Tuesday 25 July 2017

Confessions of an RNA Conference Newbie - Guest Post Susan Griffin

What's it like to be a first timer at an RNA Conference? I thought I'd ask this question to friend and fellow writer, Susan Griffin. who attended this year's conference at Harper Adams University. Susan is a member of the RNA New Writers' Scheme.

This was your first RNA conference, Sue. What made you decide to go?

I was keen to meet other Facebook writers and to get to know more about the publishing industry and how it works.

You’ve been back from the conference a week now. Looking back, what was the highlight of your weekend?

The highlight of the conference was my two one-to-one pitches which I found really helpful.

Tell me a little about how it felt to be a ‘first timer’ and what was done to make you to feel welcome?

I immediately felt part of the whole conference experience despite being a first timer as soon as I arrived. Everyone was very helpful and friendly and there was a welcome drinks get together, in the lovely Kate Thomson’s kitchen. This helped me to connect with other first timers and break the ice.

A big part of the RNA conference is the one-to-one sessions with industry professionals. I know you took advantage of a couple of these. How did you prepare for them?

I prepared by writing notes on the novel I was pitching to the agents. This included key things about the novel I was likely to get asked, and anything I felt they needed to know about me. I also noted down a couple of questions I wanted to ask them.

I’m guessing you were nervous before your sessions. Do you have any hints for first timers on how to remain calm?

I did feel nervous about my one-to-ones and felt the best way to overcome this was to be well prepared.

The talks and workshops were many and various. If you could pick out two that were particularly helpful to you, which would they be?

The two workshops I found most helpful were: Playing with Time in Romantic Fiction, by Pia Fenton and Anna Belfrage, and Building Characters from the inside out, by Fiona Harper.

You’ve told us about the business side of things, what about the social aspect? As a first timer, was it daunting being with so many other writers?

It was good to meet with other writers I’ve only communicated with before through Facebook or Twitter. I enjoyed chatting to them and hearing about their publishing experiences.

Any tips on what to take with you?

Coffee and tea are provided so I took milk, snacks and my favourite tipple of Gin & Tonic (essential). Other than that, comfortable clothes and a dress for the Gala dinner is all you need.

Did this year’s conference, make you want to go to another?

Yes it did and I fully intend to go to the conference again next year in Leeds.

What is the main thing you’ve taken back from the RNA conference 2017?

A better idea of the way the publishing industry works and some very valuable feedback from the literary agent Felicity Trew.

Any tips for first timers thinking of going to the 2018 conference in Leeds?

Don’t feel worried about attending the conference, even if you’re thinking of going on your own. There is so much you can learn and experience while there, you’ll come away full of enthusiasm for your writing and with added knowledge about the whole industry.

Contact Susan:

Twitter @suegriffinwriter

Susan's novel, Bird in a Gilded Cage can be bought at Amazon


  1. You did brilliantly, Sue - and great that the one-to-ones were so helpful.

  2. Thanks Merryn I really enjoyed the whole weekend.

  3. Interesting article. Do you have to be invited to this conference?

    1. No you don't Angela, but the cost is more. It's worth taking a look.

  4. A nice little resume! I'm still getting over the weekend.

    Angela - anyone can go to Conference. Non-members pay a premium over members, though.

    1. Me too, John! (I still have nightmares about The Door of Doom!)

    2. That was funny Wendy it seemed like the door had a mind of its own 😂

  5. Great interview Wendy and Susan. Is that the plotters v pansters talk? I sat on the front row to the left of the lady with bare arms - I remember chatting to her so if it is that one - my nose is in the corner of the picture �� I had to nip out to my 1 - 1 ��

    1. Glad to have featured your nose in my blog post, Susan!

  6. It sounds as though you got a lot out of this, Susan, and thanks for posting it, Wendy.

    1. Yes I did Julia I learnt a lot and loved meeting the agent Felicity Trew on my 1-1 session.

  7. Pleased you enjoyed it all, Susan, and I was sorry to miss it this year!

  8. Sounds wonderful so thanks for sharing these insights Susan, and Wendy.

    I definitely intend to go to next year's conference in Leeds.

    1. You're welcome Carol hope to see you there next year.