Friday, May 25, 2018

Prepping For RWA Nationals

I know many of you are gearing up for the upcoming RWA Nationals and other major summer writing conferences. I do want to take some time to remind you of things you probably need to consider planning for instead of what I am sure some of you are doing.

Yes, figuring out the outfits you are wearing, the sights you want to see around the conference and the party schedule is important, but remember, this is a BUSINESS and PROFESSIONAL conference.

So, here are some considerations:

DO YOUR RESEARCH - This year, RWA is taking the Speed Pitch approach. Personally, this is not one of my favorites, but it is what it is. Regardless, take the time to do the research for who you are pitching to. Know ahead of time what they are acquiring and what their likes and dislikes are. It is not worth the time for you or that editor or agent if you just start throwing things at the person. You will still get rejected. My prediction is there will be more rejections this year than in the past.

PLAN ON ATTENDING WORKSHOPS AND SESSIONS - Again, this is a working conference. Plan on sessions that will help you out. I personally recommend hitting those spotlight sessions run by the publishers. Sessions on hearing some famous writer just talk about their career might be fun, but it is not going to get you much as a new author. I would also encourage doing the research to see if the speaker really has a clue of what he or she is talking about. Sorry to say this, but a lot have very little experience.

BE PREPARED TO NETWORK - I see a lot of writers who bring their laptops and plan on writing. This is again a huge waste of time. You have had all year to write. Sitting in your room or in a corner of the lobby is not going to get you the networking that you need. Get out and talk to people.

Along the same lines, I always recommend not traveling in packs. Sit with other people at lunches. Break up you chapter and divide and conquer. When you get together later AFTER the conference, you can share your information you gathered.

TALK TO THOSE EDITORS AND AGENTS - I know a lot of us like to sit out in the lobby and talk to people. Take advantage. You don't need to pitch your story, but engage. If we want to hear what you are writing, we will ask for that information.

DUMP THE ELEVATOR PITCHES - Sorry to say this, but that scripted speech you memorized and practiced with your critique partners in the hotel room do not come across as professional. They sound fake. Just be prepared to tell us the title, genre, word count and basic premise. No more of the "and sparks fly when..." phrases. Too fake!!!!

The key is to be ready to work. These national conferences are exhausting so be aware of that. You can sleep when you get home.

AND ONE FINAL NOTE: When we say to be professional, we mean it. Yes the drinks flow, but so does your reputation. People are watching you. People are listening. Act like a jerk and your career is tanked!

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