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. http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com