Hey friends. I went to RT last week and meant to get this post up sooner, but since I blog at 3712837297 places now, today was the first free day.
So first off, what is RT? RT is the RT Booklovers Convention put on by Romantic Times magazine. (See RT? Clever.) But what it really is a chance to network, pitch, get books, meet other writers and have a general awesome time while learning all kinds of things that can improve your craft.
No, seriously. All that happens in a few days. I learned more in three days than I had in a year. It also renewed my zest for writing and made me more determined than ever to get my books out there. Why you ask?
Because the writing community is so amazing. I mean, I knew it before because I see you all on Twitter. But being there, in real life, hearing encouragement, swapping stories, it was so much better.
Everyone needs a conference (at least) once in their writing career. Some people say wait until you have a book, but no, go as soon as you can. Make contacts, make friends, mind what you have learned, save you it can...no, wait. Sorry, wrong advice.
So here are the five biggest things I learned at RT:
1) Talk to everyone. Agents and editors are real people too. And I found that four out of five times, they were just as excited to talk to me as I was to them. Here's why. I write books. They're looking for books. I might have what they're looking for or know someone who does. They might know someone who needs what I have. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Plus, most every single person I met was great which leads me to...
B) Most people were the same level of cool as they are on Twitter. The two people I met who were...well, less than amazeballs, I already suspected that on Twitter. But the people I connect with and adore? In real life it was simply amplified. Bottom line - none of us have time to be someone we're not. That's what our characters are for, right?
cat) Have a pitch ready. Know what the eff your book is about. This is the number one convo I heard and experienced:
Joe: Hi. I'm Joe. On Twitter I'm AuthorJoe.
Jane: Oh hey! *hug* I'm Jane. Or LovesToWrite78.
Joe: What do you write?
Jane: I write about the Muppets. But in space. Also, it's 1785.
Joe: Cool. I write YA. What's your book about?
***Now pay attention***
Jane: Um, well the Muppets obviously. And Space. And two of them fall in love, and it's kind of hard to explain but there's a time warp, and well, I'm still revising. But you'll just have to read it.
Okay, that's basically me anytime anyone asks me ever what my book is about. Which is dumb, because I know what my book is about. My point, practice a pitch, even for conversation. What if Joe interns for someone fab? They are talking and say I heard this amazing pitch, I think it's what you're looking for. When you show up at the pitch table the next day, the agent has already heard about your amazing Muppets In Space historical and is ready for the full. Learn a pitch. Or at least be able to condense your book into a few sentences. It's important.
4) Don't be afraid to talk about what you're good at but own up to what you're not strong at. Industry professionals are looking for the cream of the crop. Don't be a jackass, but don't sell yourself short either. If you rock the house at writing mystery novels, tell them. But - and this is important - don't lie. You meet Amazing Agent. She says she wants a steampunk Cinderella story. You write contemporary. Don't tell her you're thinking about writing that very thing, then Frankenstein one together and turn it in. That's not cool. Be true to you. Because what if it is amazing, but then you only write contemporary. See the problem?
*thinks about steampunk Cinderella story. Realizes I don't write steampunk. Damn.*
%) The biggest thing I learned at RT wasn't from anyone in our field professionally, but from the most important people in our industry - the readers. They were everywhere. Talk to them, pass out your swag and cards, that's fine, but listen to them. Sometimes as a writer, I get tunnel vision, focusing on things and wondering why some books are published and get lost in the machine that is publishing and the road to publishing. But listening to readers, what they like and don't and the looks on their faces when they realize writers are just people too? Priceless. If I could've had one day with the readers, I could have learned even more than I did. That knowledge can't be measured in value.
The last day I was there, I had breakfast with Brenda Drake, Erica Chapman and Trisha Leigh. (I'll pause while you bask in jealousy and I look smug.)
While we were in line a mother and daughter there for teen book day stood in line behind us. Trisha struck up a conversation and we asked them to join us at a table because the line was forever long. They were such lovely people. But talking to them about their likes and dislikes in books. What they thought about an author's presence in social media, or at signings. Every single thing they said is a piece of information you can't get from people in the industry. And ironically, those are the people that really matter most. The ones you're writing for. The readers.
So there you have it. What RT means to me. Can't wait to see you all in NOLA next year. I'll also be at RWA in July in Atlanta. Maybe I'll see you there!
Until next time I leave you with this: