Recently I embarked on an adventure—I attended my first Romantic Times convention by myself. My friend was going to go but she had to back out. I forged ahead, despite the idea of traveling solo. I took quick advantage of the agent and editor pitch meetings I could sign up for, and arranged my travel schedule. However, I had little idea of what I would encounter. Here are a few things that I learned.
- There are tons of folks from all walks of the life. The people seemed evenly split between readers attending for the chance (among other things) to meet their favorite authors and writers/industry people such as myself, there to soak up knowledge and schmooze with others like me. I may have gone alone but I wasn’t alone for long. Shout out to my LARA peeps and nice new writer friends like Eris and Robin as well as Kanaxa, the cover artist who did such an incredible job on my next release.
- Don’t bring books. I always travel with not only books on my Kindle app but a few paper copies as well. This trip was no exception (I will read The Dragonbone Chair someday, honest). Lots and lots and lots of books are given away at this event. My joke is that I would go to the events/parties/lunches/publisher sessions and would walk in and they would offer me coffee…and a bag of books. Swag was everywhere, some of it wildly creative. I will never need a tote bag again. The publisher events were a book lover’s dream, tables and tables of authors with their latest book next to them, happily signing away. I had to stop taking them because I was flying and didn’t want to a) pay the overweight charge on Southwest or b) wait in the huge UPS line that formed every morning for people in my similar position. Next time I drive!
- You will get energized. I was in a bit of a lull creatively, grasping for old story ideas to keep up the pace I set for myself. I came away with a head crammed full of (competing) ideas. So much creativity crammed into one space was good for my writing soul.
- Three minutes is a long time. In addition to the pitch appointments RT also had a “pitch-a-palooza” with about thirty different agents and editors from various agencies/imprints. It was essentially speed dating for pitching. While three minutes seemed like no time at all when I was actually faced with the editors I was able to condense my pitch to the point where I hit all the highlights in under two minutes. I was skeptical, but then I did it. It was worth it.
- Big name authors go through the same thing you go. It is easy to forget that authors with one or more highly successful series likely went through the same ups and downs I am currently experiencing. This convention reminded me of that fact. C.L. Wilson, whose Tairen Soul series I admire very much, was talking about how she used to get wildly disparate contest scores when she subbed the first book to contests and if she placed, placed near the bottom until eventually she got a publisher interested. The one thing she never did was give up. It’s a good reminder.
- You will be tired. I came home Sunday barely aware of my name. And I didn’t even party the last night, nor do I drink so I have no hangovers to blame it on. I was constantly “on”, talking, observing, making notes, meeting people and walking back and forth from the convention area of the Rio to my room. It was exhausting. Would I do it again? Absolutely!