How Social Media Made the RWA National Conference Even Better

by Jennifer Gracen

For those who still think joining Twitter or Facebook won’t help with their romance writing careers, I’m here to tell you why you’re mistaken.

I joined Facebook back in 2008 and immediately became addicted. It was such a rush to find old, long lost friends, reconnect with family members who lived far away, all of that. But when I went to a writer’s conference in January 2011 and they demanded we all needed to join Twitter, I recoiled. Why would strangers care about anything I had to say, and vice versa?

Well. I quickly became completely addicted to Twitter. I’ve met so many incredible, interesting people I never would have been able to meet otherwise, from all over the country – all over the world, in fact. And the majority of them are writers. Not just romance writers, but writers of all genres. The writing community online there is an incredibly supportive, encouraging group of people – not to mention talented, funny, smart, insightful, willing to share and ask about writing tips… and most of all, yes, I’ll say it: connected. Social networking is all about making connections. And when you’re a writer, and interact with other writers, you are making connections you can’t even foresee, but the potential is there.

Case in point: I joined Twitter at the end of March 2011. By the time I went to my first RWA National Conference that June, I had the pleasure of seeking out new friends that I’d made on Twitter. One of those authors was the fabulous Tiffany Reisz; now, two years later, her career is really taking off, and I’m thrilled for her. Another one was a bubbly new author named Vicky Dreiling – you may have heard of her (ahem, several RITA noms last year). She hosted a breakfast of authors one morning that week, where I met other authors like Kieran Kramer and Rebecca J. Clark, among several lovely others. Through Twitter and Facebook, I was able to maintain all of these relationships. When Rebecca needed a copy editor for her first self-published work, she asked me. When I went to RWA Nationals this year, I was able to give Tiffany and Vicky a big hug, and catch up with my friend Kieran. They’re all now bestsellers, but I’ve known them long enough that they know me and consider me a peer, not some fangirl. That was a nice feeling, and so great to catch up with them at the big Literacy Signing.

Many of my Twitter and Facebook writer friends have turned into real friends. Examples: my RWA Nationals roommate was Christina Esdon (member of Detroit and Toronto RWA chapters), who I originally met on Twitter. Never in real life before; I’m in NY, she’s in Canada. And sharing a room with her for five days was easy. Our friendship is effortless and genuine. How many times have you roomed with a “stranger”? Or my online critique partner who became a close friend, Anne Baker (member of Seattle RWA chapter), that I finally got to meet in person and hug senseless? Or literally about twenty others, all of whom I truly like and was overjoyed to put a face and voice with the tweets. Yup, you read that right. Know how it happened? Connections.

Networking is, essentially, being social and meeting people. Making connections that can be beneficial to your career, as well as enriching your social life. You never know who you’ll meet that can, possibly, bring you into a situation that will propel you forward. Social media is about networking. Conferences are about networking. You should be immersing yourself in both. Trust me.

Jennifer Gracen writes contemporary romance. She is also a freelance copy editor, a mother of two incredible little boys, and a professed social media addict who’s shocked there hasn’t yet been a staged intervention. She can be easily found on Twitter at @jennifergracen or on Facebook. Jennifer’s author website is http://jennifergracen.wordpress.com and her copy editing website is http://jgce.wordpress.com

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