Friday, June 17, 2011

How to plan for RWA in NY

RWA is a week away and what have I done to prepare? I've printed business cards with the cover to The Shadow Wolf. That's it.

And then I look at the calendar and realize I have one week left to get my act together before leaving for RWA. I have a blizzard of meetings at the day job next week, and two ART fact sheets to fill out for Harlequin for my upcoming stories, Hunted by the Jaguar and Mated to the Wolf. I need to get organized. Now.

So this blog post is devoted to advice on planning for national.

First, take a deep breath. Breathe. Just breathe. You can do this.

Now, budget a few minutes to make a list of things you must take care of before you leave your family/responsibilities. Children, husband, pets, etc.

Make another list of essentials for the conference to pack (here's a little trick I learned from traveling internationally...take a backpack to carry on and pack with essentials such as a change of clothing, business shoes, etc. you'll need if your checked luggage gets lost.)

Comfortable shoes
Business attire and some casual outfits for lounging
List of nearby restaurants that are affordable
Granola bars or snacks (come in handy for quick energy in pricey NY city)
Print out of RWA schedule
Airline tickets, car rental info, etc.
Other personal essentials (such as laptop, if you are bringing one)

Next, preprogram important cell numbers into your phone: ie: agent, editor, roommate, friends, etc.

Now for the schedule. It looks daunting. So much to do and so little time. Here is where you narrow down your choices.

Set your priorities for this conference. Ask yourself, "What do I need to get out of this?"

If your goal is to meet with a particular agent or editor, make that the Number One priority and schedule that accordingly. If your goal is meeting friends or critique partners to discuss the market and upcoming projects you have, make that your Number One priority. It's your conference.

For myself, my priorities are always meeting with my agent and my editor. Business first. Then I schedule workshops and time for lunches/meetings with friends/fellow authors. I look at the RWA schedule of workshops.
To access, click here.

Pick workshops that feature areas you wish to hone. Are you weak on plotting? Select a plotting workshop. Need to learn to write a stronger heroine? Look for those. Yes, there are lots of booksignings where authors give away free books. But what will serve your writing goals more...getting autographed books or attending a workshop?

You can buy the workshops on tape, but let's say you don't have any time when you return home to listen, because your editor appointment resulted in a request for a full manuscript. Now you have to polish that book. And if you get such a request early on in the conference? Look for a workshop that can aid you in polishing your book. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge before you.

It all comes down to prioritizing. You are the only one who can pick and choose goals for yourself at this conference. Align your schedule according to those goals. And don't forget to make time for friends at the bar. The bar is always where the action is at; where news is exchanged, market updates are provided, where you learn the real nitty gritty of what is going on.

When you have the list of workshops and appointments, program them into your phone for quick reference.

If you're shy and don't know many people, remember there are probably a lot of conference attendees who are the same. You are not alone. Force yourself to pick a table at a luncheon filled with strangers. Start a conversation about how they are enjoying themselves, if this is their first visit to NY. You never know who you'll meet.

Now, go take another deep breath, relax and say to yourself, "I can do this!"

And have fun in NY!


Kathleen Pickering said...

I have the breathing part down, Bonnie!! Thanks for the tips on the rest. Making my lists now. Look forward to buying you a drink at RWA . . . if I can squeeze into your schedule! LOL!! xox, Piks

Kristin Wallace said...

Forcing yourself to meet people outside your chapter is a must. You make a lot of new friends that way. My first nationals (Reno) I rented a car/w 4 other ladies & drove to Lake Tahoe. I didn't know them, but they've become great friends. Also I firmly believe it's important to try & get out of the hotel (every day if you can). It can be so overwhelming with the peope & information overload & you need time to let your mind rest.

Mona Risk said...

So I am not going this year to National, but I agree and usually did what you advise here. Have a great time, productive and fun, and tell us about it when you come back.