The Conference, a perspective

I tried to describe The Conference to someone the other day. The size (over 2000 attendees), the handful of mini-conferences attached, several awards ceremonies, fancy dinners, and a massive booksigning. Booksellers, librarians, editors, publishers, agents, publicists, web designers and more — it’s a networking extravaganza. In an industry where an overwhelming percentage of the players work in a solitary home-office environment and communicate almost exclusively over email and through blogs, the face-to-face component is huge.

1996 was my first RWA National Conference. I was up for a Golden Heart in long historical (I didn’t win). The conference was in Dallas and I had enough time between workshops to field trip to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. This was before almost any authors had websites, and I hadn’t yet joined a local RWA group. I knew very few other attendees.

A finalist again for the GH with my second manuscript (I didn’t win again), I went back to conference in 1998. I knew many more people; I had joined my local RWA group and I was much more active (for the time) on email with other authors. Nevertheless, I still had plenty of time during the conference to catch rays by the pool.

1999 was the last conference I missed. By 2000 I had shelved fiction writing for technical writing and designing websites, and I even gave a workshop on the topic. By 2002 (Denver) my conference days were filled with client meetings. It was my once-a-year chance to reconnect face-to-face with “my” authors and find out about their new exciting projects and brainstorm together. I could share en masse, albeit individually, new strategies I had developed to self-promote and keep up with the rapidly evolving web. Together we would plan their year. Except for 2003 in New York City where I scheduled additional days on either side to do some museuming, I have barely left the hotels in the years since then.

And I look forward to doing it again this year — meeting with over two dozen authors, this year for the first time with Abi alongside. I look forward to seeing friends, and meeting people in person whom I only know over email. Busy as all get out or with time to sightsee, I love the reconnect.

See you all in San Francisco!

4 thoughts on “The Conference, a perspective

  1. Yay! I’m so looking forward to meeting you two.

  2. Abi Bowling says:

    I am very much looking forward to this trip – my first real RWA experience., and my first time meeting face-to-face with most of our clients! Of course I know what they all look like, have emailed back and forth with them for years, and given phone tutorials to almost all of them at one time or another, but there is something to be said about getting to meet in person. It makes a difference.

    I do hope I get a chance to meet other RWA attendees as well. We’ve got a jam-packed meeting schedule, but we get to break free for the literacy signing as well as a few other get-togethers.

  3. Pobba says:

    May your shoes be comfortable and your batteries (cell, laptop, and personal) hold out.

    And why is the Golden Heart silver?

  4. The silver Golden Heart is for the finalists and the golden one is for the winners. Ditto for the RITAs.

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