I’ve been seeing some awesome tips via the #RWATIPS hashtag at Twitter and Angela James also has a fab post up: The Three Most Important Things To Remember about the #RWA12 Conference
I thought I’d add some of my own tips (feel free to add yours in the comments!)
1. Don’t be afraid to talk to new people. Many writers are introverts and it’s hard to make that first move and chat up a stranger. But I’ve made some amazing friends at National so suck up that nervousness and say hello.
2. The bar is the heart of a lot of conferences. Even if you don’t drink, find your way to the bar at least once!
3. You see that author whose books you’ve loved forever? Tell her so. She’ll love you for it.
4. These are people who know what it’s like in your world in a way that no one else really does. The comfort of that is something I can’t begin to quantify. This is why talking to people and listening to people is so important. Share tips, ask questions, enjoy yourself.
5. I take flat rate boxes in my suitcase, but RWA also has on site shipping to mail back all the swag you’re going to get. Trust me. Unless you drove or brought an empty suitcase you’ll probably need to ship stuff back or pay a lot with overweight luggage fines. Don’t wait until the last minute to do it though or you’ll be in for a long wait (though I always meet new people in lines)
6. Snacks! I take breakfast bars with me and always have one or two in my bag. You’ll be rushing around at times and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. High protein snacks are ones I like best. Just some nuts or that breakfast bar (I love Cascadian Farms Sweet and Salty bars – 160 calories!)
7. The conference is huge. And overwhelming at times. Seriously, imagine the sound of 2,000 women talking all at once – I try to get away to some place quiet a few times each day. It helps me gather my thoughts. I get a smoothie or some coffee or just read or chat with a friend for a while. Then I’m refreshed when I go back to all the hubbub.
8. Don’t pitch agents and editors in the bathroom. Remember that they’re people who need that privacy just like you do.
9. On the subject of editors and agents – they’re actually nice folks and they’re at the conference to meet with authors. So it’s totally all right to strike up a conversation with them (just don’t interrupt a pitch session or other work)
10. I have several cardigans to take along with me during the day. Yes, Anaheim will be plenty warm, but convention centers and hotels can be either hot as hell or freezing cold, sometimes both in rooms that are side by side. I saw someone at twitter suggest a pashmina too!
11. If it occurs to you to say to someone, “Oh yeah, I read your book and didn’t like it.” don’t. If you ask the person next to you what they write (and you should! I love to hear people talk about what they write!) don’t make a face when they say something you don’t read. We’re all writer, or agents and editors – we’re there because we love books. There is absolutely NOTHING to be gained by being dismissive or rude about what other people write.
12. Above all – have fun. Step outside your comfort zone. Meet new people. Listen to people talk. Laugh. Every year I am overwhelmed by what a huge experience this is and every year I leave exhausted but energized and with more friends and excitement about my work. If you see me, please say hello!