What, it’s 1:30 in the morning so technically it’s Thursday, and that’s about as inspirational a title as you’ll get. Jane and I are eating M&Ms and drinking water after a loud and danceful evening of piano bars, tequila, beer, and really, really loud music. My ears are going to ring until Sunday.

Jane and I made it over to the conference center today around breakfast time, and even though this is my second RT, I was surprised by how many people I recognized and how many people recognized me. I saw Beth Ciotta (whose hair looks fabulous) when we were registering, and she’s co-hosting the Mr. Romance competition. According to Roxanne St. Claire, this is a good thing, as Ciotta is holy shit funny. Now I’m totally looking forward to it.

Then, as Jane and I walked to the restaurant, a lady turned around, gasped, and said, “Are you… Jane from Dear Author?” Totally unexpected and very flattering – so Jane invited her to breakfast with us. Turns out Jill (Hi Jill!) had to get to a session so she didn’t get to witness the mammoth omelette of hugeness (I know, such a pity). I was stupidly pleased that Jane was recognized within 10 minutes of walking in the door.

Our first panel together was titled Historical Romance: Giving the Readers What they Want, and featured Jane and me, Kathe from RT Magazine with Christina Cook/Kristi Astor moderating. Kathe has reviewed over 6000 books, and has a huge docket of romance to review each month. Her perspective – she’s not a fan of the Regency and adores books set in locations outside of England – was interesting, especially when we talked about the books and authors we most looked forward to this year.

Kathe also brought up something I hadn’t thought about until she said so: that reading, much like writing, is a solitary activity, and events like RT allow readers to access a community of other readers devoted to the same material.

And Jane pointed out afterward that outside of RT, sites like Dear Author and ours are another facet of that community of solitary readers finding one another.

After that session, we took a break for lunch and complete quiet, and then I co-… co-what? Co-hosted? Co-captained? Co-deine? I was on a panel with Ron Hogan about Social Networking and Media as marketing tools for authors. We touched on Twitter, Facebook, and other reading communities online, and discussed the pitfalls and strengths of using them as a platform for marketing oneself.

Ron made the comparison to “hard sell” tactics online as equal to the irritation in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie gets his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring and the whole secret message turns out to be “a crummy commercial.”

Then a woman who entered late identified herself as a bookseller and asked how she could use Twitter and Facebook in her business. I don’t know why more bookstores or booksellers aren’t on Twitter but it would seem, as Ron put it, to be the new media version of hand selling: offering coupons, tips or sales alerts via Twitter to readers and bookstore customers, for example.

I met up with Jane at the ebook signing in the ballroom, where there were dozens of authors signing cover flats and getting ready to meet fans – who lined up all the way down the hall about 30 minutes prior to the doors opening. Is it me or is an ebook signing sort of an oxymoron of sorts? Or a pastiche of old book marketing techniques body slamming a new digital medium and coming out with both parties confused? I mean, there were some eager fans at the signing who were SO excited to meet the authors, which is absolutely cool, but signing? Digital books? With what, fiber optic pens? I have to confess, I’ve been pondering if there’s anything more appropriate or in line with digital media to allow ebook authors and fans to interact in a similar format to the print authors, and I haven’t come up with it. I am liking the fiberoptic pen idea, though.

After a brief meeting with Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks, who told us about several very cool publications on the schedule in the coming months (which I would talk about but she asked me not to so, yes, I’m a heartless, soulless tease) Jane and I headed out to dinner and then dueling pianos. My ears are still ringing and it’s 2am. This is NOT normal for me.

The cool elements of RT are still in place: very enthusiastic romance readers who are so excited to meet authors whose books they love. Roxanne St. Claire was telling me earlier how cool it was that after her session this morning, attendees came up to her to say they’d been at the session because they loved her latest book and they wanted to meet her. I can’t imagine that would ever, ever get old. Enthusiasm is definitely scarce in a bad publishing economy, and seeing it everywhere – wings, leather, corsets, bookmarks, pens, chocolate, and all – is reassuring for me in an unexpected way.


Romantic Times

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  1. 1
    KatherineB says:

    Got that ‘wish I was there’ feeling!

    Now I have to ponder how one would sign a digital book… special watermark? Steganography?

  2. 2
    ev says:

    wings, leather, corsets, bookmarks, pens, chocolate, and all – is reassuring for me in an unexpected way.

    I’ll take one of each please!!

    As for digital book signings- what if they show that they have to ebook and then they can get a signed cover? I would end up framing those myself.

  3. 3
    Elise Logan says:

    I like ev’s idea of demonstrating ownership and getting a signed cover – but you could do the same thing by having a “proof of purchase” certificate that cape with each book, so you wouldn’t have to flop out the file. We could all have scrapbooks of author-signed covers.

    Glad you are having fun – though I now have visions of the intersection of “piano bar” and “really, really loud music.”  My ears are ringing in sympathy.

  4. 4
    Tammy says:

    Ron made the comparison to “hard sell” tactics online as equal to the irritation in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie gets his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring and the whole secret message turns out to be “a crummy commercial.”

    As both an aspiring author and an enthusiastic reader, I have very mixed opinions about social networking technologies such as Twitter.  I get its value as a marketing tool, but I’m … can I be honest here?  I’m SO burned out on it already.

  5. 5
    Anj says:

    I would say getting a signed cover would be fun for ebooks.

    Or maybe the authors can have promo materials or postcards available for signing. They would be easy to carry and store, but still important to the book.

  6. 6
    ev says:

    I have promo materials that other authors have given away and as much as i like them, I think a signed cover would do two things- allow display of the cover (for interested readers and a cool way to know your library/inventory, and two, be really cool art work!!

  7. 7
    SonomaLass says:

    I like the signed cover idea, especially since some e-books have very interesting cover art.  More so than some print books, I find.  Of course there’s also a lot of stock imagery, but some people like to collect autographs, and covers take up a lot less room than books.

  8. 8
    Kelc says:

    Fibreoptic pen, wicked cool…I’d buy one.

    Tammy – I’m with you…Twitter has burned me out and I follow one person and check it bi-weekly. I just can’t see the appeal. Maybe because I have no friends on Twitter twittering me…even Facebook has lost its appeal.

    I’d much rather go to an author’s webpage and check out news than set-up an account somewhere hoping to catch snippets in a timely manner.

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