These events should come with signs like:
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK, or
BEWARE: EXHAUSTION AHEAD, or
WARNING: LOTS OF TALKING HERE.
|You never know who you might meet!|
You can bring your laptop to take notes but be prepared to sit in the back row so your tap-tap-tapping doesn't bother anyone. Note paper is provided if you prefer to use longhand. There's water provided as well. Morning, afternoon tea and lunch are all provided. It's a looooonnnnnnggggg day but incredibly worthwhile for writers of ANY genre, romance or otherwise.
Saturday and Sunday are broken up into whole conference sessions and workshops. The morning starts with registration where you sign in and collect your conference bag of goodies. Not only do you get a timetable of events but there can be anything from sponsors items, to free books, to chocolates, to bookmarks, to entry forms for prizes being raffled over the weekend in them.
Accommodation/roomies - If you can afford it, stay at the venue. Nothing beats the convenience of being where the action is or the freedom of just ducking up to your room to drop off bits and pieces. Try and spread the cost by rooming with friends.
|Kristin Nelson - agent|
AGM - stick around for the AGM. Learn about the organisation that supports its members and helps you grow as an author.
Ask questions - don't be afraid to do this. And there's no such thing as a silly question.
NB. If you'd like a book signed, by all means approach and ask if it's an appropriate time, most authors are VERY happy to do this.
Author Chats - most years there's been a session or two set aside where you our get to sit in on and meet and ask questions of authors published in a particular genre.
Don't miss out on these as it's your chance to ask the nitty gritty about the industry, publishing and details of being a published author. It's a great time to speak (almost) one on one with your favorite author!
There's usually a table sign up sheet put up on the Saturday. If you don't know anyone just add your name to any table and by the end of the night you will know someone!
Dress is smart casual to formal.
Bling - on nametags you might find lots of shiny badges or ribbons. This is affectionately known as conference bling. Some represent finalist or winner status in a variety of contests (published and unpublished) ie. the R*BY, the RWA Emerald, RWA RITA or Golden Heart or RWNZ Clendon award, others might have conference volunteer written on it, or it might be an organisation badge (ie.Sci-Fi Romance Brigade), or an e-loop like ROMAUS.
Bookshop - put some extra dollars away because you're sure to find a book or ten at the bookshop. The chances are you'll buy one and be able to get the author to sign it for you! The bookstore usually tries to have as many of our author's books on hand as possible, and this includes our special guests, but be warned, they tend to sell fast, so get in early.
|RWNZ Clendon Award|
I know Barbara or Peter Clendon, who run Barbara's Books and come to the RWNZ conference, are very approachable and will do their best to supply the books you want.
Business Cards - optional. But they're handy to have if you want to swap details with another delegate and saves you writing out your contact details time and again. Many unpublished authors make their own on the computer. There's some debate about what to put on them but if you put your name/pseudonym and a website or contact email address that will usually suffice.
Comfort - wear layers as you never know what the room temperature might be like. And unless you're used to wearing high heels all day, wear comfortable footwear. Your feet will thank you for it at the end of the day.
Editors - ditto on the agent spiel above.
Earlybird sessions - these are usually held before breakfast on Saturday or Sunday morning and give you the chance to submit two pages of your work (anonymously) for a "cold" read by an agent or editor and get their feedback on your work.
It's like querying through the slush pile and you get to see what they like or don't like about the work. These sessions aren't for the faint-hearted as they can be blunt and extremely honest but they're always good value to see how an editor or agent operates.
|RWA Golden Heart|
Mobile Phones - turn them off. Please. Enough said?
Morning & Afternoon Tea - you can do one of three things during these breaks. Find a quiet corner and spend some time recuperating from information/people overload, visit the bookstore and buy more books, or meet and talk with other delegates and industry professionals. Did I mention the noise factor?
|Bling & Nametags|
Networking - this is a great chance to do this. Get to know who's who in the romance community, who writes in the same genre as you, talk to industry professionals and learn what happens on the other side of the fence. In workshops, panels and in conversations during breaks.
Pitching - if you have a complete manuscript and are ready to put your work out there then sign up for an editor or agent pitch. It's the slightly faster way to get your work in front of your target house or agency.
If you have a pitch appointment get there 10-15mins early. Sit towards the back of any workshop so you can slip out quietly when you need to.
What to wear to these sessions - a nice pair of skirt/pants, blouse, jacket. Think smart to business professional. I've seen people wear jeans but it doesn't hurt to project a more professional image.
Perfume/Cologne - keep it to a minimum, none at all if possible. Please. In a confined space it can be overpowering and there are those who suffer allergies.
Romance - this weekend predominately celebrates this genre, in all its forms, but even if you don't write romance you can't go past the incredible information you'll get out this weekend. The skills you glean can be applied to any genre of writing.
RWA/RWNZ executive/committee members - get to know what services and the roles people play in our great organisations.
We have a dedicated bunch of volunteers who provide a diverse range skills and services to our members. Everything from being president of the organisation to being a contest judge or conference volunteer. We can't do without these people and some day you might like to give back some of what you've received. Finding out how you can help out, in whatever capacity, is a good start.
Support - the romance community is one of THE most supportive writing communities you'll ever meet. We encourage, we nurture, we cheer on each other, we appreciate and recognise talent. We're like one, big, humongous family.
Talking - there will be so much of this done over the conference. Your ears will hurt. Your voice might go hoarse. Oh, and laughter, there'll be lots of that too! Did I mention that the conference could be noisy?
Sessions may clash and you'll find yourself wishing you could clone yourself. Best thing to do is find a friend going to the other and swap notes on those workshops later.
I'm counting down the days until the RWAustralia conference in Melbourne and the RWNZ conference in Auckland - see you all there!