RWA-The Big One

I haven’t been to an RWA conference in a few years, but I’m thinking of attending this year even though things are different now. Firstly, the conference will be held in June for the first time in my memory. That’s odd. Secondly, it won’t include a weekend, which is unusual. And thirdly, I won‘t be waiting for my next book release. And that’s downright creepy.

See…it’s been almost twenty years since I’ve packed myself off to a major conference while I was between contracts. That’s what I call my situation when I’m being optimistic. Not unemployed or unpublished or say…desperate. Just between contracts. But I have a bunch of questions: What does one do at a conference when one is between contracts? Does she go back to stalking editors like she did in the old days? Does she hang out in the hotel bar with old cronies, drinking Shirley Temples desperately attempting to look cool? Does she attend workshops and try to absorb current wisdom?

I’ve always thought that when your career is in jeopardy is when you should really attend a conference like this…especially if it’s in the Big Apple. But now that I’m in this position myself it’s practically impossible to justify the expense. And since it is in New York, I figure it’s going to be more expensive than ever. The cost of the event alone is $550. Airfare is skyrocketing along with fuel prices, and I don’t even want to think about getting a hotel room in the world’s most cramped metropolis. I figure I’ll be lucky to get back home without dropping a couple thousand bucks.

So what do you think? Is it worth going so I can watch someone else win the Rita? (Helen, I’m talking to you. Hey, lose once already will ya?) And if I go what do I do there? What’s the best use of my time? I sincerely need some advice. So please help me out, ladies.

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17 Responses to RWA-The Big One

  1. Betina says:

    Lois, I’m with you, honey! No major contract (novellas aplenty, sigh) and the cost is high. Still, I just decided to go and now have to fork over the money and book a plane ticket. What gets me is that I can’t take advantage of “Saturday night stayover” rates! And I have to take four full days off work in order to attend. What’s with that? Nobody else in RWA has a day job?

    I think schmoozing and lunching and networking is the way to go. No doubt you’ll see agents and editors aplenty and have a chance to chat up and size up the opportunities available. It’ll be worth the trip, I promise. Even if just for the RIDING breakfast. We are having one, right?

  2. Helen Brenna says:

    I hear ya, Lois. I wasn’t planning on going this year, but the RITA nom changed that, so you’re going to breakfast, lunch or dinner or something with me!

    btw, I didn’t win RITA last year, so can I please win this year? Please?

  3. loisgreiman says:

    Thanks, Betina, I think you’re right. In fact, I saw an airfare last night for $259 so I better scrape together some money fast.

    Let’s get together and drown our frustrations in mimosas or something.

  4. loisgreiman says:

    Helen, no, sorry, you can’t win again…UNLESS you share the Rita lady with all us Top Downers. Hey, that’s a great idea. You can just pass her around and we can stroke her or something for good luck. We’re proud of you, Helen. You go girl.

  5. michelehauf says:

    You saw airfare for $259? How many layovers? Twenty? I couldn’t find anything less than $500. Ugg. And I’m toting the hubby along so it’s doubly expensive this year. Double ugg.

    But yes, are we doing a breakfast?

  6. Linda Morgan says:

    Good luck Helen! And Lois, at least it’s a tax write-off. I bought into that “tax write-off” sales point but never made enough to use it. However, even though you have to pay now, maybe you’ll get it back this time next year.

    I want to hear about the Riding breakfast! Have a great time.

  7. Leanne Banks says:

    I hate the expense too, and I’m not that far away. I haven’t booked the conference hotel, so I’m outta luck there. Since I’m so close, however, I plan to fly in on Tuesday am and out on Friday afternoon. I’m also speaking which brings down the cost a teensey and is a promotion thing. Last year, I received an offer for a continuity during my meeting with my editor, so that more than paid for my conference. I’ve been known to try to get a one-on-one appointment with an editor just to pick their brains. If you’re between contracts, this is when you get your friends to introduce you to editors as the amazing, talented Lois Greiman. I would be happy to do that.:) You never know… the editor you meet in the bar could be the one that gives you your next offer.

    I try to go to workshops, but it’s challenging. I’m interested in finding out more about epublishing. I recently read that all authors should have a sideline epublishing. I think that may be true. We can fight it all we want, but it’s the wave of the present AND the future. In fact, some agents are recommending that single title authors push their ebooks more than their print books because the ebooks have higher royalty rates. Not so with Harlequin, but that’s another kettle of fish.

    Since I’ve currently chosen to be unagented, I kinda consider it part of my “job” to go to RWA. I always learn something. Last year, I learned that Harlequin sells our books to the Japanese market through their cell phones. They divy up the books and sell them in 3 parts. Turns out the Japanese end up only purchasing the beginning and ending of the “cell phone books”. They only want the high drama and resolution. Fascinating.

    Back to the conference thing, there’s another conference that will be held in NYC in 2012 — PASIC. It’s a smaller conference and it’s all about the interests and concerns of authors. They also have an industry cocktail party which an astounding number of publishing professionals attend.

    Can’t wait to see you fabu Lois!:)
    xo,
    Leanne

  8. Mary Louise says:

    Hi Lois. I understand the escalating cost of these things (but I figure you can use the cost of the conf. as a business deduction — right? Does the RWA offer a discount to its members?). That said, can you afford not to go? I know nothing about this bizarre publishing world but I would think a lot is about promotion. You need to show you are alive and well and still in the game. And girl, you got game!!! A ton of it. Don’t sell yourself short. What does your agent think? I would use the opportunity to meet with as many movers and shakers as possible and basically be a nuisance. When faced with a conflict I sometimes think “What would Chrissie do”? Granted, I do not have some of the options that Chrissie has, other than Ben & Jerry’s, but I know she would kick butt and ask questions later. My role model. Good Luck. Mary Louise

  9. loisgreiman says:

    Mary Louise, 🙂 I love your motto. And you’re right, I’m going to start thinking more like Chrissie. No more whining. Well…okay, she’d whine, but she’d do it while kicking ass intentionally or inadvertently.

    Thanks for the smile.

    • Mary Louise says:

      Thanks. If you decide to go, don’t forget: airline ticket, hotel, registration and Game Plan. Game Plan? Yep, Game Plan. . . . to take NY by storm! Make it a convention they won’t soon forget.

  10. loisgreiman says:

    Michele, just got a ticket for $308 total…no layovers…Go Will Shatner!!

  11. DebraDixon says:

    Lois– I think some of this is about reconnecting. Editors tend to forget you if they don’t see you or your books. So being out and about will remind them. ::snap:: ‘Oh, there’s Lois. I’ve wanted to work with her.’

    Let publishers you’ve worked with know you’ll be going. Just a quick email with a brief, “Hope I’ll see you in the mad house that is always RWA National.” That way they can add you to any invite they may be putting together. But you aren’t asking for an appointment or beating a dead horse. No one is uncomfortable. It’s casual but they’ll wave when they see you because they are expecting to see you. They may come over to chat. They may be about to change jobs and want to talk to you about writing for a new publisher.

    Let publishers/editors you’ve wanted to work with know you’ll be there. “Hope I’ll see you…and if you have some time to talk I’d love to discuss my next series with you.” Obviously that would be editor specific. Don’t think “blanket” emails to general email address work. But if you have some editor folks you know, then reach out!

    I’m a big believer in putting yourself out there in a way that simply allows publishing professionals to take advantage of the connection if they want to.

    Hang at pub panels and get editor names of the folks who sound like people you’d want to work with.

    So, yeah this is a research and marketing mission for you.

    That or chuck it all and go to shows!!

  12. Kylie Brant says:

    Lois I’m figuring I’ll be in the same boat but am going purely for entertainment. What do you do? Well, other than the Top Down Breakfast (sounds lots racier than it is, LOL) there are Broadway shows and major major bar time. That fills up the hours fast!

  13. loisgreiman says:

    Good advice, Deb, thanks.

  14. cindygerard says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you booked your ticket, Lois! It’s been too long since I’ve seen you – and I think the last time involved strippers??? But that’s another story.

    RWA, for me, is all about networking – with editors, agents, publishers but mostly with friends. It’s the only chance I have to see some of my best buddies!

    And yes, we NEED to have a Topdown breakfast. Anyone want to be the organizer this year? (I’m happy to pass the torch).

    Oh – and sorry I’ve been so absent lately. Hubby had knee replacement surgery a week ago today and I’ve been playing nurse, errand girl and chore girl – oh and trying to squeeze in some writing time somewhere too.

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