Looking for a Few Good Women (or Men)

image1fullWhen I was at the RWA conference this past summer, someone asked me how long I’d been reviewing online. “Since 1998,” I replied. Then saw the double take. “1998???”

Yep, that long. I’ve watched AAR go from renegade to respected institution. I’ve seen perceptions of online reviewers change from the Rodney Dangerfield-esque days of “No Respect” to, well, respect. I’ve reviewed in three separate decades of my life, starting in my twenties, continuing through the entire decade of my thirties, and now entering my forties. I’ve watched trends, authors, and publishers come and go.

The point of this is not that I am getting old (my kids remind me of that often), or that I’m a dinosaur by Internet standards, but that I’ve seen a lot of people come and go over twelve years. Not only on AAR, but elsewhere. Life’s complicated, and it’s busy. People have babies, lose jobs, get jobs, move, and burn out. Hang around awhile, and you’ll appreciate what it takes to maintain your interest, your passion, and your love of romance year after year. (Just ask Ellen, who has been at AAR longer than I).

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Publishers: Take my Money. Please.

kindlebooksDisclaimer:  This is a rant from a consumer’s point of view.  No wait, a pissed off consumer’s point of view.

Dear Publishers:

As one of your very best customers who routinely buys multiple books each month, you should care what I think, right?

So, here goes:  Stop making me feel as if I’m doing something wrong – something lesser – when I buy an eBook.  That’s exactly how I feel when you:

  • Hold back an eBook release date until after a print book is published.
  • Eliminate any discounts – the kind of discounts found everywhere on print books – by your stupid Agency Pricing model.
  • And, God forbid, charge more for an eBook than a print book. What – I mean what the hell – are you thinking?

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Some Good News and Some (Temporary) Not So Good

Here’s the good news:  On Monday, September 6th, AAR will be operating solely on our own spiffy dedicated server.

Now for the (temporary) not so good news:

In order to make the transfer, the site will be unavailable for message board posting from 5 p.m. eastern time on Friday, September 3rd until Monday morning, September 6th.  The site will also not be updated with new reviews or blogs on Saturday.

We apologize for the inconvenience this is causing our readers, but if we have to be down, then a holiday weekend is probably the best time to do it, right?

And the upside to AAR being housed on its own server will be felt immediately in faster load times and a buh-bye to those irritating message board posting problems that have been making us all cringe for some time.

AAR has been running traffic levels for quite some time that made getting our own dedicated server desirable and we’re delighted we’re able to do it.  And, again, we apologize for the inconvenience but think you will find it worth the downtime on Monday morning.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

- Sandy AAR

RWA: Sandy’s Thoughts

Blythe and Lynn have already done such a great job of summing up our RWA experience, that I’ll only add a few personal notes.

I always have a wonderful time at the conference, but I agree with Blythe’s assessment that everyone seemed less stressed and ready to enjoy themselves.  It was, in fact, all good.

I will add that Sherry Thomas’ Rita win was one that made me very, very happy.  I’ve been championing the author since her debut and I think it’s a safe bet that Sherry will very shortly be taking her place as one of romance’s greats.  I was also pleased, as were Blythe and Lynn, to see Julia Quinn inducted into the Hall of Fame for three Rita wins in the same category.

Everyone kept asking for gossip and most of it I had, I wasn’t free to share. (Conversation killer, right there.)  Still, it all goes back to Blythe’s observation: We were there to celebrate and share the happy and that’s mostly what we ended up doing.

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RWA 2010!

disney Next week is the national conference for Romance Writers of America (RWA). Blythe Barnhill, Sandy Coleman and I will all be attending, and hopefully learning a lot. Last year was my first time at RWA, and while the conference is almost overwhelmingly huge, I had a blast getting to meet some wonderful authors (both published and aspiring), reviewers, and other book industry types. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the publishers have in store for us going forward.

We’ll be there with our laptops, and will be blogging from the conference. In addition, if you want to follow what’s going on throughout the day, I’d suggest keeping an eye on Twitter. We’ll be doing most of our tweeting from the @allaboutromance account. In addition, you can find us all individually at: @blytheaar, @LynnAAR,and @SandyAAR.
I’m getting into Orlando late Tuesday afternoon, and Blythe and Sandy will both be arriving Wednesday.

Now here’s the important part for you: Is there something from an author or publisher(or about Romanceworld in general) that you would like to know? If so, put it in the comments below, and we’ll try our best to help you out and get you the news you want to be reading.

Hope everyone is having a lovely summer!

– Lynn Spencer

Poll: Author Behavior and Your Buying Decisions

valentine2The way I see it the Internet community amounts to a workplace for romance authors. Every single reader who hangs out in Romancelandia is a potential customer for the books authors want to sell.

Few of us these days are spared the workplace and most of us have learned the hard way how to get along – or not to get along – in a work situation. Here’s a big one: You don’t always get to say what you really think.  And this one can be even harder:  Sometimes you smile when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. In short, you learn to moderate yourself in the workplace and save the real you for family and friends.

That’s just how life works.

I’ve been noticing lately that some authors – mostly newbies – don’t seen to play by these rules.  They are so out there and so unmoderated in the way they post on message boards, twitter, and blogs, that they’re inviting you to love them or hate them.  And for everyone who loves them, there are going to be those who don’t – and those who don’t have book buying budgets, too. And here’s the crux of it for me: Why would you risk that when you don’t have to?

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Monday is a Big Day at AAR

curtainsThe curtain goes up on AAR version 3.0 on Monday morning.

We have updated our look and changed our home page and we’re excited to get everyone’s reactions. But, despite our cosmetic changes, rest assured, AAR is going to continue to stick to what we do best: Insightful, honest reviews; author interviews; useful features; and commentary on the genre we all love.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be streamlining our navigation and removing some outdated links, as well as cutting some features and putting others on hiatus for the summer, all of which reflect our desire to be leaner and meaner.   We can’t do everything and want to focus our energy in areas in which we know we excel.

And under the category of “it’s about time,” we’ll also soon be moving the site to its own server which will make AAR load faster than ever and eliminate the frustrating downtime we know you’ve all experienced.

So, please check in on Monday to check out our new look and enter a cool giveaway from Avon books.  Want to tell us what you think?  There will be an open thread on the blog for your comments and feedback.  We can’t wait to show you our new look.

- Sandy AAR

Change Is Coming to AAR

balloonsYou heard it here first, folks:  AAR is about to undergo a facelift.

Okay, more of a full facelift for the home page and discrete shots of botox and restalyne for the rest of the site.

Confusing, yes?  You won’t be on Monday, June 21st when our new design debuts.

We’ve worked hard with some super talented people to put together a new home page that better reflects the way people use the Web today. It’s clean and uncluttered and modern and we think it’s a winner.  As for the rest of the site, the basic layout will remain the same (coding issues – don’t ask), but there will be a new masthead and background throughout the site.  Yes, folks, it’s true.  The hammock is saying buh-bye.

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The Washington Romance Writers 2010 Retreat


How’s that for a picture? Two superstar authors feelin’ the love after a successful booksigning.

Hey, it was a moment for me, too.

Last weekend I attended the 2010 Washington Romance Writers Retreat and, it’s safe to say, a good time was had by all. The weekend started off in the traditional way: A multiple author booksigning at Turn the Page, a bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland, owned by Nora Roberts’ husband Bruce Wilder. The signing headliners were Nora herself, the great Charlaine Harris, and the equally great Roxanne St. Claire. According to reports from the store manager, the crowd was double that of the year before. Then, it was off to the retreat.

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Force-Feeding Romance: I’m Already Full, Thank You

a287f4cae1d145cc5411898a90e391a3One of the things romance readers share is the undeniable fact that we are all readers.  And, as the dedicated readers we all are, we are passionate about the books we love.

And, in that passion, we want readers to embrace those books.  Whether it’s because we’re seeking validation for our own tastes or – and I think this is the biggest motivator – we want others to experience the joy that we did when reading our favorite books, bringing others on board sometimes assumes monumental importance.

But here’s where I think a line gets crossed:  Some readers are so zealous and outspoken that those who don’t share the love may feel as if they are somehow suffering from some character defect by not embracing what seems to be the Official Romance Land Approved Syllabus.

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