RWA 2013 - RWA-WF Mini Conference

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By some act of divine intervention, as I was preparing for conference I saw a post on Jane Porter’s Facebook Page about RWA's Women’s Fiction Chapter offering a mini-conference at National.

Oh. My. Gawd. am I glad that I signed up. I wound up having a very busy conference with lots of places to be. Also--and I know this will shock you--but when you get twelve hundred women in one place, you tend to make a lot of conversation. Time flies when you’re talking writing and story and editors.

The mini conference was my savior. I had goals and most of them were met in that first day, freeing me of guilt for skipping workshops later in the conference.

The first session was a kind of state of the industry and what’s hot this year, featuring HelenKay Dimon, Christie Ridgway and Literary Agent, Laura Bradford. In short:

• Young Adult is still hot • Small town contemporary is popular • Darker contemporary is big (I later learned of Jackie Ashenden going to auction on a three-book deal for dark contemporaries with St. Martins) • New Adult, light or dark, is a thing now • Billionaire erotic romances are still hot--pun not intended

Tortured heroes never go out of style

They ran through a lot of what I already knew, basically saying today’s authors have a lot of choices. Actually, I’ll contradict one thing they said and sum up a recurring theme I saw in this conference that was first raised here:

They said everyone at last year’s conference agreed that it was a confusing time and predicted this year would be even more confusing. I disagree. It’s a great time to be an author. We have so many choices so yes, there is confusion while we all try to sift through what we each want and how best to get it, but it’s like everyone arrived in an airport hub—yeah, I’m still here. Everyone is rushing hither and thither. Some wind up delayed or even stepping on the wrong escalator but order is emerging from the chaos.

What does this ‘new order’ look like? Well, it looks like a lot of people leaping aboard  what appears to be cheap rapid transit to the destination. Many wind up in a very isolated place. There was a strong message throughout the conference on how to succeed as an indie author. I’ll sum up those particulars in a later post, but wow, there were so many workshops that talked about indie and indie and by the way, you can go indie. To the point that we noticed a lack of workshops on craft.

I think it was Christie Ridgeway who said she misses the days when everyone gathered to talk story because now it’s all about marketing. That’s what indie publishing and the internet in general has done: filled the market with so much choice that discoverability has become a problem. So there were a lot of tips throughout the conference on how to be visible and here’s my take-away on that:

Stick with Harlequin.

I know, easy for me to say when I’m there, right? It doesn’t change the fact that as a publisher it stands out with their ‘Booktiques’ (unless I’m misremembering what they called it.) Basically, the Harlequin brand has it’s own mini-shop on sites like Amazon and it’s own destination displays in retailers like B&N. I’ll rant about the pros and cons of indie later, but the fact is, there are a few indies with a name that stands out, but most are lost in a sea of sameness. When you say, “I’m a Harlequin Author,” everyone knows what you write and that logo helps people find your books.

I’ve totally digressed from the mini conference. Told you I’d be jumping around. This is as much as I wrote in the airport before the guy behind me began whistling tunelessly. Ask my husband how well that goes over when I'm trying to write.