Archive for the ‘RWA’ Category

Bloggers, Reviewers and Street Teams?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

getwordout The idea of the street team isn’t brand new; it’s been around the music industry for a while now and it started crossing over into romance at least 5-6 years ago. However, as self-publishing has grown and as ebooks have opened up a whole new world for indie publishers, these seem to be popping up more and more. At RWA this past year, we heard “street teams” mentioned in every other workshop, it seemed. Authors discussed them, and publishers highlighted them as an important part of the marketing process. The idea of authors branding themselves was everywhere and street teams definitely constituted a significant portion of that.

It seemed like everyone wanted to get book bloggers on board with the idea of street teams and certainly the promise of exclusive info and fun freebies has its allure, but what exactly does it mean to join a street team? (more…)

RWA 2013 Reflections

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

photo (23)I look forward to RWA all year long. Admittedly, a large part of it is the sheer fun. This year I kept gleefully telling my colleagues at work that I was off to spend a week going to cocktail parties and talking about books, and that they should feel very sorry for me. But beyond the parties, friends, and chatter, I enjoy the vibe of the conference itself, which is different every year. Since I’ve been able to attend the last four years in a row, I’ve enjoyed seeing how that changes. Where do we pick this up? Well, Lynn and I make a huge effort to attend as many publisher spotlights and tweet them when we can. We also watch our tweet streams to see what other attendees are talking about, and talk to authors at the literacy signing and publisher book signings. Here’s what was “in the water” this year:

Branding and New Adult: I believe we heard both of these terms at every single spotlight we attended, without exception. Last year, publishers seemed to be scrambling somewhat (especially after Stephanie Laurens’ evocative speech) to explain their relevance in the current wide open market. This year, they all seemed to by quite clear on what they brought to the table: Branding, packaging, and marketing. They are making coordinated efforts to turn each author into her own distinct and recognizable brand. All of them said they want multiple contracts and series. Now, to be clear, several clarified that “series” does not have to mean six shape-shifting brothers who all live in each other’s pockets; series can mean books set in the same world, even if that means they are more loosely connected. What publishers clearly do not want is an author who genre hops like mad. You can do it, mind you, but that probably means you have two distinct brands, and perhaps that you have them at different houses. If you are a newbie hoping to break into the field, you are better off picking something and sticking with it.

As for New Adult, my sense is that publishers are scrambling to hop onto this bandwagon and ride it while it’s hot. How long will it be hot? Who’s to say. But I did tell my 21 year old writing daughter that since she is writing about characters her age she should be submitting them now…while everyone is looking.

Paranormals are on the backburner: I admit to thinking I might never hear these words, and since I am not really a huge paranormal fan I admit to being pretty happy to hear these words. After several conferences spent hearing about how readers were clamoring for more vampires, shapeshifters, succubi, and just plain othersI’m a little glad that the enthusiasm has run its course for now. This also helps me out as Managing Editor of AAR. I’ve spent the last several years with a list full of complicated paranormal series books that reviewers struggled to follow because they could not always read the previous 37 books in the series.

Publishers still want paranormals. But if you’re a new author they are looking mostly for paranormals with humor, for which there is still more of a demand, or something very high concept (another big conference buzzword). However, if you love to write and read more traditional paranormals don’t despair, because…

Digital publishing makes nearly anything possible: Every traditional publisher has a digital arm, and many publishers who started out digital and gaining traction. The digital arms (and small but growing e-only or e-mostly pubs) are willing to take a chance on nearly any setting or subgenre if they think the writing is good enough. This is where they’ll publish your vampire book or your Colonial romance if you are not Christine Feehan or Pamela Clare. They’ll brand you and (hopefully) let you take off in a more niche market, which is much cheaper to do in the digital milieu. This can only be good news for readers who crave variety (if a little challenging at times for those of us who are trying to find all these great books and tell you about them). The other interesting thing that more than one publisher noted is that the digital market and print market are really not the same. Different types of books can perform better in each market, and what takes off digitally does not always translate to print (and vice versa).

Indy and e “friendly”: And speaking of e-publishing, I personally was thrilled to see the conference becoming more e-friendly. A few publishers – most notablyAvon – had their authors hand out ebooks as well as print versions. Those of us shipping books home to, say, Colorado – and who might have husbands who complain about the possibility of being killed in a book avalanche – were very grateful. RWA also held its first indy book signing, which was well attended and popular with both indy authors and conference attendees.

Usually, this is the spot where I talk about my conference workout photo, but working out at this hotel was kind of a drag and the view was not inspiring. I am more of an outdoor girl in the summertime, and this hotel in the heart of downtown Atlanta was not really situated in a good place to run outside (though the weather was really not bad). I took photos from the gym, but they were depressing. Instead, you can enjoy the cheery picture of our hands (Lynn’s and mine) – sporting the glowy, sparkly rings they were giving out at the Avon party. We’ll be reporting to you next year from San Antonio. Dare I ask if anyone runs along the River Walk?

 

RWA 2013 – News from the Literacy Signing

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

IMG_20130717_174858_689 There’s no better place to get news than in a room packed full of authors (more than 400 of them), readers and fans. After some Atlanta sightseeing, including – I am not making this up – a stop at the Georgia Aquarium, where you can find a dolphin show featuring a singing sea captain in a light-up cape, Lynn Spencer and I hit the literacy signing, where there seemed to be more authors than usual. I didn’t come close to talking to them all (and missed several I would have liked to chat with), but I did catch up with quite a few.

Two overwhelming messages tonight: Everyone, no really, everyone, is writing an enovella that ties into her next book. After hearing about twelve people in a row tell me that, someone (who prefers to remain nameless) shed some light on the subject: It’s a way that traditional publishers can compete on pricepoint with e-first or e-only publishers. And of course, if you like the novella enough maybe you’ll think about buying a full-length book – and perhaps paying a little more for it. The second message: The market for historicals is challenging right now. Unless, perhaps, they are e-novellas. Anyway, here is more specific author news from the women I managed to catch up with: (more…)

RWA Time – What Would You Like?

Friday, June 28th, 2013

midtownatlanta May I just say that I can’t believe we’ve reached the end of June already? This year has just been a blur of activity and if it weren’t for the fact that it’s been 90+ degrees for the past week here in Virginia, I’d have a hard time believing it’s summer.

In two weeks, Blythe and I will be heading down to Atlanta for the annual RWA conference – and we’d like a little input from you. First of all, for the authors, agents and publishers who read here, I’m looking forward to seeing the folks I’ve met in the past and would love to meet some of the rest of you. Blythe and I will be livetweeting the RITAs as we do each year, and we’ll also be covering some of the workshops and publisher announcements.

And that’s where readers come in. One thing I have discovered since I started going to RWA is that there is really more than 1 RWA meeting going on. There are the official announcements and workshops(many, many workshops). However, the conference is also a wonderful place for a more unofficial exchange of ideas and news – and I often find some of that to be bigger news and more relevant to readers. As more than 1 author has told me, it’s the one time of year that you have so many people from the romance writing world together in one place. Given that there’s so much going on, the two of us won’t be able to be everywhere at once.

So, let us know what you want to hear about. Is there a particular author, agent or publisher that you’d like for us to talk to? Some particular topic you want to get the scoop on? Just let us know in the comments and we’ll start making our list of things to look for in Atlanta!

– Lynn Spencer

How Do We Define Romance?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

stormwalker How do we define romance? On a romance blog, one might as well ask what is life. It’s one of those broad, overarching topics susceptible to endless debate. We see authors offering endless variations from the most conventional to the most edgy and subversive. And yet, at the end of the day, we expect our lead couple to end up happily ever after – or at least happy for now. Though I still get irked with market restrictions from time to time, I have appreciated in recent years that we’ve been seeing a market full of change, choices, and great authors. And then I went to RWA 2012 in Anaheim.

The Elimination of Novels with Strong Romantic Elements as a RITA category

At the general meeting in Anaheim, Romance Writers of America(RWA) announced that it had decided upon a plan to reconfigure the RITA awards. (more…)

So, Have You Read Any RITA Winners?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

rita_award The 2012 RITA winners were officially announced on the last full evening at the RWA convention, on July 28, 2012. Many of us like to compare the winners to what we have already read and AAR reviewers are no exception.

Here are the RITA winners:

Best Paranormal Romance –Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Best Romance Novella –I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements – First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Best Historical Romance – The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne
(more…)

RWA 2012 Wrap Up

Monday, July 30th, 2012

disney RWA 2012 was my fifth conference; I’ve been to the last three in a row, and before that was at Reno in 2005 and Denver in 2002. With that many under my belt I am learning that each conference has its own vibe, and some are happier and, well, lighter than others. This was an upbeat, optimistic conference. I wasn’t the only one that noticed; there was more than one comment to that effect on twitter, and several people made that observation to me in person.

Part of the reason is that last year the industry was in transition and everyone felt a little tense. Everyone knew that digital publishing was having an impact and no one was quite sure what that impact would be for traditional publishers – or for authors. (more…)

RWA 2012: News From Anaheim

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

literacysigningRWA 2012 began early yesterday for Lynn Spencer and me; we started the day at Disneyland (first time for her, umpteenth for me). Only one thing could tear me away: The annual literary signing. I only got to ride Space Mountain once, but I did get to catch up with lots of authors and find out what they’re up to. Here’s what’s new and exciting:

I caught up with Tessa Dare first. Her latest Spindle Cove book (featuring Kate and Thorne) is out in August. After that, there’s one more…featuring Pauline, the serving girl at the tavern. I asked if she’s really a serving girl. Instead of, you know, a secret countess or something. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Kate Noble’s next book is about Bridget, the sister of If I Fall‘s heroine. But she’s also working on The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern web video and interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Sounds like fun.

Carrie Lofty has several balls in the air. She still has a couple of books to write in the Christie series, but is also collaborating on a contemporary erotica series with fighter pilots in Las Vegas. They’ll be released under a new name – Katie Porter. I couldn’t help asking whether her unusual historicals were a hard sell. She said she had a supportive editor at Pocket who enjoyed unusual settings (and signed both her and Meredith Duran). Vive la Difference! (And if you’re not reading her books yet, you should be).

And speaking of unusual settings and characters, Delilah Marvelle’s next project has a heroine who stutters and a bare-knuckle boxer hero. It’s called Forever a Lord. after that she’ll turn her attention to the French Revolution, with a series of books set in both England and France.

Molly O’Keefe is looking ahead to a contemporary series set in a small Southern town. I had to ask whether anyone marries the sheriff…apparently not. So you can write a small town series sans sheriff. I knew it! I told her our reviewers fight over her books, which is true.

Victoria Dahl’s new series is set in Jackson Hole, with cowboy heroes. Apparently they all live in an old farm house that’s been turned into an apartment building and appropriately named The Stud Farm (because of the landlady’s propensity to accept only hot tenants). Obviously, this apartment building should be closer to my house. And yours.

(more…)

My Personal Rita Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I have a long-term relationship with the Ritas. I had no friends who read romances (or at least admitted that they did) when I began reading romances in the 1990s. So soon after I finished Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick’s complete backlist, I began searching the Web for ideas about which books to read next. Among the first resources I found was the Romance Writers of America’s Web site. Imagine my delight to discover the “best” of romance in their listing of recent Rita winners.

I was convinced these must be the best romance had to offer and began selecting romances to read from recent Rita winners; the process was a bit hit or miss. I discovered some winners that have become favorite romances, while others quickly went into my DNF pile. Still, I was – and remain – fascinated by the whole specter of the Ritas. I can remember sitting in my living room, with an old AOL dial-up connection (I did say this was the 1990s), watching as the Rita’s were presented live over the Web. This was a big deal for me; I felt as if I was actually part of the romance community.

Obviously things have changed. There are many, many online resources available to locate great new romances. And of course I now have many online friends and AAR colleagues who are also romance readers. But still, I look forward every year to the announcement of the Rita nominees and the eventual awards.

(more…)

The Buzzword? Digital.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
NYC Workout View

NYC Workout View

If there was one word we kept hearing last week at RWA, it was digital. We heard it from excited people, disillusioned people, scared people, and confused people. Digital options are opening up a Brave New World, but no one seems to be sure how that will change the current landscape, only that it will.

The most immediate change seems to be that most publishers are open to new ideas. If you follow either Lynn or me on twitter, you may have seen us live tweet from various publisher spotlights. We attended Spotlights for Avon, Carina, Harlequin Series, Pocket, Tor, and Berkley. There was only one (Pocket) that didn’t say they were looking for Westerns. Last year, I’m pretty sure no one was looking for Westerns, because I would have noticed.  Last year, the message was, “Here’s what we already publish; if you want us to publish you, please submit more of the same.” This year was, “We’re open to all kind of new possibilities.” (I think my favorite may have been the editor at Tor, who said she really wanted someone to submit a book about a ghost ship. Can someone get on that one?)

Why is that tied to digital? I think a large part of the credit goes to Carina Press, who started publishing digital first books last June and is showing all of us that it can be successful. They’re taking chances on different settings and niche books, and by and large it’s working. Avon Impulse is  - from what I understand – starting out with novellas, some of which are tied to other full-length print/ebooks that are coming out later. But they’re accepting full length books for digital first publishing, and that’s where they’ll take most of their chances on unusual settings.

And how will digital self-publishing change things? Many authors seemed to think it just might give them another option for their bag of tricks. I think a lot of people will be watching to see how Connie Brockway’s book does.

I met her at the Avon party, by the way. She’s very nice, though she told me as we all took yet another tiny but calorie laden dessert, that you pretty much have to plan on eating 10,000 calories a day at RWA. That is probably true, though in all fairness we chowed down at parties because they cut out dessert from both luncheons (and in one case, severely underfed the vegetarians). Nonetheless, I don’t think anyone was in danger of starving to death in New York. Which is why, like last year – I included a picture of my spectacular workout view. In this case, it’s from the 23rd floor of the conference hotel. Not too shabby.