Thursday, July 26, 2018

The more things change ...

... the more they stay the same, right? Except sometimes they don't. I went to the RWA conference recently for the first time in about 10 years.

Some things weren't changed: long lines at the bathroom; NOISE when 2000 people are in one space talking; workshops galore.

But a lot has changed. The first thing I noticed was the lack of Big Name Authors. I remember passing Nora Roberts in the hall or spying Jayne Ann Krentz at the drinking fountain. Nope. A couple of the keynote folks were around, but mostly -- nope.

Pitching for agents and editors: I don't know if there even was pitching. If there was, I didn't see the line of nervous hopefuls, practicing their words.

The vibe: it's completely different. I'm not saying better or worse, but different. It used to be that being published was like a Big Club and there were just a few select members. But now there are a bunch of successful authors who are self-published who I've never heard of or seen their books. They were the ones giving the workshops and they were the ones signing books.

I got some interesting ideas for promotion and for self-publishing, which is why I went (heaven knows, I don't need to attend yet another workshop on craft or goal-motivation-conflict!) So it wasn't a wasted effort by any means, especially since I had a chance to hang out with friends, which is always energizing.

I like to attend one Writing Event every year just for that reason: to get re-energized, to meet with my writing peeps, and to connect with other authors. RWA National was my event for this year. Now to look around and decide what's up for next year ....

J L
(jayellwilson.com)

7 comments:

Leah St. James said...

I've never been, JL, mostly due to the high cost. I haven't been to a conference in about five years for the same reason. Even the local writing conferences are several hundred dollars to register, and it's just not in my budget. The one big conference I did attend (NJ Put Your Heart in a Book) about eight (??) years ago was fabulous though, mostly for those big names who were there. I think it's great the self-pubbed authors are getting some recognition now, although some of the "regular" big names would be fun, too. Sounds like you got what you could from it. Thanks for the report.

Margo Hoornstra said...

So let's be sharing these promotion ideas you received. You're exactly right about how things have changed. My first RWA conference, in '84 I think, I was one of the Committee Chairs. My latest was last year in Florida. Lots and lots of valuable information, which is that conference's strength. It is great to meet face to face with our peeps. That, for me, was the highlight last year. Glad you had a good time.

Jannine Gallant said...

I've never been to RWA. At RT this year, I noticed the best selling indie authors were the ones doing all the workshops. A few bigger name traditionally published authors were there, but not anyone huge like Nora. Mostly, those authors were just signing at parties. I collected quite a bit of marketing info. I need to look it over again since I don't seem to have implemented any of it yet...

Brenda Whiteside said...

RWA cost always kept me away too. And now I don't belong. In the past 5 years, I've attended 3 conferences. Two were local. One was a total waste of time. The other I did a pitch and got an agent but in the end that didn't work out. I did InD'Scribe (your were there JL and Rolynn and we had fun hanging) but I wouldn't do it again. I did get some good info I've used but not enough to make the cost worth it. From what you describe, JL, it does sound not as good, to me anyway. I'm rather sad about the way of the industry in the last several years. But that's just me.

RE Mullins said...

Interesting to know. Being my mother's caretaker, I find it quite difficult to get away. The time I do get, I head straight for one of my children's homes.

Diane Burton said...

I used to go to RWA conferences every couple of years until the early 2000s. It's not in my budget anymore. I like smaller events where I can hang out with friends, network, and pick brains. Like our (Margo's & mine) Retreat from Harsh Reality (Mid-Michigan RWA's). It depends on your needs. Like you, J.L., I don't need the basic workshops; I want ones on promotion since that's my weakness. I've done the Fan Girl thing with Big Name Authors. I'd rather meet up with you guys. I do hope you'll share more of your insights from the conference.

Alicia Dean said...

I haven't been to an RWA conference in a while. It does sound like they've changed. I enjoy smaller ones much more, and I'm blessed that I'm able to do a few a year, usually, at no cost, since I've been asked to attend as an editor. It's even more fun to go to a conference when it doesn't cost you a fortune! I'll be anxious to hear what you learned about marketing.