Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013

PJ Sharon here, happy to be home after a fun filled week in Atlanta at RWA 2013. It was such a busy week, I couldn’t possibly recap all the cool events, workshops, and networking opportunities I enjoyed. So instead, I thought I would share the highlights in a top 10 list. I’ve paraphrased the exact quotes, but wanted to share the amazing messages from some notable authors and industry professionals.

1)      Advice from Indie author Bella Andre. “Writing is a business. Know who your readers are and write what you can sell. If it’s not selling, change something. Put a new cover on it, change your description, or change the categories on your book’s page.” This is paraphrased, but definitely the gist of her message. I had the opportunity to chat with her and she gave me some very good career advice. She was awesome and I’m now a huge fan girl.RWA2013 me and Bella Andre

2)      Kristan Higgins in her incredibly insightful and moving luncheon speech. “What we do makes a difference. Romance novels can help people through the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times in their lives.” Really…if you ever doubt the worth of what you are writing, you need to remember how you feel after reading a heartfelt and powerful love story by one of your favorite authors.

3)      Michael Hague on the ultimate tool for understanding your character’s deepest fear and motivation. “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, just don’t ask me to_________.”

4)      Author Carla Neggars on Writing as Work/Writing as Play: Do they need to be either/or? “It comes down to creating a dynamic dialogue between work and play. It’s about abandonment and concentration, the continent of reason and the Island of intuition. Set a schedule with intention and stick to it.” 

5)      Tips on e-mail marketing from Heroes and Heart Breakers authors.  “Create a catchy subject line that has searchable key words and offers a promise. Meet that promise. Send out newsletters on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Balance info with offers and engagement of readers. Blend editorial and marketing with a call to action from your readers sprinkled in.” There was some talk about gaining newsletter followers by using Romance Studios, adding your newsletter link to an automated Twitter response for new followers, adding the newsletter link to your Facebook page, Author Central page, etc.

6)      Mark LaFebvre from KOBO Writing Life on their now offering pre-orders for Indies. “We’re open minded in Canada.” I loved this guy and can’t wait to start working directly with KOBO to sell my books.

7)      Bella Andre says that audio books are the latest big thing and SEO is the key to attracting your readership!

8)      Author Barbara Freethy recommends at least three proof readers for Indie-pubbed books. I agree!

9)      Agent Christina Hogrebe recommended book bloggers for promoting your YA titles. “If a high traffic blogger loves your book, it can go viral in no time.” Here’s to hoping she’s right!

10)  A quote from award winning author and RITA Awards emcee, Christie Craig. “The difference between northern writers and southern writers is that northerners start their stories with ‘Once upon a time,’ while southern storytellers start every story with ‘You ‘aint ‘gonna believe this sh**.’” Christie Craig was hilariously funny and did a fine job as emcee. WTG Christie!

RWA2013 me and Katy Lee Beyond all of these excellent tips and so many more from people like Cathy Maxwell, our keynote speaker, and the excellent agent/editor panels, the best part of the conference for me was the new friends I made and the wonderful companionship of my CTRWA peeps (other than D.S. who it turns out is a terrible covers hog).

Please feel free to share some of your highlights in the comments section below. And speaking of favorite conference highlights, check out all the spectacular shoes! Can you guess whose they are?shoe pic

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34 thoughts on “Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013”

  1. I love Bella Andre! Such a sweetheart! Okay, I’m totally name-dropping, and I’ve only met her twice, but she seems so nice and down-to-earth. And of course, Michael Hauge is my hottie bad boy (I’m contractually obliged to say that). You won’t find a better teacher than MH. Sounds like you had a very productive conference, PJ! I was very happy to get to hang out with my gang!

    1. Thanks, Kristan. I agree on all counts! Thanks for entertaining us all after the RITA/GH awards. It was very sweet of you and McIrish to share your evening with us. He was an excellent host:-)

    1. It was definitely the year of the little black dress! At the last minute i went and found a pair of red shoes to spruce up the outfit. I am now in love with red shoes, LOL.

    1. Good to see you here, Sharron. i took Michael hague’s workshop a few years ago and it revolutionized my writing. That’s when i finally “got it.” He’s excellent at explaining the Heroes journey and combining it with story structure in an easy to understand yet in depth analysis. It was great to have the refresher! And the shoes! I spent so much time looking at people’s feet, one would think I had lost a hundred dollar bill.

    1. Absolutely, Stephanie. It was hard to pick just one workshop in each time slot. I’ll admit that after five previous conferences, there was a lot of repeats for me, but it was so nice to see all the self-publishing workshops packed with standing room only:-)

    1. That’s why we share our experiences, Lynn. If we all come back and spread the love by sharing what we learned, then everyone gets a taste of what’s available and maybe next year you will be in a position to go. San Antonio sounds like a cool (actually very hot!) place for next year’s conference. Alas, i will probably not attend, but maybe others will come back and share their experiences with me!

  2. Thanks for the shout out. Sort of. At least you used initials. Next time we share a room, you and H.T. can share a bed, and I’ll sleep alone 🙂

  3. That was a great post for us poor sorry people who weren’t there. I particularly liked the quote from Kristan. I had never thought of it that way! As always thanks for sharing

    1. OMG, Judy! i wish i had a tape of Kristan’s speech. The audience went from tears of laughter to points where you could hear a pin drop. There was not a dry eye in the place and we all left the luncheon emotionally wrung out but totally inspired! As she does on the page, Kristan knows how to get to the heart of a matter and draw the listener/reader into an emotional journey that is both insightful and uplifting. I felt so honored to be part of her chapter and even more so to call her my friend.

  4. Great conference, lots of invaluable information, and good times. It was great to put faces with names, including yours!

    1. You too, Christy! I would have liked to spend more time getting to know you. It was really nice meeting you. I would love to see more interactive workshops where we could break into groups and work on our writing. Maybe some plotting, brainstorming, or character grid type workshops. I suggested it in the survey they sent. I might even recommend that they offer an a.m. yoga class in the ballroom. Can you imagine the combined ohm of hundreds of participants? That would be awesome!

  5. This was one of the best conferences I’ve attended in many years. So much information about self-pubbing and it sounds like we were in a lot of the same seminars. Loved Bella Andre and also Courtney Milan. I took so many notes. I also enjoyed Mark from Kobo, but I love Mark Coker. Smart guy and his private session with the authors who donated ebooks was awesome. Now I have to put all this information to work, but first I have to retire one week from today from the day job!! Yippee!

    1. Yee haw, Sylvia! Congratulations on the retirement. I didn’t get to see Mark Coker this time. I’ve been in his presentations before and he is awesome,. He really gets what writers are about and he is such a down to earth, sweet guy! I also missed Courtney Milan’s talk, but met her in the elevator and she was delightful:-) I’m still going through my notes and writing up an action plan. So much to think about!!

  6. Oh, Paula, I love this post. I wish I could have been there to hear all those fantastic tips in context with the whole RWA experience. But I’ll be ordering the CDs, so that’s something. My favorites are numbers two and ten. It’s so true. You’re never going to believe this sh**, but I had a friend who read about thirty romance novels while her husband was battling cancer. She said it was the only thing that helped her escape her pain and make it through his illness. Yes, we do make a difference.

  7. Great post. Love the tips. You always have good ones to share. Glad you had a wonderful time at nationals.

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