Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting Down To Business: Post Conference Thoughts

This month Donna Alward is fresh back from her trip to RWA Nationals with some thoughts on, well, things in general!

I wasn't planning on going to RWA Nationals this year, and in fact changed my mind only four days before the beginning of conference. It's very uncharacteristic of me and I'm so glad I went. Of course it's always a good time, but this year I managed to stay a little more on the down low since I was last minute.

Here are a few observations from the trenches:

1) Close to 2000 women in one space is Nirvana for Microsoft nerds. Interesting conference overlap...even though they did apparently use up our wifi that was courtesy of Avon, and made getting a drink at the bar slightly uncomfortable at times.

2) The industry has settled a bit. Two years ago the vibe of the conference was coming from a place of fear and yes, hostility. Last year the balance of power had shifted to the author, and it felt like publishers were a bit confounded and the shoe was on the other foot. But this year was way more relaxed, with everyone settling into different roles and what that means without any chips on shoulders. It was cool. Growing pains happen but then things settle down and it's all good.

3) Industry professionals are not scary. I remember my first conference and feeling so awkward and uncomfortable around editors and agents. One of the greatest thing about this conference was truly feeling like I was back among "my people" and that included publishing professionals as well as authors. I no longer feel intimidated chatting to VPs and names I've heard forever. One of the nicest people I've met is Dianne Moggy, who is the VP of Series for Harlequin. Super approachable and friendly. Here's the thing: we're all united by this business that we love no matter how we approach it. It's VERY cool. No need to freak - just chill out, smile, and chat.

4) No matter how many options available to authors now, unpubbed authors are still anxious and nervous and appreciate a smile, a little feedback and reassurance. Hey, don't we all? I make a point of saying hello to first timers and award nominees.

5) No matter where you are in your publishing journey, workshops are still beneficial. I sat in on a marketing meeting with the team from St. Martin's Press (one of my publishers), I attended two on writing single titles and series that were excellent, and another on Street Teams. Each time I came away with ideas and new information.

6) Keynote speeches. Each year they are awesome and each year I come away awed and inspired.

7) Friendships. You know, people say that conference is social and it is. But here's the thing. For one week a year, we all meet in the same place with people who just GET IT. It's a very powerful thing. It creates a synergy that is AWESOME. Time spent hanging with friends and roommates, sharing ideas, trials, tribulations... it's all crucial to keeping us going. Yeah, I spend time having lunches, drinks, chilling. But you know what? This is the one week a year that is just for me. :) I always come back tired but recharged at the same time.

If pressed, I could probably come up with some other things that are profound and more business-like, but truly there is nothing more motivating than just being together and sharing the experience.

Donna's current release is A COWBOY TO COME HOME TO, book 4 in her Cadence Creek Cowboys series from Harlequin Romance.


  1. Hey Donna! You're so right about the conference...and I'm so glad you made it. Seeing you there was the best surprise ever :).

    Oh, and all the friends...I didn't want to leave.

  2. Hi Donna, so glad you decided to go. Your observation that the industry is settling is encouraging. I hope I can go next year in San Antonio TX.

  3. Rula - being with you was a highlight of 2012. It was so good to see you and that SOLD ribbon on your badge this year!

  4. Christy - I'll be in San Antonio so I hope to see you too!

  5. It was a great conference, learned so much and always nice to see people who were strangers 3 years ago and are now friends and my biggest encouragers as a writer. The Microsoft guys were hilarious! RWA missed a great opportunity ... we should have held a joint speeddating event, LOL.

  6. Well said, Donna--I love your take on the conference. An accurate assessment of the mood of the whole week, I think. And it was great to see you! Last minute or not, I'm glad you came--always fun to trade a hug. :)

  7. Oh please, no speed dating! The first night 3 Microsoft dudes were hitting on my roommate as we tried to get a glass of wine. And it was not the fun kind of "hitting". LOL

    Julie - right back atcha.