What I Learned at RWA – The PRO Retreat

Pardon the delay in this post…my favorite saying of late is: Life Happens. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say, I’m deep in edits for one of my young adult manuscripts.  My day job is insanely busy – so much so that I’m working well over 10 hour days, which leaves me very little time to spend with my family, let alone write a witty blog post.  So I’m sorry. 

But let me try to make it up to you by giving you the scoop on the PRO Retreat at RWA.. 

For all you non RWA members out there, PRO doesn’t necessarily mean one is a professional photowriter, but it does mean that they’re working on perfecting their craft and actively pursuing representation by an agent or being picked up by a publishing house.  Officially, I’ve been PRO for a little over two years.  Hopefully I’ll move over PAN – which is the Published Author’s Network.  You have to earn a certain amount of money via book sales to make PAN.  What’s really cool is to see everyone cheer for one another when they turn PAN and get “booted” out of PRO.  Smile

The PRO Retreat started with awarding IMG_0584the PRO-Mentor of the Year award to Eliza Knight.  She happens to be a chapter-mate of mine in Celtic Hearts.  She gave an awesome speech. 

Main takeaway: In addition to the three P’s:

  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence

You also need three D’s: 

  • Diligence
  • Determination
  • Dedication. 

Amen, sister!

Next was an amazing panel by Dorian Kelly and Courtney Milan – both traditionally and indie published authors.  It was an engaging panel and I found it fascinating that they are both lawyers, turned romance authors.  They talked to us about the changes in the publishing industry and how to navigate that change. 

Main takeaway:  Look at an editor/agent and know YOU can say NO.  That gives you the power.  You should be in charge because it’s YOUR work that’s making them the money. 

I’d never heard the author/agent or author/editor relationship discussed like that, but it’s true. 

  • It’s your work
  • It’s your name
  • It’s your reputation

Next up was the industry panel with agent MacKenzie Fraser-Bub from Trident and editor, Esi Sogah from Kensington.  They spoke about their relationship with their authors and IMG_0585what they can offer if you decide to go the traditional publishing route.

Main takeaway:  They’re not just looking through the slush, they’re reading more published works trying to find authors.

The last session was about publicity and how we can promote our books, both traditionally and indie published.  Nancy Berland, a freelance publicist and Pam Spengler-Jaffee, publicist at Avon Books provided us with what a publicist does for you and how to launch a book.  It was an in-depth presentation that helped show the timeline of promotional activity leading to the launch of a book.  For instance, did you know that with a traditionally published book, it goes to trades (Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times, Kirkus, etc.) six months prior to release?  For a digital first, the timeline is considerably shorter. 

Main takeaway:  The publicist does a lot of stuff that an indie author would either have to do themselves, or hire a publicist to do it for them.  Hiring a publicist can be expensive depending on what you want them to do. 

My morning was capped off with one of the coolest things!!  I won a 30 page critique of a young adult romance by multi-published author and two-time Golden Heart winner Trish Milburn.  SQUEE!!!   Now to finish that story!!

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