Each September, hundreds of RMFW members from around Colorado, members from other states, and other fiction writers convene in metro Denver for Colorado Gold, but preparing for the event starts months earlier, and dozens of volunteers contribute to the event’s success.
Before the conference, planning tasks include: screening proposals from potential presenters; recruiting VIP agents, editors, and guest authors; coordinating donations for the swag bags, free tables, and scholarships; planning new events; ensuring the technology is in place; and assembling the brochure. At the event, volunteers: check in attendees; check in writers for appointments with pitch coaches, agents, editors, and guest authors; emcee the author readings; run the simile contest; ensure the workshops run smoothly; welcome first-time attendees; and photograph the event.
Volunteering not only helps fellow attendees. For members, it can bring a new level of engagement with the conference and with RMFW. It might even push your writing career forward.
Conference Chair Corinne O’Flynn cited Colorado Gold as a turning point in her own commitment to the organization. “I signed up to be a volunteer for RMFW the day after I got home from my first Colorado Gold conference,” she said.
“We have an exceptional community here in RMFW, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it. Volunteers are vital to this organization and to this conference. It takes a lot of people working together to make it all happen, so if you’re thinking about getting involved and are not sure, I invite you to jump in,” she said.
The Benefits of Volunteering
Some of the benefits include:
- Paying it forward
- Getting to know other members
- Expanding your circle of industry connections
- Growing personally
Paying It Forward
The creative work we publish reflects the many other writers who’ve influenced us—from authors we read as a child to editors who put their trust in us, to writers we’ve met with over coffee to brainstorm ideas, critique pages, or share encouragement. Volunteering at the conference gives you the opportunity to repay the kindness others have offered you. Information you may take for granted at the current stage of your career might be the very form of insight another member is seeking. If you’re new to RMFW, it’s a wonderful way to get connected. Sharing your time and talents builds community.
Getting to Know Other Members
As a member organization with a wide service area, there are always new members to meet. Opportunities tend to multiply through connection. You may find someone who shares a common interest in subject matter, genre, or craft. For example, you may run across someone who studied 19th century U.S. migration patterns for her last novel and can offer you some research sources for your current project. Or, staffing the information table, you may meet someone who shares your passion for author trivia or writing dialogue. You may invite a new acquaintance to write a guest post on your blog or be invited to participate in a future panel.
Expanding Your Circle of Industry Connections
Similarly, lending your time can help you get to know new agents or editors. You might also meet someone who can connect you with a new Web site designer, cover artist, or publicist. You might befriend an author who becomes your next agent.
Are you willing to take a risk? We all know that writing involves much more than our creative output. With luck, we are also always in a cycle of evolution from novice to mentor to newcomer in another domain. If you’ve considered volunteering at RMFW or serving in a new capacity, assisting at Gold is a great way to test the waters. You may realize you’re ready to submit a workshop proposal next year, serve as a volunteer liaison, or screen proposals.
Conference Volunteer Opportunities
What jobs are available? Some roles are always in need of additional volunteers because of the sheer number of helpers required. Have you considered stepping forward, but weren’t sure what’s involved? Here are some examples:
VIP Drivers – drive out-of-town special guests to and from the airport.
Bookstore and Author Signing Helpers – set up the bookstore, set up for the author signing, pack up books after the author signing, and set up for the next day’s sales.
Table Hosts – Members of PAL (Published Authors Liaison) or IPAL (Independent Published Authors Liaison) break the ice at their tables during Friday’s dinner and keep the conversation flowing.
Workshop Timekeepers – formerly known as “moderator;” ensure the microphone is working and the session is being recorded, introduce the speaker using the bio in the conference brochure, record an approximate headcount, give the presenter ten-minute and five-minute warnings, and coordinate the break for recording continuity for two-hour sessions.
These present a sampling; there are many ways to contribute. If you’d like to volunteer at this year’s conference, visit http://rmfw.org/conference/conference-volunteer-preferences/ or contact Angela La Voie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela La Voie is Volunteer Coordinator for RMFW and Volunteer Coordinator for Colorado Gold. A long-time Colorado resident, she lives outside Washington, D.C. in coastal Maryland. Although she has yet to try Smith Island Cake, a multi-tiered yellow cake with chocolate frosting that is the official state dessert, she has sampled several award-winning crab soups.