Monday, April 21, 2008

Romantic Times Convention: It was the Best of Times It Was the Blurst of Times...

Sorry, I do not know how my husband's Simpson's reference slipped in there...

Anyway - back from RT and I think I've recovered enough to give a little summary of the sights and sounds. I was a part of a series panel and we learned that while many of the publishers suffered a slump the last two years, thanks to the US economy, Harlequin managed to gain a 2% increase in sales. Probably in large part due to the ebook transition. Lots of lines at Harlequin are buying - including a new Young Adult division of MIRA. These books won't come out like series, but more on a "we get a good book we will sell it" basis.

The conference is really really leaning towards writers these days and I heard it's because as a reader conference it just wasn't bringing in the number of readers that it used to. So, now they are pulling from the big pool of aspiring writers. I have NO clue how effective the workshops are.

There is a lot of cringe factor - for me, anyway. The male cover models and they way they are treated by the conference attendees is really a little gross. But there is also a lot of celebration of the genre. RT truly reflects what's hot in the genre - so there was lots of paranormal/erotica fans there and as such - lots of ebook fans.

My main feeling walking away is that it's like Star Trek writers going to Comiccon. There are three thousand rabid fans at that conference, who will dress up in Spock ears and only speak Vulcan. But Star Trek has a viewership of millions - and the same is true about RT. The average romance reader and certainly, my average reader or the series romance average reader was not there.

But fairies, vampires and voracious readers of the genre were very well represented.


Maureen McGowan said...

I'm secretly dying to go to an RT convention, but in many ways there are only two circumstances in which I'd like to be there. One would be as a popular and in-demand-for-booksignings author (so I could bask in a little glory)... and the second would be if I could borrow Harry Potter's invisibility cloak when it gets to cringe-worthy.

It's so hard for me to reconcile my warring thoughts that while the RT conference celebrates the genre, it also seems to perpetuate all the worst misconceptions about romance writers and readers, too.

Tough call, and never having been, I can't really come down on one side or the other.

I also liked Eileen Rendahl's advice to you before you went... Find your posse, stick with them, and dance like a maniac. (Sorry to Eileen if I'm misquoting.) Doing RT like that sounds fun, too. A chance to hang with friends, let your hair down and be crazy without worrying too much about what people think. (And then go for coffee in the early morning hours still dressed in your fairy ball costume because you never went to bed.) It strikes me as less business and more party than the RWA conferences so that kind of behaviour is more acceptable, and frankly, that kind of behaviour is fun once and a while ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posse idea.

Count me in about ten years from now..

Molly O'Keefe said...

You're right Maureen - it is something you do have to be in the mood for - or get in the mood for and being pregnant I was sort of stuck with sprite at the bar. It is fun once in a while to totally let down your hair and you really don't have to worry about how you're coming off with that crowd - that's for sure.

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