Yeah. There are tons of pitching and networking opportunities but hey, if you’re naked, you probably won’t want to pitch. Or network.
RWA has FAQ’s on its website and states that “business casual” is the norm. I think this is a good start—but what exactly is business casual? I’ve worked in a large law firm, a small law firm, and a local college. Business casual is slightly different in all three.
First and foremost, be comfortable. Based on the last few years, for the first couple days, you will see:
40% Dress slacks & blouses--slacks/button-downs for men
40% Skirts-long & knee length – lots of flowing flowers
15% Capri’s w/pretty shirts - slacks & golf shirts for men
2.5% Full suits
A few years ago, there seemed to be more jeans than last year. Most people seemed to be in skirts/dresses for women and nice slacks for men last year. Also, if you’re pitching, you dress up more that day. Skirts or nice pants are fine—the key is to be comfortable so you can concentrate on your book and the pitch. (Also, have fun with this. You get to talk about your book!!!)
At night there are publisher parties (you need an invite), chapter parties (FF&P’s is always a great one)—and I wear a cocktail dress. There will be some people in nice pant suits, but most will be wearing simple cocktail dresses. Men seemed to wear either suits or dress pants with ties. It seems these days that several of us are writing for more than one publisher, so you’ll see people party hopping…usually on Thursday night.
Then, on the last night there’s the RITA & Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. This is the fanciest night of the conference. You’ll see short cocktail dresses, long cocktail dresses, even formal dresses with boas. Wear what works for you. If you want to go all out—go for it! You won’t be the only one, and there’s nothing wrong with a sparkly tiara.
Keep in mind that hotel conference sites often splurge on the AC. Have a sweater or cardigan with you at all times…just in case. I froze my butt off at the Washington DC conference—even though it was JULY in DC. But in Orlando and in California, I was fine. So, like a Boy Scout or vampire hunter, be prepared.
I hope this helps!
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