I grew up in New York, so naturally when this year's Romance Writers of America's conference was held there, I couldn't miss it. Now be warned, I am a lousy conference attendee, and I rarely show up for anything - keynote speeches being the exception and only if they are scheduled after nine. Yet there isn't a conference that I've attended where I did not end up accomplishing something big, and that includes selling a few books.
Every agent I've ever had, I met at a conference. Every editor I've had the good fortune to work with, started off as a chance encounter Mind you, what works for me may not work for you, but do not underestimate the power of networking. Combined with your awesome talent, networking can and does open doors.
If you are the gregarious type, then by all means use that asset. For someone like me, far better suited to yucking it up in a bathroom or coffee shop, sitting through a workshop can be difficult.Workshops of course do serve their purpose. Writers need to keep up with what's going on in the industry. I call it Minding Your Business
So I did pop in on one or two workshops and left with several kernels of wisdom. However, what works for me best, is getting out and about, meeting people. Weeks before I leave for a conference, I reach out to people and I set up appointments. This year I was super organized and those appointments found their way to an app. I even had a little buzzer alert me when I was at the ten minute mark.
Here's my story, over eighteen years ago, I met my first editor at a conference. I was totally clueless as to her identity and I don't recall if she ever did provide a title, but a connection was made. It may have to do with me not being awed. Remember I didn't know who she was. We fell into easy conversation, none of which centered around publishing. At that time, the line I would eventually end up writing for wasn't in existence, but six months later it was, and guess who my editor was, and guess who got a two book contract? I also met my first agent this way.
At these events you'd be amazed who you meet. We all have our idols and writers whose voices we love. Just fancy rubbing elbows with the incomparable, Nora Roberts and RWA's president, Cindy Kirk, whom I was fortunate enough to work with on a Harlequin Mediterranean Night's series eons ago.
Back to the RWA 2015 Conference. My goals this year were to meet with my agent - since face to face beats e-mails any day. I also wanted to pitch a story that has sat in my computer gathering cobwebs and catch up with industry friends.
I did all that, the added bonus being Restaurant Week in The City, and the perfect opportunity to sample some very nice places at a very nice price. Below is a picture of author friends at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Gotham Bar and Grill.
LR authors Mary Leo, Carla Neggers, Joan Johnston, Laura Castoro Parker (AKA D.D. Ayres,) Sandra Kitt and me!
Years ago, someone gave me a sage piece of advice that stuck - talk to everyone. That advice held true in a bathroom. There I was, applying lipstick, and chatting up a very nice woman who turned out to be an editor for a house I once wrote for. She liked my writing voice and invited me to submit to her.
During my pitch to an editor, I found common ground. His stepmother was an "Island Girl," and so am I. The story I was pitching happened to be set in the islands. He asked to see it. Kismet?
A meet up for coffee, with shop talk off limits, turned into a conversation about a current project and an opportunity that could be huge. A stop to support a friend at a book signing, led to a potential collaboration of sorts.
While I didn't get to collaborate with the talented lady below, I enjoyed meeting Jude Deveraux - the epitome of graciousness.
What I am saying, is that some of your best connections are made in places you least expect it. Just like any business, people hire the people they like. So be your most charming and don't judge the "book" by the cover.
Speaking of covers, here is the cover of my latest novella scheduled to be released this week. Please check Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple. Reviews are very much appreciated!
Marcia King-Gamble is a Caribbean/American national bestselling author with over thirty two books to her credit.