A belated Friday update. I was out most of the day and fell onto the bed in an exhausted stupor so I failed to bring up the big update. I met with Romance Novel TV ladies, Maria and Marisa . They are twins and sometimes referred to as the M&Ms. These two ladies are professional producers of tv shows for over 25 years and decided as freelancers that they should be doing something they love. Romance Novel TV was created as a result of that. They are a big supporter of midlist and new authors and hope that their programming can help generate word of mouth sales for those authors. Their experiences have been hugely positive and they noted that interviewing writers was such a joy because writers are articulate and have a great story to tell.
After I met with Romance Novel TV, I moseyed down to the Harlequin/Avon booksigning. The booksignings are in one shared room with a curtain between the two publishing houses. There are small tables set up for the authors, with each author signing for a period of 30 minutes. Because the books are free, there is rarely a minute that an author is alone. Avon gave away USB drives shaped like lipstick and had a raffle (free as well) for a Sony Reader. I signed up but when I got back to the room, I noticed that I gave them the wrong end of the raffle ticket. Duh!
Rachel Gibson and Julia Quinn chatting on the second floor gathering area
The Harlequin room was set up the same way as the Avon room with tables lining the perimeter, but there was also a big poster behind each author with a cover of their book and their name. It was a great and easy way to identify who was sitting where.
Eloisa James signing books in the hall for a grateful fan
After the Harlequin/Avon signing, I then went down to the Passionate Ink Luncheon. I sat with Tina Trevaskis, Sue Grimshaw and Sybil. The rumblings about RWA hating erotica were low but present. I disagree with the idea that RWA hates erotica. I think that RWA may want to shed itself of epublishers (based on the wording of the clauses), but that the changes in the PAN and Publisher recognition clauses would be the same if it were inspiritationals or any other sub genre that was solely e publishing. This is my take on it and nothing that I have heard.
The Passionate Ink Luncheon featured Jessica Faust, agent, and Sue Grimshaw, buyer for Borders. Jessica Faust explained that a few years ago, just being the first one to get an erotic romance manuscript on the desks of editors was enough but that today the market is really tightening up. It sounds like everything needs a hook. She also said that because erotic romance audience is capped that it is unlikely a pure erotic romance author will ever make the big lists. Sue Grishaw agreed with many of Faust’s points saying that she saw similar sales trends in the stores.
I had the opportunity to meet Tommy Dreiling, the buyer for Barnes and Noble, and he also said that the trends are similar to those reported at Borders. Paranormal romances are strong but not increasing at the pace that they had before. Historical romance sales were author driven, meaning that some authors like Sabrina Jeffries, were selling tremendously well but others were not. Dreiling said that in regards to the erotic romance that Barnes and Noble would like better done covers and that if they are too outre, Barnes and Noble would pass because they can’t have those books face out on the shelves and there are many erotic romances covers that will never be placed at front of store.
After the PINK luncheon which seemed to go on and on and on (it was over 2 hours!), I headed for the Berkley signing. The line was tremendously long. I couldn’t believe it but assumed it was for Nora. Once the doors were opened, however, the line moved pretty quickly. I got to meet Cindy Hwang in person and we talked about Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh and a new author she was excited about, Kate Noble. I heard more about Nalini Singh’s angel series which she said is darker but fascinating. Sadly this book that Cindy was telling me about is not due out until 2009. They are contemplating a trade paperback release followed by a mass market. I put in my two cents for a mass market.
Ruth Ryan Langan
the Kensington signing (it was cancelled)
After the Berkley signing, I hoofed it upstairs to change. I had a 4:30 meeting with Tina Trevaskis, Sue Grimshaw and Claudia Dain. I had just read Claudia Dain’s The Courtesan’s Daughter (due out in September) before I left for the conference so it was great to see her. We talked about the series and it sounds like there are many “Courtesan” books in the making. She solicited title contributions for her next book that was currently titled Courtesan’s Council. I liked the alliteration but someone else offered up the Courtesan’s Secret instead. The series will feature a famous courtesan who was able to be clever, beautiful and smart enough to snag an Earl. The first book is the story of her daughter’s mishaps in falling in love and trying to get someone to fall in love with her, for who she is, not because she is “Sophia’s daughter.”
We then left for the Random House party which was held at the Mansion at Turtle Creek and met with Shawn O’Gallagher, the publicist. A gorgeous redhead, Shawn told us how Random House really believed that the internet was the future for book promotions, particularly with the declining print coverage. While I was talking to Julie Kenner about adoption, Wendy told me that Judith McNaught was right behind me. I almost fell over in shock. Almost Heaven with Ian and Elizabeth is one of my favorite romances. I think I’ve read it a dozen times and Whitney My Love was one of my first romances. McNaught is very much the lady, elegantly attired but terribly nice.
Jane and Judith McNaught
The Random House party overlapped with the Berkley party and so Sybil, Wendy, Kristie and I hotfooted it back to the Hyatt. There I met JR Ward, Claudia Dain, Marjorie Lui and other Berkley authors. Tommy Dreiling and Jayne Ann Krentz had a spirited discussion about erotic romance covers as Dreiling had indicated in a PAN workshop that he and the BAMM representative would like to see the covers dialed back.
Sybil and JR Ward
Finally, it was off to the Harlequin party. Sybil stayed behind to party in the bar with Kensington authors but Kristie, Wendy and I went to the Fairmont hotel. When we walked into the big ballroom, there were hundreds of people. It felt like an upscale prom. Very upscale. There was an open bar, hor deurves and a dessert bar. Harlequin seemed to have spared no expense and once the music started (which was shortly after 8), the dancing started. Everyone seemed to be at this party. JR Ward was boogie down in her black pant and sequined black cocktail jacket. Her blonde hair was swept up in a complicated ‘do. Nora Roberts, Ann Marie Winston (who looks like one of the models on her books), Ruth Ryan Langan, and Laura Reeth, publicist, were shaking their thing all over the place. Nora and Ann Marie can really dance.
Caroline Linden, Eve Kenin/Silver and Ann Christopher were hanging out with their agent Soshanna (sp?) who looked incredibly elegant. In all, everyone at the Harlequin party seemed to be having a riotous time. I saw no one behaving badly despite the copious amounts of liquor being consumed. It was actually infectious watching every one seem so jubilant. We stayed until 11:30 and then headed home. It was a long day but a fun one. I’ll post pictures later. I’ve got to get ready for a meeting with Julia Quinn this morning. She wants to tell me about the HarperCollins digital initiatives.