Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Conferences are Business

Why are you going to the National Conference?

I ask this, not to get a flood of emails with their top list of things to do when they are at the conference, it is a reminder of what a conference such as RWA National is all about.

I find it amusing that on all of the chats and blogs out there, writers are gearing up for all of the restaurants they will be at, the sights they will see, the parties they will attend and I really wonder, why are they spending so much money for the conference? I know in the past, when I have attended, I find little time to do anything. I take my swim suit in the attempt to hit the hot tub, or my work out clothes, but my day is just too packed. In Dallas, I wanted to do the whole JFK tour, but simply didn't have the time.

From 6:00 AM until 11:00 at night I was working. I attend the Spotlights, I meet with writers, I meet with editors and other agents. I work. I have my complimentary breakfast, eat the dinners and lunches provided by the conference because yes, these are working meals. This is business.

I remember having a conversation with Susan Swinwood from Harlequin one year we were talking about how RWA is really an exhausting conference. From the moment you walk out the door of your hotel room, you are "on." For myself, I start developing a single calendar in my Outlook file simply for that conference and it is booked all day.

Look, if you want to go and hang out with your friends, see the sights of a city, sit by the pool with your AlphaSmart of laptop and write, don't waste your time on the conference. If you want to see DC, go when it is cooler. Stay at a hotel that gives you what you want to be creative and have fun. (Please note, I am not slamming conference hotels or sights, RWA has picked fantastic ones every year. Keep it up!!!). What I am simply saying is that you need to have your priorities straight for a PROFESSIONAL conference with PROFESSIONAL writers.

Still, have fun! I will see you in 2010! For me, this year I needed a break!



  1. I've taken a break from RWA Nationals this year too! Planning on Nashville next year.

    Love your blogs...keep em coming!


  2. I live in the DC area, and my husband tried to get me to forego staying at the hotel in favor of commuting.

    Needless to say, I declined. Firmly. I tried to explain that a hotel room was absolutely necessary to decompress, because the conference is invigorating and enervating at the same time.

    He still doesn't quite understand, but he's given up the idea of me taking the metro every day. At least he now understands that the seminars run pretty much all day long, and that the sheer extent of the function is exhausting.

  3. Hmm...interesting to hear this from an agent's POV. I can understand if the writers are going they would like to sight see, but perhaps they should hold off until the craziness is through.

    Personally, I've never been to a conference but I would love to see the madness, hopefully I can change that soon and attend some. I was bumming when they held one in Colorado!

  4. I was at Dallas's RWA... And I didn't stay at the hotel, I have family in Dallas I stayed with to save a little cash. And even as a writer, I completely understand Scott's point of view.

    I was "on" all the time. Heck, I even had lunch with you one day Scott... lol. I was constantly meeting and talking to people, because I never knew who I would run into and who would want a pitch.

    But I know what you mean--it is an exhausting conference. Yes, I had fun, met some great people, but every night when I drove home, (And I'm sure the Dallas Traffic had something to do with it) I was so exhausted, I just crashed on the couch, trying to let my brain inhale all the knowledge I'd been given in the day.

    So going and planning to see anything outside the hotel seems a bit far fetched while at any RWA conference.