Thursday, July 14, 2011

RWA National Conference: Part Two

Happy Thursday, everyone! Hope everybody is making it through the week stress free! The weekend is almost here, so keep moving forward.

Today we're going to have part two of our RWA National Conference series post. For those of you who missed part one, you can click the link to catch up: RWA National Conference Part One. In part one we discussed networking, but today we have another important aspect of the conference: workshops and publisher spotlights.

Which workshops and spotlights you choose to attend while at the conference can heavily effect your overall experience. If you don't choose wisely, you may end up in a slew of workshops which aren't beneficial to you. But RWA makes it easy. By labeling which workshops are PRO and PAN recommended, it allows members in these classifications to have a starting place, to know where to look. Yet, there are three main questions you need to ask yourself when choosing workshops.

1. What is my goal for this conference? What would I like to improve on or increase my knowledge of?

The most important thing to do before choosing your workshops is to identify your overall goal for the conference. Do you want to improve your craft? Do you want to expand your industry knowledge or build your author brand? For this year, my particular goal was learning as much as possible about the industry and the current market. Because of this, I chose not to attend any workshops focused on craft (craft workshops are what I focused on at last year's conference). This means that the majority of my workshop time was spent in the publisher spoltlights, where I was able to get a look into what the specific houses are looking for and which publishers I'd like to target.

2. Who's running the workshop? Who are the panelists or presenters?

This is particularly important if you are trying to decide between two different workshops. Sometimes we'd like to attend multiple workshops that are all running at the same time. Since we're unable to clone ourselves, we have to select our best option. A good place to start when choosing between the two, or choosing any workshop for that matter, is seeing who the speaker is. Many of the workshops I chose to attend at this year's conference were my first choices because they were packed full of industry professionals. Who better to learn about the current market and publishing trends from? While a QA with two bestselling authors about the historical romance market may be interesting (this is hypothetical, I'm not citing any specific workshop), if there is a panel of industry professionals discussing a similar subject at the same time, I would go with the industry workers. We often can commiserate with other authors, but how often do writers get to interact with the big names of the industry? Does this necessarily mean that the workshop will be better? No, not always, but you must select your own method of how to choose your workshop.

3. How will this be beneficial to me?

Are you going to a workshop on alpha heroes simply because it interests you, or because characterization is one of your weaknesses? An important thing to remember (and this goes hand and hand with the first question) is your goals. Before the conference, you need to identify your goal based upon both your strengths and your weaknesses. Examine what you're good at and what needs more improvement. Based on this, make an informed decision about your workshops.

So for those of you who attended this year: how did you choose your workshops? And for those of you who were unable to attend: take a look at your own writing goals. What goals would you have had if you attended Nationals? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Tomorrow we'll have part three of our series: book signings and agent/editor appointments. Til then! ;-)

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