A Report from the Frontlines of RWA 2014
I dragged myself out of bed at six-thirty, regretting that I didn’t toss the Visine in the my bag. It’s Day Two of the annual Romance Writers of America Conference. Since I’m only here three days, I’ve been trying to make the most of everything. I did three workshops before lunch, all good, but my favorite was Courtney Milan’s workshop, The Slow Writer’s Guide to Making a Living. It’s hard to be fast when you have a day job, but apparently, anyone who can’t put out a book every ninety days is slow! She shared some great tips for self-published authors, but it all comes down to writing more books and feeding the beast. The best ways to get visibility in the online logarithms are when you release a book, write a super great book, or put a book on sale. Courtney advised on when to invest in yourself, but also cautioned not to spend a lot of money until you’ve made enough sales to pay for it. If you invest too soon, odds are you won’t make your money back. Her signature humor came out when she added, “Statistically there is someone in this room whose book sucks. And statistically—they don’t know it.” Make sure there is demand for your supply.
Courtney is a NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author. Courtney’s enhanced ebook editions of her first five books are available for one day more at 99 cents. Purchase now!
Lunch was a fun little affair of about 3000 women. The keynote speaker this year was Sylvia Day—also a NY Times best-selling author. Sylvia delivered a lovely speech, both encouraging and professional. It was just what everyone needed to hear since publishing is now the Wild West, and it’s anybody’s game. But great books and hard work can rise to the top. Lunch was particularly nice because I had the pleasure of sitting with a vibrant young group of writers from Santa Cruz and made a new friend, Jules Barnard. We talked about our books and the world of self-publishing. Jules is one of the new successfully self-published authors. I never get tired of hearing success stories whether it’s the traditional route or the indie route. Check out her New Adult series.
I made it to the BelleBooks Open House and ran into several of my chapter mates from LARA (Los Angeles Romance Authors) who had entered the ImaJinn Romance Contest. Chapter mates Christine Ashworth took third place and Sarah Vance-Tompkins won! Congratulations to both! Brenda Chin was the judge of the contest, and she’s a powerhouse in the industry. Well done, Sarah and Christine. I briefly met Brenda as well, and in my usual, socially awkward way congratulated her on her RWA Vivian Stephens Industry Award, given out to non-authors for their contribution to the industry. My gawking skills went down from there. Deborah Smith, best-selling author and publisher at Bell Bridge Books, attended. I’ve been a fan of hers for years, and I just got a signed copy of The Stone Flower Garden. I can’t wait to read it…it already sucked me in and I had to put it aside to finish this blog. Deborah was one of the first women’s fiction and romance fiction authors I ever read. Meeting her was definitely on my bucket list. And what do I say, “Uh…you’re just standing here!” As if she only floated above the ground. (I know, right!) She was much taller than I expected, but very kind and friendly, and she graciously signed my book while I blabbed about being a fan for years. I love all her older books and then there was the Waterlilies series. Seriously, I don’t know why Alice at Heart was never made into a movie. Ripe pickens for some top female talent. Later, it was dinner with my former critique group and LARA buddies. We started out unpublished and now all of us are published, each with very different journeys and careers. From left to right are Dee J. Adams, me, Lynne Marshall, and Robena Grant.
We made our way to the Amazon cocktail party. My only beef is, they called the witty, handsome men dressed up like cowboys—“beefcakes.” Who uses that term? As if that’s all a group of professional writers are interested in—flesh? LOL. Here’s a picture of one. The young “cowboys” were all very nice and patient with being on display. Amazon did get the drinks and food right, and it was a packed event. Their stock is up, so no complaints from me, but I would have liked to be able to pick out their reps more easily in the crowd to chat them up. Still, thanks for the good times.
Next was some intimate conversation at the bar, then back to the room for sleep…as soon as I push: Publish!
Until next time,