Most important personal lesson learned this year? Even if it might be cost-effective, taking a 5:30 a.m. flight home that requires one to check out of the hotel by 3:00 a.m. is miserable. Aside from that, however, RWA 2010 was a wonderful experience.
I came in a day earlier than Sandy and Blythe, so I took the time to play at Epcot and to meet some of the wonderful folks I see online. One of the first people I saw upon arriving in Orlando was former AAR-er Megan Frampton, who is very funny in person. I also enjoyed spending time with blogger/author Keira Soleore and it was a thrill to meet Amanda McCabe whose novel, Countess of Scandal, got a DIK from me earlier this year. And then I got to meet Cara Elliott and AnimeJune and Kristie(J) and… You get the idea.
After Sandy and Blythe arrived, we spent time catching up. Getting to talk to people who really get my book obsession was a treat. Since we live scattered across the country, I wish I had more time to spend with Sandy and Blythe, but we had a great time. This carried over into the blogger bash hosted by SuperWendy. I’m not going to even bother trying to list everyone I talked to there because I don’t want to leave anyone out. Suffice it to say that I drank good wine and had a blast talking books with other booklovers.
While I enjoyed the social aspects of the conference, I also found time this year to drop in on a few workshops and to learn some interesting little tidbits. In terms of workshops, I find it interesting to hit the publisher spotlights so that I can hear what publishers are planning or what they see as big trends among readers. I also like to hit some of the workshops that deal with marketing to readers or other issues that might interest someone viewing romance from a reader perspective.
Vicki Lewis Thompson and several Harlequin editors had a workshop on marketing across all of Harlequin’s various distribution channels. It was there that I learned that most readers in Japan just download everything to their cell phones, or that readers who subscribe to the mail order services you find on those cards that come in your series books tend to be older (average age=68) and more conservative than your average Harlequin reader. I also learned who buys all those baby books. Per Harlequin, baby books sell well, but they’re not as popular with Harlequin’s younger readers – hence the reason why you don’t see so many babies in the Blaze line which is favored by a younger crowd than some of the others. Hmm…this made me wonder: Will all those baby books start to fade away as today’s under-40 crowd starts to become a larger share of the market or as we get older, are we going to start craving the baby books?
The folks at Harlequin also mentioned that digital sales have really caught on and their releases in that format have been very popular. In addition to having a chance to meet and chat with Angela James, I also heard part of a presentation of hers. She is executive editor for Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital press, and she is very excited about the increasing popularity of ebooks. When I met Angela, Malle Vallik and Jenny Bullough, I had a great time with them because they’re fun people and they’re also clearly passionate about what they’re doing. I’ve enjoyed several books from the new Carina Press so far and I hope it can become a good, reliable source for some of those different, offbeat plots and settings that bring variety to the romance world.
I also enjoyed having a chance to catch up with the crew from Avon for a little bit. They are very excited about bringing Tessa Dare aboard, and also about the releases and new authors they have coming up over the next year. And at the Pocket spotlight, I got to hear fantastic news. I already knew they had signed Carrie Lofty, but they announced that Kris Kennedy would be writing medievals for them. Wendy the Superlibrarian and I may have been sitting in the back of the room with giant grins on our faces at this news. Pocket actually seems to be acquiring across a wide variety of subgenres, everything from women’s fiction to paranormal to romantic suspense and historical. One thing I appreciated about their spotlight is that the editors seemed to be a little more blunt than at others I’ve been to. Rather than being uniformly encouraging, I heard editors say that specific plot elements just really didn’t work for them or that (sadly) futuristics didn’t seem to sell well currently.
Even though I felt like I was on the run from sunrise to sunset every single day, I loved my time at RWA. I got to meet some wonderful people and put faces to the names that live in my Twitter or that create the books I adore. Despite my vows to the contrary, I still ended up with a box of books to ship home. And it was all capped off with the RITAs. I had fun tweeting the winners, but mostly I just enjoyed watching the show. Even if they did serve us chicken at every meal, it was good chicken at least, and I always got to eat in fabulous company.
Since it’s impossible to summarize a week in less than 1000 words, I’m sure I’m leaving something out, so if you have any questions, just ask! As for me, I’m already looking forward to New York City.
– Lynn Spencer