Recently as I read the RWR magazine, I noted that there were fewer contests aimed at new authors and not as many small conferences cheaper to attend than the biggies. Maybe it is just my imagination as I never enter contests anymore and rarely go to a conference, but it made me reflect on the demise of our RWA Chapter in Baton Rouge.
At one time, our small group supported a contest and did its darndest to give good advice and a nice plaque to the winner. As our group dwindled, we no longer had enough people to do the judging and could not attract big names to judge either. These contests were also fundraisers for most chapters to bring in guest speakers and agents for the group. I don't see so many anymore.
Some people left the group or never joined because they didn't want pay the nearly $100 to join RWA. As a librarian, I always joined my professional organizations and carried this over when I began to write. I think the Romance Writers of America do look out for their members and try to elevate the profession. Much of their advice pertains to any type of writing. However, new rules that a person must prove they are writing and that officers have to turn over every so many years does hurt the small groups. I admit a few of our members simply enjoyed the company. I had no problem with that, but as rules tightened, they left. The smaller the group got, the more the internal struggle to get new officers.
Always too small to host a conference, we did put on a very nice readers' luncheon with a great speaker, awesome gift baskets, good food, and plenty of authors to meet. I always had nice sales there and met terrific people. When Baton Rouge suffered severe flooding, the luncheon was postponed indefinitely. It never returned as the group disbanded as of Christmas that year. I've noticed that two other groups in the state no long run their lovely small conferences which I did enjoy attending. New Orleans still hosts some given by individual authors, but you need a large group to keep this going. The huge RWA conference and Romantic Times seem to be thriving, but the lesser lights have faded away. I suspect the many who rushed to indie publishing found they don't make enough money to attend. I've got a small publisher, and I sure don't, But, the expenses can be written off on your taxes if you are published. You just have to have the upfront money to attend. I've been once to both RWA and Romantic Times, awesome but huge and exhausting. I do miss the smaller, more intimate experience.
So, am I right or am I wrong? Are there indeed fewer contests (not talking about the commercial ones for the published which are basically popularity contests to draw people to a site) and less state level conferences? You tell me.