With the RWA conference right around the corner, I have one question. Are you ready? I’m not talking about having your room booked, bags packed and your flight plan arranged. I want to know if you are mentally ready.
Lori, why do I need to be mentally ready? I’ll tell you why. In my experience, a big conference can be a bit overwhelming. Lots and lots of things are going on at one time, and all of this awesomeness can lead to sensory overload and sometimes drive you conference crazy. Don’t be surprised if you need to sneak off for a little down time to re-center.
The first day you’ll walk around in a state of amazement and euphoria. Your favorite publishers will be there. Your favorite agents will be there. Your favorite authors will be there. Right there in the flesh! They will be walking next to you, eating in the same restaurants, drinking with you at the bar. This is SO cool, yet emotionally overpowering at the same time.
There will be many, many workshops. You’ll find yourself stressing over which ones to choose. And sure enough there will always be a scheduling conflict, but it’s ok. You’re only one person. Decide which one will benefit you the most and go to that one, then review the schedule again. You may find there’s another workshop with similar elements at a different time. If you go with friends, you can always take this tip from the Bad Girlz. We’ll split up and attend both, then share what we’ve learned later in the day.
I could tell you to relax and stay calm when it comes to pitching, but come on, really??? You’re going to be nervous. It’s natural. The best advice I can give you on this topic is to look good, be professional, and try your best. When you look good, you’ll feel more confident, and when it comes to pitching, we need all the confidence we can get. The industry professionals are looking for a great story and they’re not too concerned if your teeth are chattering when you give it to them.
Do you know when I attended my first RWA conference, I had no idea publishers gave away FREE books. Nope. I missed ALL the signings. Hangs my head in shame. However, YOU won’t miss them because I’m telling you about them right now! You will get to meet and fan-girl some of your favorite authors, and they will give you FREE BOOKS. Autographed books! Did I mention, FREE?
Warning! The keynote speakers’ speeches will make you laugh, cry, and have you reflecting on why you write in the first place and digging that deep into your psyche can be exhausting.
Remember, as much as you try, you will not get to do it all. And that’s okay. Don’t stress. They have one every year. My point is this, don’t drive yourself conference crazy. If you find your feeling a bit drained, take a time out. Go sit in a coffee shop alone, or hide out in your room for a few minutes. Rejuvenate. Mentally prepare for the next thing on your list.
The wonderful news is YOU WILL HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. You will come home on fire, ready to be the next Nora Roberts.
Remember to Dream Big!