Looking Ahead to RWA National Conference in NYC!

The conference is only about 6 weeks away which means there are many authors out there getting sweaty palms—myself included.

This will be my first conference ever, of any kind. Go big or go home, right? Yikes! I’m really looking forward to the experience. I’m excited about meeting fellow authors and possibly a few agents and editors along the way. But mostly I’m excited for the workshops. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from some of the romance community’s best writer’s, agents, and editors. I want to go and absorb as much as I possibly can. I’ll be a giant sponge!

So looking ahead to the conference, what do I need to do to prepare? I have two manuscripts that are ready to pitch—and two pitch appointments! Eeek! What else do I need besides a couple of finished projects, a big smile and an over-eager attitude to learn? Here’s what I’m thinking.

-A notebook would probably be a good idea for taking notes at the previously mentioned awesome workshops. But do I need a laptop too? Or my ipad? What do people usually bring with them into the workshops?

-I figure I need a couple of new outfits. Since I’m a stay at home mom in my real life, my basic wardrobe of jeans, t-shirts and flipflops probably isn’t convention appropriate. So what do I need to wear?

-Swag??? Those little give away items that go in the goodie room, do I need those? Are you bringing any? How many does a person need to put in the goodie room when there are going to be 2000 people in attendance? Not to mention, my first book, Love and Lattes, isn’t due to be released until September. Is it worth it to put swag in the goodie room for a book that’s not available for another two months?

-Business card. Got those. 250 of them. Is that enough? Too many? Does it matter since they take up almost no space in my bag? LOL!

What else to I need to do/get/prep before nationals rolls around? Any help for this newbie would be fantastic.


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  1. Liia Ann White says:

    It’s my first ever too! We can be noobs together 😉
    And look at you being all organised. I’ve got no freaking idea what to do or what’s expected.

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Liia!
      I’m very excited to meet the authors I’ve been chatting with online like you! It will be awesome to finally faces to go with the names I see on twitter! And I’m especially excited to meet a fellow Silver Publishing author!!!

      1. Liia Ann White says:

        I can’t wait to put faces to the names hey, it’s going to be great! Now I’ve got you added to the list. This is going to be SO much fun!

  2. Wendy S. Marcus says:

    Hi Heather!
    While I did see some people taking notes on laptops at national last year, most took notes on the handouts. I haven’t begun my conference prep yet but usually handouts need to be printed out before you go. If the conference workshop sched isn’t up already it should be soon. You can review it and pick out what you want to attend and print out the outlines. I printed out a bunch of different options in case what I wanted to attend was too crowded and I chose workshop B instead.

    Dress is business casual. No jeans.

    I’m not sure what a swag is (except on the Internet) but the goodie room isn’t allowing bookmark type paper items this year. I’ve got pens and business cards and will likely bring some bookmarks and books, too.

    People at conference are very friendly. Be prepared to exchange business cards and make sure you jot down where you met the person and any identifying info on the back so you remember who the person is when you get home.

    E-mail me on loop with any specific questions. Oh, and bring an extra, expandable bag to bring home all the books you’ll get. They give away a lot of free books!!!

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Wendy,
      Thanks so much for chiming in with your advice as someone who’s been to the conference before. I really appreciate it! I had no idea I had to print off my own handouts for the workshops!!! I guess I need to figure that out soon. Printing out handouts for optional workshops is a great idea too. I think I’ll try and find a nice notebook to bring, maybe one that has somewhere to store all those handouts. I think I just found a new excuse to go spend some money at Barnes and Nobel!

  3. Terri Osburn says:

    Popped over from Twitter. I’ve attended the last three National conferences and learned something about prepping for it with each one. Definitely recommend a notebook, though I’m betting iPads will be rampant this year.

    Wendy covered the basics so I’ll share the two things I wish I knew the first year. One – don’t be afraid to leave a workshop if it’s not what you expected or beneficial. There will be a ton of great workshops, but sometimes they aren’t what you thought going in and you realize your time could be better spent elsewhere.

    Two – take breaks. It’s okay to spend an hour just sitting in the lobby chatting with other writers. In the middle of the morning or afternoon. My favorites memories are those moments laughing and sharing with my friends and making new ones along the way.

    Oh, and be prepared for lots of people to look down at your chest. No worries, they’re just trying to read your name tag. 🙂

    1. Heather says:

      Hey Terri!
      Thanks for the tips! Three times, huh? Lucky girl. I’ll try to remember to take breaks, but with all the awesome workshops, it might be hard to convince myself to miss one. I’m really looking forward to meeting new authors and just hanging out, too. Maybe I’ll see you there!

      1. Terri Osburn says:

        Alas, I can’t afford to go this year. I’m trying to be strong. *sniff* I was so looking forward to it too, since I’ve never been to NYC. But I’ll have to survive with attending M&M later this year and take on NYC in 2015 when RWA heads that way again.

        Took me at least two years to realize missing workshops was not a big deal. But the buzz you get from the good ones is so sweet.

  4. Shoshanna Evers says:

    I’m so excited! This will be my first RWA convention. I went to Romanticon last year. I’m going to wear something nicer than I usually do, no jeans like Wendy said. That’s a huge deal for me because I abhor dressing out of my comfort zone, lol.

    I’m bringing a ton of business cards, but I guess I need to make my plans for what workshops I want to go to and print out the handouts.

    I won’t be bringing any swag, I worry it will just get lost amongst the really cool swag I can’t afford to provide, LOL.

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Shoshanna! We’re going to have so much fun!!! Maybe we should take a little shopping trip one of our Tuesday nights instead of going to panera. Yes?

  5. Janet Lane Walters says:

    Heather, The important thing is to have fun. I haven’t been to a RWA conference for years but when I went I spent a lot of time talking to other authors, encouraging those who needed it and meeting friends who I never saw except at the conferences. I kept notes and remember when they decided no paper products in the goody room. That was a good idea since most people don’t go back and pick up what they left and I think hotels charge extra for disposing of these things. Just go, keep a smile and know there are at least half the people there who are as worried as you are.

  6. Darcy Drake says:

    Also popping over from Twitter!

    This will be my second Nationals. I was at Orlando last year and believe me, it was HOT!

    Definitely have an idea of the workshops you want to attend beforehand and print out the handouts.

    They say no jeans, but I saw some jeans. I’d avoid wearing jeans, though. They seem to be fine for the charity signing or socializing after a long day of workshops and pitching. During workshops and pitching, then yeah, no jeans.

    Looking forward to seeing you there! =)

  7. Amanda Arista says:

    Hello there,
    This will also be my first RWA conference and i’m as nervous as a long tailed cat. I was wondering the same thing about Swag. I can’t afford the cool stuff but I’m goingto try. I”ve heard that lots of people bring Chocolate. I’m excited about that but i’m trying to think of out of the box ideas. Currenlty the two big ideas are custom notepads/ pens or compact mirrors with my book title on them.
    And of course new outfits are a must. This is New York.
    My business cards are in the mail and maybe we can swap there.
    Good luck!

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Amanda!

      I *still* haven’t decided what to do about swag yet. I don’t think swag has to be expensive to get good. It just has to be memorable. I hope to see you there!

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