The RWDU Experience

RWDU 2016 logo
RWDU 2016 logo

 

I’ve done it.
I’ve survived my first Author Event. I live to tell the tale. Oh my gosh, I was so nervous prior I didn’t think I’d make it though. But I did, and here I am unscathed and eager for the next one – which ever Author event that may be.

As I journalled my experience, before, during and after things, some of the tense may jump around.

Fair warning.

Day 1

Photo: Outback by Alexander Waturandang. CC0 Public Domain
Photo: Outback by Alexander Waturandang. CC0 Public Domain

Road Trip

Since my husband and I had driven to Gympie to stay with my assistant, Megan, for a few days prior to RWDU16, we didn’t have that far to go when it came time to hit the road. It was an uneventful three hour drive. We saw one length of roadwork and one accident.

We arrived at the QT on the Gold Coast, Queensland at midday. My hubby dropped us off and went on his way. Well away from the book crazed madness.

Upon arrival we were told that our room wasn’t ready, but it would be ready soon.

‘Soon’ is an interesting concept.

Two and a half hours later the room was ready.

After sorting out bags and such Megan and I waited for our room-mate, Susan, to arrive, before heading down to register for RWDU

At registration I met up with so many people. Authors from last year, new Facebook friends made over the year and friends of friends, newly introduced.

I even met up with two Facebook friends I’d known since 2011 and had never met.

I hadn’t realised that I knew so many authors. I guess you don’t really notice until they are all in the same room together. Mingling and chatting took nearly three hours before we all decided to go our separate ways to prepare for dinner.

Dinner wasn’t flash, in fact I’d go so far as to say it was particularly disappointing. Dessert, however was AMAZING. There was a lot of laughter and conversation. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in ages.

I discovered how rare it is to have the support of family and friends as a writer. It surprised me to hear how many writers/authors don’t have the support network I have. Husbands tell their wives off for ‘wasting time’, being told that it’s just a story, being cut off in conversations because it’s ‘just fictional stuff’.
Wow. And not in a good way.

I made me aware of how lucky I am and grateful for the support I experience.

Most people at dinner had been up since the wee hours to travel to the Gold Coast, so we called it a night at 1030pm. After sorting things out for tomorrow and writing about today, the clock reads 1120pm.

Time to call it a night

# # # # #

Day 2

Today is the day for the workshops and panels. More nerve wracking, is that it is also the day for my pitch to Agent Alex Adsett. Sounds all FBI when I look at it, but she’s an agent for authors. Promise.

Megan isn’t interested in any of the workshops/panels herself, so she plans to entertain herself today with some retail therapy. We are on the Gold Coast after all. However our room-mate, Susan is interested in some of the panels in the afternoon, so we organise to meet up later.

After a semi-late breakfast I head on down to the rooms for the days activities. Having gone to more ‘how to write’ (characters, plot, pacing etc.) last year, I focused more on the ‘business of being an author’ this year. Some of the workshops I attended included:-

  • Traditional vs Self publishing
  • Do you need an Agent (run by none other than Alex Adsett herself)
  • Serialised fiction and providing work for free
  • Leveraging your followers (I didn’t really like the title of this panel, but it was mostly about how to build a relationship with fans and followers).
  • Marketing your new release and making it stand out from the rest
  • Surviving between releases

There was also one more, but I didn’t end up taking notes as I was in a slight daze. More about that in a bit.

I discovered that I enjoyed the structured lecture style workshops more than the panels because the panels had a habit of veering off onto unrelated topics, and that annoyed me.

In the course of the day, I met up with another author friend I met last year, Adele Jones, and a new will-be-an-author-soon, from my home town. Figures, I have to travel across state to the Gold Coast to meet her.

Adele Jones and TP Hogan
Adele Jones and TP Hogan

As for my meeting with Alex Adsett.

I had my pitch memorised and notes on questions to ask, only to find out in the workshop she ran prior to my meeting with her, that unless an already published book is selling at thousands a DAY, it is very hard for an Agent to pitch the book to publishers. She advised not to pitch an already published book if you don’t want to be knocked back.

Since my pitch was for Nova (Nephilim Code #1), an already published book, I basically went into my meeting cold. Nothing like added stress to amp up the nerves. I admitted to her my dilemma and she asked what I was working on. Taking a breath, I prefaced it with the information that the story was only in research stage at the moment, then told her my story idea.

To my shock – she liked the premise. Handing me her card, she told me to contact her when the manuscript was ready.

Now you know why I was in a daze for the final panel. A good daze. I’m being realistic though. Just because she’s interested in the premise doesn’t mean she’ll pick up the finished story. If she doesn’t, I’m no worse off than I am now, and if she does…well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

After the panels I went up to my room where I met with Susan and we discussed the panels. When Megan returned, I told them my news about the outcome of the meeting with Alex, then we ohhhed and ahhhed over Megan’s purchases from her trip.

We had organised to go out to the street markets and have dinner out, but at the last minute we changed plans and went instead to a Japanese restaurant with newly made author friends and their partners.

It was a good night. It was interested hearing about different lifestyles, backgrounds and experiences and how those wove their way into the stories we wrote. Fascinating.

 

# # # # #

Day 3

I woke up at 4.30am to the sound of Megan being sick. Not a good start to the day. She, unfortunately, remained ill for most of the day. We blamed the salmon she had the night before, but had to face facts. I was to do my first ever author event – gulp – solo.

It couldn’t be helped.

Since Susan’s name wasn’t on the ‘assistant’ registration, she couldn’t be my assistant for the day, although she did help me carry my books and things to the convention room, before going back to check on Megan. She gave me updates during the day.

Prior to the event I’d done two practice runs at setting up my table and banner, and I was glad I had. It meant that I could be confident in the set up and within 45mins, I had an Author Table.

TP Hogan's Author Table at RWDU16
TP Hogan’s Author Table at RWDU16

 

With just over half an hour to spare, I decided to get a coffee, along with most of the 82 authors attending. The small cafe outside the conference room was swamped. You could easily see how busy and crazy hard they were working to fill the orders, but MAN some people get cranky if they have to wait for their coffee.

Back at the table it was nerve wracking waiting for the doors to open. Then it was on and I was too busy to be nervous. The awesome organisers had a Kindle to win and the entry card required all attending author’s signatures.

It was brilliant.

Readers who might not have heard of me, had to come close enough to snag an autograph. It gave me – and the other authors – a chance to speak to more people about our books. I barely had enough time to introduce myself to the authors next to me, before I was asked for my signature. I learned very quickly to condense my info on my books to 3 – 4 short sentence, and kept their card hostage until I get the spiel out.

Most people nodded, gave a polite smile and walked off once I’d relinquished their card. Others hovered to ask questions before leaving with my post cards, pens and chocolates. While others even stayed long enough to purchase a book. Yay.

I was able to met Jess, Amanda, and Elizabeth. Jess and Amanda had contacted me on Facebook prior to the event so I knew I was going to meet fans. But it was soooo awesome to be able to met people who just love my books. They spoke to me about favourite characters, unexplored plot lines and how much they looked forward to reading another of my books. Elizabeth was a surprise. She’s previously downloaded my books as e-books but loved them so much that she wanted the paperbacks. I loved meeting all three of them. There’s something magical about meeting readers who already know and love your stories and can’t wait to tell you about it. I loved it.

Meeting Jess at RWDU
Meeting Jess at RWDU

Most of the authors at RWDU were romance authors, thus most of the readers read that genre. ‘Shattered’ garnered more interest than the Nephilim Code but I did end up selling a few complete sets of the series.

And one word of advice…it helps to have the ability to accept credit card payments. It helped me gain sales because readers only bring a certain amount of cash to an event like this. Grab a card reader off Paypal. It’s easy peasy.

By the end of the day I had sold 41 books in total, which by all accounts is AMAZING.

And no, I didn’t run out of books 😀

I am one happy author.

Now it is time to rest a little before the masquerade tonight.

# # # # #

Masquerade

Megan still wasn’t feeling well, so it was just Susan and I getting ready.

I love dressing up in costume. And a mask is a costume, so I had soooo much fun dressing up. Because I wear glasses, and I’m not a huge fan of contacts, I needed a mask that I could wear with my glasses. I found the perfect one. It glues on with spirit-gum. I tested the glue a few weeks ago to make sure I wasn’t allergic, but still applying adhesive to your face does lead to some slight nerves. I had no noticeable side effects.

Masquerade ball, here I come.
Masquerade ball, here I come.

The meal was nice, but in the ‘thank you’ speeches from the organisers the bomb shell was dropped. This would be the final RWDU. There would be no more. The atmosphere dropped to sombre and it didn’t really pick up, even after the drinks flowed and the festivities were under way. The music was very, very loud so the group I was with, went out into the foyer and had a real decent and long conversation about the ins and outs of the business of writing. Not just the actual writing of stories but the ‘small business’ aspect that you never even think to consider as a ‘newbe’ author.

I have to say, I love the chance to network like this. Bouncing ideas off other writers, seeing what worked for them or what they’ve tried and would never do again. I went to bed at about 200am.

# # # # #

Day 4

Woke up at 500am as the alarm was incorrectly set. Megan felt so much better, and we all snoozed for a bit until the alarm went off correctly at 600am.

While packing we went through our book purchases and checked out all the merchandise from the authors. My pens flew off the table, as did my information post-cards on my books, but not many people took the book marks. I could see why. Every single author had book marks. That’s something to remember for the next book event.

# # # # #

Wrap up

I had fun, although as an attending author, I didn’t get the same amount of freedom to really network as last time. However, the networking I did do, was valuable.

Being an attending author is expensive, tickets, travel, accommodation, books, merchandise, purchasing other author’s books…but it is something I would definitely do again. The interaction with real human readers is amazing. It helps chase away the insecurity and doubts when it’s just you, the keyboard and the coffee.

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4 thoughts on “The RWDU Experience

  1. Fantastic, good to read that you had a great time. But what a shame that it is the last one, just as well you attended this year. Hopefully you will find something similar to attend again. And i love you masquerade dress, beautiful.👌and your table set up looks soooo professional, well done.

    • Thanks so much, Ivy. I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll be doing it again. Obviously, a different event. And I had a blast ‘Masquerading’. 😀

  2. It sounds like a fantastic experience. I’m so happy for you. And Oh my goodness, you look so professional at your author table!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I enjoyed reading.

    • You’re welcome. I loved sharing the experience. As for professional, I liked my ‘uniform’. It was easy to wear and comfortable, particularly when I was lugging boxes of books around the place.

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