This July, as every July, it’s the UK Romance Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) annual conference. Held at a different university every year, the conference is where hundreds of established and aspiring British writers come together to listen to expert talks, meet fellow authors, enjoy a gala dinner and – all importantly – meet publishers and editors.
Being based in the South East of England, London is a short train journey away, Brighton is down the road, and there must be at least 10 universities within a two-hour radius. But, alas, for some reason the conference is always a six-hour journey for me. This year it’s in Leeds – blummin’ miles away! Although handy for the northern contingency, of course.
It’s great to meet up with the friends I’ve made there – many of whom I haven’t seen since last year’s conference. And you always pick up a nugget or two of information to help with the writing, which is what it’s all about.
However, the biggest pull for me (and many others) is the opportunity the conference offers to have a 10 minute ‘industry appointment’ with either an editor, a publisher, or both. This year I’ll be meeting with two editors, who hopefully won’t send me off sobbing into my manuscript.
For new writers there’s a New Writers’ Scheme, which involves published authors reading your story (anonymously) and offering critique. I was already published when I joined, so didn’t qualify, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it, and many writers have gone on to become published following their involvement in this scheme.
So, if you are an aspiring writer and are considering joining the RNA I’d say do it, do it do it! Do it now!