The Romance Writers of Australia national conference is over for 2012. All who attended agree it was, like the Olympics, the “best games ever”. That is until Fremantle 2013 comes along and blows our minds. Judging by the trailer screened at this year’s close, exciting times lie ahead.
But what about the year in between?
How will the post-conference buzz benefit your writing?
First, accept that a writers’ conference is not a social event. Sure, we had fun, we met friends, we talked, laughed, ate, drank and loved the party atmosphere. But you don’t go there TO party. You go to learn from the best, meet publishers, editors, agents and expand professional horizons. Apart from the typo in the caption, the LOLcat here has the right idea.
I came home with at least one publisher keen to read a book I haven’t written yet. Two others want to talk to my agent. How about you? If you pitched a book (met an agent or editor to discuss what you want to send them), how soon will that work be on their desk? Marked “requested material” so you bypass the slush pile. One editor says that of ten writers she invites to submit to her, perhaps three follow through.
Make sure you’re one of those three.
Second, apply what you learned. Another statistic says that only one in ten conference attendees ever look at their handout notes again.
Be the one in ten.
As soon as you can, go through the mountain of paper. Put the useful stuff into a folder for quick reference. Type up hand-written notes and add them. Sort business cards. If you want to keep in touch, email within a couple of days about how you enjoyed their workshop/meeting them/your coffee chat and you’d like to be on their mailing list. Be brief, friendly and businesslike. If necessary, remind them of what you discussed. “Thank you for asking to see my paranormal romance about the blue aliens who turn orange after sex. I will send you the requested material by X date.”
Then deliver on your self-imposed deadline.
Keynote speaker, Eloisa James, said that editors and agents are business associates even if they become friends over time. She also said that men don’t talk about being “lucky” to get a job, any more than we’re lucky when a publisher buys our work. They do it for their business, as should we. “Books of the heart” are luxuries, according to Eloisa. We need to write books of the heart for our READERS to fill their keeper shelves and have them talking up our books into best-sellers. Even in the digital age, word-of-mouth is still your best sales tool.
Enjoy your post-conference buzz. I am. Then use it as designed, to progress your writing career. What’s your next move?
on Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook
New! Writing fiction for Living magazine www.livingmagazine.com.au