Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Conventions

Dear Author

2010 RT Wrap Up

I had written an entire blog post about RT 2010 and lost 10 paragraphs because of the [insert your own profanity] WordPress blogging app on the iPad. I think my tongue is bloody from biting it to prevent the rage from spilling forth. Probably, though, it was for the best. I will now be ultra concise (and given the length of the post, that’s a very good thing).

I attended two panels:

  • Vamps with Charlaine Harris, Kerrilyn Sparks, Cathy Clamp and Mario Acevedo
  • Demystifying e Book Contracts with Ethan Ellenburg, Elaine English, Raelene Gorlinksy

Both of these panels were summarized for RT and the full reports can be read at the Romantic Times website sometime in the near future. The highlights of those are as follows:

Vamps

Harris enjoys reading Sparks but isn’t writing that kind of story. There were no hints given regarding the future of the Sookie relationship status but it sounds very tenuous. Don’t look for an HEA from Harris.

Sparks writes about what she finds romantic which means men that are gentleman and treat the heroine with kindness and gentleness. She also tries to write funny stories.

Clamp tries to write about two equals even though she thinks that many readers like a strong heroine but want the hero stronger. She says that the readers who write to her represent a small minority of the overall readership. She realizes that there are many dissatisifed and satisfied readers who will never communicate with her.

Acevedo spent most of the time blushing about the sex talk (which is really mild).

Contracts

Don’t be afraid to negotiate but don’t be an ass about it either was the message from the panelists. Get a publishing attorney, not a general attorney, to review your contract if you have questions. Understand that publishers are writing the contract that best suits their needs and purpose. Definitely use Google and other resources but understand that book contracts are confusing and complex. Don’t kick yourself if you don’t understand it. If you sign with a new epublisher and are concerned about terms, bring those up. New epublishers may not be sophisticated in the contract drafting but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are are trying to cheat you. Conversely, don’t hold your nose and sign when you aren’t sure of what is going on.

I also participated in two panels

  • Save the Contemporary Reader Roundtable
  • EReader Panel

Save the Contemporary
This was a small but fun panel. We had three authors: Julie James, Louisa Edwards, and Victoria Dahl. We really engaged the readers and asked them to share with us what they liked and didn’t like about books. Most of the readers liked small town settings but it the books represent a sanitized version of the small towns. One person wondered whether small towns was code for white, Christian.

Another person shared that a submission of hers was turned down when she wanted to write something much darker with racial implications.

We talked about covers. One reader mentioned she really likes it when the covers include plot elements like the cover of “On the Steamy Side” by Louisa Edwards.

Sarah Wendell, my co moderator, prompted Julie James to tell the story about the dress on the cover of “Something About You.” In the story, the heroine wears a backless fuschia dress exactly as it is depicted on the cover. This is no moment of serendipity. Instead, James had written the character as wearing a sexy black dress but when she received the cover image, she changed the dress of the heroine to match the cover.

It was a great time and I hope that we have more of these in the future. The readers were so engaged. I could have talked for hours with everyone.

eReader Panel

The comment I heard after the panel was that they were more confused than ever about what ereader to buy. It is confusing. We brought Sony, Nook, Kindle, the new Kobo Reader, iPhone, iPad, and netbooks. We brought up 8 things to consider when deciding on what ereader to buy (I’ll post those next Sunday). The easiest device to use was determined to be the Kindle. The cheapest is the new Kobo Reader.

There were things I liked about the Kobo Reader and things I didn’t. The Kobo is lightweight and I loved the quilted matt back finish. For $149, it’s a good eink reader but the software program could definitely make it better. Sarah and I thought the screen resolution was not as good as the Sony Pocket Edition. I was suprised that though the Kobo has bluetooth capabilities, it is only for the purpose of connecting Reader with a blackberry. I couldn’t tether it to the Macbook for over the air syncing of content. Weird.

All Romance Ebooks gave away a Sony Reader Touch and offered up three coupon codes.   For each book listed below you can get a 50% discount.   The codes are case sensitive.

  • What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss -janeRT2010
  • Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis – sarahRT2010
  • Stray by Rachel Vincent – angelaRT2010

Overall Impressions

RT is a day/night conference. By day, it is mostly a writer’s conference with five or six writer panels for every one reader event. By night, it is a spectacle of fairy wings, vampire teeth, pleather, leather, and latex. There were the not very original coterie of non romance readers there to gawk and draw conclusions about the romance readership as a whole.

There were only 6 Mr. Romance contestants. I heard four didn’t show up and at least three were last minute additions including one who referred to this as another “dance gig.” One of the contestants was a guy who had come to the conference to learn to write romances. Andrew (whose last name I can’t recall at this moment) had written a book on the love lives of philosophers and apparently it was 30 stories of tragicly bad romances. Andrew began reading romances for the positive endings and would like to see his name on the cover, not necessarily his face.

The winner, Jamie, seemed like a sweet boy for whom a cover modeling gig seems perfectly suited to his skill set. Read into that what you will.

Mr. Romance 2009, Charles Paz?, got up on stage and began lamenting the mean girl bloggers of 2009 who posted his picture and made comments about his person suggesting that perhaps he was not their vision of a cover model for romance books. Apparently this affected Charles so adversely that he was unable to get out of bed. Fortunately, the facebook fans were wholly encouraging and gave him a reason to rise in the morning. Charles then broke down and started crying, sobbing almost. In fact, there were more tears shed on stage of Mr. Romance 2010 than at the last Miss America pageant (more cogent answers at the Miss America pageant as well). You mean girl bloggers, ruining everything. (As an aside, no one I talked to even remembered seeing posts about the winner from 2009. All I could remember was that he was short in 2009 and he is still short today).

Everyone agreed that RT has become more subdued and less sexualized. I attribute that to the fact that the Ellora’s Cavemen no longer roam the halls, barechested and eager. EC did hire local strippers for EC party. The rumor is that they are holding back the real cavemen for the fall EC Con.

Probably the best reason to attend RT is for the fellowship of readers. There isn’t anything more fun than talking with others, in person, about your favorite book, is there?

Dear Author

Friday Midday Links: Courtney Milan’s Win Win for RWA

Jason Pinter wonders whether being online and so accessible removes the mystique of an author and thereby reduces one’s ability to sell books.

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More authors are getting into the casual gaming platform.   Orchid Games released Heartwild Solitaire Classic and recruited a few authors to write short stories that players are allowed to read after winning a game of solitaire.   The game and the stories are free.   Sherry Thomas has allowed us to host her free story here.   Right click to save the RTF on your computer or click the link to read the story in a browser.

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Courtney Milan has a great idea on how to resolve the business between RWA and Harlequin over Harlequin’s partnership with Author Solutions.   It reads like a win win to me.   Milan’s solution involves requiring all the Harlequin lines to be separate publishers and requiring Harlequin not refer any authors solicited from the conference to Dell Arte Press.

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October was a good month for book sales.   Nearly every category saw a positive increase.   The increase in adult hardcover is probably attributable to Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.

  • Adult paperback increased 37.5% to $130.4 million.
  • Children’s/YA hardcover fell 0.5% to $87.9 million.
  • Children’s/YA paperback increased 20.2% to $52.7 million.
  • Adult hardcover rose 6.3% to $259.9 million.
  • Adult mass market was down 1.8% to $61.2 million.
  • Audiobooks dropped 1.8% to $19.7 million.
  • Ebooks were up 254% to $18.5 miillon.

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Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster blames a soft market on the dismal S&S sales year:

Reidy noted that the bookselling marketplace "has been truly lackluster, and year-on-year sales at most of our major customers have declined significantly. Books from many of our continuing authors, as well as our higher-margin backlist, are selling at levels well below their peak." And although S&S had solid gains in its conservative and teen markets and strong performances in the U.K. and Canada, "the lower sales volume attributable to the soft marketplace was impossible for us to overcome."

I have a feeling the year end balance sheet at Simon & Schuster is grim.