Before I begin, I want to congratulate all of the Winners of this year's Golden Heart®. Your speeches were funny and touching. All of the finalists are winners (we truly feel that way), but I know that those of us whose names weren't called were just as thrilled for those who were—as if we were at the podium accepting the award with you.
So, the conference. My experience at this National was skewed by the whole Golden Heart Finalist thing — not that I'm complaining! It was an incredible experience all around; however, I didn't get to very many of the workshops. Between GH events (official and not), not feeling well for most of one day, and preparing to pitch/pitching, the time seemed to fly past. But, hey, that's what the conference recordings are for, right?
First impression, then. National is always abuzz with energy and this year was no exception. I didn't think anything could top the conference in Manhattan, but I have to say there was as much, if not possibly a bit more, excitement in Anaheim. That's due in part, I think, to the opportunities many people are starting to see in the self/indie publishing arena.
Which brings me to my biggest observation. For the first time at RWA National, there were a plethora of workshops relating to self publishing. Just a couple of years ago the mere suggestion of the same would have been anathema. That's how rapid the change from self publishing being relegated to "vanity publishing" to it becoming a valid, and potentially lucrative, form of publishing for authors.
In addition to the excitement of possibilities that self publishing brings to the table, there was a general sense of relief among the unpublished writers I spoke to on the subject (and some of the published writers, too). Relief that there is now a viable publication path that bypasses traditional publishing. Relief that perhaps for the first time, one's writing career is firmly in one's own hands.
I know personally, this relief meant that my view of the pitching process took a 180 degree turn from last year. I was still a bit nervous — after all, I want to do my writing justice when I talk about it — but I was also much more appraising of the person sitting across from me than previously. Was this person someone I felt comfortable with? Comfortable enough to pursue further discussion, if it came to that? It's said that first impressions are key, and I found myself thinking seriously about that, not just from what sort of impression I made, but also my impression of them. It was...interesting, to say the least.
There were some amazing speeches. If you haven't read Stephanie Laurens' keynote address, do yourself a favor and read it now. Robyn Carr's speech at the Awards Luncheon was truly inspiring. Cherry Adair was, as always, fabulous! at the Golden Network Retreat. So many encouraging and inspiring voices, all, ultimately, with the same message: write what you love and never give up.
Have any questions about the conference? Post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them! In the meantime, I'm going to take that excellent advice and get back to work on my current projects.