After the conference

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Missing all my friends in New York
Mood: Wistful

As you read this, about 2,000 romance writers are converging on New York City for the annual Romance Writers of America conference. Con attendees will take workshop, “network” at the bar, giggle too much, and get blisters in the miles of hotel corridors.

In the weeks leading up to a major conference, the blogging world, Facebook and Twitter are full of advice for eager newbies and old war horses trying to be more efficient with their conference time and money. The advice runs the gamut from the eminently practical (“stay hydrated” and “bring a sweater; some rooms are cold!”) to the sublime (“RWA is not a popularity conference. Which makes it easier to win”) to the ridiculous (“Remember, editors and agents are human too”; no they aren’t, if they hold the life of your work in their hands, that makes them demi-gods at least).

But I haven’t seen as much on post-conference advice. To rectify that…

1. Don’t lose momentum.
Conferences are exhausting. With the prep time before you leave, the travel stress, and the forced extroversion (not to mention the laundry and dirty dishes that mysteriously piled up at home while you were gone) it’s easy to come back from conference utterly drained. Take some time to recover, but don’t let it derail you for more days than the conference itself, which can easily happen.

2. SUBMIT your requested work.
The anecdotal number varies, but editors and agents all say that they get shockingly few of the manuscripts they request at conferences. Don’t be that writer. Or if you want to be that writer, don’t take away the ed/ag appointment from a writer who WILL follow up.  After conferences, there’s always a flurry of emails on writing loops asking “How long do I have to send in my story? Cuz, uh, actually, it’s not done. Really, it’s not even started.”

My answer (and not everyone agrees) is: Send it fast. It has to be good too. Not fast OR good; fast AND good. An editor or agent probably isn’t going to ding you on points if you take too long, but if she asked for it, it’s because she thinks she has a place for it.* Later, that maybe not be the case.

* Or because she’s just being nice. Which is a waste of everyone’s time. But don’t waste more time by NOT sending your work.

3. Do something with those business cards you collected.
If you followed the pre-conference advice and networked like crazy, you probably have lots of cards. Hopefully you followed good pre-con advice and jotted down a note on the card to remind you who this person was. Now to figure out what use you can make of those cards. Rather than keep scraps of paper around, you can data enter names, email addresses and the identifying feature you noted earlier into a word doc or spreadsheet for later retrieval. Send a quick email to people you want to remember so you have their addresses handy in your contact system.

4. Distribute all that swag.
You probably came home with more bookmarks, pens and plastic whatnots than you thought possible.  Contact your local romance book club or indie bookstore to see if they’d like to paw through it for the vicarious thrill. Your local RWA chapter might be interested in deconstructing the swag to see what marketing efforts seemed effective.

5. Put your favorite workshop advice to use.
Handouts and jotted notes seem to accrue more easily than mastery.  Actually TRY some of the craft, business or inspiration ideas that you learned. Also, share them with writing friends to reinforce them in your own mind. Keep a folder of only the very best (for you) of what you learned. That’s a great folder to take with you to writing retreats when you need a boost of remembered excitement.

6. Stay hydrated.
Hey, can’t hurt.

What’s your best post-conference advice? Anybody going anywhere else fun this summer? I’ll be at RomCon in Denver the first weekend of August and Authors After Dark in Philadelphia the second weekend of August. I’ll let you know if I follow my own advice!


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