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


23 comments:

Kimber An said...

That's quite a list for the Literacy event. Kudos to the authors! I saw a bunch of familiar names, some whose novels I read and some whose novels I wish I had time to read.

Popped over to Barry Eisler's website and it is gorgeous! It seems to me websites are so important for authors of certain genres or subgenres. More than that, it seems they're vital for authors whose novels have international appeal. Sometimes I think it doesn't occur to city people in the continental US that not everyone in the world lives near a Barnes & Noble. And some people just don't have the time to visit one in person either.

Keri Ford said...

Thanks for the update, Jessica! I can tell by the energy of your blog that you are having an absolute blast out there already!

Jessica said...

Wow, thank you for give us the low-down.
I can't wait to go someday.
Hope you have tons of fun!

Jessica said...

Hey Kimber An,
With three little kiddos I never make it to Barnes and Noble. Websites are wonderful for author's to have.

Julie Weathers said...

All right, I'm sold.

*Adds RWA to to-do list.*

Keep the reports coming in.

tina gray said...

I'm with Julie. As soon as I get my next paycheck, I'm joining RWA. Been meaning to for some time ... no more procrastinating.

Jessica, thanks for the report! And thanks for the wave to those of us who can't be there. That Literacy event sounds like a GREAT opportunity for new authors as well as old.

Kudos to Barry for breaking the mold and getting himself out there to so many new prospective readers!

Have a great day, and have fun at the champagne cupcake taste off. :-)

Kate Douglas said...

Okay...I've got gossip...I saw Jessica at the signing last night and she looks about sixteen. It is SO not fair...also met Barry Eisler and he is amazingly personable. It also helps when there are so many women and so few men at such a huge event! The men really stand out, in a good way! I can second what Jessica says about RWA. There will always be things about an organization this large that you don't like, but this group definitely teaches you the business of writing. It also offers a chance to meet one on one with agents and editors from all around the country. I'm looking forward to a really busy day that includes lunch with Jessica and two cocktail parties, one which is hosted by my publisher (Kensington) and the other by PASIC, which is the "Published Authors Special Interest Chapter" for RWA. The energy here is amazing. All of you who write will understand me when I say how wonderful it is to be surrounded by others who truly understand the way a writer's mind works. Published or not, we all hear the same voices and all feel the same need to put words to paper. For that alone, to realize you're not the only one toiling away over your computer, this conference is worth the cost.

Sharon Page said...

I met Barry Eisler at the Romantic Times Convention in April the year. He and I were both on a First Person Point of view in Erotica/Erotic Romance panel. He is an extremely personable, approachable person. Also a courageous man--he was talking the nuts and bolts of sex scenes in front of a roomful of women, with a panel that included great authors such as Angela Knight, Renee Bernard, Kimberley Kaye Terry, Cheyenne McCray, etc...
I thought he had a great idea in attending conferences like RT and RWA--obviously it is paying off for him. He also had purchased extra copies of a mystery writing magazine with a feature article on him, and had put 1 in each goodie bag at RT. Smart marketing.
There were other male mystery authors at RT, and those I spoke to said they were definitely coming back in the future. As you say, Jessica, RWA is not just for romance--and romance readers also love mystery, fantasy, thrillers etc.

Mel Hiers said...

I wanted to second (although I think I'm fourthing or fifthing by now!) the RWA recommendation. I've only been a member since March, but my dues have more than paid for themselves already.

I'm so impressed with how hard RWA works to include, support and educate their unpublished members. SFWA, while a great organization, requires one to have a minimum of professional sales to even access most of their resources.

And a SF/Fantasy RWA chapter? I would so be all over that! :-)

Writer and Cat said...

Thanks for taking time to blog while you're at the conference! RWA has a large online chapter called the FF&P chapter (Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal), but starting a new chapter can be a tricky business. RWA does want chapters to echo its core mission of promoting the efforts of romance writers, so a chapter for people who do not at all write romance might be a no-go. I think there is a chapter for authors who write books that have strong romantic subplots ("Elements"), though.

However, you never know until you try!

Anonymous said...

My wife recco'd Barry Eisler to me this spring -- and he's great. My wife is also at RWA in SF so of course I asked if she had waited in line to meet/get autograph. No luck -- apparently no love.

I can't wait to hear all of my wife's tales of RWA. She is out there with her "girls". Could be trouble.

If any of you see my wife -- tell her I love her!!

signed,
husband marooned at home with a toddler

avidbookreader.com said...

Hi, I just started reading your blog and enjoy reading it. I will have to check out Barry Eisler's novels and thanks for the reports from RWA in San Fran. Looking forward to more "inside" news.

Keishon

Stephanie Feagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

First time to post here. A room full of authors and their books sounds like heaven to me. I just joined RWA and am waiting for my membership card, so that I can also join my local chapter, Gulf Coast Romance Writers. I'm going to attend my first ever chapter meeting this Saturday as a visitor. Hopefully, the September will find me a legitimate card carrying member.

LindaC

Kim Kasch said...

Barry Eisler going to RWA must be kinda like Stephanie Meyer attending the Comic Con, although she doesn't really need any more fans.

She must be a comic book fan.

Anonymous said...

Jessica. Had to laugh. Now I have never been to an RWA conference, and I may be wrong in suspecting that most of the participants are middle-aged ladies. Maybe, just maybe, the popularity of Barry Eisler has something to do with the fact that he is one of the few guys around. And judging from his site, a hunk?

Gawain said...

As a fantasy/sci-fi writer (and a male lol) I never would have considered going to a convention like this, until your last couple of posts. Now I feel like I might be missing out. The worst part is, I live in Santa Rosa. I'm 45 minutes away! But I'm flat broke and I have three kids to look after, so last minute just doesn't work anymore. Its good to hear that you (and everyone) are having fun and enjoying the beautiful bay area weather.

Maybe next year...

JA Konrath said...

Barry is dreamy...

Bethany said...

Great post! And I agree, Barry is a good guy. I interviewed him for the magazine I work for - you can see that interview on my blog at bethanyhensel.blogspot.com - and he's incredibly savvy about the business. Plus a great author!

A win-win combo!

Bethany
bethanyhensel.blogspot.com
A Blog Celebrating Arts and Entertainment

Arkansas Cyndi said...

I LUVVVV the RWA conference. Pouting that I had to miss this year.

Barry wasn't the only "non-recognized" romance writer there. Robert Gregory Browne was there. He posted a wonderfully supportive blog on Murderati before he went on how excited he was to go - very supportive of the RWA and romance genre in general.

Signed - Green with jealousy! LOL

Stephanie Feagan said...

I posted last week, then deleted because I realized I had overstated the amount of proceeds from the lit signing. I failed to account for sales tax, which RWA is required to pay to the state of California. I've not yet received word on the exact amount, but can say with some certainty that the signing netted over $58,000 for literacy. And that rocks the house, yes?

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