Spring Fling, Part Deux: Conference Bugaloo

Today I gave my panel on online marketing and as usual I learned a ton from the audience so that the next time I give this talk it will be 230% better. 

First, I learned last night in the librarian meet and greet how much librarians rely on author web sites and how valuable they find book lists that link series and related books together. It seems there is a romance reader type they see very often who will come in and want to try a new author who has a few books published already, and they want to read them in the right order. And they want to check out and bring home the entire. Freaking. Backlist.  


The same librarian who told me about all the different ways she uses author websites, Monique from the Glenview Library, was also at my presentation today. She told me about signing up for Facebook updates from an author and finding little information about books, and a LOT of political ranting – which is what she did not want.

All of her stories and comments underscored the fact that the reader is a customer, and it is very important to know what the customer wants, and whether the author wants to give that to them.

Barbara Vey and I were looking at another author website after the panel, and she told me about one site she had visited and linked to from her site where the author was nude in her bio picture. Oh, my. If there’s a what-not-to-do, that might be number one in the Guide to Online Marketing: first, don’t be naked.

Second would be the site that several attendees talked about at the end where a frustrated author wished death, fire and rage and dismemberment upon many agents. Holy what-not-to-do.
Julia Quinn’s lunch keynote was very good – a collection of top 4 lists from the perspective of before and after publication, from the practical to the inspirational.

Highlights include:

Having a to do list gives you the illusion that you have some control over your life.

The only way to finish a book is to finish it.  The world is full of first chapters. 

You will never hurt your career by helping another author.

The only person who can stop a reader from reading your book is you.

Don’t forget to be proud of what you do.

The conference programs were mostly excellent. The Spring Fling has a very good balance between practical writing sessions and discussion of marketing, sales, inspirational advice, and author branding, which are equally important and I think necessary to develop concurrently. 

The best panels like Courtney Milan’s session on editing for voice involved audience exercise and very strong examples. Some speakers were prepared but dry, reading off a long series of notes. Others, like Elizabeth Hoyt, talked informally and engaged the audience in a conversation on the topic, which, since her topic was sex scenes, was a bucket of entertainment. 

The book signing was very cool as well – there are pictures on twitter of the long lines for Julia Quinn, Cherry Adair, and Simone Elkeles. A lot of young people turned out to meet Simone, which is very cool. And people brought me Bosoms to sign, which is always fun. 

Robyn Bachar was among those who asked me to sign her copy of the Bosoms, and she told me that her first book is coming out 11 May from Samhain. She’d learned about Samhain reading Smart Bitches, and is so excited to be a debut author. Another person I spoke with today told me an agent had just signed her, and she was being shopped to a few houses right now. Then I met someone who had just finished their manuscript and come up with a great idea for her next book. I don’t know what’s in the air at writing conferences but it’s so cool to see people enthusiastic and inspired and excited – and buying piles and piles of romance novels, too. 

If you are looking for good conferences to attend, the Spring Fling is definitely among the best I’ve attended – heck, come for the food alone. It’s been amazing. 

IPad substitution of the day: onion marketing! Yes! Every author needs to market their onions! Especially since the original name of Chicago, as I learned on Twitter last night, meant smelly onions. Also: Practical writing = practical erupting. Who knew? 

Aaand one more thing: I have four signed books to give away: Blythe Gifford’s His Border Bride, Julie James’ Something About You, Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Seduce a Sinner, and Carrie Lofty’s Scoundrel’s Kiss. Leave a comment about your writing or reading this weekend and you’re entered to win. 


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Carolyn says:

    Hearing about writer’s conferences always inspires me to pick up my most recent half-finished first draft.  Tonight’s plans are out the window—I’m writing!

  2. 2
    KimberlyD says:

    I just read my first Elizabeth Hoyt and coincidentally, its “To Seduce a Sinner.” But I borrowed it from my library and I’d love to own it (as well as any or all of the others!)

    needs28-Kimberly needs 28 new books ;)

  3. 3
    Bridget says:

    Reading today’s post makes me wish we had more events like that on my side of the world! This weekend I’m writing a dissertation on the role of Human Security in developing countries, but I don’t think that’s quite the kind of writing you’re looking for. So I’ll say that I’m re-reading Lisa Kleypas’ contemporaries and wishing I knew some Texas billionaires!

  4. 4
    Tikaanidog says:

    No writing here (well, except for classwork…) but I am takinga ‘study break’ to read Susan Carroll’s ‘The Night Drifter’. Hey, I can’t study ALL day, now can I????

  5. 5
    LL says:

    Thanks for the update.  Sounds like a blast. 

    Just finished “One Perfect Rose” by Mary Jo Putney, which was good,  and I’m starting “Splendid” by Julia Quinn.

  6. 6
    Silver James says:

    I’m working my way slowly through the Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance. Mammoth is right! Thank goodness it’s on my Kindle so I don’t have to lug it around. I’m just over 13K words into a short story I’m working on for an anthology series for The Wild Rose Press. Since I normally write paranormal, it’s fun to be playing with contemporary romance.

    Spring Fling does sound like a lot of fun and I love Chicago. I’ll have to put it on my radar for the day when I’m rich and famous. LOLOL!

  7. 7
    cories says:

    Spring Fling sounds great.  I love attending conferences, even the technical ones about medicine and science.  Aside from the seminars, networking and the swag, where else could I find esoteric geeky stuff like a bumper sticker that read “Heisenberg May Have Slept Here” (which is pretty funny to a physicist).

    Right now, I’m in the middle of a run of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books.  I’m reading “This Heart of Mine” and ” What I Did for Love” is next.

  8. 8
    Sam says:

    As a library employee it thrills me to death when a patron actually asks me a question about books. This covers the most common one. Someone will bring a book up and say “can you tell me which one is the next in the series?”. Usually I will see if the author has a website first thing.

  9. 9
    Diatryma says:

    I start a second job on Monday and am torn between getting everything else done before I run out of time and reading as much as humanly possible, which in my case is kind of a bit.  I am doing my best not to read the Balogh Bedwyn books.

  10. 10
    Suzy says:

    I’m re-reading

    Lover Avenged

    this weekend so I’m up to speed before

    Lover Mine

    comes out on Tuesday.

    Because you mentioned it earlier, I need to ask for the title of the Julia Quinn book you love beyond belief… I want to make sure that I’ve read it!! I’ve still got a few more of her earlier ones in my TBR mountain.

  11. 11
    Suzy says:

    never mind about the JQ book, I found the title in your “about me”

    Thanks & Next time, I will look before I post.

  12. 12
    Niveau says:

    She told me about signing up for Facebook updates from an author and finding little information about books, and a LOT of political ranting – which is what she did not want.

    The sad part is that I know EXACTLY which author she’s talking about here and I totally feel the same way. I don’t read said author’s books anymore, not after suffering through all those rants. I think authors need to choose, and choose early, about whether they want to use Facebook for professional or personal reasons, and stick to that choice. Because your readers? (Or at least this one?) Totally. Not. Interested. in your politics already.

    On the good-use-of-Facebook side, I read my first Elizabeth Hoyt novel because another author was doing a giveaway and posted about it there. I followed the link, won, and am now a pathetic fangirl who is spending her weekend cooped up with a copy of To Seduce a Sinner. Whee!

  13. 13
    Elizabeth says:

    I admire readers who want to complete an author’s entire backlist in the proper order.  I just read Jo Beverley’s Hazard this week, months after I read St. Raven; I’m attacking the Company of Rogues series as I come across them.

    Mostly, this weekend’s reading will be 200 pages of Tiya Miles’ Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom, for a college class.  My writing will likewise be for my fast-approaching finals, though I did work on the outlines for some stories earlier this afternoon.  And I’m coveting the name Shoeboots, from Ties That Bind, for someone fictional.

  14. 14
    John J. says:

    I’m trying to finish Betrayed by P.C./Kristen Cast in time to write a review for what I hope will be a good blog…but first the review.  :)  I also bought an Ellen Wittlinger book that won a Printz and a Lambada for 3 bucks today…along with L.A.Candy to see if Lauren Conrad can really write.  An interesting Saturday to be sure.

  15. 15
    Marsha says:

    I actually don’t have a lot of reading on my agenda for the weekend because it is (not typically) full of social gatherings.  Instead, I’m proclaiming loud and proud that I’m a romance reader when the talk turns, as it does, to books.  I’ve pressed Something About You into a few hands and have been as voluble as the wine consumed will allow about my preferences and lack of shame.

  16. 16

    I’m reading Count to Ten by Karen Rose…next up after that…You Can’t Hide by Karen Rose.

    *err don’t know if I should let you know that I already have Something About You by Julie James…it was a great read!

  17. 17
    Tae says:

    since I’m not a writer, but heavy reader I’ve been re-reading the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs.  I skim and read the parts I enjoy.  I just finished Silver Borne and I realize as much as I love Mercy Thompson, I think I like the Anna & Charles books more. 

    Also reading a mm Chris Owen book.

    Just finished Changes by Jim Butcher, the latest Harry Dresden Files book.

    And I am looking forward to the newest JR Ward book coming out this week, yes I know they’re not the best written, but they are crackalicious and I’m addicted.

  18. 18
    JudeTheObscure says:

    I marathoned three books from Victoria Dahl’s Tumble Creek Series, so my weekend is off to a spectacular start. In fact, I might re-read the third one (Lead Me On). I can’t wait for your review of it, either, since it was your reviews that led me to her, originally. As has been the case for so many of my recent purchases!

  19. 19
    Ann Stephens says:

    Am loving every word about Spring Fling! Am jealous I’m not there!!

  20. 20
    Daisy says:

    Sounds like Spring Fling has been good to you this weekend.  I haven’t done much reading today – sat in the rain at a track meet instead.  Oh the joys of having a teenager in the house!

  21. 21
    Sherri says:

    Spring Fling sounds like fun!

    I’m with your librarian – it’s a huge help when an author website not only lists their entire backlist but the order of each series (I’m one of those who has to read a series in order). It’s even handier when the library includes that information in their own system!

    Another thing I’d love for author websites to offer… up-to-date information on their next release!  I was looking forward to JR Ward’s Lover Mine but had no idea it was due out this month. It was only reading the comments on a blog that I learned about it. It lead me to check up on other books I was waiting for and found out two of those were also about to be released (and neither author website had that info). How can I buy or pre-order something if I don’t know it’s available?

  22. 22
    Alley says:

    I so want to go to one of these conferences some day—just sounds like a blast.

    My reading this weekend (and week, to be honest) is plowing through Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series.  Not my favorite series, but I’m having fun with the spies and seduction.

  23. 23
    Elizabeth says:

    Just passed the 65,000 word mark (65,016 to be exact) on the contemporary romance I’m writing. Trying to ride the momentum for another half hour at least…

  24. 24
    Liz says:

    Reading?  Writing?  I’m looking forward to being able to do both of these things again now that I’ve defended my master’s thesis and will be graduating this May.  Who knows, I might even get some sleep!

    I miss books…

  25. 25
    Kim in Hawaii says:

    Your posts inspired me to pull the JQ books from my TBR pile, so I am reading What Happens In London. 

    Plus an author in Texas connected me with a reader in California who is visiting Hawaii.  I took her on a brief tour of the coastline while her husband played golf.  We traded stories of being in a small RWA chapter … funny how romance can bring friends together!

  26. 26
    krsylu says:

    Today, I put off writing a book review for my blog. Instead, I finished Soulless, by Gail Carriger, and began Return To Sender, by Julia Alvarez. The former is a smokin’-hot steam-punk (pun intended) paranormal romance recommended to me by the (incidentally male) Curator of Education of a local military museum. The latter, Return To Sender, is a Juvenile Fiction (why, yes, I AM a librarian!) novel on the South Carolina Book Award Nominee list. About half-way through that and enjoying it thoroughly!

    The thing is, I LIKE the book I’m supposed to be reviewing. This is making it difficult to be concise… Hence my avoidance issues.

  27. 27
    Suze says:

    Wow.  That death to publishing blog was something else.

    This weekend, I’m reading the last Sookie Stackhouse, in preparation for the next one coming out (my workmate buys all her faves in hardcover, and is very generous with the sharing.  Good for me, since I only want to buy e).

    Otherwise, I’m reading all the bits of paper I’ve been throwing into various piles so I can rescue all the stuff I need to finish my taxes.  Or maybe I’ll procrastinate a little more.  Not due ‘til Friday…

  28. 28
    LisaC says:

    Splurged at Borders using my handy dandy $100 AMEX gift card. C Milan’s debut, Patience by L Valdez, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

  29. 29
    Meredith says:

    Reading the conversation between Julia Quinn and Cherry Adair on your Q&A highlight post on Friday, I was so amused I immediately went to my bookshelf and picked up an old Julia Quinn favorite, “The Duke and I”.  I’ll probably finish it tomorrow.  I’d forgotten how much I love her writing style—thanks for the reminder of how funny she is. ;)

  30. 30
    Tina C. says:

    Devoured Just One of the Guys, by Kristan Higgins.  Finished it about noon and I had to send the author an email to thank her for making me cry over a book for the first time in a long time.  I sniffled my way through the last 40 pages or so of that book because I really cared about the characters and I wanted them to get it together and work things out before it was too late.  Have to tell you, it’s been a very long while since I was this emotionally-invested in a bunch of fictional people.  I really, really loved this book and I highly recommend it. 

    I’m now almost done with the latest Harry Dresden book.  Finished the latest Patricia Briggs a couple of days ago.  I’ve also been reading some of the Vampire Files (Jack Fleming) books, by P. N. Elrod, over the past couple of weeks.

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