My first RT (Romantic Times) experience was also my first time at a book convention. These events have been on my radar for a few years, and last year I really got the urge to go to one. By the time I’d made up my mind to go through with it, the BEA had already been held; the next biggest event I could find for readers AND authors was the Romantic Times convention for 2015. They move this event around each year; this year it was in Dallas, TX.
I’ve been to trade shows before, so I had some idea of how things would work and for the most part, I wasn’t overwhelmed that way. But what was overwhelming were number of sessions I wanted to attend! RT not only had a website with the sessions and information listed, but a great app that was a godsend during the event. I was able to pick one or two (or three or four) sessions that sounded interesting, and depending on what else was going on (meeting authors in Club RT or grabbing a snack with my new friends), I would have options for what to do.
One of my days was spent pretty much in front of Mark Coker of Smashwords. Wow, did he have some great stuff to share about publishing in general and self-publishing. (I’ll have a separate post on that, so keep your eyes out for it!)
But I spent plenty of time at different panels with some terrific authors: What’s In a Pen Name? Happily Forever After – Writing Beyond the Kiss. Writing Romantic Comedy (AKA The Art of Funny Smut). Effectively Writing the Psychology and Emotion of Kink.
And then there were the reader events and parties. The first event was the Welcome Party (yummy crepes!).
I went to the Mad Hatter Tea Party and had a blast there with my authors Tameri Etherton and Debra Kristi, as well as all the other ladies who hosted the party. (Amazingly enough, the two ladies I sat next to were from Connecticut, too!)
|Our Mad Hatter Hostesses|
I really held myself back, but I couldn’t help but get freebies practically everywhere I went! I didn’t go hog wild looking for any, but I landed up with about a dozen free books. If I had been really aggressive about it, I am sure I could have walked away with three or four dozen books – all free! As it was, I shipped everything back home because it wouldn’t all fit in the suitcases we brought with us!
There was Promo Alley, which I will admit drew me in a bit more than it should have. I really cleaned up in the pin and pen departments! At least now I should be able to find a pen that works when I’m at my desk! But a lot of that promo stuff are things I’ll be donating to my church’s annual Basket Bonanza to help people discover new authors and books. (And hey, if any authors want to donate any books and/or goodies, let me know!)
And of course there was the tote bag full of promo materials and free books that I picked up at registration! But the coolest item in there might have been the thumb drive – with 300 free books! That should certainly keep me occupied – if I ever have any free time!
RT is a great event to meet authors – new names and even famous ones (like Sylvia Day, Liliana Hart, or Meg Cabot, for instance). At Club RT, authors sign up for 30-minute sessions and talk to readers. Sometimes they’d have goodies (notebooks, pens, pins, candies, key chains, etc.) and sometimes they’d have free books they were happy to autograph for you. And there were probably 80 – 100 baskets that were raffled off: complete with signed books & cool goodies. (I didn’t win any baskets – which was probably for the best, considering they’d have to be shipped home!) Authors were also gracious in the public spaces at the hotel: the lobby area, the restaurants, the bar. They’d be happy to say hello and take a picture with fans. This year they had their Giant Book Fair on Saturday with hundreds of authors signing books for fans!
|Me with Tameri Etherton and Debra Kristi|
|J.S. Scott, me, & Cali MacKay|
|Me and MJ Pullen in the lobby|
Some tips to consider if you are thinking about going to Romantic Times (it’s in Vegas for 2016 and Atlanta for 2017): Comfortable shoes for the day are a must! Bring business cards, even if you are a reader (authors love to be able to connect to their fans!) and be prepared to get some in return from authors. Print off labels with your name and email for any raffles (this will usually mean you are agreeing to be signed up for a mailing list; so if you have an email you use for promo stuff, use that one). Bring a smile – everyone is very friendly and all you need to make new friends is a smile and a “Hi!”