Aug 21, 2017

Conference Hopping with Stefanie London

My Romance Writers of America badge
This year I'm attending more conferences than ever. As you're reading this, I would have just finished up at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane. I also attended the Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando, Florida back in July. Then I'm off to speak at both Fiction Fest in Connecticut and the Put Your Heart in a Book conference in New Jersey in September and October.

Phew! That's a lot of travel.

Conferences are a great part of being a writer, in my opinion. Yes, they're often expensive to attend and for introverts (including me) they can be challenging. But the pros far outweigh the cons.

So what are the best bits about attending a writers conference?

  • Getting to spend time with my friends that live in other locations. Sometimes conference is the only time I get to see them face to face!
  • Meeting readers. Many of the big conferences, like the Romance Writers of America one, have signings where I get to people who read my books. This is always a surreal moment.
  • Free books. I try to restrain myself from not filling up my suitcase, but it's tough!
  • Meeting editors/agents/publishers and other people whom I often communicate with via email. It's great to speak to the people who help make bring my stories to readers, and to build those relationships.
  • Education. These days I don't always make it to a ton of sessions, so I choose wisely. There's so much information to be gleaned from conferences - both from the presentations and from chatting to other authors.
  • Being around like-minded people. Being an author is a very unique experience, so chatting with other authors always makes me feel better about the ups and downs this career has to offer.
Me and the lovely Alison Stuart

If you're an aspiring author then I definitely recommend that you attend a conference at least once to see what it's like. If you're a reader, there are plenty of reader-focused events in the writing community such as the RT Booklovers Convention.

Attending a writers conference for the first time and not sure what to expect? Here are my tips:
  • If the conference has an app, download it! This will make navigating the schedule so much easier.
  • Leave some space in your luggage for books and other goodies that you will inevitably pick up.
  • Find some cute and comfy shoes to wear, conference involves a lot more walking that you'd think. Especially if the hotel is big and the events are very spread out.
  • Take the opportunity to talk to people. Even if you're shy (don't worry, I am too!) try to say hello to people next to you in the elevator/line/workshop. You're all there for the same reason, so you have inbuilt conversation.
  • Keep all your receipts. In many places you can record such activities as deductions from your taxable income even if you are not yet published. For more information, speak to a tax expert in your area.
Have you ever attended a conference before, whether for writing or something else? What's your best tip for new conference goers? 


  1. Hi Stefanie

    Sounds like you have been having lots of fun and I am still sad I missed out on Brisbane this year. I am a reader and have attended the awesome ARRA Conventions that have been held since 2009 and I have also been lucky enough to have been to a few RWA conferences as well which are always a blast, I really enjoy meeting Authors and chatting to them and of course other avid romance readers. I have been down to a very cold Goulburn this weekend for a romance readers retreat with 7 other readers and we had a blast guessing competitions trivia and lots of chocolate and fun was had by all :)

    Have Fun

    1. So sad we missed each other this year, Helen!! I must make it to Sydney next time so we can catch up. Looks like you had an amazing time in Goulbourn - so lucky!! It's nice to be surrounded by people who share a love for romance novels :)

  2. Conferences are such a blast, Stef -- though I can't believe I barely saw you, LOL.

    I sometimes find going for a fifteen minute walk outside in the fresh air, away from all the noise, a good idea. It just helps recharge the batteries. And my other top tip is to stay hydrated! All of that talking, all of that air-conditioning...all of those late nights. Drinking lots of water helps. :-)

    1. I know!! It was crazy. I think because I had my husband there I was also trying to make sure he didn't feel too left out, so a few times I snuck away to have a coffee with him which ate into the time at the conference.

      Yes, hydration is SO important. I always seem to forget that in all the exciting conference stuff.

  3. Stef, I do love a conference and have just returned from RWNZ where the best experience was catching up with old friends and meeting new authors/writer who always enthuse me and remind me of the pure joy of doing what you love.

    My tip: chat to the person next to you while waiting for a workshop to begin, start a conversation while in line for a coffee, ask what they're writing, who they love to read, which speaker they've enjoyed the most. That can be tough for us introverts but it's so worth it.

    1. I love that too Bronwyn, something about talking with a new writer that just helps to get the excitement back.

      That's a great tip! You're right, it is tough but you never know who you might meet :)

  4. Wow Stef, you are busy conferencing this year. Shame we passed each other a couple of times at RWA and didn't get to really connect. Next time!!!!

    I think being brave is a good tip. Go up a chat to people - you never know who you might meet.

    1. I know, it was tough trying to see everyone! The conference always seems like a good amount of time, but then in the moment it just goes by in a blur. Hopefully we'll get to connect more next time!

  5. This is definitely your year of the conference, Stef! I really love writer's conferences for all the reasons you state. Sadly I missed both the Australian and American conferences this year and I'm really feeling it. Fortunately I did make it to the Australian Romance Readers Conference earlier in the year and that was wonderful.

    1. I've heard wonderful things about the ARRA conference, I'm sure it was loads of fun :) Conference time can definitely bring on lots of FOMO if you're not attending. That happened to me all last year!