There was a lot about being a writer that was totally foreign to me when I first started writing romance novels seven years ago. But there was one aspect of writing I understood completely–attending an organization’s national conference. In my other life (JOB), I manage mega-sized conferences for my clients. So, the idea of attending the RWA National Conference in Atlanta in 2006 on a lark (I was in Atlanta for a fanfiction event) sounded just right. Although I’d never finished a romance novel, novella or short story (if you don’t count fanfiction), I thought why not?
Throughout this week here at the Waterworld Mermaids blog, I will be talking about the 2012 RWA National Conference in Anaheim, CA, which begins this Wednesday through Saturday. The posts will include interviews with authors, book giveaways, and general updates on what’s happening in Anaheim, which I hope you will enjoy.
Today, I’m talking about prepping – not packing, or shoe shopping, all important aspects of making the trip, but I wanted to give you some tips on how I explore a big conference (RWA usually attracts more than 2,000 attendees).
I start with the hotel – always. What’s this baby look like? How far from the airport? Where’s the main ballroom? How far apart are the meeting rooms? Scouting out a hotel upon arrival is always a good idea, but these days, you can find mucho info by visiting the hotel website. In particular, check out the meetings pages where you’ll find floor plans. I don’t like spending a day being lost, or having to search – even with good signage – so getting an idea of the hotel layout is an important time saver.
Also you may discover the cool spot at the hotel. For me at the Marriott Anaheim, I found, well, the most beautiful STARBUCKS in the entire world (check out the photo:). I am a major coffee drinker, and this is the kind of spot at conferences that is always packed in the AM (so if you need caffeine, get there EARLY). By mid-afternoon it will be a networking hub – so make certain you’ve plugged in all of your computer equipment (phones, tablets, iPads, etc.) so you can be ready for impromtu editor and/or agent meetings, brainstorming, general laughter – whatever!
Later, the bar will be ground zero – but I’ll report on that after I arrive in Anaheim.
Most important of course is the conference schedule. I know there are some who might say that the RWA schedule is conservative, but this year, it appears to have it all, including quite a bit on self-publishing, social media marketing and as always lots of craft and career workshops and spotlights (LOVE the spotlights if you want to learn more about a specific publisher). Year one every workshop sounded perfect to me. But in recent years, I am looking for specifics to help my career as a romance writer. So like any good plotter, I never attend a conference without creating my personal roadmap. Not only is a National Conference great for networking, pitching, and inspiration, it’s also an opportunity to add to your writing arsenal – but only if you take the time to know what that means for you. More on the schedule tomorrow.
If you aren’t heading off to Anaheim, let us know what you think of national conferences, would you attend? What keeps you from going? What keeps you coming back? Published or unpublished, let me know what turns you on or off about the RWA Nationals. And if there’s something you want me to dig into while I’m in Anaheim, please let me know. I’ll see what I can do:)!
Tomorrow will include a book giveaway! And more about the schedule! And perhaps a surprise guest or two later this week!
Thanks for dropping by.