Friday, August 10, 2012

What do you do at a writer’s conference (+ a Giveaway!)?

by Danielle Jackson

2012 Conference Logo, from
At the end of last month, I, along with 2000+ other romance authors, publishing professionals, agents, etc. descended upon the Anaheim Marriott for the annual RWA National Conference. It was an incredible experience! I am always amazed every year how supportive of a group this is—it’s not every day that you can rub elbows with nationally bestselling authors and people attending their first conference ever. The atmosphere is dynamic and inspiring… I always leave with ideas and thoughts about the things to come for our publishing line and our authors.

However, I have to say—when compared to other writers conferences and/publishing trade shows, RWA is a different breed. Of course there’s networking and pitching and workshops sharing valuable information… but there are also parties and reunions and, this year, trip to Disneyland! I always have a hard time explaining exactly what I do at RWA, but I thought I’d try, along with some photos from our trip!
Sourcebooks Spotlight Presentation

1. Meetings. I spend a lot of time meeting with people—authors, a few agents, media contacts… I love having the opportunity to spend just a few minutes with people I usually talk to via email or on the phone. Meeting face to face changes things, don’t you think? This year, while I accomplished a lot at my meetings, I also had a great deal of fun catching up with people!

2. Workshops. I do attend workshops! I’m a dork, remember? I like learning new things. I also like attending PR and Marketing workshops to see what the hot new thing is. This year, I heard a lot about Pinterest. But above all, I think authors are realizing that without a well-written book that moves readers, all of that social media doesn’t do a thing. And a well-designed, consistently updated website should be the anchor for everything you do on the web. AND, of course—remember that once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.

Cheryl Brooks at the Sourcebooks Sponsored Signing
3. Spotlight. Publishers are given the opportunity to give a spotlight presentation, which is an overview of the company, what is done for their authors, and what editors are looking to acquire. Deb Werksman, Leah Hultenschmidt and I gave the Sourcebooks spotlight, and had a lot of fun doing it! We’re so proud of our authors and love bragging about them. And, I think one of the coolest things about Sourcebooks is the variety of authors we publish, and this spotlight is a great way to showcase that.

Overlooking the ocean at the Sourcebooks Author Dinner
4. Signing. Publishers are also given a chance to have sponsored signings—where we donate a LOT of books and our authors attending the conference sign them to long lines of adoring fans. We had a great signing this year! Everything went off without a hitch (the room was open early, the books were delivered to the room early, author showed up early… we were ready to go a full half an hour before the doors opened) and we gave away around 2,000 books!

5. Author Dinner. By far, my most favorite tradition that Sourcebooks has at RWA is taking our authors out to a fabulous dinner. This year we went to Mastros in Newport Beach, which was right on the ocean. We had a private room with a private patio! It was an amazing way to unwind and mingle with such a great group of talented and driven authors.

Author dinner party favor-leave a comment to win one of your very own!
Did you attend RWA? What was your favorite part? Or what’s something you’d love to attend that you haven’t had the opportunity to go to yet? I have a special candle party favor from our Author Dinner that I’ll give away to a lucky commenter (US and Canada only, please leave an email address so I can contact you easily)—just answer one of the questions to be entered to win!


  1. I ALWAYS look forward to the Sourcebooks dinners! I've only been to two conferences since I signed, but both have been fantastic! I caught the sunset, loved seeing the Pacific Ocean--it's been years since I played in it! I visited with fans and friends, Romance Veterans, former online writing students, From the Heart chapter mates, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter mates, one of my online critique partners--the Sourcebooks spotlight was terrific, the two signings and visited with authors who were signing with other publishers and took a whole box of books home with me! I only got to one workshop, though I planned to go to several!

  2. There are SO many things I love about the RWA conference--catching up with friends, meeting new ones, attending workshops, book signings, and hanging out with the Sourcebooks gang.

    The only thing I'm bummed about is missing Michael Hauge's workshops! I don't think they were recorded either. *Big sigh*

    Sourcebooks treats their authors like royalty--and the author dinner is only one way they do so. I can't think of a time when Sourcebooks wasn't there for me when I needed them. LOVE this publisher.

  3. I love so many things about RWA, sitting in the bar catching up with old friends--and making new ones. The Sourcebooks dinner is always fun, and the booksigning and spotlight were great. I'm looking forward to next year.

  4. I enjoyed seeing all my long-time SB pals as well as making some new friends. As always, the Sourcebooks dinner and signing were among the best parts of my RWA experience. If it weren't for the dinner, I wouldn't have seen the Pacific, which was at the top of my to do list for the trip. Every SB signing has been great fun, but this time, I got to ask anyone approaching my table if they would like a STUD! Very few turned me down. ;)

  5. How much room can I take up on this post? I need a lot to tell about all the things I enjoyed about RWA this year. The privilege of visiting one-on-one with Deb, Skye and Danielle; the dinner (oh, my, what an experience); the book signings and all the wonderful smiles-in-passing. The RITA nomination made this year special but even though I didn't bring that pretty lady home with me, I brought home so many wonderful memories to smile about that I don't have any complaints!

  6. There are so many things I enjoy about attending RWA National - going to workshops, giving them, picking up some books, seeing old friends - but tops among them has to be hanging out with CasaBabes, CasaDudes, and CasaStaff at the Sourcebooks publisher dinner. I hope Dominique's wrist is getting better!

  7. My favorite part of RWA is meeting aspiring authors and encouraging them. The world will never have enough well written Happily Ever Afters, and every published author spent some time aspiring before he or she hit the shelves.
    I love that RWA is so encouraging, and that so much help is offered to all of its members at all points along the writing journey.

  8. I'm afraid I've never been to one. I almost got to one in Pittsburgh a few years back but my sister canceled out on me at the very last minute and she was half of the transportation (sigh). I would love to just meet all the authors that I read and/or go to their blogs.

  9. I had a blast at the conference because I was able to meet so many of the authors whose works I adore (and I review tons of books so I had quite a long list of people I wanted to meet!). I had the opportunity to help set up for several of the signings and I must say I was startled that there was a different reception for volunteers at different publisher's rooms, it was quite daunting that some people were very unwelcoming and hostile while others were truly appreciative for extra hands on deck. The authors, however, were all very gracious and a delight to interact with.

  10. Hi Everyone! I love all of these comments about RWA :) Winners will be chosen on Monday, so be sure to check back. Have a great weekend!


  11. Fun and informative post. I've never been to any conference, but would like to since it sounds like fun.


  12. I was not at RWA. It would be nice to meet some of my favorite authors. I wish I were at AAD right now. Besides the book events, I would so enjoy sampling all the great food in New Orleans.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  13. Sadly I haven't attended any conferences, but RWA would definitely be tops for me if I was able to go to one:) Sounds like you all have a lot fun with an even better view! I just love the whole reader-author get together idea!

  14. I have never been to a conference but hope to attend one within the next year or two. I will probably be so overwhelmed that all I can do is either do fan girl squeals or just stand there and not be able to say anything, LOL.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  15. I am stictly a reader but have always wished to attend the RWA literacy signing.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  16. I'm so sorry I couldn't be there!
    I can't fly until I figure out a way to do it without cabin pressure raising havoc with my eardrums.

    Hopefully, RWA will come to Boston sometime.

  17. What a great post. I've not been to RWA yet, though I've been a member for longer than I care to admit. LOL
    But I'm hoping to go next year in Chicago! Thanks for all the great info! :)

  18. Good morning! Our winner is


    I will be emailing you shortly. Thanks to everyone who commented on my post!