Lurker or Participator: Which Are You?
Lurker — someone who follows the forum but doesn’t post. (Urban Dictionary)
Participator — one who takes part in something. (Merriam-Webster)
As an RWA (Romance Writers of America) PRO member I participate in the PRO online forum, a community of romance writers who are as serious as DEFCON-1 about writing and publishing romance. Topics vary, but most are related directly to the business of writing, everything from cover art for self-published books to discussions about beta readers.
Oh, wait. Did I say I participate? That’s such a strong word. *sigh* I’m really more of a, well . . . a lurker. *hangs head in shame* I lurk about the PRO forum sucking up info like a Hoover. One of these days when a topic arises about which I feel I can add valuable input I’ll participate. I promise. In the meantime? Lurker.
In addition to the forum, PRO status allowed me access to early sign-ups for the editor/agent pitch appointments at the RWA conference being held in San Antonio this year. In this area I did not lurk. I participated and signed up at my earliest opportunity. I don’t like to pitch. It gives me hives. Pitching is a necessary evil, and as much as I’m dreading it I understand and appreciate the benefits—sort of like my annual Pap smear (which, coincidentally, also requires my full participation for an optimum outcome).
The RWA conference last year was one of the best things I’ve done for my writing career to date. I learned tons about publishing and writing (craft and business), met a couple of my idols in person (Nora Roberts and Deborah Smith—now if I can just meet Kristan Higgins my world will be complete), and gained the impetus I needed to complete the manuscript I’m now shopping around.
If you’re a writer who is serious about publication and honing your craft, I urge you to make it part of your business plan to attend at least one writing conference every year. In addition to pitch sessions and workshops, you will have the opportunity to mingle with other writers and gain insights about writing and publishing. And you’ll make friends! I was fortunate to meet my critique partner, Terry Lynn Thomas, at the SCBWI/WIK conference in Birmingham a number of years ago. Who will you meet at your conference? What friends will you gain? Don’t underestimate the power of support from people who understand and share similar goals and a passion for writing.
Many writing organizations offer annual conferences. If you don’t belong to a national organization you may still attend their conferences, though it might cost a little more. Also, many local, regional, and state organizations present conferences. For a list of some of these, please click HERE: Newpages.com and scroll down the page for links to a listing of writing conferences by state. There are tons. (There’s other great stuff for writers on this site, as well.)
If you’re already a conference-goer then I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re not, I urge you to consider attending a conference. Do a little research and you’ll find one that suits your needs and your budget. It will be a gift to your creative spirit and a bold statement proclaiming that you take seriously your passion for writing.
Don’t be a lurker. Participate! Invest in your writing—attend a conference. You won’t be sorry.
What conferences have you attended and do you agree with me about the benefits? If you have never attended a writing conference, what’s stopping you? And the BIG QUESTION: Are you or have you ever been a lurker and why? C’mon, don’t lurk here—put yourself in the Buff!
See you next week for more of the naked truth!
Enjoy your Wednesday, y’all!