So, we've talked about wardrobe, workshops, shoes (yes, that is a choir of angels you hear singing) and conference preparation. What's left to cover? How about the extras?
Book signings - Not only the Literacy Signing on Wed night, although that's a great place to meet all of your favorite authors in one room - not to mention any purchases you make go to support literacy in Nashville and Orlando. But also the many free book signings that the publishers offer throughout the weekend.
What I've discovered over the years is that if you want to attend a specific publisher's signing you better be in line way ahead of time. While most of the signings are scheduled for an hour and a half towards the back end of that time frame you'll find that the most popular authors will be out of books. There are usually at least 2 house signings scheduled for the same time frame so you might have to choose. In most cases you'll find the signings themselves will straddle workshop times and often knock two possible sessions off of your schedule. Sometimes when I need a break from learning lining up for free books is a great opportunity. Although, these things can often turn into chaos in a very short time. The rooms they're held in can be small with lines for individual authors snaking through the room and making movement difficult. I enjoy the book signings but I often find myself forgetting about them since they aren't in the same schedule as the workshops.
The Goody Room - Don't forget to visit! Several times. There are so many opportunities for fun marketing promo and toys. You'll also often find free books - either leftover from the luncheons or an author offering their own copies. My girls usually love the fun and funky things I bring home from the goody room. I will admit though, that I usually pass over the multitude of paper products that are offered unless something really catches my eye.
Books - Books reign down from the sky at RWA. Be prepared and plan ahead for how you're going to get them home. One price priority boxes from the post office are an excellent idea. Pre-paid postage slapped onto a box that lies flat in your luggage can't be beat. In past years there has been a shipping section set up in the lobby/conference area of the hotel on the last day or two in order to facilitate shipping for those that want to take this route. While this is a good idea, I usually go with another. I pack several non-perishable food items in my luggage (peanut butter, crackers, brownie bites, granola bars, etc.). These things will either be consumed or left and their space in my luggage can be filled with freebies and books.
Spotlights - Not quite a workshop, spotlights offer the publishing houses an opportunity to talk to writers about what they're looking for. You'll often learn information about what specific editors are interested in. This is also when a house might announce some change in their cover art, editorial and/or new avenues they plan to peruse. If you're interested in a specific house or editor spotlights can be an excellent source of information and well worth the time they tend to take up.
Conference offers so many options for writers and readers alike. Sometimes all of the choices can be overwhelming and paralyzing. I hope I've given you a little information on the extras that might help you make informed decisions about how to invest your time.
Are there any other parts of the conference that you're not quite sure about? Any other questions you have about what to expect/what will happen?