I attended my first ever RWA conference in NYC this year. As a rookie I walked around in a bit of a daze for the duration of the event and missed some things I really wish I hadn’t, but that’s the nature of the beast.
The organizers have a first-timers orientation of sorts which was helpful but some very important points were neglected altogether. For all of you who are planning on going to one of these conferences in the future, here are some nuggets of wisdom that may help you get more of an amazing but slightly overwhelming event.
- Wear comfortable clothes and comfy shoes even if you look like a bag lady. Sitting for hours and walking from one workshop to another, often in different levels of the hotel can quickly get to you.
- Do bring a nice outfit for the awards ceremony or if you plan on attending any of the parties (I didn’t because I’m a terrible introvert who gets too stressed out in social situations involving lots of people).
- Bring a rather large empty suitcase or bag. You’ll need it (you’ll see why further down).
- Bring snacks that do not require refrigeration if you can. Snacks at these nice hotels will cost you an arm and a leg.
- If you’re an introvert like me, see if you can bring a writer friend. I always feel very lonely at events like this because I am a one-on-one socializer who gets totally lost in groups of people I barely know.
- Bring a fan and a sweater. Hotel air-conditioning is insane. One moment it feels like Hades, the next you’re in the South Pole.
- Don’t skip the Goody Room. There you can grab some free books and a lot of free swag. I use the swag for ideas to create my own swag and it doesn’t take much space in the suitcase.
- Don’t miss any of the signings (reason to follow) even if you have to miss a chunk of an awesome workshop. They record the workshops and you can buy them later for a song (if you don’t buy the whole thing that is).
- Take breaks. It is as exhausting as it is exhilarating and inspiring.
- The most important tip of all. The so called signings are not like the normal ones where the readers buy books and have them signed by the authors. In these signings you get the books for free AND you get them signed by the author. I was like a kid in a candy store. Refer back to #3 and #8. I missed quite a few of these because I didn’t know what they were. I talked to other rookies who did the same. I still came home with over fifty books. YOU DON”T WANT TO MISS THESE.