RWA 2017


 RWA 2017 finished Saturday, July 30th and I’m still riding a high from it. Although I spent the last two weeks sick and still don’t feel 100%.

Too much excitement I guess. I was so annoyed that I felt too horrible to start re-writing my writing production and marketing plan. That’s how awesome this conference was.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences in my day, and I can say hands down, 100%, absolutely, positively, that this was the best conference I’ve ever attended. 

For many reasons. 

From a high-level perspective, it was a great conference because the people I met were amazing. And each of the sessions was full of great information. 

And I mean FULL!

Seriously!

I felt the organizers reached into my mind and pulled out all the things I’ve been stressing about or wondering about the last 12 months and said, ” here you go, Laina, here are all the answers you need.”

I didn’t even leave any sessions early or skip the last day. Which happens a lot at conferences because after a couple of days I’m over it. And I took about 50 pages of notes. That’s how relevant the information was to me. As I was re-reading my notes this past weekend and trying to get them all organized, there were 5 things that really stood out to me that I wanted to share.

1. Self-published isn’t a dirty word (or rather phrase) – I went to Book Expo in June, and while it was another great conference I plan on attending again next year, it only had a small number of sessions geared to the indie author. Though more than I expected based on the target audience. There wasn’t anything at that conference disparaging indie’s, but we weren’t overly promoted either

RWA, however, I felt embraced the indie author. So much more than I expected. From the first session, I felt so empowered as an author. It was career affirming. I still have so much to learn, but I realized how much I HAVE learned in the last 8 years of this career and it felt good.

2. A series is important to make a living as a self-published author – Most my books are part of a series more so by default than intent. Lucky me I guess. Several authors talked about the strategy of writing a series to build up your fan base. If you have fans who love your series which in turn creates built in buyers as you churn out more books.

3. Have a tribe of people to lean on – Writing by nature is a solitary pursuit. We authors like to spend time in our heads making up stories. That’s the job. But going it alone all the time isn’t healthy or fun.

You need to have people surrounding you who are in your industry – who truly know and understand your frustrations and in turn, can help celebrate your successes.

You can look for writing friends in Facebook groups, at conferences, on social media. 

4. Never stop learning how to be a better writer – I know I’m a much better writer now than when I started 10 years ago. I’m a better writer after the RWA conference than I was before. 

As your writing develops and changes your stories will become better which will attract more readers. Focus on one area at a time that you feel could be improved.

5. No one is an expert at marketing because the game keeps changing – I know I am always in search of that perfect strategy and end up frustrating myself a lot because there is no one size fits all strategy.

You need to be ready to pivot at a moments notice if something isn’t working. You also need to be able to take risks because it can be hard to know what will work for you until you try something.

I don’t remember leaving a conference thinking DAMN; I CAN DO THIS! I’ve left having good ideas and such but nothing to this extreme.

I have tons of future blog post ideas from what I’ve learned, and I can’t wait to share. To get access to my current list of resources sign up here.

 

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— laina