Next Wednesday evening, I’ll be in Atlanta for RWA’s Readers for Life Literacy Signing along with more than 400 other romance authors. Since 1990, RWA has raised over $775,000 to combat illiteracy through this event.
I’d attended the literacy signings as a buyer at RWA’s national conference for the previous four years. The rooms are always huge, it’s loud, and everywhere are people who love books. Some are scrambling to collect as many books as possible, some stand in LONG lines to have works signed by Nora Roberts or Sherrilyn Kenyon, and some simply go to chat and catch up with old friends. Last night I reviewed my pictures from past signings, smiling at old memories. I have pictures of me with Allison Brennan, Karin Tabke, and Karen Rose long before I was published. My husband likes to come with me. I have his photo with Nora Roberts and Heather Graham. He sent the one with Nora Roberts to his mother.
Last year was the first year I sat behind a table to sign books. My first book had come out the week before and I was nervous. Thank goodness I was assigned a seat next to a good friend, Joan Swan, who was also experiencing her first signing. (pictured above) I didn’t expect Nora lines, but frankly I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who would stop to chat and ask about my book. And I actually had readers request to have their pictures taken with me! It was nice to see friends I’d made through RWA over the years; friends who’d watched my journey from one side of the table to the other.
I love the entire conference. The entire hotel glows with an energy that comes from a gathering of people who love to read and write books. Members attend to learn. In this business there is always room for improvement. We want to know how to write better, market ourselves, and make a good living from what we love. The workshops vary from POV to creating an online presence. Agents, editors, and bloggers roam the halls, socializing and having meetings. Of course, there’s a huge social aspect. I have writing companions I frequently interact with online, but I never see them in person except at these events. And the networking opportunities can’t be ignored. I met my agent at a pitch session at RWA. The following year at RWA she pitched my book to my publisher in the bar.
Who is going to Atlanta next week? What’s been your best experience at a conference?