16 Things I Learned Attending My First Writers Conference (RWA)


by Katie McCoach


The other week I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Antonio, TX.

This was not only my first time at the Romance Writers of America conference, but my first time at any writing conference ever. Attending a writers’ conference is something I’ve always had in my career plan.  If there’s ever a time the motto “go big or go home” applies, I’d say it definitely applies to attending a conference for the first time, especially one of the largest national writing conferences in the country, and oh yeah, attending that conference in Texas.

My main goal for going to this conference was to learn. I wanted to soak up everything I could about the writing craft, publishing options, marketing, and what going to a writing conference even entails.


So with that being said, here are 16 things I learned at RWA:

  1. Romance writers are some of the most kind and supportive writers I’ve ever met.
  2. Putting thousands of women together in one place CAN actually work.
    1. Especially when you add a few half-naked cowboys to the mix. (Achem, thank you Amazon Kindle Love Stories)
  3. Other authors can be some of the best teachers.
  4. GMC – Goal, Motivation, Conflict. This is the driving force of a character/story.
  5. Self-publishing is widely accepted, and many authors are or will be hybrids.
  6. How to write hot sex.
    1. TIP: Don’t write as if your mother is standing over your shoulder.
    2. TIP: Your hero and heroine’s relationship MUST change after any/every sex scene.
  7. Attending a writers conference does not actually count as writing.
  8. What you get out of a writing conference is 100% about what you put into it.  Don’t sleep in. Don’t stay in your room.
  9. Talking with other writers who have similar passions is enlightening and inspiring.
  10. The perfect pitch should include the hook, plot, and conflict.
  11. Conflict is everything. Everything.
  12. You truly never know whom you’ll meet. Even in the bathroom. Be kind to everyone. Ask about what they are working on. Provide advice (when prompted), and accept advice (always).
  13. Make sure you come to the conference with a goal in mind.
  14. Take notes. You will refer back to them later. Apply what you learn to your WIP.
  15. Listen when they say bring an extra suitcase. Hello, BOOKS.
  16. It’s all about the shoes. (Comfy is out. These things start conversations).

I attended this conference to be a better writer and a better editor and I know for a fact I became both after I left San Antonio at the end of that week.



Guest post contributed by Katie McCoach. Katie is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Editorial Freelancers Association. She has had essays published in TrainWrite and Kalliope and is currently writing a contemporary romance novel. For advice on editing, writing, and publishing, visit her blog and be sure to also follow her on Twitter.

20 thoughts on “16 Things I Learned Attending My First Writers Conference (RWA)

  1. “TIP: Don’t write as if your mother is standing over your shoulder.”- This got me choked while laughing. Great observations must say. 🙂


  2. I would give anything to attend. This year the Australian one is in the city where I live but affordability is out of the question. Its such a fine balance, an opportunity to learn so much and day to day living. Next year, maybe if I sell a few books. Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some great tips! I love Writer’s Conferences and have been to a few over the years. It was at The Surrey International Writers Conference where I met Meg Tilly who read the first three pages of my WIP and encouraged me to keep writing and sending the book out. A year later It was published! I am off to one in Winchester, England next week. Hope to meet some great authors and learn more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Would you consider writing an article for my Marketing Magazine about your experiences…Just a little bit more indepth. I put out the magazine each month so no hurry. I would link in this article and any photos as well. Let me know if you wish to participate.

    Thanks for another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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