Thursday, July 5, 2018

Stop Over-Thinking The Conference

I know, I already posted on this today, but I have to add this little note to all of you getting ready to go to RWA 2018 in Denver or the upcoming PNWA conference here in Washington.


Look, I get that meeting up with people we have not seen for a while is great. I get that the chance to get dressed up in the evening for cocktails is fine. I get that for some of you, the conference is about promoting your latest book, but I have to say, you are going so overboard on this.

Social media is blowing up with writers "getting nervous about the Golden Heart and Rita awards." One of the latest editions of the Romance Writers Report had a 4 page article about what to "pack in your bag for the ultimate promotion work. Authors are out making hundreds of "swag" items, of printing 1000 business cards.

Breathe deeply. You don't need to go to this extreme.

Let's talk about a few things here.


Yes, bring with you business cards, but in all honesty, you don't need 1000. I don't care if you got a great discount on the cards, you won't need that many. This is especially the case if you are unpublished.

As far as swag items, I have to say, many of these items go untouched in the goody room. Yes, it is fun to see what is there, and yes, it is interested to see the bookmarks, but guess what, people want the books more, and if you don't have books, forget it. As far as those gimmick things you put in the goody room for promotion, it better be good stuff. I have to say, most of what I see are not that impressive. Translation, if you don't have amazing to go with an amazing book, then forget bringing the work.


OK, I know some of you are going to say, "Scott, you don't understand. You aren't a woman." First of all, I work in this industry. I am one of the few guys at that conference. I think I have this figured out a bit. Secondly, I do co teach workshops on gender communications with a fellow colleague so again, I think I have this.

First of all, this is a business conference. You will be in a hotel so layer clothing, but it should be professional looking. Figure out items that can be rotated through. In other words, a nice skirt and then rotating though a different blouse. DO NOT bring a completely different outfit for every single day. You end up looking like my son's first girlfriend when she took a cruise. She brought 4 bags. Too much.

Shoes should be practical, comfortable but also professional.


When it comes to the clothing, see above.

Now to the nominees. Quit "getting nervous." What the heck are you nervous about. You could do nothing about the award the moment you sent in your submissions. Those decisions have been made weeks ago. If you win, you say thank you to your family, your editors, your agent and your critique partners. That's it. If you don't win, you clap and go back to your cheesecake at the table.


You will go to sessions. You will talk to people. You will discuss the latest book. You will sit with different people during the lunches and get to know people. This is not that hard.

Now, if you are someone who says, "But I am not outgoing?" Then maybe this business is not the business for you.


Let me just say, these are speed pitches so there is not much you can do. The odds are, unless you pitch something that is not a genre that person represents, you will get a request. There isn't enough time to really sort though all of that stuff.

If you are afraid you are going to forget something, I would say three things. First, you have been working on this book for how long? You should remember what your book is about. Secondly, you are not coming in with a prepares speech. Simply tell us about your book. Finally, if you really don't know the book well enough, then skip the pitching, send the query in after the conference and call it quits.

TRANSLATION... Stop fussing and enjoy the time talking to other people about your book.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get me started on pitching, Scott. I wrote an entire post on my blog. Enough said.

    I've attended two conferences. One in Eugene, Oregon and one in Portland. They were excellent. Because of a leg injury I will miss this years Portland conference. Yes, I'm depressed.

    You are correct. Do not be nervous. Conferences are a wonderful experience. The instructors are great. The people you meet are the best. You will go home with new friends. It will be something you will be talk about for months.

    Enjoy it. Stop over thinking it!!!!!