RWAtips: Helpful Hints for Surviving an RWA National Conference

I’ve been in RWA (Romance Writers of America) a long time. Probably not longer than most of you have been alive, unless you’re a kid, but long enough that I’ve managed to attend 2 RWA National Conferences, held annually, and watch from the internet sidelines as I did not attend umpteen more. Each year in the weeks leading up to the conference, participants discuss comfortable shoes, baggage weight limits, hotel to airport transportation, restaurants within walking distance, available postal services, dress code for the awards ceremony, workshop schedules, and the like. Some of these RWAites schlep to conferences on a regular basis; some do not. Some are good with large crowds; some are not. Basically, the variety of writers and other industry professionals at these conferences is great.

But everyone could use a little advice to get through the week, right?

The other day on Twitter, I noticed some kind, generous RWAites swapping and sharing tips for the conference. I pitched in, because I too am kind and generous.

Meankitty helped.

Here is a collection of the #rwatips posted by me so far (and, I have to add with a bit of a O.o, which trended on Twitter on Thursday, July 19, for a brief while.)

1) During meals, sling everyone’s plates off the table and announce that you’re ALL playing the Hunger Games now! ‪#rwatips‬

2) Telling conference attendees, “You have a lot of spunk, young lady!” will never, ever be taken out of context. ‪#rwatips‬

3) Go to as many publisher spotlights as you can! Be sure to photograph the editors so it’s easier to stalk them. ‪#rwatips‬

4) Belching loudly and sitting w/legs spread is a known sign of an author who writes authentic male characters. Do you? ‪#rwatips‬

5) Tell ppl not invited to Harlequin party they’re letting in first 100 who show up in bathing suits. Take pics. ‪#rwatips‬

6) If ‪#rwatips‬ or some other RWA hashtag trends, add it to your self-promo! Just think of all the eyes that will see it.

7) RITA night. Swan dress. Do it. ‪#rwatips‬

8) Secret RWA tradition: spanking Rita and GH finalists as if it’s their birthday. Be part of the in-crowd and whack away! ‪#rwatips

9) If all else fails, stare at your phone and curse loudly, exclaiming, “NYT List again? I’m so tired of this fame!” ‪#rwatips‬

10) Said to @sandyjamesbooks: It’ll be here when you get back. Just like the editor you should ditch midsentence to “tend to national security” ‪#rwatips‬

11) Remember–not everyone is a conference veteran. Newbies will be so much easier to misdirect and clear your path! ‪#rwatips‬

12) The most complete way to experience the conference is Twitter! DO NOT take your eyes off your phone or you might miss something. ‪#rwatips‬

13) Collect all the business cards and email addys you can. Ask strangers! It will really bulk up your mailing list for promo. ‪#rwatips‬

14) Tell everyone you meet you’re a porn star since the romance genre is all about sex. And you ARE a star! Don’t hide your light! ‪#rwatips‬

15) It’s passe to photograph ppl’s shoes at RWA. Might we suggest ppl’s butts? Call your Tumblr “The Asses of Romance” ‪#rwatips‬

16) Apply perfume liberally! Romance writers are always encouraged to engage all 5 senses. ‪#rwatips‬

17) ‬The smaller the font on yr business cards, the more kudos about yourself you can squeeze in! 7 pt is the max you should be using. ‪#rwatips‬

18) Note: 7 pt single spaced with .01″ margins. For the old fashioned among you. ‪#rwatips

19) Anything someone mentions that you don’t understand, tell them it’s “so 5 minutes ago”. Especially if they said it 5 minutes ago. ‪#rwatips‬

20) If you write YA, squeal a lot and sulk if anyone asks you to do anything. Ppl need to know you really ‘get’ teens. ‪#rwatips‬

21) “Ew, smell this!” is a great way to bond with other authors. Once again, romance writers are supposed to engage all 5 senses. ‪#rwatips‬

22) When making conversation, ask people if they are on “the Twatter” instead of Twitter. Naivete re: social networking is charming! ‪#rwatips‬

23) During meals, tell everyone your chef is better than this one. It’s important to act like money if you want more money. ‪#rwatips‬

24) If you forget a name, just call people “Nora.” They will be soooooo flattered! Note: in group situations, add “Jane”. ‪#rwatips‬

25) Conversely, if you don’t remember a name, call ppl by your own name. Ppl need to hear it 7x and then they’ll buy! ‪#rwatips‬

26) Always be late. Ppl will assume you had important appointments and feel more desperate to get your attention! ‪#rwatips‬

27) Take your laptop everywhere and shush anyone talking so you can write. Ppl will be impressed by your industriousness. ‪#rwatips‬

28) When complimenting someone’s appearance, don’t say they look good, say they look “so much better”. Ppl like to know they improved. ‪#rwatips‬

29) I am basing these ‪#rwatips‬ on years of not getting to go, so you can trust me.

30) During workshop of your competitor author, pass out tiny bags of peanuts “for the long, boring flight.” ‪#rwatips‬

31) When you wear the required T-shirt with yr book cover, photochop your face over heroine’s and the agent you stalk over the hero’s. ‪#rwatips‬

32) If anyone tells you they blog, say, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE?” Refuse to explain, since writers are supposed to be mysterious. ‪#rwatips‬

33) Be sure to salute editors and agents when they walk past and yell “Attennnn-tion!”. They will enjoy the mark of respect. ‪#rwatips‬

34) When ppl ask about your family, have pics ready on your iPoon–and book covers. Say “How did that get there?” in surprise. ‪#rwatips‬

35) Wear 2 obviously different shoes. When ppl ask why, claim lost luggage, and you might get free clothes out of the exchange! ‪#rwatips‬

36) Snacks can help you through long workshops! Loud, crunchy ones will attract attn, and you’ll make hungry friends; pack extra. ‪#rwatips‬

37) If you do something really dumb at conference, you can always pretend to be someone else. Carry an extra nametag JIC. ‪#rwatips

38) Paint each toenail a different color, and then you’ll match every outfit you brought with you. #rwatips

39) Don’t be afraid to speak to that author you’ve loved forever. Get her to sign the GoogleEarth printout of her house. #rwatips

(Me, Gena Showalter, and author Trish Milburn)

40) From a friend: Drop hints you’re working with a certain reality TV star from NJ on her next book. Ppl will love you! #rwatips

41) Laugh loudly when someone isn’t funny and say, “That sense of humor will be your downfall someday!” It will make them feel better. #rwatips

42) Take knitting into all workshops. When asked @ it, say, “Gotta keep my hands busy or I’ll just be slapping ppl all day!” #rwatips

43) Stuff your drawers with foam rubber, then ask ppl if these pants make your butt look fat. This is how to discover yr real friends! #rwatips

44) A strategic “slow clap” after a rejection during RWA Idol-style workshops will let everyone know that lemon wasn’t yours! Esp if it was. #rwatips

45) Refer to editors and agents as “clueless” or “dinosaurs” interchangeably. You never know who’s listening, and edgy is *in*! #rwatips

46) Paper is so dated. Give agents & editors your manuscript on thumb drives customized with your name and web address. #rwatips

47) By next week, jokes about Goodreads and bullies will be freakin’ hilarious. Keep a list on your phone to jazz up conversations. #rwatips

48) Anytime there’s a lull in conversation, pretend you’re getting a call about your bid to purchase Author Solutions. F-ing Penguin! #rwatips

49) One word: WHEELIES. #rwatips

50) Clever tip: go up to agents and say, “I just met you. And this is crazy. But here’s my manuscript. Call me maybe.” #rwatips

51) Pretend to be reading a blog on yr phone, burst into laughter, say “You gotta read this!” to closest person. And it’s your book! #rwatips

52) It will be worth the extra baggage fees to take the karaoke machine to the workshop. Trust me on this. #rwatips

53) Actually that last one is true. Probably. Depending on if it’s your workshop or someone else’s. #rwatips

54) Good quotes for RITA/GH speeches: anything from Pulp Fiction. Because it’s about FICTION! That gets PULPED! Like paperbacks! #rwatips

55) The RWA conference is a great place to discuss your kickstarter campaign to afford PublishAmerica’s fees. Hand out pledge cards! #rwatips

56) During busy conversations, go deathly silent. Then, in a hiss, warn everyone winter is coming. #rwatips

57) Photobombing with yr book cover is particularly effective after RITA/GH awards, because those images get uploaded everywhere! #rwatips

58) In workshops, insist on standing right by the door, no matter the number of seats. Tell ppl it’s “in case there’s another fire.” #rwatips

59) In any workshop called a “spotlight”, it would be memorable & clever to take in a huge flashlight and shine it on the presenters. #rwatips

60) Yell “Marco!” in the lit signing. Lots of ppl around to hear you. Whoever yells “Polo!” can be your new BFF. #rwatips

(Me and author Trish Milburn)

61) If anyone asks who your editor/agent appointment was with, tell them “The Goddamn Batman”. They’ll know which one you mean. #rwatips

62) Take several copies of yr book to slip into the stacks at your table. Squeal & tell everyone you heard it was better than 50Shades. #rwatips

63) Ask famous authors, “Do you mind if I write fanfic of your books and then sell it? I like to know who’s litigious ahead of time.” #rwatips

More from Lucy Woodhull: And on Twitter:

Stare in every mirror you pass and complain about your unruly mass of luscious spiral hair and unfashionably narrow waist. #rwatips

Romance people like cats, so make your agent pitch in meows. If you feel you’re losing your audience, it’s hairball time. #rwatips

If you’re a male romance author going to RWA, bring a blonde wig. When conversation stalls, tell everyone you’re Fabio. #rwatips

Good luck in Anaheim!

Jody W. & Meankitty *