What’s it like to attend a conference with 2500 other writers? I can only speak from my experience with the Romance Writers of America National conferences:
Exhilarating, educational and exhausting.
Though a week has passed since the latest—the 34th—held in San Antonio, my head is still reeling with new ideas. Most writers leave very inspired to implement learned skills and techniques. Because I followed the conference with visiting relatives, I’ve experienced more of a reflective period. I’ve caught up on sleep and listened to additional recorded workshops—ones I couldn’t get to because so many are offered—and thought about what I heard, rather than diving into writing again.
When I first joined RWA, I attended craft workshops to improve my writing, and career sessions to learn about the publishing business. Over the last three years, workshops targeted at self-publishing have increased. This summer, many well-known names in independent publishing presented, appeared on panels, or offered question and answer sessions: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force. Hugh Howey was in attendance. (I’m going to be very embarrassed if he presented and I missed it!) Three authors, Eliza Knight, Angie Fox and Deanna Chase, presented ‘How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing’ to a mid-sized room packed with women in business casual sitting in every seat and on the floor.
I wish I had taken photos of the audiences. Romance writers, including more men than in previous years, are re-thinking their roles in book publishing.
Industry-focused presentations included: ‘What Good is an Agent?’, ‘Is There a Case for Traditional Publishers and Agents?’, ‘Indie Success with No Publishing History’ and ‘The Hybrid Author.’ iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, CreateSpace, ACX and Audible held open houses.
I can’t even begin to list the workshops on social media and marketing. I took advantage of sessions such as how to vet an independent editor, formatting, developing your brand, and cover design.
I talked and questioned and listened. In every venue—especially the bar—an excited buzz about publishing strategies lurked. Not just getting an agent, or submitting to an editor, hoping a story would be picked. But how to manage your work in the clouds of digital press.
It’s a growing publishing world out there, writers. And the instruction book is open!