My RWA Notes from July National Conference

I love the way that sounds like I actually went to the conference. But actually, my local chapter of Romance Writers of America has a recap meeting every August. It’s almost like going there but cheaper and better food. Maybe. This year we did something different as far as where the meeting was held, and it worked out well enough that we may do it every year. The selling point was the air conditioning. Welcome to Southern California in August.

However, in New York in July, my chapter mates collected a lot of information. The stories about the hotel itself were entertaining. Apparently, the elevators thought they were on a starship and tried to take you across and up then over and down. A few members managed to take in a play on Broadway. And by the way, we decided that we are all Professional Writers. We write but we also drop F-bombs.

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Diversity is a big issue across most of the panels. I wrote a blog on this a while ago, you can read it if you need to catch up on that. I have my fingers crossed that soon there will be love stories for everyone no matter what their details. Love whomever you love, look however you look, and be happy ever after.

Before I joined my chapter, I understand that the lovely and talented Silvia Day was a member of our chapter and also The Orange County Romance Writers. We do seem to collect a lot of excellent writers who are published and who win awards. The motivation and support they return to the chapter is a joy and a benefit to those of us following in their footsteps.

 

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The bling in Australia is very similar to that in America

 

If you self-publish, you should know that audio rights are the big thing. People can’t look at their readers while driving, and a commute goes by less stressfully. If you are traditionally published, be sure to negotiate your audio rights carefully. Publishers may give you a selection of narrators, but more likely will select someone for you. Someone mentioned that for RWA members, the various panels are available as MP3s on a flash drive. The price is $4 per panel or a set price for all of them. I got the whole set from the conference I attended and have to remind myself to listen to it now and again.

Speaking of being lucky to have amazing members in or chapter, HelenKay Dimon not only writes some of my favorite contemporary Romances but has been the President of the RWA board for the past year. She fielded the question about why big publishing houses are no longer doing Spotlight panels, where editors talk about trends and what they are looking for. The publishers asked RWA to stop holding those panels. The Digital Age surprised these folks and they are having a hard time competing with self-published authors and Kindle Unlimited.

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To fill that gap in some measure, RWA is conducting a Marketplace Survey that asks what they are looking for. The survey should be out by October 2019. Even without that input, authors are seeing a trend away from regular Romance. They used the term straight Romance, but it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Marketing is using labels as a tool, so the story becomes a RomCom or Small Town Romance or Women’s Fiction. A Romantic Suspense is better selling as a Thriller.

I’m sure you know that self-publishing opened the door for Romance writers in a big way, sooner and harder than any other genre. The traditional publishers didn’t catch it, didn’t see it as a permanent change, and failed to change their processes soon enough. The result is that they lost the entire Romance section and don’t know how to get it back.

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Next Sunday I will share the details about what is happening with Romance-specific awards like the RITAs. If you are a member of RWA, you probably have heard what’s going on there. Also, there is a new mentoring program that will hopefully meet the needs of more unpublished or self-published authors and maybe some who have published one book and are stuck. Things are looking up for the world of Romance writers in general.

RWA had a contract with the hotel in New York City to hold a conference there every so many years. The contract has now been fulfilled and for those of us who aren’t thrilled about going to The Big Apple, this is good news. The line-up of cities for the next few years is San Francisco, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Anaheim. I will be doing my very best to attend the ones in California.

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New York was difficult because there weren’t places to hang out with other conference attendees to just chat, outside of panel rooms. There were rooms set up just for writing, but not for chatting. The amazing on-line chapter for Regency authors, The Beau Mond, holds a mini-con every year at National, and for once that didn’t conflict with the Wednesday immersion class.

The sad news is that Nationals will likely never come back to San Diego. In part, it’s due to ComicCon International. So much goes on in July in America’s Finest City that hotels don’t have to try to lure big groups in and can name their prices on everything. That’s life, and those are my notes on the Romance Writers of America National Conference 2019. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday with the Word of the Month.

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