On the train back home on Saturday, I had a few hours to ponder on this year’s RWA experience for me and I came up with quite a few things.
When I was first published 5 years ago and went to my very first RWA in San Antonio, every class I took was craft-related. I wanted to hear from the experts about how to master the art of romance writing. I didn’t even know that the publishing houses gave away free books! I was so intent on taking every craft class I could to make myself a better writer.
The second year I did know they gave away free books and I split the time 50/50 between craft classes, (fangirling) and going to book signings.
Third year I only went to book signings! hee hee
Fourth year I attended nothing but marketing classes ( and a few book signings) because now that I had over 10 books published I figured I knew what I was doing, writingwise, but now needed to know how to effectively market and sell those books.
This year, no book signings other than my own, and nothing but marketing classes. Well, that one on RomCom writing. How much my perspective has changed over these five years!
This year, for the very first time ( which is disgraceful that it took so long) the first and second black women were awarded RITAS. This was an historic RITA ceremony and while I am thrilled for the AOC who won, I am disheartened that it took so bloody long for it to happen. The board’s directive to solve this issue is imperative.
That’s all the good stuff. Now…the not so good.
Dear RWA Board Members.
I recognize that this was a hard year for you all. Cockygate, then the plagerism scandal; the #dontattendtheRitas movement because of the diversity issue. These have been tough hills to climb, I get that.
- Attending RWA in NYC is wicked expensive. The rooms alone are bankruptable to most writers who don’t make 6 figures ( hell, even 4 figures) a year. There must be some hotel that can accommodate this group for less money.
- And while we are on the subject of expensive hotels, 37 dollars for a breakfast buffet is ridiculous! I can’t believe there wasn’t some cost reduction that could have been given due to the large volume of guests RWA provided for the hotel.
- Now…the elevators. We’ve been in many hotels for RWA and this hotel has, hands down, the absolute worst elevators of any we’ve stayed in. They broke down 3 times, took between 4 and 7 minutes to arrive most days ( yes, I timed them) and simply could not accommodate the amount of writers who needed to get to classes, all at the same time.
- The cost of registration is very high. Very high. And this year ( as last year) I personally don’t feel the cost was worth it for the mediocre quality of the workshops given. DOn’t get me wrong – some of them were fabulous. Truly. But overall I found the choices lacking.
- And having said that, there was a greater emphasis on indie and self publishing than ever before. Many of us are still traditionally published – like I am – and have no desire to switch to Indie. It would have been nice to have a 50/50 split instead of the topheavy indie offerings. Just sayin’
- Now, the RITAS. In the past we’ve had desserts on the table to snack on during the long ( and long winded) ceremony. Little petit fours, snack cookies, delicious desserts to help sugar us up and get us through the event. This is what we had this year:
A box of lemon drops. LEMON DROPS. Really? I paid $499 for a lousy 8 pack of vile tasting hard candies that looked like the came from the land of Halloween candy rejects? Badly done, RWA. Badly done. And while we’re on this subject, $8.00 for a shitty 8 ounce glass of soda and $20.00 for a half glass of champagne was insulting. We’ve already been monetarily gouged for the cost of registration, the hotel, the food and now add insult to injury and charge penurious amounts for a drink at a ceremony?
Yeah, I think I’m skipping San Francisco for sure. I simply can’t afford it.
You can do better than this, RWA. You really can.
2 responses to “#RWA2019 #RWA19 Wrap Up… And an open letter to the RWA Board.”
Peggy, the cost is prohibitive for those writers just starting out or on a budget. I know a lot of them make this their summer vacation. I do agree, RWA has been going Indie-heavy for the past 3 or 4 years. After 26 years in the business, I rarely find a class worth going to.
I’ve gotten to the point where the smaller conferences are much more inviting.
Great recap! And, I agree about it being a long-time coming for the authors of color. There are so many great ones that there should have been recognition ages ago.
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Peggy – I’m not currently on the board, but I can possibly address some of this. The hotel contracts are books years in advance in order to lock in an advantageous room rate. In addition, NYC was booked back when traditional publishing was King and there was a desire to be in the hub of the publishing world. I have no doubt RWA is aware of how expensive NYC is, but at the time, (we’re talking maybe a decade ago), the location was considered desirable.
One thing the staff can’t lock in, however, is the rising cost of food and drink. I’m sure you know the cost of food at a reception. To offer a coffee break, for example, Coffee, for example, is outrageous. Think around $80-90 per gallon. The conference planners – aware that members are paying high registration costs – are sadly forced to make cuts in order to keep costs in line. That is why we got less this year.
PS: I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you at the conference. I saw you going up in an elevator and that was about it!