Are You Conference Ready?

Preparing for Nationals

RWA National Conference

Anaheim, California, 2012

 Conference is magical, or at least it can be if you’re properly prepared.  After my first conference a few years ago, I jotted down all I wish I’d known before I stepped into the hotel filled with thousands of fellow authors, editors and agents. That list follows and can be printed here (pdf): Preparing for Nationals Anaheim 2012

Business Cards (can be ordered at a reasonable price from  250 cards for under $20). What to include:

  • Real Name
  • Pseudo Name
  • Website
  • E-Mail
  • Genre
  • Tagline
  • No Address or Phone Number/SS#/CDL

 (If you’ve decided on a “Brand,” apply a similar theme to your business cards)


If you’re willing to put in the time to learn, is a free web design site. Again, think about how you want to brand yourself as an author when you’re considering the design. The first thing someone does after they receive your card or like your pitch will be to search for your site/web presence under your real name.

 Prepare for your Agent and Editor Pitches

Needed for appointments:

  • Passion for your story
  • Your smile
  • Interview attire
  • Business card
  • Pitch: the plot, theme, character arc, and romantic arc of your story. (cheat cards okay)
  • What else do you have or what else are you working on? Have an answer to this question.

 If  a full or partial is requested, be prepared to provide after the conference:

  • Query Letter
  • First three POLISHED/EDITED chapters.
  • POLISHED/EDITED  Manuscript
  • Synopsis (3-5 page summary of your story)
  • Or whatever is requested by the agent or editor
  • Thank you e-mails or cards

For a Query example go to

Classes on synopsis and three-line pitches can be taken online from the following sources:  or stay tuned for my blog post on June 15th, 2012 on being Pitch Ready

 Conference Classes:

Hundreds of classes are included in the price of your conference ticket. Take advantage, planning your classes carefully. See the RWA site for classes and times at

First Timers Workshop and Pro Workshop are a MUST! Take advantage of these workshops for industry freebies, information, and meet and greets.

Volunteer by contacting RWA

This is a wonderful way to meet other writers (networking)

 Step out of your comfort zone.

Conference can be a lonely place among thousands. If you see someone sitting by themselves at a restaurant, ask them to join your group, or ask a group if you can join them. I did this several times last year and am still in contact with those three women.

Bring an empty suitcase or two.

You will receive a suitcase full of freebies: books from the book signing event, bags, and collectables. Also, we’re in Anaheim this year, so maybe two empty suitcases would be better for those Disney Land trinkets.


Take pictures…lots and lots of photo opportunities will arise. This is your time to max out that scandisk or two. You can always delete, but once conference is over there’s no repeat. Bring your charger and extra batteries.

Computer/Laptop/Cell Phone:  power cords, padded cases, and cruzers

Site Seeing Must Sees:

  • Disney Land
  • California Adventures
  • Universal Studios
  • Rodeo Drive
  • Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament
  • Hollywood
  • Long Beach
  • Catalina Island


  • Plan to meet those you chat with.
  • Arrange a breakfast or meetings with friends you only know online or have met in the past.


  • Airline confirmation sheets
  • Motel confirmation sheets
  • Class schedules
  • Agent/Editor appointments
  • Volunteer appointments
  • Book Signing Authors you can’t miss
  • Other appointments
  • Phone numbers/room numbers of friends
  • Blank paper 

Clothes and other necessities:

  • Consider the entire conference as INTERVIEW TIME.
  • Dress should be business casual, except for the one formal night (Friday).
  • Site-seeing clothes and comfortable shoes are a must.
  • Bathing suit for spa
  • Workout clothes for gym
  • Earplugs for sleeping
  • Medicine, just in case: Imodium, Dayquil, Nightquil, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, etc.

Leave behind:

  • Frowns
  • Gossip
  • Envy
  • Bad Attitudes
  • Rudeness
  • Gluttony (Goody Room and free books)
 And the most important thing to remember is:

HAVE FUN! This is your vacation and a time to learn and improve and network, but mostly to share memories with fellow writers.

Happy Writing

Cyndi Faria

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