A Wonderful Surprise at RWA 2017!

Last week, I attended the 2017 Romance Writers of America Conference at the Disney Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.  This worked out well since that’s only about two hours from where I live.  In years past, I couldn’t make the RWA national conferences due to location and/or scheduling conflicts.  I was thrilled to be able to attend, mainly because I wanted to see for myself what the truth was about RWA, traditional publishing, and indie publishing.

Many readers are aware that the publishing industry has been in a state of upheaval for some time.  Indie publishing used to be considered “vanity” publishing, but the success of this career path has proven its value.  Yet, I’d heard stories of how RWA treated indie authors as if they were second-class citizens.  Thankfully, I saw NO evidence of that during this conference.

(With Molly Harper)

Oh, I’m certain that some traditionally published authors and those in the large publishing houses still firmly believe that their way is the best – or only – true way for authors to gain respect and success.  Yet, I heard again and again at various panels in craft, indie, career, and master tracks how fabulous indie publishing is and how what used to be dismissed is now applauded. Many authors present were hybrid authors, and many had left traditional publishing for indie careers.  I think that each author has to make the choice regarding what’s best for her.

(with Libby Doyle)

Much of what I heard in the various presentations was not earth-shattering.  However, I did, of course, hear some new information and will investigate further.  As for things I’ve already heard, I appreciated the reinforcement of the tips or methods with which I’m familiar.

(before registration)

I chatted with authors and bloggers I knew and made new friends.  I loved my time spent with authors whose works I’ve read.  I had the opportunity to chat twice with Sylvia Day, and she was so genuine and sweet!

(with Sylvia Day)

I also thoroughly enjoyed presentations by authors whose works were unfamiliar to me.  The presentation by Helen Kay Dimon and Jill Shalvis was informative – and hysterical.

(with Helen Kay Dimon)

The Indie Signing was too short for my liking, and I hope that they allow for a longer one next time.  However, the Literacy Signing allowed me enough time to circulate and connect with the authors I wanted to see.  Both signings went smoothly from this attendee’s point of view.

(with Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Being at the conference gave me time away from my writing and allowed me to rethink a couple things.  Firstly, I am going to revamp my release schedule for the upcoming year.  Secondly, I am going to change something subtle in my current draft that I think will have a major impact on the work.  I had a “light-bulb moment” during the week and decided to take those two steps before moving on to other things such as changes in my marketing strategy.

One thing I know will NOT change is my commitment to writing creative, original plots and characters.  I don’t like formulaic books and would never intentionally write one.  I think that is boring and repetitive.  That’s one reason why I tend not to read much in the romance genre.  I do read some, of course.  But if I had a steady diet of it, I might subconsciously imitate others or fall into the trap of losing my “voice” as a writer.

I’m looking ahead to Indie BookFest in September and other upcoming literary events, but I’m certainly glad that I decided to attend RWA this year.  Not only did it give me insights into the writing world, but it gave me new insights as to how this organization, which I’ve belonged to since 2013, has evolved with the changing world of writing and publishing.

In the midst of our hectic lives, we each need to remember to let go for a while and simply enjoy life.  I certainly let go and enjoyed it while staying at the Dolphin Resort and visiting Disney Springs.  The Fountain Restaurant in the hotel had the best turkey burgers EVER (The manager got me the recipe!), and I made certain to down a chocolate shake from Ghiradelli while at Disney Springs.  What treats!

I hope that YOU are enjoying life’s little treats!  Happy reading!

Barbara