Thursday, July 31, 2008

Report from the Front--Thursday

My Thursday morning report on Wednesday's happenings at the RWA conference.

The boring stuff out of the way first...I landed easily and safely yesterday and spent much of my five hours on the plane reading proposals from clients and submissions. Okay, maybe not much of my time. I also got in a movie and read part of a book--China Lake by Meg Gardiner. A new author for me, but one I'm really enjoying. Super creepy and scary!

San Francisco is terrific. How could it not be? The weather is lovely, the hotel is fantastic and so far not a glitch to be had. Let's keep our fingers crossed that everyone is having such luck.

Starting almost immediately from my arrival at the hotel I had scheduled one-on-one appointments with a few of my clients and a tea for all BookEnds clients. It's so difficult to organize anything like that since of course a number of people won't be able to make it. We did have a nice turn out though and it was fun just to sit and relax and do something so girly. If you're ever in the area and want a tea I highly recommend Lovejoy's Tearoom. They were marvelous to us.

Before launching into yesterday's news I want to address an anonymous comment from yesterday's post. Anon 11:13am expressed sincere concern that submissions or queries coming in from anyone not attending the conference are going to look  dull in comparison to those coming in from the busy networking authors in SF. Never fear! While it definitely can give you a bit of an edge to be able to say we met at a conference or shared scones over tea, if you are submitting to BookEnds you can say you read my blog. Equally advantageous. the truth is whether I met you at the conference or not, and no matter how much I liked you, the proof is in the pudding as they say and your query still has to wow me on it's own, beyond the, "we met or I love you" line. There's no need to stop querying because you didn't make it to conference. Jump in and keep those submissions rolling, just make sure your query letter rocks.

On to conference/publishing news. Since I was so busy in my own little world, and it was technically the first day of conference, I don't have a lot of news or gossip I can share with you yet. Okay, I do have news and gossip, but nothing for public consumption [waggling eyebrows].

The big Wednesday event at every RWA National Conference is the Literacy Autographing and this year was no different. Over 500 authors attend and sign and are placed in rows and rows of tables in a hotel ballroom. It's really amazing. I have no official facts and figures on the number of attendees buying books, but I think I could safely say close to 1000. The room is big, noisy and full of energy. I don't like lines and the last thing I need to do is go home with more books, but I do like to walk around and chat with the authors. I get to touch base with my own clients of course and get reports on what their fans are saying and I get to chat with many of the other romance authors I only see and talk to once each year.

What really caught my eye at this year's signing was not the wild hats or costumes some authors wear, but one lone author with a fairly good sized line of his own. Barry Eisler. Certainly not a romance author, but probably one of the most marketing and publicity saavvy authors around. I've often advised that you read articles Barry has written and, as a fan, I've frequently recommended his books.

I mentioned yesterday that RWA is not just for romance authors and I hope that Barry's attendance at this year's conference helps you see that even more clearly. I have frequently mentioned to my own clients that they should consider joining RWA. It is one of the best writing organizations out there, and I know that not because I'm a member, but because when doing pitch appointments at various conferences across the country or even when receiving query letters there is a difference, a significant difference, between what I'm seeing from RWA members and those I'm getting from other writers. RWA is an organization that really teaches and supports its members no matter what they write. Most importantly though, RWA really keeps in touch with the business-side of publishing and works on behalf of it's authors to fight unfair contract clauses, scam publishers and agents as well as keeps all of its members updated on industry news, publishing trends and simply the ins-and-outs of writing.

Truthfully, it might be worth the cost of membership simply to receive the monthly RWR report (the magazine) and to be able to get involved in your local chapter or even one of the many online chapters. Hey, you know what? They already have the Kiss of Death chapter which supports mystery and suspense (hint, hint), but maybe one of you wants to be the founding member of the RWA Fantasy Writers or RWA SF Writers.

OK RWA rah, rah over. All cheerleading aside, I do think Barry Eisler had the right idea. He is from the Bay Area so obviously it was easy for him to come to the conference, but he didn't miss out on the opportunity to meet, greet, and shake hands with potentially 2000 new and/or current fans. Think about it.

So another busy day today with back-to-back meetings with many of my clients. I'm sorry to say that because of the expense of San Francisco a number of authors were not able to make it this year [waving] and you are missed. But there is a very special treat for me in today's the mix. The Fog City Divas are hosting a cupcake and champagne party (invitation only I'm afraid). Two of my most favorite things!! And no matter what happens to my schedule today I will not be missing that.

I'm heading out now to run off all of the treats I plan to eat today and hopefully gather more news and information for you for tomorrow. 

--Jessica


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