Sunday, June 10, 2012

Loveletter Magazine Readers' Conference 2012

Spandau
PHS Editor and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles attended the first Loveletter Magazin conference in Berlin 2-3 June

Jenna threw down the gauntlet on Friday, so this is my report for the Pink Heart Society on the awesomeness of the Loveletter Convention and European readers in general .

The first panel: Maya Banks, Michelle Styles, Lara Adrian
listening intently to a question in German
The amount of love and generosity I received at the Loveletter Convention in Spandau, Berlin, Germany was awesome.  No writer could ask for a more life-affirming experience. there is just something about being surrounded by readers and people who truly love books.

A pair of readers
I had never been to a Reader’s conference before. The conferences I had attended were writers’ but when the publisher of Loveletter, Kris Alice Hohls asked me if I wanted to go I jumped at the chance. This is despite not really speaking German. Kris assured me that it would be fine and she was right.

There was an air of friendliness and inclusively. Everyone was accessible. Unlike a lot of conferences, there was no author's lounge because Kris wanted the authors to be able to meet and greet readers.  As ever, some of the best conversations happened outside the ladies.
2nd blind date
The attendees were mostly from Germany but there was a Dutch contingent, Austrian, and Scandinavian as well. It is easy to forget how large Germany is. Hamburg where  Harlequin Germany (Cora) is based is four hours from Berlin. Several readers had taken the all night bus from Vienna.  I was far from the start attraction but I was made to feel very welcome and wanted.

I arrived the evening before and walked around Spandau. Unlike most of Berlin, Spandau escaped the bombing during WW2 and remains a very pretty town with some medieval buildings, including a magnificent castle. Saturday morning breakfast was at the hotel and I met a very lovely translator who explained the art of doing translations and how difficult it can be when the author indulges in double entendre and word play.

Doing a reading in the dance studio
The  first people I met at the conference were the lovely and totally crazy Realms On Our Bookshelves ladies from the Netherlands.   They were so nice and it was wonderful to finally meet all of them in person after reading their reviews for a number of years.  

The first panel was on historical and I was more than a bit nervous. But thanks to Sandy Schwab, Lara Adrian and Maya Banks, I was soon at my ease.  The German historical market is slightly different from the UK or US markets. There is a greater emphasis on the unusual time periods. American west is not popular and Regency is so-so. Lots of people were excited when I explained that I wrote Viking. A panel on category swiftly followed (again the German market is different from the US and UK). Then my first Blind date.

With Anna, one of the lovely readers I met
 More than anything I had feared the blind dates – a chance to meet with a small group of readers and tell them about you. I brought books as an icebreaker and the Blind date turn out to be far more fun than I had dreamt. There is just something about talking to people who are avid readers.

Everyone liked my shoes. The afternoon passed in a blur of more panels and signing the catalogue and finally I did my reading. I had a very nice group who put me at ease.

Someone started asking the attending authors to sign their conference bag and it caught on.

The starters on the buffet
Kris had arranged for a gala dinner at the castle. The buffet was excellent and the venue unique. The one unfortunate part is that if you are in an underground vault, noise really echoes. But the company was wonderful. I sat across from Larissa Ione and her husband.

With more readers who were absolutely fantastic
Sunday saw an early start. This time I shared breakfast with a paranormal author and  it was interesting to hear what is happening in self publishing. Then it was time for a panel on trends, another blind date which again went wonderfully and a Q&A with Tina Dick.  And I discovered how to play a German word game. So much fun. Lots and lots of laughter. My team didn’t win but we certainly tried the hardest and had the best words.

Finally at the end of the conference, I did a signing – 140 books in about an hour, plus catalogues, bags, kindles, laminated covers and assorted items. I also had the great pleasure of having my picture taken with some of the ladies I met.

By the end of it, my head spun. I went back to the hotel, intending to rest for a little while before going out for a bite to eat. I woke up at 2 am!

Readers’ conferences are truly glorious things. You get to meet enthusiastic people who truly care about stories. I was made to feel thoroughly welcome and can’t wait to go again next year. Next time though I plan to learn a bit of German so I can do more than smile.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin. Her next book His Unsuitable Viscountess will be published in August 2012 in the US and the UK. You can read more about Michelle's books on her website www.michellestyles.co.uk

6 comments:

  1. Michelle, what a treat. I'm so glad to hear the first German conference was such a success. I've been to readers' events here in Australia and they're so warm and friendly. A great way to spend a few days, talking to other romance lovers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Annie --
    It would such fun to go a reader event in OZ!
    You know thatshould you decide that you want to go to the next German one, you would be welcomed with open arms!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michelle, it was great to finally meet you in person! I'm only sorry that I missed you on Sunday afternoon to say goodbye. (I'm afraid, by that time I had already sunk into a post-panel-moderating stupor ...) But I hope I'll see you again at next year's LLC!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michelle, this sounds fabulous! What a wonderful opportunity for you and for your German readers. Thank you so much for sharing pictures! That must have been fascinating, attending events in a castle. And good job on the shoes! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fantastic event, just miserable I've missed it!

    Great blog, more power to you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sandy -- It did get crazy on SUnday afternoon. I am planning on going next year!

    Kathy -- It was wonderful. I was so pleased my shoes were a hit as my husband hates my shoes. Luckily I did not marry him for his taste in shoes!

    Portland Oregon Shopping. Glad you enjoyed the blog.

    ReplyDelete