Alright, as a few of you know I've spent this past week attending the 2020 Romance Writers' of Australia Conference. As a new member of the association with a novel launching later this year, I was beyond excited to hear about the RWAus20 Conference going digital. Originally the event was set to be held in Freemantle, but I am beyond grateful that it instead it was able to go ahead online as it meant I could now attend, learn, and implement the skills acquired from the experience. Because this was a virtual event, I'm quite limited in what to tell you about the experience - there was some amazing sessions and through the community hashtag #RWAus20 I was able to connect with fellow attendees. So, if that interests you, read on to hear about my conference highlights!
I spent most of my day in the "Growth Hacking a Bestseller" workshops with Liz Pelletier. These workshops looked at writing, editing, and marketing your novel using the growth hacking technique. I was unfamiliar with the term, however, did enjoy learning how to approach was different from the typical publication process. In particular, starting with the cover design was a key takeaway from these workshops as through my own publication experience I've come to learn how valuable having assets such as these ready prior to publication is. Also, sidenote: Liz's presentations were incredible, and that fact that she came to us live from the US was so amazing - especially since it had to have been nearly 2am there at one point!
I began the day with "Secrets of Networking" with Tanya Nellestien which was a fun and highly entertaining session as she wore 'many outfits', including at one point a tiara. Tanya made the virtual event feel lively and comedic as if we really were there with her as she was presenting. The next highlight of the day was "Getting Started in Self-Publishing" with Elizabeth Stevens, who provided a quick refresher on the indie publishing processes, which I always love as they help boost my motivation to work on my manuscript. In addition, "Getting Ahead in Indie Publishing" with Draft2Digital was also a very informative and well-presented session that accompanied and added value to my previous highlight event.
One of the highlights of this day was "Top10 Tricks and Traps of Publishing Contracts" with Alex Adsett. Contracts aren't something they teach you at Uni and haven't been something I've researched a lot either, so I was keen to hear from an industry professional on the topic. "How to Write Blurbs" with Liz Pelletier was the next event that had me hooked. Liz's once again didn't disappoint, and as someone knows she's horrible at writing blurbs, learning the industry tips from a pro on this was greatly appreciated and does have me reconsidering if my blurb for "Once We Were" has hit those key selling points.
I kicked off this day with "Author Business College" by Ebony McKenna. Ebony's presentation reconfirmed a few things I already knew about the business side of being an author, however, it did also reveal a few new things I was unaware of, such as affiliate links to your books and ways to receive money from your distributors. In addition, "Taking the Next Step with Facebook Advertising" by Ricardo Fayet at Reedsey was also an extremely insightful event. My experience with Facebook Ads is limited so I was keen to learn more about this area of marketing. Lastly, "What to Expect (the First Time you Publish a Book)" with Kaneana May, Maya Linnell, Cassie Hamer was the perfect way to the end day. These writers chatted about their experience in traditional publishing regarding the lead-up to signing contract, the editing processes to get the manuscript ready for publication, and marketing the novel. While I am self-publishing my debut novel, I did find learning about the traditional publishing pathway to be quite fascinating.
My favourite day of the conference! The main event I was looking forward to on this day was the "Marketing and Brand Building for Authors" with Jacqui Greig, and it certainly didn't disappoint. I've undertaken courses on marketing and have even done a course in brand building for authors at the Australian Writers' Centre. However, I always love a good refresher course and learning the latest trends in digital marketing. While not as relevant to me right now as an indie author, the other courses I really enjoyed on this day were "What Turns Agents Off from the Slush Piles" with Tanera Simons, "Working with an Editor" by Elizabeth Rolls, and "Lending Yourself to Libraries" with Jaye Ford and Fiona McArthur.
I would like to say that the staff at RWA have done an amazing job of pulling this off. The events ran smoothly, which was an added bonus. I would also like to give a huge thank you to all the presenters for embracing the online formats and sharing their wisdom and expertise. Here's hoping we can all meet up at #RWAus21!