06-23-18 Robin Weaver – My Crazy Road to Romantic Suspense Publishing

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Romancing the Writer in Me/ RWA Conference 2015

By Marcia King-Gamble


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.


Sarah Raplee said...

Wonderful advice, Marcia! Connecting with people is the main reason I go to conferences. Thanks for the tips!

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Thank you, Sarah. I try to share advice that was given to me over the years!

Judith Ashley said...

I like the ideas you shared about being out and about. I've met some great people by volunteering as workshop moderator, editor/agent desk, registration, etc. Tell me more about the app? Did you have someone make it for you? Sounds like something that could be useful.

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences at National. I agree meeting people, networking is one of the most important reasons for attending meetings and conferences. Thanks again, and good luck on sales!

Marcia King-Gamble said...

The app, Judith, was actually created by RWA and downloadable way in advance of the conference. I was able to choose what workshops I planned on attending and look at the offerings. There was also a section to schedule personal stuff. With one tap I could look at my choices and be reminded where I needed to be.

Many thanks for stopping by Diana. I appreciate the good wishes!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great advice, Marcia. You never know where a conversation with a nice person will lead you. :-)

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Agreed, Lynn, and many of us judge people by their appearance. Some of the most unassuming people I'v met and chatted with wielded a great deal of power. It pays to be gracious to everyone.