Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Forget This

In one week, two thousand romance writers will travel to Orlando, Florida for the RWA National convention in hopes of learning more about the craft and industry, networking, and or gaining an editor or agent’s attention. Many seasoned authors have blogged or added posts on their websites advising first time attendees of what to expect at the huge event, what to wear and what they need to bring, such as business cards, but I’ve yet seen a post telling them about the most important element--confidence.

Confidence is defined as the quality or state of being certain. As you walk among the other attendees, be certain that you are a writer too, even if you’ve yet to publish. If you have put words to page, you are a writer. If you have a burning desire to learn the craft, you are a writer.

Hold your head high. Be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge you can. The conference has an amazing list of speakers from which you will learn tons. Focus on workshops that target your weaknesses instead of the one your friend is attending, and remember, the only question that is stupid is the one not asked.

Don’t be afraid to talk to people, including editors and agents. They’re people too and they like to talk about other things besides books, which is their work. We all know there is more to life than work. Make a connection.

Smile. Be yourself. I’m sure you already have a boat load of friends. Attending a conference is an opportunity to make more. I’m truly grateful for the hundreds of friends RWA has provided me. Collect business cards. Write where you met and a bit of your conversation on the back of their cards. That little note will come in handy.

Have fun. Yes, attending a conference is considered work, but who says work can’t be fun. Remember to drink plenty of water and come yourself downtime each day.

When you enter your pitch session, don't be nervous. The industry professionals are not there to bite your head off. They're at the conference hoping to find someone you who has written an interesting book. Have you? Then relax. Just tell the story as if your telling it to me. The worse they can say is, "I don't think it sounds like a book for me." We've all heard or read those words, and guess what, you didn't wait months for the response. If that happens, smile, thank them for their time and move on. If you receive a request, you'll want to fly, drive, run home and print off the material and get it in the mail, but stay and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Now repeat after me. I AM A WRITER who can learn more about my craft. I AM A WRITER who always has room for another friend. I AM A WRITER who will pitch with confidence!


PS: On Friday, July 23, I will asking the Ruby-Slippered Sisters a burning question, concerning editors and agents. Join me there and read their answers.


  1. Yes I will be driving to Orlando on Tuesday. I will try to be confident. I HAVE to be confident, although my tongue has a tendency to become paralyzed whjen I face an editor.

  2. Do you have the deer in the highlight syndrome, Mona? I admit I do too.

    Have you done booksignings or met someone where once they found out you're a writer their eyes have that certain sparkle. They get all tongued-tied too. How do you feel toward them? Do you try to put them at ease and have a coherent conversation with them? I think editors an agents have the same feeling. They want to talk to people who have something interesting to say. ANd my God, lady you have some interesting things to tell them about.

    Just be yourself.

  3. My goal for this conference is Networking. When I was a newbie, I was excited meeting so many writers and becoming friends. Over the years, conferences have been spent with these same friends. Even though they are still wonderful and we'll definitely spend time together this year, I feel that I'd like to open myself up to meeting more new people and making more friendships and connections. I just have to have confidence to step outside of my comfort zone.

  4. KM,

    I know what you mean. I love my friends, dearly but there is a whole world out there and so much more to learn. Beautiful blue water becomes stagnant remaining in the green pond.

    Go to sessions on your own. Sit next to someone new. Start up a conversation. You'll be surprised who'll you meet.

    I want to know how you make out. Email me at

    Have fun and thanks for stopping by today.

  5. Excellent advice, AJ, even for old hands at the conference game. A smile and a question as simple as, "What do you write?" is a sure-fire ice breaker and way to meet new people.

  6. I agree with Autumn, confidence sure helps and last I heard no agent or editor had bitten any authors at conferences so relax. Some days I have no confidence but I can always talk. One of my kids told me I'd talk to a post until it got up and walked away. I'll look for you Mona and KM. look for me -Rita- I'll be the gal talking to the post.
    So sorry you won't be in Orlando AJ. We'll have to plan a Ruby retreat so we can get together.

  7. Autumn, outstanding advice. Looking forward to meeting you in person.

  8. Hi Autumn,
    Perfect advice. I have all the confidence in the world until I have to "sell" myself. Then I fall into the quagmire of comparison. "I can't write like THAT," or "Yeah, look at what Donald Maas says, I'm not even close." Well, bull crackers I say to that. I'll take your words with me and meet agents, editors and fellow writers as if they're my extended network of friends. Thanks for the reminder!!

  9. Excellent advice - great blog! I didn't know a soul last year in DC and yet met several people who have become friends. It's a kind group of people with similiar interests - and the conference is a lot of fun. :)

  10. Thanks, Autumn. I will be there too, nervous and eager, but smiling and learning everything I can to get another book published. Hope to meet you!

  11. Wonderful words of wisdom, Autumn! Confidence is a great asset to bring to Nationals. Hope I get the chance to meet you there.

  12. I would also add to Dress for Success. If you wear business attire, people will respect you more readily as a successful author than as a shlump who attends in shorts or jeans. Remember that you're projecting a professional image and dress appropriately.

  13. Hi, Silver. That's a great line and if the person says "I'm not a writer, I'm an agent."
    Bingo! Your next is "How do handle all the travel and family life?" A personal conversation lasts longer than a logline pitch, just be to chummy.

    Thanks for stopping by today, Silver. That was great.


    Just kidding. Rita, you're so funny. I'm going to miss seeing you and the other Rubies. Please plan on NY next year.

  15. No Nationals for me, Donnell. Whine, kicking the trash can) I'll be in NJ in October, however. Will you be there? I so want to meet you too.

  16. Hey, Liz, me too. I'm trembling. You know why I'm late in responding? I went to library for a meeting to set up my very first book signing. I'm so nervous.

    Good luck in FL. Wow them and remember to report back to us.

  17. Thanks, Rebecca. Are you going to FL? Woohoo! More friends and connections.

  18. A.Y., No Nationals for me. I sure wish I was going. (kicking waste can again) You have a great time and knock them over with your personality.

  19. Thanks, Tiffney. We'll have to connect other time. SIGH. (Now the waste can fell over on it's on) Maybe NJ. Say NJ, please.

  20. Great advice, Nancy. You always look so nice, and professional. I wish I had your style.

    I should where heels more often, then I wouldn't stumble out the elevator or up the steps or walk like I'm on a tight rope balancing 20 plates on my head.

    Thanks for stopping by and chiming in, lady. It is great advice.

  21. I'll be there in spirit!
    Nancy does have great style!

  22. Hi Autumn,

    Such a true post. I also blogged about being yourself and editors and agents are people too.