RT 2014: Book Signing, Pictures, and Overheard at RT

RT is the one definite opportunity I have to sign Beyond Heaving Bosoms and Everything I Learned  Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. I don't do many other signings since the Bosoms came out in 2009 and EIKAL came out in 2011. They're not new, so it's not like there's a promotional effort going on. But every year, I look forward to the signing for a few reasons: 

  1. I GET TO SIGN! My inner 13 year old and my external 28 year old dance like fools. SIGNING! WHEE! It's fun! 
     
  2. I'm in the Ws, next to Jaye Wells, and at the back of the room, usually. It's less crowded, there's a bit more A/C flowing, and it's a nice section to be in. And the RT book signing, each year I've been either at a table or roaming the room, is huge. It is a crowded, crowded event, with people driving hours to attend and meet favorite authors. 
     
  3. When people come by the W section, they're often looking for a break or to find a space to navigate themselves to the next person they want to meet, so I get to meet people and find out whom they're looking for – because I'm really very nosy. 

Over the past few days on Twitter and elsewhere, people have been writing about the set up of this year's signing, where the indie and self published authors were in an adjacent ballroom, and the traditionally published authors were in the larger ballroom. To be honest, I didn't think anything of the setup, presuming that the selfpub authors would be managing their own sales (not true) and that maybe there wasn't enough room for everyone in the main ballroom (again, purely my own supposition). I also noticed that this year, the New Adult and Young Adult authors were in a separate section (like last year) and this section was facing me in the Ws, in its own alphabetical order (which meant I saw all the really, really excited fans for Jay Crownover and Cora Carmack, which is so fun to watch). 

I know in previous years the ebook/indie/graphic novel book signing was a separate event (link via Courtney Milan and Angie James), and I figured (still drawing my own conclusions here) that it wouldn't be cool to make people drive down to wherever the conference was on two separate days, or to make people choose between one day's signing or another, if they wanted to meet authors at both signings and weren't attendees at the conference. Certainly there are very popular authors in all of those groups. And because RT has generally been so welcoming to digitally published and self published authors in past years, it didn't occur to me at all that they would be treating one group in a less-welcoming fashion this year.

But many authors in the adjacent ballroom were really angry and upset, and are questioning the motivation behind the separation. Courtney Milan examined the situation and identified what she thinks are the likely logistical reasons for that second room of authors: the fact that self published books are not returnable. Thus: 

Several readers had difficulty finding me because it was not made clear that there were TWO giant rooms full of authors, and while there was a list stating what room each author was in, if you’re looking for 15 authors, it gets confusing to plot out a course between them unless you sit down and plan everything right from the start. The end result was that a division made on the basis of administrative ease led to chaos and confusion. It meant that it took readers much, much longer to navigate the Bookfair and find the authors they were looking for, and even longer to pay for those books.

While I understand the administrative reasons that gave rise to the separation, the end result was hurt feelings for authors, and–far more importantly–confusion, hassle, and hours-long waits in line for the readers who had come to this event to get signed copies of books from their most beloved authors.

 

I honestly do not have a suggestion as to how to improve the signing, because I don't know all the reasons why the rooms were set up and I've never run a 700+ author book fair. I do have one suggestion for next year's book fair that echoes Courtney's: more points of sale. More cash registers and/or individuals with mobile sale terminals in other locations. The lines for checkout were astonishing, and I've been attending RT since 2008 so I shouldn't really be surprised. Yet every year I'm at full jaw-drop at the length of the line to pay for books. I also hope there is a way to have one room for everyone in the future, to avoid navigational confusion – but as I said, I don't have enough information to make specific recommendations. 

That said, the images from the RT 2014 book fair still make me smile days later. There are some incredibly creative and determined readers in some of these pictures, and it's just wonderful.

Got book fair? Crowded ballroom with balloons and many many people

That's the view from behind me. I was in row 17, and there were about 4 or 5 rows of tables ahead of me, so the majority of the authors were behind me. This picture is from the beginning of the signing, too. There were more people later. 

 

Two readers ready to meet authors

 

I met these two very nice people in the Indie signing room. They were plotting out their route to find all the authors they wanted to see. You can't quite see the bookmarks and the list, but there's a HUGE list in hand, and they were determined and SO excited. It was palpable excitement. 

 

Mary Robinette Kowal had a light show at her signing table

Mary Robinette Kowal performing a light puppet show at her table. It was adorable. 

 

Jaye Wells

Thanks to the magic of the alphabet, I'm always next to Jaye Wells, who has really, really awesome readers. 

 

A look down the W table

Row 17, complete with many, many Ws, including Lauren Willig (standing at left). 

 

When you're coming to RT from Australia, and you have a luggage weight limit and a limit to the number of books you can bring in to the ballroom, how do you pick which authors and which books to bring from all your favorites? 

 

Page of book for book signing featuring all the books from favorite authors

 

You don't. You make a beautiful hardcover book filled with pages for all the favorite authors, and ask them to sign their page.

 

Another page of the signing book

 

THIS IS SO BRILLIANT. And the books (I saw 2 of the 3 that were in the room) were so beautiful.

 

Enormous suitcase being wheeled through the signing

 

This may be the most explicative image I can show you of the RT signing. That's a big ass suitcase, and it's got books in it. 

RT book signing is SRS BSNS.

 

Women sitting in the hall reading books

 

This is a common post-signing image, too. Last year I found people sitting and reading surrounded by bags of new books hiding under stairwells, in hallways and by elevators. This year: same thing.

We came, we walked, we bought books, NOW WE READ. 

Hell yeah. 

Maybe next year we could arrange a post-signing introvert's lounge, with drinks, snacks, and quiet reading areas. 

Close up of word cloud shirt for RT 2014 signing, with Estep ReesBrennan Marr Carter Barnes and many other names

Custom shirt word clouds for the 2014 signing! HOW COOL IS THAT? 

 

Mother Daughter team wearing the shirts

And here's the mother-daughter team who made the shirts. Meet Hilary and her mom. Hilary is a librarian at the Columbus, Ohio, Metro library, and her mom was the one who encouraged Hilary to work at her local library when she was younger. Mad props to you both, ladies! 

BECAUSE THE SHIRTS OMG BRILLIANT.


So that's all the conference photos I'll force you to endure. I feel a little like I'm making you see my vacation slides or something, so apologies if this was terrifically boring. 

Now for the super-duper-fun part: Overheard at RT 2014! 

“Oh, my God. I have to sit down. I came here just to meet you and you're HERE.”

 

“Oh! I read your book and I really liked it.” 

 

“Would you mind signing my book? Would that be ok?” 

(YES. This never ever ever gets old. Ever.)

 

“You brought me to the romance genre. I read your book first, and it changed my life.”

 

“We're going to need more sex scenes.”

 

 

“What about all that sex in the jungle?”

 

“Do you want lesbians with tentacles or without? There's both.”

 

“If I distract her, will you steal her shoes?”

 

“There is something very wrong with that man's belly button. Maybe it's that it's blown up to 200 times normal size?”

 

“Is there an elevator without abs?”

“If so, I don't want to ride it.”

 

“What exactly is he doing to that salad?”

“I don't care – look at his jeans!”

 

“I'm ___________ on Twitter.”

“I KNOW YOU! We talk to each other all day!” 

 

“You guys, that book was fantastic, but it got me into so much trouble, you have no idea.” 

 

*insert Good Book Noise here* (There was a lot of that.) 


“I think it's too big.”

“No one ever actually thinks that.”

 

What about you? Did you attend RT 2014? Overhear anything funny? Are you thinking of attending in 2015?

Categorized:

Romantic Times

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Iola says:

    The scrapbook idea is awesome! And it would work for all those Kindle copies …

  2. 2

    Aloha, Sarah!  Thanks for the recap.  I didn’t quite make it back to the W’s but I did make it into the Mardi Gras Ballroom with the “indies”.  It was quieter, thus giving me the opportunity to chat with over 20 authors.  RT handed out a program with an alphabetized list of authors (plus they publishd a list on the convention website).  Both lists identified that some authors were sitting in an adjacent room (separated by a hallway; the doors were open and authors were visible through it).

    Book fairs always have long lines.  I recently attended Barbara Vey’s Reader Luncheon with five hundred readers.  B&N hosted the book fair after the luncheon and even that line was long.  It seems that the book fair is a tough situation with 700+ authors and 2000+ readers; security to prevent theft; safety of the participants; stocking of the books; and selling the books from multiple sources. 

    Perhaps the convention hotel can no longer accomodate such an event.  If a future RT hotel was near a convention center, would authors and readers be willing to walk to it and back to hotel for events to follow? 

    Despite the unfortunate events at the book fair, I thought RT overall was fun.  I also enjoyed the Book Blogger Conference you hosted with Jane.  Mahalo for your time and enthusiasm!

  3. 3
    Beth A. says:

    This was my third RT and the highlight was that I not only recognized celebrity authors, but some of them recognized me! Seriously?! ME! I promise it’s not because I was a stalker—I was relatively normal.

    My friends and I also kept an “ORT (Overheard at RT)” list. Our favorites are:

    “OMG! Where did you get those horns!”

    and from the Heather Graham Ball….

    “The King and Queen can ride the dragon, but there’s not enough room so your minion have to walk.”

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    @Beth A:

    The King and Queen can ride the dragon, but there’s not enough room so your minion have to walk.

    That. Is. Amazing.

  5. 5
    Jennifer S says:

    I followed along on twitter to the #RT14 hashtag.  It seems like everyone had an amazing time!  The book is an awesome idea to get authors to sign, especially since 99% of all books I read now are digital.  I need to have 100+ books at my fingertips at any given moment to pick from!  Ha!!

    I am thinking of attending next year as it’s in Dallas and I live rather close.

  6. 6
    Robyn Bachar says:

    “Do you want lesbians with tentacles or without? There’s both.”

    OMG, what book is this? I must read it!

  7. 7
    Cecilia Tan says:

    It was my first RT and I will definitely be back!

  8. 8
    Janhavi says:

    Those books were awesome- all those pretty covers. So glad I got to meet you, Sarah! I might make this a regular thing and show up next year too :D

    Ok, the lines were beyond insane. I spent 1 hour 50 minutes waiting to check out! I had to miss two out of three FANtastic day workshops. This girl next to me complained that she paid 55 for the fantastic day pass, and that she may as well have paid 8 dollars for the bookfair since she didnt get to attend most of it.. which is a legitimate complaint, I guess.

    They need a bigger place, more checkout lines, etc etc.

  9. 9
    Christine says:

    I wasn’t at RT (I hope to attend in the future) but I can tell you that we had some funny twitter conversations with Dear Author and others regarding the Entangled Poster ( I believe for the Scandalous line ), with the weird belly button (I believe Amy Jo Cousins referred to it as the “Sauron’s Eye belly button).  Overall it was a lot of fun to follow RT on twitter for those who couldn’t attend!  And I loved all the pics people who did attend were posting.

  10. 10
    Elinor Aspen says:

    If the lines have become overwhelming, perhaps book fairs could learn from theme parks (who know that time spent in line is time that patrons are not spending money on food, beverages and souvenirs). Would it be practical to give each arrival a pass with a time window to visit each author they sign up for? There must be a mobile app that could facilitate that type of “fastpass” scheduling for the organizers. Or, people could sign up in advance online and print out their “fastpass” schedule. That way, instead of standing in line for hours, visitors who are registered for the conference could attend panels for much of that time, and the general public could patronize the hotel’s bars and restaurants until their time window. For the newer and indie authors, there may not be a lengthy wait, and fans could spend more time visiting their tables until it’s time for them to meet the big-name author(s). Just a thought.

  11. 11
    Priscilla says:

    I am seriously considering 2015 – it is only a couple hours from my town!  I never thought I would be contemplating going to a romance book conference, but the idea of meeting my favorite authors is fantastic!

  12. 12
    Melissa says:

    I am so tired of indie/SPAs complaining about everything. This is one of the reasons why I stopped purchasing/reading books by indie and SPAs. They were given a room, there were lists that detailed where to go to find those authors…it wasn’t as if the indie/SPAs were in a different hotel. Just stop.

  13. 13

    I was one of the “I’m ___________ on Twitter.”
    “I KNOW YOU! We talk to each other all day!” people! My two favorite overheard things were “So she was doing the Stripper Maclaren. ” and “Then I threw up all over that man’s junk.”
    I had the time of my life at RT and I’m already saving for RT15!

  14. 14

    *Stripper Macarena* stupid auto correct :/

  15. 15
    Susan says:

    SB Sarah, did you REALLY get the name of your own book wrong in the first sentence of this post?!?  I think more went on at RT than you’re telling. . .

  16. 16
    Emily says:

    I’ll be there next year in Dallas!

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    @Susan:

    SB Sarah, did you REALLY get the name of your own book wrong in the first sentence of this post?!?

    Yes. Yes, I did. *headdesk*

     

  18. 18
    KellyM says:

    @Elinor Aspen:  They did have a wristband system at the signing for the authors with truly giant lines.  If you wanted Lisa Kleypas or Eloisa James or Nalini Singh to sign for you, you could get a wristband, wander around to find your other most favoritest authors, and wait for them to call your wristband number range over the loudspeaker.  It helped.
    The real line issue at the signing was the check-out line for people buying books.  My friend waited in line for over an hour to buy 1 book.

    I had a wonderful time at RT and I’m already looking forward to 2015.  I’d really like to try to go for the whole week next year.

    It was great meeting so many of my favorite authors (including SB Sarah).  But I do feel like I got super tongue tied around a few of them.  And I just want to tell them that I am in fact a coherent human when not faced with one of my writing idols.  I should wear that disclaimer on a t-shirt next year.  That way, when the conversation starts to go south, I can just point at my chest and let the conversation get weirder…

  19. 19
    Wahoo Suze says:

    I had to be at the airport at 1 on Saturday afternoon, so I missed the book fair.  It was an amazing week, though!  I’m setting up an automatic savings transfer as soon as I make it the rest of the way home to save up to go next year.  I found myself being overly bashful, and spent more time watching people than chatting with them, which is a shame.  I really enjoyed the chats I did have.

  20. 20
    Lila says:

    Overheard on the Bourbon St. pub crawl, on a balcony…

    Kristen Painter: Is this your first time at RT?
    My friend: Yes, I’m an RT virgin.
    Kristen Painter: Well, let me just bend you over this railing and we’ll take care of that.

    I spent that extra half hour waiting for the doors to open to plot my conquest of the book fair, so I had no problem navigating the set-up and only heard the complaints after I’d met everyone I’d hoped to (including Sarah!). Sometimes it pays to be a planning nerd as well as a book nerd. Sure, the book fair was a little chaotic, but I got all the signed books I wanted (plus too many more), I had some amusing conversations while waiting in lines (why do people always want to show me pictures of their dogs?!), and I made it out alive. In desperate need of a drink, but alive. So, kudos to the RT staff for that alone.

  21. 21
    Heather S says:

    SB Sarah, WHY did you not say that Tere Michaels was there? Her books… *swoon* She was on the “Romance Pride: Wheel of Fortune” part with you, anyway. I would love to get my copies of her books signed by her. <3

  22. 22

    Jo: “Then I threw up all over that man’s junk.”

    I was there for that one. LOLOL.

    Next year, I’m totally keeping a list, because I never remember these things. LOL

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