What this “virgin” learned at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention

General Info: This year the convention took place from April 28-May 1 at the Hyatt Regency in sedate downtown Columbus, Ohio. About 2000 people attended, and 400 authors were there for the open-to-the-public and very crowded book signing.

NEXT year the convention will be in non-sedate Los Angeles from April 6-10, so I imagine the craziness factor will ramp up accordingly.

I went to shadow a friend whose debut book through Dorchester comes out at the end of June (more about her next month when she guest blogs). I wanted to see what the convention was like, so NEXT year – when my historical trilogy is out – I can attend as a published, promoting & signing author.

So here goes:

1. Romantic Times – RT – exists to connect the reader with the author. While there are editors and agents holding appointments for aspiring authors, the thrust (so to speak) is the romance book reader. That was a wonderful revelation!

2. Even so, all aspects of the industry are represented and addressed: published authors, aspiring authors, booksellers, librarians, cover artists, cover models, trailer artists, editors, publishers, agents, accessories, and more.

3. The overarching mood is one of fun. No one takes themselves too seriously. Romance of every kind is celebrated with tongue-in-cheek, costumed outrageousness, and the bar was always overfilled with good-natured conversation!

4. Beautiful men abound. Past cover models, current cover models, and the “Mr. RT” candidates for the current year. What a nice surprise that was.

5. RT considers all routes as “published” and doesn’t rank indie-pubbed, e-pubbed or NY-pubbed as one being more worthy than another. If an author has readers, RT has space!

6. Readers are avid consumers of all things promo. Next year I’ll take literally hundreds of promotional give-away items.

7. It’s really hard to come up with a unique, usable, affordable, promo give-away item. Suggestions are very welcome.

8. Branding is essential for success. In a room of HUNDREDS of authors – all better known than me! – creating a recognizable brand that I and my readers can live with will be a huge assignment. It goes as far as wearing the same style of clothing for every public appearance.

For me, if “Norway is the new Scotland,” then I need to wear some mix of red, white and blue – Norway’s flag colors – to all appearances.

I’ll need to use that phrase as my lead-in, and will probably go with: “Norway is the new Scotland. Isn’t it time you found out why?” on one side of my bookmarks. And poster.

I’m looking at the Nordic runes to see if there is a way to add one of them to my visual brand.

9. Don’t get me started on the nightly costume balls! I’ll be scouring 2nd-hand stores for faerie and vampire and who-knows-what-else clothing for next year. I wonder – can I tie them all in to Norway? Hmmm… 🙂

10. RT is amazing. Supportive. Fun. And a great way to promote yourself as an author, and have a GREAT time as a reader. I expect to make this an annual event. I hope to see you there!

8 Responses to “What this “virgin” learned at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention”

  1. 1 Keira 05/03/2010 at 10:38 AM

    Not unique but — business cards, book marks, magnetic bookmarks, magnets, pencils, pens, pins, keychains, notepads, chapstick…

    Useful but not cheap I don’t think — book covers (to wrap a mass pb book in), change purses (with book cover design?), actual books, um… yeah probably not overly helpful. lol 🙂

  2. 3 Pauline Baird Jones 05/03/2010 at 12:48 PM

    if you’ve got the budget, maybe a swag bag to carry the goodies in, that way readers are seeing YOUR advert everywhere. Think in terms of things that can be used later, too. I’ve kept fans, nail files, and always pens. I had a friend who had the “hot” giveaway one year: little stuffed dragons. Readers went nuts trying to get them.

  3. 5 Judy 05/03/2010 at 12:53 PM

    There are lots of possibilities, but I know that for myself what I prefer are bookmarks. I love being able to put an author’s bookmark in their book. If I have extras, I give them away.

    What an incredible experience! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    BTW, love the book covers!

  4. 7 Suzanne 05/21/2010 at 3:05 AM

    One thing that struck me a while ago was that while I love my kindle and sometimes the fact that nobody knows what I am reading, the shared experience of walking onto a train and seeing 15 people with the cover of the latest Harry Potter book (or Twilight or Percy Jackson, take your pick — and yes I know all those series are finished, but you get the idea!) in their hands is going to become increasingly rare. That’s fun because you can lean over and say, “Great book” or “Where are you now?” etc. I thought it might be fun to have a sort of post-it note concept with the cover artwork of what you’re reading to put onto the kindle or nook or whatever so that it sort of “advertises” what it is, allowing others to look and see and maybe ask questions or strike up a discussion. It would work best if there were a built in transparent sleeve on the cover that these “cards” could just slide into, but as those are not yet an option, they could be sticky but obviously completely removable once you’re done with the book or when you shift to something else.

    • 8 kristualla 05/21/2010 at 9:13 PM

      What a fun idea – cover cards for the fronts – er, backs, of e-readers! I love it!

      Being social, I just lean over and say, “Don’t you love your Kindle?”
      Kris 🙂

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