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.