I was thrilled to attend the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual conference in New York City this year. I was on a panel with some fabulous mystery writers—Sheila Connolly, Linda Johnson, Maggie Sefton, and Denise Swanson. We didn’t get much of a crowd—but we were up against some very big names (Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, anyone?). Here’s a little something about what I learned. (Okay, some of it really is more of an affirmation of what I already knew.)
- Romance writers are passionate about writing. When they get together they talk about craft, marketing, and offer one another much support, sharing resources, names, and so on. Wow. I felt the love.
- Having two pen names is hard. Yep. I know that. But I went to a panel, which was really not a panel. It was one woman being interviewed on how she made the two names work. Her answer didn’t work for me because her two writing selves are more closely aligned than mine. She cross promotes herself now. The two blogs, two Twitter/Facebook accounts, and so on? She gave it up after about a year. I’ve been doing it for about four years. Rather successfully on one, not so much the other. Am I giving up romance? No, but I will be either using my own name or able to cross promote in other ways. But it was great to see that there were several other writers like me, writing in a variety of genres. That matters.
- I love having a publisher and I love my publisher. I heard the way other people were talking about Kensington–without knowing I was a writer for them–and they came off well during the conference. You’d think I’d know this right? And I did–and I do. But sometimes it’s easy to dream about making a lot more money self-publishing, for example. We hear about all the success stories, and I am happy for those folks. I’m always happy to hear about other writer’s success. But hearing Rebecca Zanetti express why she chooses to remain with a publisher was an ah-ha moment for me. I want to be writing. Self publishers write, but they spend much more time on the business than what I want to. I’m not saying I will never self-publish. what I’m saying is that for now, it’s not for me in my current life situation.
- Romance readers are voracious. At a book signing sponsored by my publisher, where they were giving away books, my cozy mystery went as quickly as the romances. This was the experience of my cozy-writing friends who were there, as well. I’m not sure mystery readers read across the genres like that. I tend to think readers read across genres. But I can’t see straight-up romance writers at a mystery conference, but I may be wrong. There ARE a lot of romances within mysteries.
- The layout of a conference hotel matters. I hated the Marriott Marquis and will never go back. Usually I say never say never, but in this case it took away from a lot of the conference. The elevators were freaky and sometimes very slow. And the escalators were arranged in a weird way. Like sometimes you had to cross a the span of the hotel to go up or down on the things. Not good for the foot weary conference goer. Also, the meeting rooms were not large enough. Some of them were standing room only and some had people in the hallways spilling out of the rooms. Not cool. The conference is very expensive. If you can’t get to your session early enough for a seat (because of the escalators and elevators) that is more than too bad, it really egregious and poor planning.
So there you have it. I’d love to go back to another RWA conference. I highly recommend it—just not at the Marquis. The best part of the conference was catching up with friends that don’t live near me and seeing my editor, who I adore. It’s always good to see your editor in person once a year or so–if not more.
Have you been to any writing conferences? Which are your favorites?