly believe that joining my chapter and attending meetings on a regular basis has been one of the best decisions I have made in terms of my writing career. The group is full of supportive, successful writers and I learn something from them almost daily.
- Story Arcs, GMC, Blah-blah-blah. Oh, I learned a lot of other stuff at the conference, too. A LOT. I learned how to put words to the vague knowledge that something was missing from my WIP (external conflict, baby). After the first full day of the conference, it was clear my contemporary romance would need more revisions before I would be able to confidently submit it. Therefore, I chose to cancel my pitch appointments with my selected editor and agent so others could have the opportunity. While some disagreed with my choice, after reading Scott Eagan’s post about pitching at conferences, I look forward to completing my revisions and submitting my work with a well-developed strategy.
I was fortunate to meet many people in real life that I have encountered in the Twitterverse. I hope to meet many more in the future. See you in Anaheim!