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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RWA Conference 2014 - Lessons Learned

~ Post by Suzanne Rock/Ava Conway

Whew, what a week. As many of you know, I attended my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in San Antonio. 


It was...amazing. And overwhelming. And exhausting. LOL! I learned a lot about the industry, the craft of writing, and how to be better prepared for conferences. Below, I share a few tips on how to make writing conferences (or any other type of conference) a little less overwhelming.

1) Accept that you will not be able to do it all. There simply isn't enough hours in a day. Even writers who brought their assistants, couldn't see and do everything that they wanted to do.

2) Go with a clear goal in mind. For me, this was networking. I accepted the fact that I wouldn't be able to attend a lot of the workshops or book signings. Instead, I spent a lot of time in the lobby and met a TON of writers. I re-connected with old friends, strengthened acquaintences into friendships, and met some amazing people who are at the cutting edge of the industry.

For me, this was where I needed to be to strengthen my business (and let's face it, writing is a business). Your goal might be to attend workshops, get signed books from your favorite authors, or pimp your latest release. The goal itself doesn't matter, but it's important to have one. Otherwise you might leave the conference wondering if the entire trip was worth the investment.

3) Bring an empty suitcase. This tip was given to me by another author. She is an RWA veteran and always brings an empty carry-on suitcase to fill up with books and swag. Genious! By the end of the conference, I had collected so much stuff that I had to pay extra to cart my suitacse home on the plane. Not cool! Next time I'll plan much better. :)

4) Stay kind and keep it classy. Two of my most vivid memories of RWA happened in the lobby. In the first instance, I was alone and waiting for friends. Kate Douglas saw me and recognized me from a publisher event. Despite her busy schedule, she sat down and kept me company until my friends arrived. Such kindness! The second memory is of a similar thing happening again two days later, although this time the author was Virginia Kantra. It took only 5 minutes, but it made a huge impression on me. They are both classy ladies and I've become thier forever-fan. 

5) Bring pants with elastic waistbands. I'm not kidding. Everything at RWA seemed to revolve around food, and everything is bigger in Texas. Make sure to keep the constrictive clothing (and the diet!) at home. ;)

6) Make time for sightseeing. Let's be honest...when are you going to be in that section of the country again? Be sure to take some time to see the local sights. Not only is it fun, but it's nice to take a break from the conference craziness and relax with friends.

Well, I guess that's it. Hope you enjoyed my lessons. Have you ever been to a conference for work? What lessons/tips did you take away?

Below is my upcoming release, which you can preorder now. It will be available everywhere on August 11th. Enjoy!



Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Disaster in this thrilling and sexy debut novel, in which a college student learns her perfect life is a lie and finds new love where she least expects it—a mental institution.

Freaks, misfits and psychopaths. Those are the kinds of people found at Newton Heights Psychiatric Hospital, and high-society girl Lucy White’s new home.


Freaks, misfits and Jayden McCray. Jayden has his own set of rules for life at Newton Heights, and in this contradictory guy Lucy finds a way to live with the events that left her cheating boyfriend and best friend dead and Lucy in the middle of the investigation into their demise.


The problem? Jayden makes her want things she’s not supposed to have, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality and making Lucy feel more at home in Newton Heights than she ever did at home. But this isn’t how her life is supposed to be.


Or is it?


Preorder while it's on sale for $1.99 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ibooks.






16 comments:

jean hart stewart said...

You're a brave girl to tackle such a difficult subject. Sounds like an unusually interesting book.

Rose Anderson said...

Great conference tips! Thanks for sharing. Loved the elastic waistband. :)

Maggie Van Well said...

Great post! My first conference was in San Fransisco and I learned to ALWAYS bring a sweater or wrap when doing the workshops. For someone who is NEVER cold (yes, even in the dead of winter, I rarely wear a coat)the frigid temperature in the conference rooms really stood out for me.

No perfume. Learned that the hard way.

Other than that, you covered it all :)

Paris said...

Loved your post! My first conference was in Dallas and it doesn't sound as if things have changed much--everything is bigger in Texas:) Loved the elastic waistband tip and I'm with Maggie--always layer because you never know if you're going to freeze or swelter!

Renee Vincent said...

Great advice Suzanne! Especially the extra empty suitcase - how many times I wish I had known that before going to a writer's conference.

BTW, it was wonderful talking to you yesterday! It's so nice to put a voice to a name...hoping to one day put your lovely face to your name as well. (((hugs)))

Melissa Keir said...

I love your suggestions. I went to a local conference for my first one. It was small and felt very at home. My first big one was last year's WWW in San Antonio. I'm going back this year. It was such fun. :)

Cara Marsi said...

Thank you for the tips on attending RWA. I've attended a few and they are exhausting. I've attended in NYC and DC, and the one in DC was so darn cold in that hotel.

Suzanne Rock said...

Thanks so much, Jean. This was one of those books people call "the book of my heart."It got a little personal since I know so many people suffering from depression, but I think it was good for me to write. I learned so much thorugh the process. :)

Suzanne Rock said...

LOL. Thanks Rose! I learned about the elastic waistband the hard way. :/

LOL!

Suzanne Rock said...

Ooh Maggie - I forgot that one! Bring a lightwieght sweater or cardigan. I'm adding that to the list. Thanks!!

Suzanne Rock said...

Yeah, I don't think things have changed much, Paris. My brother travels to Texas all the time and always complains about the heat, lol. I think us New Englanders are used to cooler temperatures. :)

Suzanne Rock said...

OMG Renee, I really hope we get a chance to meet in person. I plan on attending RWA in NY next year. I hope you go, too. If you do, we definately need to sit for drinks. It was so awesome talking to you on the phone. I'm online so much...it's so nice to talk to people in real life!

Suzanne Rock said...

Ooh, I want to try WWW sometime. It sounded like a blast. So glad that you got to go to the conference, Melissa!

Suzanne Rock said...

Ugh Cara. I'm sorry it was so cold! I'm planning on atending in NYC next year. Hopefully the temperatures will be a little bit better than DC!

Sandy said...

Suzanne, I agree with Jean. You're very brave to tackle a difficult subject like this.

The last RWA conference I went to was in Dallas, and my goal was to meet friends I had met on-line, and I did. It was wonderful.

Kate Allenton said...

This is great information :) In 2015 I plan to attend my first :)

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