Friday, July 22, 2016

Romance Writer's of America Conference - One Author's View (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I'm going to wow you right up front. Because I don't do 'wow' well. I love going to RWA's national conference. I love the friendships, the socializing, the fun. I just don't ever seem to be aware of it all as it's happening. I am a writer. My psyche needs writing nutrition about as critically as my body needs food. I had grandiose plans of meets and greets and drink sit downs. Of hugs and relationships - solidifying in person the on-line friendships and business partnerships that are developed over the year. And then my feet hit the ground in San Diego and all I could think about was work. It's why I'm there. I only have four days to get my business done. To soak in every ounce of information I can get. If I'd been in the sun, I'd have been really tan!

But...I did relax and have a blast at the Harlequin VIP suite before the big Harlequin Author Bash on Friday night. We had our hair and make-up done, and a photo shoot - all while being plied with libation and...edible delicacies. I remember mango salad on thick cucumber slices. Shrimp on skewers. Some kind of beef dumpling. Bacon wrapped scallops. Trays were passed under my nose. I was encouraged to eat due to the alcohol that was also flowing freely. As I said, it was a blast.

Most of my conference time was spent in meetings with my publisher. We learned about current social media trends, market trends, and publisher specific goals and plans. For instance, industry wide, print sales were up 2% last year and up an additional 2% this year! eBook sales are holding steady - no longer climbing, but not decreasing, either. And there's been a new surge of independent, brick and mortar bookstores!!

For the first time ever, Nielson Book Scan - the collector of numbers for seemingly forever, held a full day mini-conference within the RWA conference. Members had to pay extra, but could attend this primarily publisher and industry specialists event. A re-cap was presented to any published authors who wanted to attend a special Published Author Network session and good material came from that as well. The Romance genre is alive and well.

And then there is a part of conference that I haven't missed since my first time signing in 1993 - the Reader's For Life Literacy Signing.
This is my fellow Superromance author Claire McEwen at the signing! It was a crazy night. And best of all - we - RWA's Authors and signing attendees - hit the $1,000,000.00 mark for contribution to the fight against illiteracy nationwide. So so proud of us all!

According to the conference agenda, there was also three days of wonderful, meaty, informative workshops and keynote speeches. Though I tried to attend, intended to attend, I missed every single one of them in lieu of other appointments. I tried to schedule drinks, and time to talk with fellow authors that I only get to see once a year, and missed that, too. On Friday, I had a business breakfast at 6:30 am and didn't stop until I was back in my hotel room sometime after midnight that night.

My last minute thoughts? I can't wait until next year! Orlando, here we come!

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