Monday, July 14, 2014

Oh, The Romance Of It All!

Last Friday evening I snuck into the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference, which was being held at the Harper Adams University. For those of you thinking I must have been the only man there, think again. I counted four others, which meant there was a handful of us amongst about 220 women!

I don’t consider myself to be a writer of romance (and judging by the rejection slips I’ve had from many of the women’s magazines for some of my fiction, neither do they!). But it was great to see so many people there, all eager to learn more from the workshops and talks they’d be attending over the weekend, and share some of the news and successes that they’ve had. And some would have the opportunity to pitch their material to an agent and editor, and get feedback on their work.

Conferences like this are a brilliant way to grow as a writer. Not only do they give you an opportunity to escape from the family and immerse yourself in writing and writing-related activities for a few days, but they’re also an excellent way to network - with other writers and influential people within the industry. Chat to an agent over lunch or dinner and then, when the time comes, mentioning you met them at a conference in a covering letter accompanying your latest piece of work does two things: it creates a personal connection (the agent/editor will hopefully remember you), and it also demonstrates that you take your writing seriously enough to attend such events in the first place.

Belonging to an organisation can also offer access to mentoring schemes; the Romantic Novelists’ Association runs their own New Writer Scheme, from which many have gone on to achieve publishing success. Many run competitions, and these can provide useful stepping stones to success. Be awarded with a prize from your association and it’s a sign that your peers, and experts in the industry, recognise your skills - that’s something useful to add to the writing CV!

So, why not take a look around to see if there’s an association of writers for your genre of writing (there are many, including non-fiction subjects too) and investigate joining? You’ll learn a lot and make many new friends. And don't be put off thinking that you are not the 'typical' genre writer. There is no typical genre writer. Men can write romance, and there are some successful male romance writers. (If you read the RNA website you'll see that 22% of romance readers are men.) 

And, yes, and there’s also the opportunity of meeting up with all of these writers at conferences like this. (Top tip: you need two suitcases for these events. One for your clothes, and one for all the wine and chocolate you need to bring too!)

Good luck.

Romantic Novelists’ Association: http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org
Crime Writers’ Association: http://thecwa.co.uk
Historical Writers’ Association: http://www.thehwa.co.uk
Society of Women Writers and Journalist: http://www.swwj.co.uk
Football Writers’ Association: http://www.footballwriters.co.uk
Association of Christian Writers: http://www.christianwriters.org.uk
Fitness Writers’ Association: http://www.fitnesswritersassociation.com
Horror Writers’ Association: http://www.horror.org
The Guild of Food Writers: http://www.gfw.co.uk
British Guild of Travel Writers:http://www.bgtw.org
Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild: http://www.owpg.org.uk
British Science Fiction Association: http://www.bsfa.co.uk

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: http://www.scbwi.org


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