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:
I GET TO SIGN! My inner 13 year old and my external 28 year old dance like fools. SIGNING! WHEE! It's fun!
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.
- 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.
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.
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 performing a light puppet show at her table. It was adorable.
Thanks to the magic of the alphabet, I'm always next to Jaye Wells, who has really, really awesome readers.
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?
You don't. You make a beautiful hardcover book filled with pages for all the favorite authors, and ask them to sign their page.
THIS IS SO BRILLIANT. And the books (I saw 2 of the 3 that were in the room) were so beautiful.
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.
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.
Maybe next year we could arrange a post-signing introvert's lounge, with drinks, snacks, and quiet reading areas.
Custom shirt word clouds for the 2014 signing! HOW COOL IS THAT?
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?