Really, there is nothing like writing romance. To be in a hotel full of people who are happiest when writing about love (and whose sense of humor reflects that) was truly something. During this year’s RWA Nationals, I felt like I had come home. 🙂
Every writer’s experience at Nationals was a little different since we’re all in a difference place on our career track. My goals for the conference were to meet and socialize with a ton of new writers (check!), take as many workshops as I could on craft and career (check!), and pitch the book of my heart (check!).
I made it a goal that in every workshop I attended, every breakfast I went to, and every granola bar “lunch” I ate while camping on the carpet in the sci fi elevator atrium, I introduced myself to another writer. It was exciting to hear so many different writers’ stories, what they wrote, why they wrote it, and what they were seeking to achieve by attending the conference. Allie Burton and Vanessa Barneveld, were YA authors whose books I read right before the conference, and it was a blast to go complete fan girl on them!
Many of the workshops I attended answered burning questions I had about the industry and traditional publication. A common theme I picked up from several workshops was that series sell. Readers who trust you as an author are excited to read the next book, and they want that title fast. Authors who spend a lot of time constructing a story world find it easier to put out several books in that same universe than to start over in their very next piece, constructing a new world. This got me rethinking how I write. I prefer writing stand alones, but I can see myself writing a series that takes place in the same universe given each book contains its own hero and heroine and that plot stands strongly on its own. I’m actually getting really excited about the prospect of writing a series and have begun toying with ideas for sequels to the manuscripts I’m currently working on.
Something that crystallized for me during the conference as a writer of YA is the difference in marketing and audience between YA romance and adult romance. Many presenters touched on what sells and how to connect with an audience using social media, but what was said was generally understood to apply to adult romance and did, at times, directly conflict with what works for YA. For this reason, I was very excited to attend the young adult chapter’s Evening of YA event.
During the event, I was very lucky to sit with some new friends I’d met at the conference as well as an agent and an editor. The night included an agent/editor panel that reflected on changes and trends in the industry–focusing specifically on YA romance. Next came an author’s panel to discuss their own take on the industry and what made their books successful. What stuck with me from the author’s panel was how dedicated those authors were to their audience, connecting through social media, speaking with readers at signings and school visits, and–some of them–changing the lives of their readers through the messages contained in their stories.
It’s been a few weeks since I jumped back on the train with an arm load of books and a head full of ideas, but I’m still thinking back to specific workshops or conversations and having hmmmmm moments. In general, I feel like I’m standing on more solid ground–that the decisions I make from here on out will help me to writer smarter, and I hope to keep up with a lot of the writers I met chillin’ in that arctic AC. My husband doesn’t know it yet, but I’m totally going to next year’s conference. Here’s to San Diego 2016!
Michelle Joyce Bond