A fellow member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers did not see any immediate impact on the careers of those she witnessed working so hard on our all-volunteer staff, either at the annual Colorado Gold Writers Conference, nor throughout the year on our board and support positions. She asked me if I found participation in RMFW rewarding. Because of the context of the question I knew she wasn't asking whether I found it personally rewarding. What she was really asking was: Did I feel the effort and time I put into volunteering in RMFW translated in any way to book sales, or any other help for my career as a novelist.

Not at all a simple question.

You've heard, I'm sure, the term: You get out of it what you put into it. And I'm sure that's true, as far as it goes. The benefits of participation in RMFW as just an attending member are direct - E=MC2. But are the benefits for volunteering and actually participating in the operation of the organization even measurable in any instant or even short term calculation? I submit that one actually gets back much more than what they put in when actively participating in RMFW.

I post to the RMFW email loop ( to keep members with whom I’m acquainted, but not necessarily on a direct-email basis, informed of what’s going on with me. I may not get any direct response to my posts, but doing so also helps to keep one's name out there on the loop. Your name also becomes prominent in other areas of RMFW such as the newsletter, volunteering for conference, submitting to the blog, etc. Keeping your name out there in the RMFW community does translate to your publicity, if not directly to sales, and opens doors that may not be open otherwise. Eventually guest publishing professionals – speakers, visiting editors and agents, etc. – will hear/read it. There are a million subtle ways in which this can benefit you. I’ve gotten a lot more attention (followers on Facebook and Twitter, name recognition when introducing myself at workshops and conferences, etc.) since I agreed to become a regular contributor to the RMFW blog, and I love doing it. You never know where this kind of networking might benefit you down the line.

So no, volunteering does not perhaps convert directly to sales, and I suspect that’s why things like the email loop aren't nearly as active these days as they once were. It used to be a very lively forum for discussion and debate, but lately most posters want to sell their books and that’s all. Well I assure you that while most readers of the loop scan over or even ignore ads for your books or promotions for your blog, they are eager to read other news and opinions of current events and hot publishing industry topics. The loop and other methods of keeping your name prominent in RMFW may not translate directly to sales, you never know what it might lead to indirectly down the line.

Likewise attending our free workshops and education events throughout the year. These are not just opportunities to look at an aspect of our profession from another colleague's perspective, something from which you are far more likely to learn than not, you also have the opportunity to network, to meet fellow writers and introduce yourself to them.

conference1The Colorado Gold Writers Conferences, sponsored every Fall by RMFW, is the Grande Dame of all networking opportunities the organization offers. There is no end to the openings you have to make yourself known to the organization at large, not to mention guest professionals from the publishing industry from around the country, and even, sometimes, other countries. From pitching a workshop, if you feel you have something to share with others, to volunteering to moderate workshops. You can volunteer to judge the contest, work the registration table, help in operating the pitch sessions, or just in general as a docent or information source for newcomers and other attendees. One of the best opportunities is to volunteer as a driver, to pick up and transport conference guests between the airport and the venue - here you have a good thirty minutes or more alone with one of the visiting editors, agents, or authors invited to the conference to chat with them and become acquainted. No better networking opportunity in my book.

In short, never pass up an opportunity to volunteer and participate in RMFW and get yourself and your name out there. Doors only open to you if people know who you are. And RMFW is one of the greatest local opportunities you will have to do so.

Oh, and when the doors do open, always be ready and never say no. Even if it doesn’t end up going anywhere, sooner or later one will.

Don't miss Kevin’s latest releases: the startling and engrossing series of gothic thrillers featuring vampire private detective Kathryn Desmarias, including Bloodflow, and Bloodtrail, the bestselling sequel to Bloodflow; also the wonderfully entertaining espionage thriller, Rogue Agenda.

Follow Kevin at:
Kevin's Amazon Kevin's Blog

Kevin Paul Tracy
Kevin Paul Tracy, writer, philosopher, and all 'round raconteur, has traversed half the globe and both sides of the equator. He has SCUBA dived under ice and snow, and flooded craters hidden deep under ground, and he has done just about every odd occupation you can think of, from cave spelunking guide to wildlife photographer to interstate courier.

Kevin's fiction tends to deal with themes of bravery and fortitude in the face of extreme adversity, most often featuring very ordinary men and women forced into extraordinary circumstances, called upon to plumb the hidden strengths and resourcefulness they never knew they had.

Don't miss Kevin's latest twisted thriller "Presence of Malice", as well as his other books, the startling and engrossing Kathryn Desmarais Gothic Mysteries "Bloodflow" and "Bloodtrail" and the wonderfully entertaining espionage thriller, "Rogue Agenda."

He currently lives in Colorado with two very charismatic St. Bernards. More about Kevin on his website and on Amazon.

7 thoughts on “THE POWER OF RMFW

  1. In answer to your friend I can say volunteering and being involved in RMFW didn’t net amazing results overnight. Like everything in this crazy career, you must start at the bottom and build and it’s a process. I can say with certainty I wouldn’t be published without my association with RMFW. No doubt in my mind. But it took me a long, long time. Your results may vary.

  2. I credit my presence at a Colorado Gold conference and participation in a Friday afternoon critique workshop for getting me published, and that was before I started volunteering. What I do for RMFW now is more of a “pay it forward,” I guess. A person who expects to get published faster by becoming a volunteer doesn’t really understand the industry or the organization.

  3. Hi, Kevin! I’m waving my RMFW flag, too, as we near conference time. It’s a professional, informative, helpful organization, and my volunteer work with RMFW has led to lifetime friendships, valuable industry information, and an opportunity to develop my writing in ways that I never expected. I agree, you get out of it what you put into it. It’s said that, if you want to learn something, teach it, and you’ll never forget it. That’s true for all the workshops I’ve presented over the years. My ten-year newsletter column was another learning experience, and it’s been great fun to share my writer’s journey with my fellow RMFW members. Let me amend that statement: you get MORE out of it than what you put into it, in many pleasant, surprising ways. I landed my first publishing contract as a direct result of my investment in RMFW. The support and friendships made along the way are priceless. See you at conference!

  4. Great post! I get so much out of my participation with RMFW as a volunteer. I wish more people would jump in and get involved. The reward for being a part of a community is just that: being a part of the community. There’s so much happening through RMFW all the time, it’s a gift working with so many talented people on a common goal.

  5. I view working with RMFW, as with any volunteer organization, as Pat Stoltey said, a pay-it-forward kind of thing. I think volunteerism should be done for its own sake, because the help is needed, and that any other benefits which accrue to the volunteer are just “gravy,” or bonus rewards. Goodness is its own reward.

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