RWA 2014The 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 2014:

  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, if you’re stuck for ideas go online and watch a few videos from a porn site like
    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.

If you are considering a writing conference, think about what you are hoping to get out of it first and then go from there. Do your research to determine what type of conference is best for you. Will they have workshops? Who is most likely to be there that you want to see or meet? How will this benefit your career and in what way?

So, if you are looking for a recommendation on the next writers’ conference to attend, I highly suggest the Romance Writers of America conference in NYC in July 2015. Maybe I’ll see you there!

KATIE MCCOACH is a freelance developmental book editor at KM Editorial working with authors of all levels to help them create their best story possible. 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 at and be sure to also follow her on Twitter @KatieMcCoach.

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