RWA: Sandy’s Take

photoJust a few thoughts to add to Lynn’s.

It was a pleasure to meet her, as well as AAR Senior Reviewer Jane Granville.  We also met AAR readers, including SusanDC and Sandlynn, both of whom we all know so well from our message boards.  It’s always fun to put a face to an online personality and this year was no exception.

During the conference Lynn and I met with several people very prominent in romance publishing – who are, of course, also big decision-makers – and I think there was a very positive take-away on both sides.


I also second Lynn’s thoughts about Linda Howard’s speech.  She is funny and irreverent and such a keen observer of human nature – all of which we already knew from her books.

Lynn and I also met with several authors for drinks and coffee and sliders in the bar.  We also made it to parties hosted by Ballantine and St. Martin’s and we thank them very much for their hospitality and the great company.

And then there’s the Harlequin party.  What can I say about this one?  Every year this is the time when everybody lets their hair down and I can’t say enough about how incredibly gracious and generous they are to throw such a great party.  They flew in the same DJ who rocked the house in San Francisco in 2008 and it was a great, great time.  (Jessie’s Girl and Love Shack – what more can you ask?  And as a friend of mine memorably said, “it’s a special moment when you see INSERT NAME OF FAMOUS AUTHOR HERE WHO SHALL REMAIN ANONYMOUS SINCE WHAT HAPPENS AT THE HARLEQUIN PARTY STAYS AT THE HARLEQUIN PARTY walking it out.”

At every conference there does seem to be a buzz (a few years ago historicals were “dead”), and this year it was steampunk, as well as some talk about digital publishing, though I think there is more confusion than enthusiasm about the latter.   Digital publishers have some ‘splaining to do before writers wary of the financial model will see it as a viable option.  As for RWA recognition, they are well within their rights to establish financial benchmarks for RWA recognition – hey, anyone can say they’re a publisher these days – and I think they recognize the need to define the terms fairly for legitimate digital publishers and writers.  Let’s hope for progress.

And speaking of finances, the publishers I talked to all reported that romance was doing well at their houses, while other divisions aren’t.  As typically happens in these situations, even the cash cows face cutbacks though I did hear from one publisher hope that they were over – at least for now.  For the most part, parties seemed to be as lavish as they have been in the past, though one publisher celebrated their authors with a cocktail party instead of the traditional dinner.  I think the authors were just fine with that.

As for actual author news, some I can’t tell yet (good things are coming!), but I did hear other news already reported on our Cover it Live feed:  Liz Carlyle moved to Avon and Teresa Mederios left them for Pocket.

With regards to the Washington Post piece about which everybody was buzzing, I think the piece was not all positive, but considering the incredible level of snarkdom normally directed at romance by that paper when they bother to mention it at all (somebody from WaPo actually got an award from RWA for positive press coverage and, as a daily reader of that paper, I don’t know what the hell for), I don’t expect much.  Well, maybe no open sneering would be nice. Honestly, I thought on balance, it wasn’t half bad.

There was something about the layout of the hotel that resulted in fewer casual sightings of people you know than I’ve experienced in the past and I’m sorry about that. Unless you made previous plans to meet, chances were that you wouldn’t see them, so I missed saying hello to some people I’d hoped to.

Ultimately, the conference is tiring (okay, exhausting is more accurate) and largely filled with bonhomie and affection and good wishes for each other’s success. We all feel passionately about this business. We all care, too. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of that.

Big takeaway for me from RWA 2009:  A bridge was built that I think could be very productive for both entities.  I’m looking forward to exploring some exciting new territories.

-Sandy AAR

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8 Responses to RWA: Sandy’s Take

  1. Tee says:

    Excellent personal recap of the highlights of the convention, Sandy. I’ve never really had a desire to attend one of these shindigs, but this year’s live updates from Lynn and you had me wishing I was closer in proximity so that I could have at least joined everyone “in the bar.” Ain’t technology grand?

  2. AAR Heather says:

    It’s good to know that romance sales are doing so well. Maybe it will inspire publishers to take more of a chance on something that’s just a little outside the norm in terms of setting in the romace world.
    I’m glad that you had a wonderful and productive time there.

  3. xina says:

    Nice recap Sandy! For the most part, it sounds like a great place to have spent time with so many who share the love of the romance novel. As for the Washington Post article, I didn’t think it was entirely good or bad, but much better than most pieces out there lately.

  4. Susan/DC says:

    I very much enjoyed meeting with Sandy, Lynn, and Jane from AAR and having a chance to talk to Real, Live Authors, all of whom were exceedingly gracious. Waiting on line to get into the literacy signing I complimented one woman on her cute baby, and the woman turned out to be Lydia Joyce. I told Julia Quinn that I very much liked “Mr. Cavendish, I Presume” and she said it was lovely to get positive feedback since so many people did not care for it. Madeline Hunter invited me to a post-signing event in her room with Claudia Dain, Suzanne Enoch, Karen Rose, and others, and I was practically giddy with excitement. At the event both Ms. Dain and Ms. Enoch were wearing their name tags, so I told them both how much I’d enjoyed their books (true) but told the third woman standing next to them that I was sorry but I did not know her. Turned out she was Stephanie Laurens — typical of me to not recognize one of the RWA’s best-selling authors. All in all I had a lovely time and just wish I’d been able to attend more of the events. Thanks so much to Sandy and everyone at AAR for reporting.

  5. AAR Sandy says:

    We would have loved to have you at the bar, Tee! And, Heather, I did hear some rumblings about being open to new time periods, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. xina, you said it re the WaPo article. Susan/DC as always it was great seeing you and sounds like you had a great time at the post-signing gathering!

  6. LeeB. says:

    Sandy: Thanks for the nice report.

    One thing I’m curious about are the books. I know at the Literacy Signing people buy them, but can you get freebies elsewhere?

  7. AAR Sandy says:

    Yes, there are other freebies at publisher-sponsored signings, but they are only open to paid conference attendees.

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