Well, my trip started out on a sour note. Like many others I spoke with, getting to Anaheim was a challenge. In my case, I couldn’t get a flight out of West Palm Beach so I had to drive an hour and a half to Ft. Lauderdale. Then I hoped on a flight to Tampa. Changed planes and hoped a flight to Chicago. Then hoped a flight to Phoenix, then finally landed in Ontario where it cost me $200.00 for a car service to the hotel. Needless to say, I was exhausted before the conference even started. Oh, and my flight was delayed so instead of arriving at 8:30 PM, I got there after midnight.
Day 1 (Wednesday) was full. I went to Disneyland with Leanne Banks and Cindy Gerard (shout out to my brother-in-law who works for Disney and gave me some free passes). We hit a few rides, and then shopped a bit before going back to the hotel to get ready for the literacy signing.
I’ve been attending RWA for 20 years and I’ve never seen a bigger cluster f*^% than what happened at Anaheim. Instead of alphabetically seating authors with a select few stars having their own tables, we were spread out like a rash with no rhyme or reason. Wait, let me back-up for a moment. The event wasn’t held at the hotel, it was at the Anaheim Convention Center. On the plus side it was a large space so authors weren’t on top of each other. On the down side, you had to walk through a construction zone to get there. Once there, attendees were given a map with names and table numbers on it with a free highlighter. The print was so small you couldn’t read the author’s names. They should have given free magnifiers instead.
Aside from people not being able to find their favorite authors, I experienced something that I found disturbing. I was seated next to a woman who had no sense of decorum. Every time a person came to me to have a book signed, she would lean over and hand out her promo stuff while I was signing a book. I wanted to slap her hand but decided corporal punishment wasn’t the best tact. So what did I do? I left the signing after about an hour because I was put off by the aggressive behavior and frankly, embarrassed by her rudeness. While I appreciate that if you’re an e-pub getting your name out there is very important, just please don’t do it at my expense.
I felt a divide during the conference. A kind of Us versus Them when it came to print authors and e-pubs. Again, I get that e-pubbing is probably the future and it does allow you to write anything instead of writing a manuscript for print publication, there shouldn’t be this ferocious debate among members. I even heard one woman say that since she’d self-pubbed 2 books on Amazon, she no longer needed workshops because she was already successful. Really? I’ve published more than 40 books and I still attend workshops. You can never learn too much. For example, I attended several workshops on electronic publishing because I know I’m way behind the eight ball on that subject.
I also scoffed at those authors who told me they didn’t need editors. Again I ask really? Every manuscript should be looked at with fresh eyes to catch not just typos or grammar mistakes but also for continuity. When you’re the author, you’re so on top of the work that you often miss glaring mistakes. I know I do. But saying you don’t need an editor is kind of arrogant to me and I wonder how repeat sales go if you’re slapping up manuscripts without that crucial step.
Enough about that . . . on to the fun stuff. As always, RWA is a working conference. I had some face-to-face time with my agent. We did some strategizing but we ended up having to do it in my room. The only places to sit were out in the open and you couldn’t have a conversation without interruptions. On my behalf, she met with a couple of e-publishers since I am going – albeit kicking and screaming – into the world of electronic publishing. That’s one of the great things about RWA, your agent takes meetings with publishers and does the pitching for you. Since I hate – and am terrible at – pitching, I was very happy she assumed that responsibility.
Then it was time for the Pocket/Gallery/Simon and Schuster dinner. As always, it was a wonderful experience. The meal was incredible and the networking and chatting continued from appetizers on the veranda right into the private dining room. For whatever reason, we were a smaller group so it had a more intimate vibe. And did I mention the food was spectacular?
On Friday, my workshop was a lot of fun even though it was at 8:30 AM *g*. My agent, my editor and I went through the steps of how a book goes from idea to sale. I actually learned a few things from my editor about the process. There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing information that a lot of people aren’t privy to or haven’t experienced. My agent and editor were especially helpful, explaining all the steps that lead to production. The handout of publishing terms is available on the RWA website.
Post workshop, my agent, editor and I went for a working breakfast. It was wonderful and productive. Like a lot of authors, I get nervous when meeting with my editor. I’m always sure I’m going to say something irreverent or slip and reveal my potty mouth. I did well. I managed to enjoy my eggs benedict without a single inappropriate joke or slip of the tongue and we made a plan for the future.
Sadly I missed the free Pocket signing on Saturday because I flew out at 6AM. Apologies to anyone who went looking for the latest Finley book! But I had to get home. Which wasn’t much easier than getting there. I left Ontario at 7:30 pacific time. Then hoped a plane in Phoenix. Then hoped a plane in Houston. Then hoped a plane in Tampa. Then hoped a plane to Ft. Lauderdale. And opps – I accidently parked my car in short term instead of daily parking. $125.00 later, I was on my way home. And as usual, I was exhausted.