Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting the Most Out of RWA Nationals

Whoo hoo!  I am registered for RWA Nationals in New York.  I cannot wait.  It is a wonderful, shiny treat waiting on my calendar.  This will be the first time I've attended.

I've checked the schedule on the RWA's website several times.  I've started packing (mentally).  But I have no idea of what to really expect.  While I've been to other conferences, I haven't attended anything of this scale/magnitude. I want to make sure I get as much as I possibly can out of this wonderful experience.

For those who've attended RWA Nationals in the past, I would love your advice on how to maximize the benefit of the conference.  All suggestions are welcome!

(I may be slow in responding to everyone's comments today, but I'm not ignoring you. Work is holding me hostage, so it may be this evening before I can check in)


Lexi said...

Heather, are you pitching? I pitched at my first RWA and had a blast. I didn't have any appointments, but I went down there on pitch day(s) and picked up five appointments! So, don't be discouraged if you don't get a slot. You will be amazed at the number of people who have pitch sessions lined up and don't show for one reason or another.

You will have a blast. The creative atmosphere is amazing and you will meet so many wonderful people and make new friends. And there is a workshop for everybody.

Mostly, relax and enjoy. It's a fabulous experience and it's in New York! Sure to be scads of editors and agents there this year! Whoo hoo!!

LMS Dunick said...

I'm still trying to figure out if I can swing going. I really want to, because the book I'm working on now should be done by then. Have a blast, though :)

Laura Hayden said...

On a practical note:

1) Wear comfortable shoes.
2) Be prepared to pick up lots of goodies and free books. There's usually a UPS/FedEx shipping station at the hotel for this very reason. Bring a flatten box in your suitecase.
3) Use your cellphone to take a picture of your hotel room number, and the maps in the program.
4) Walk the conference space BEFORE things get started and learn the room names and where the bathrooms are.

Louisa Cornell said...

Go over the schedule of workshops several times. There will be tons you want to attend, but your time is limited. So, grade them perhaps 1 to 3 on how much you want to attend. Realize that the workshops given by big names can end up being SRO and sometimes they even close the doors. So, your option is to leave another workshop early to be sure and get in, or just take a chance. Either way, have another workshop in mind and know where it is just in case! In spite of the fact that the workshops are taped and you can buy the CD's do take notes. The things that strike you in the workshop as "light bulb" moments are easier to remember if you make a note of them.

M.V.Freeman said...

I think its absolutely fabulous that you're going--take lots of pictures.

Carla Swafford said...

Heather, don't forget you don't have to go to every workshop you pick. You'll be surprised how they can wear you out. Go to one, take a break, sit in the lobby, chat with old and new friends and then go to another workshop.

You're going to have a blast. Wish I could go, but family vacation is taking all my extra funds.

Laura, great idea about taking a picture of your room number. It's so easy to forget in all the excitement.

Jennifer Echols said...

Make yourself some business cards, even if you're pre-published. And then, prepare to talk to everyone, everywhere. Introduce yourself to all the strangers you end up sitting with at the luncheon tables, and people you sit beside in the workshop. You will connect with some of them, and some might even become terrific contacts or dear friends. This is second nature to an extrovert like Carla, but for an introvert like me, it is unnatural torture. It is worth it.

Heather said...

These are all such great suggestions! I really appreciate it!

Lexi - I hope to pitch (but I need to get of my rear and submit my PRO application)

Lisa - Come on, go to NYC - it will be fun (I'm worried my arrival may be something akin to the Beverly Hillbillies arriving in LA, so the entertainment value of my inevitable faux pas will make the cost of the flight well worth it for anyone who attends)

Laura - what would I do without you? Luckily, I won't have to find out - keep any eye out for me wandering around the hotel with a dead cell phone battery so you can remind me I should have packed a charger!

Louisa - great idea! I have a LiveScribe pen for my office - I may take it with me to help capture the light bulb moments

Mary - I will be a picture taking maniac - you guys will likely get sick of them (okay - so I have been known to take pictures of my food if it is really pretty - with the amount of restaurants in New York, I may need a new memory card for my camera)

Carla - the hanging out is the part I am looking most forward to - I can't wait to finally have faces to attach to names I've come to know so well

Jennifer - in my job, I have to be able to talk, talk, talk - give me a podium and a room full of people, and I can yammer away better than any politician. However, put me in one on one social settings, and I am a wreck. I tend to view parties as a form of institutionalized punishment. In law school, I would show up at events long enough to make sure someone saw me, then I would bolt for McDonald's and my apartment to have a night of watching movies. I probably need to find a way to work through that before this summer!