#RWA16 Highlights from a First-Timer

Between Comic-Con and the RWA Conference, it’s been a busy few weeks here in San Diego. Now that we’ve all had some time to relax and recover from the madness, it’s time to get back to the business of the blog!

First, let’s talk about something we spent a long time getting pumped for: 2016 Nationals. As a first-timer, I found the whole experience extraordinary – and not a little bit overwhelming – but there was something particularly magical about seeing the rockstars of romance hanging out in our hometown. I loved running into authors in the elevator who would gush about how wonderful the weather was. My answer? “It’s like this all the time.”

But there were so many things to love about my first conference:

  • Rubbing elbows with the stars. Well, the stars of romance, at least. I attended workshops run by some of the most respected authors in the industry, and considered it a privilege to be able to learn from their experiences. There was also the Literacy Signing, which featured hundreds of romance authors who were more than willing to chat as they signed their books. But the best part was running into my favorite authors at random in the hallways. On the last day of the conference, I met Beverly Jenkins as she waited for a cab to take her to the airport. When I approached her, she jumped out of her seat to give me a hug! It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
  • Filling my creative and professional well. The conference offered a breadth of workshops, and I tried to take advantage of as many as I could without totally burning out. I came away from the weekend learning so much about myself as a writer, and armed with tools to take my career to the next level. Since then, I’ve drafted a business plan, identified my writing strengths and weaknesses, established best practices for social media and audience building, and figured out how to deepen the characters in my WIP.
  • Dressing up all fancy. I’ll admit, I was super excited to attend the RITA award ceremony, because I figured it was the closest to the Oscars I’d ever get. The event didn’t disappoint – the sequins, the trophies, the inspirational acceptance speeches. It gave a newbie author like me a new dream for my vision board.
  • Spending time with my tribe. It was energizing to be surrounded by people who understand the way my mind works, who have been where I am, who are going where I want to be, and are happy to share their stories. Everywhere I went, I met awesome authors and new friends: by the pool, at the breakfast table, or just sitting around the lobby waiting for the next workshop to start. It was an experience unlike any other.

Next year, the national conference will take place in Orlando, at the happiest place on earth: Walt Disney World! Will you be there? What were some of your favorite moments of RWA16?

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June Meeting Round Up + Good News

We had a wonderful June meeting filled with fabulous news and inspiring talks!

Last month, Angie Fox spoke about How to Quietly Make Six Figures in Indie Publishing which brought out a ton of RWASD members, hungry for knowledge.

In her talk, Angie discussed how to make a good living and spend time doing what we love to do – writing.  Being a “slower writer” she gave the low down on how you can be successful even if you’re not releasing a new book every 90 days.

She discussed:

  • Writing Smart- Write what you love. Series books sell each other, and how novellas and boxed sets can drive up your sales.
  • Marketing Smart – You don’t have to be everywhere or spend every dime on marketing. All you need is 20 minutes a day on Facebook or Twitter. And Newsletters will help drive your sales
  • Career Structure – Decide who your are, don’t follow trends, and put a good team in place.
  • And Future Planning – Indie publishing is always changing. Even if you don’t follow trends, you can use them to get noticed.

Angie lives by the 80/20 Rule: you get eighty percent of your results from about twenty percent of your effort. Make every effort count! Be smart about your time and energy behind your management strategies.

Next up was Lori James and Cassi Carver from All Romance eBooks giving us Tips From a Booksellers Perspective and How to Make Your Listing Sparkle. These ladies discussed  ARe’s robust search engine and how important metadata is.

A few tips they left us with:

  • Think hard about your key words
  • Don’t undervalue your work. (an average 50k novel sells for about 4.99!)
  • Test your book covers
  • Think about the heat level of your story

Also instead of one, we named FOUR members of the month!

Tameri Etherton, Lisa Kessler, Cynthia Diamond, and Rick Ochocki were honored for all their hard work on May’s Love at the Library event.

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Tameri Etherton, Lisa, Kessler, Rick Ochocki, and Cynthia Diamond with president Elect, Tami Vahalik

And the best part of the meeting, Good News!

  • Lisa Kessler’s Harvest Moon is a Finalist in the PRISM Dark Paranormal category. her new book Blue Moon came out on 6/27.
  • Aleigha Siron was in the top 100 of Kindle’s Time Travel romances for an entire month.
  • Rick Ochock won 4th place in WisRWA’s 25th annual FabFive’s contest with his book Out of the Fire.
  • Cynthia Diamond is releasing her 3rd book in the Wyrd Love Series, Dyrad’s Vine on 7/7.

Remember, our next RWA meeting won’t be until August where we will have our after nationals potluck. Until then, have a great RWA Nationals conference and a fantastic month!