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.
It started with a great workshop on writing Romantic Comedy – which is near and dear to me, as you all know, and how much we can learn about writing it from watching classic RomCom movies. Excellent stuff, peeps.
The worker elves at Kensington made these gorgeous frames for us to display
and you can see where I placed mine in the picture above of the table. The room, let me tell you, was jampacked with readers when the doors opened at 11. I had to turn my hearing aid DOWN because the level of excitement was shooting through me at warp speed! I gave away all my books – signed! Such a great turnout. And it was nice to connect with fellow Lyrical writers Susan Mann , Kate Pearce, and Mary Ann Marlowe.
The rest of the day was spent at workshops, including a fabulous marketing class taught by the wonderful and uber smart and talented, Kilby Blades.
The evening ending with annual RITA AWARDS where romance authors are recognized for their writing. This night, history was made as the first and second black women EVER were awarded Ritas. It was a long time coming and these uber talented women richly deserved the honors.
I’m going to do one last post tomorrow, a wrap-up of sorts, of this year’s RWA experience for me, so you won’t want to miss that.
So, yesterday was another info-fun packed day. It started with a workshop on marketing strategies for a 12 month period that blew me away!!! If I can do one fourth the things the instructors suggested, I should see a real uptick in sales for 2019!
My mouth to God’s ears, peeps!
I was thrilled to be part of the INDIE BOOKSIGNING next. I brought print copies of DIRTY DAMSELS with me and I am delighted to report they all went!!!
The last Golden Hearts Awards luncheon came next and I am thrilled and overthemoon-delighted to say a dear writer-friend BETSY GRAY won for her unpublished manuscript LOVE ON THE BOOKS. I clapped and cheered so hard, my mascara started running and I had to go back to my room to fix my face!
After that emotional time I was off to to the INDUSTRY MARKETPLACE where I hung out with my publisher of the WILD ROSE PRESS, Rhonda Penders. She was giving away tons of swag and books and one of the prizes was my Deerbourne Inn Novella, HOPE’S DREAM, in POD form!!! Since it’s exclusively a digital book, it was fabulous to see it in print.
These were our door prizes this year and I have to tell you I lovelovelove them!! I’ll be signing this award winning book ( Can’t Stand the Heat) at the Kensington book signing on 7.26.19 so come and see me to grab your copy!
… I was just about pooped after all of that, so I had a hot date with my comfy pillow~
but apparently you can never take the city out of the girl.
I arrived yesterday in NYC from sweet home New Hampshire, and the heat slapped me silly the moment I stepped out of Grand Central Station. The Hotel this year is only about 3 avenues and 2 blocks from GCS so, ever the money conscious chick, and knowing this burg like I know the back of my hand – having spent my youth as a citizen of these fine streets – I hoofed it from the train to the hotel.
In the heat.
In the busiest city in the world.
Lugging my suitcase behind me.
Yeah…didn’t think that one thru all the way, did I?
Got here ( sweating like a working farm animal) and THANK YOU JESUS my room was ready because if they told me it wasn’t, it wasn’t gonna be a pretty sight.
My room is big enough to house 4 people comfortably and no, I’m not offering any space to anyone, so get that outta your heads asap.
DOn’t have much of view by daylight
But night time is pretty cool, with the lights of 42nd street lit…
Oh, and that heat that was apparent when I arrived? About 5 pm tonight severe weather loomed in, enough so that a storm hazard warning blared on my phone. Torrential rain for 2 hours. Flash flood warning. Whipping winds.
Remember that tootsie pop commercial “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Toostie pop?” If you’re over 40 you do.
I’m waaaaaay over 40.
But I digress.
I’ve been TRADITIONALLY published for 4 years now. My first book hit the shelves from The Wild Rose press in 2015. Since then I’ve had 3 books published with Kensington/Lyrical, 9 more published with WRP and 3 more contracted, one ( so far) published with Limitless and 3 more planned for that series. I’ve won over 20 industry writing awards for my books, the most recent, the 2018 OKRWA International Digital Award and the 2019 Golden Quill Award. I’ve done speaking engagements on romance topics, I have a fierce social media presence and a good following of readers and bloggers and I’m an active member of my local RWA chapter.
I’ve done all the work to get those books contracts, too. On my own. No Literary Agent. And let me repeat – these are traditionally published, not self-pubbed books.
So, why am I still trying to land a Literary Agent when I’ve had such success on my own getting book contracts?
A good question and one I’ve had a lot of people ask me.
I see having a Literary Agent has having someone who is always guarding my six ( or, at my back for those of you who don’t watch NCIS). Someone who will do their best to try to find the publishing contracts for me, instead of me having to invest so much time and energy in doing so when I could be writing. A literary agent knows the ins and outs of the publishing community, what’s new, what’s going out of style. They’ll be able to garner you international rights so your books get to other readers in other countries; they know what conferences to attend, what CONS to do books signings at to increase your exposure and get you more sales. They are your first professional reader and editor, able to tell you where you need to make changes to your manuscript to get it “publishing ready.”
Having a Literary Agent may seem old fashioned to some of the new wave of Indie writers, but I still see having one as an entree to places in publishing I could never go to or get into without one. Literary Agents have relationships with publishing houses that I never will – or can. Editors for those houses trust their judgement. If they talk up an author and her work, those editors will listen instead of unknown me writing a query letter that will probably go into a spam file.
I respect Literary Agents and think they are so worth having. You have a doctor to protect your health; a dentist to protect your teeth. A literary agent protects you and your work. Makes sense, no?
And yet, I still haven’t been able to get any LA’s interested in representing me, so I ask again, how many published books – traditionally published books – does it take before someone will be interested in representing me?
The answer to the tootsie pop question was 3. It takes 3 licks to get to center of a tootsie pop.
I’ve queried upward of 25-30 Literary Agents the past few years. And I’m still not …at the center of the tootsie pop.
Le sigh. Maybe this year at #RWA2019 I’ll finally meet the Agent of my dreams. I can always hope and dream……
Hey, did you know my current book is currently on sale exclusively at AMAZON and KU?
Here are the links:
So today’s the day I start to try on clothes I haven’t worn in a while ( okay, a year!), figure out how many “travel sized” personal care items I need to buy, do laundry to ensure I have enough underwear to last a week, and find shoes that go with more than one outfit so I don’t have to pack my entire shoe closet.
Stress, they name is Margaret-Mary.
Cause of stress? I need to pack for RWA.
I am, usually, a fabulous packer. I just came back from a week in London with one suitcase and a backpack, and my packing skills are enviable. When you fly international, you’re only allowed so much poundage per stored luggage. I came in under, more than 20 pounds lighter than what they allow.
Score! If the plane had crashed due to overpacking and overweight, it wouldn’t have been because of anything I’d contributed to.
You’d think since RWA is in NYC this year, I wouldn’t have to worry. No planes, no airport parking, just a drive to MetroNorth, hop on a commuter train and then hail a cab from Grand Central Station to the Marriott Marquis.
Yeah., not so much.
Backstory: I have 2 torn rotator cuffs and a bunch of ancillary damage to both shoulders. Due to scheduling issues I’m not having my first surgery to repair one shoulder until the end of august. What that means is that I’m severely limited in how much I can pull/lift/push with my arms. I’ll be attending RWA solo, as always, and getting my suitcase filled with a week’s worth of stuff and then carrying it to NYC is going to be a pain in the…shoulder.
So that’s one point.
Point 2 is since I haven’t been able to exercise much due to the pain and immobility issues of the shoulders, I’m a little….chubbier….than usual, and I haven’t bought any new clothes, so I need to be able to fit into the stuff from last year. And fit into stuff where I won’t look like a stuffed sausage!!! Can you lose 4o pounds in a weekend?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Oh well. Let me go try stuff on and see what — it anything — fits and doesn’t make me look like a tent.
And don’t forget to come see me in NYC. I’m doing 2 book signings this year:
My very first RWA conference was in San Antonio in 2015. First timers are given an actual stick-on to place on their name badges stating they are first timer conference attendees. Like everyone else, I attached my badge banner after registration. I was standing by an escalator nervously trying not to look conspicuous and awkward in my solitariness, when ubertalented multipublished author Shirley Jump approached me and introduced herself. She stated she was an RWA Board Member and asked how I was liking my first conference. She asked what I wrote, was I published, what chapter did I belong to, all questions that engaged me in conversation and put me at ease. She was absolutely charming, lovely, and (if you’ve never seen her) gorgeous. She made me feel so special, I went about the rest of the day feeling less like a fish out of water.
Knowing that she took the time to reach out to me, a total stranger, to welcome me to RWA and to encourage me to take advantage of the parties, courses and workshops, gave me such a feeling of acceptance and belonging.
The next year, as a seasoned conference attendee now (LOL) I remembered that encounter and did the same thing Shirley did: I reached out to several people who had first timer banners on their badges. I introduced myself and then engaged them in conversation about their experience the same way Shirley had.
It felt marvelous to reach out that way. I met three women who were much the same age as me, who were at that point in their lives where they wanted to devote themselves to their writing more and were attending the conference to network, see what was happening in the industry, and take advantage of some of the fabulous workshops and courses. They even asked me advice on publishing. Imagine. Me!
Ego-boosting stuff to be sure.
Every year since then I’ve made it my business to connect like that with first timers. And every year I’ve made more writing friends because of it.
Every one of us who write has at one time or another felt that solitary, awkward, what-am-I-doing-here feeling. RWA is a supportive community of writers in all phases of their publishing careers and we should embrace one another on all those levels. A smile and a word of encouragement go a long way when someone is feeling out of place or overwhelmed. So, I’m challenging all of us RWA seasoned members to reach out this year to a first-time conference attendee and welcome them into the community we all love so much. You just may make a novice writer’s day. And conference.
Until next time ~ Peg
And don’t forget – DIRTY DAMSELS is available now here:Amazon KU +