Photo is me with editor Megan Haslam, from Mills and Boon London, and Megan Crane/Caitlin Crews. I know, looks like there's only three of us, but there's actually four. Maybe I should change my name to Megan to avoid confusion?
After the marathon that is an RWA conference, it's always a shock when you hit the last day. I was pretty burnt out by now so I slept in and had a very lovely brunch with my roommate, Natasha, whom I hadn't seen much of despite our sharing a room.
By the way, if you're just coming across these posts on the National Conference, here are links to the previous posts:
- RWA 2013 - Overview
- RWA 2013 - RWA-WF Mini Conference
- RWA 2013 - Floorganized
- RWA 2013 - Wednesday Cont'd
- RWA 2013 - Thursday
- RWA 2013 - Friday
- RWA 2013 - Indie vs Traditional Publishing
- RWA 2013 - Harlequin Party (and Writing a Series & Reviews & other stuff)
After a lazy brunch where we caught up and checked in for our flights, I went to the Harlequin PAN session which is basically an opportunity to Q&A some of the senior editors and marketing executives.
There will be posts on HAN about that so I won't recap here, but will reiterate that yes, Harlequin was a big ship to turn around when the market changed so suddenly (and somewhat violently) a few years ago. They are responding, strengthening and using the brand, always looking at expansion opportunities, working on SEO and keywords and lots of behind the scenes discoverability stuff that indie authors have to do for themselves.
If it sounds like I'm trying to justify my decision to work with them instead of pursuing the indie path, I may be a little bit, but I think there's a huge swell right now of screaming voices telling writers the ONLY way to publish is indie and we need some calmer voices to say, Wait a minute.
Here's the thing. Maybe the Bellas and Lilianas are making huge profits right now, but I have to wonder if they can maintain it? Loads of writers have shot to the top, but they don't always stay there. Time will tell and all I'm saying is, having many eggs in many baskets can be a wonderful thing. Don't underestimate the big houses. Corporations have a lot invested in their own survival and will find a way to do that.
Another topic I didn't tackle, but which was bandied as gossip around the conference, was the smaller digital presses and how they are faring and how they are succeeding. When it comes to indie and digital, the name of the game is working with the Amazon algorithms. I heard one remark along the lines of 'bought their author onto the best seller list' which implies it's not always about how good a particular book is, but how well the author and/or her publisher has manipulated the system.
At the same time, many were bemoaning that Amazon keeps changing their formulas and the way books are discovered and how reviews are counted to get a book on which list...
I could rant my way into the next decade on how writers have to figure out what they want: to reach readers? Or make money? Because you can make money in a lot of ways that are way easier than publishing. Start at a fast food chain and minimum wage and you'll be making more than a lot of published writers ever will.
That doesn't mean I think you should be ignorant of the importance of numbers and how positions on lists can affect your visibility and thus your sales and livelihood. But again, this is something a few players do really well and most of us suck at. It takes time and inclination. Have you got a lot of both? The big houses do and once the dust settles in a year or two, they'll know very well how to play those numbers.
Indie is a golden goose and if you want to go after it, Fill. Your. Boots. Just recognize how much work it is. It sounds like easy money, but it's not. It's hard. So is writing, just in case you were wondering.
Back to Saturday afternoon, I won't go into how I screwed up and dolled up for an event that didn't exist, just let you imagine me in my LBD and sparkly earrings and necklace at the concierge. I thought I looked like an escort waiting to be let up to a room, but Cathryn kindly said I looked like I was waiting for my alpha-hero.
Bottom line, I got to the right event as it was finishing, everyone else was in jeans and T-shirts (except Sue Stephens who also got the wrong info) and afterward I went for coffee with Maisey, Megan, Jackie Ashenden and Jane Porter. Yep, name dropping again, but this was yet another moment at conference where I went: yeah, this is why the time, airfare, and lost vacation week is worth it. You feel normal when you're among a group of like-minded (slightly left of centre) individuals.
Later I had dinner with Maisey and Jackie along with their friend Nicole (sorry, I missed her last name) and Nancy Warren and my roommate Natasha. We all debated the $18 mac and cheese with lobster, but none of us wound up with it. We had a great time regardless, then returned for the Awards ceremony.
I've been out of touch so long, I didn't realize it was such a coup for Sarah Morgan to win with a Presents in Short Contemporary (second year running!) Apparently they've been snubbed for quite a while. Go Sarah!
Natasha and I were also cheering on our fellow RWA-GVC chapter mate, Jacqui Nelson, up for a Golden Heart. She has an anthology coming out soon, so look for it.
We slipped out early as we both had to be up before five to get our flights. Which bookends my Overview post that I began in the airport at that ungodly six o'clock hour two weeks ago.
All in all, a fabulous conference, but I knew it would be, based on the Grand Trine as noted in my horoscope before I left. Go ahead and laugh. I'll have you know that Jupiter has moved into my fame and honours sector so you'd better believe I'll be throwing books into the Rita contest as soon as it opens ;o)
I hope you've enjoyed my posts on #RWA2013 ("It's #RWA13, trust me I'm a Twitter doctor" ~ Maisey Yates). (She is, follow her.)
Please leave a comment letting me know if you think blogging is dead.