Aideen and I attended Romantic Times at the end of April and really had an amazing experience. The staff of RT was wonderfully supportive of us and excited about the launch of Carina Press. Everyone from Kathryn Falk and Ken Rubin to Carol Stacy, Jo Carol, Liz French, Morgan Doremus, Elissa Petruzzi, Faygie, Whitney and all of the other staff members and volunteers we spoke with over the course of the week were enthusiastic about this new venture. Every time I turned around, there was another RT staff member telling us they couldn’t wait to read the Carina books.
And not only were they graciously enthusiastic about Carina, but they put together a fantastic conference. This was my fifth RT and by far the best I’ve ever attended. The Hyatt Regency Columbus was the perfect conference hotel–the staff there was ultra-efficient and the hotel itself has a very savvy person behind the @HyattColumbus Twitter feed, so huge kudos to them. Beyond that, Jo and Carol have much to be proud of in all the hard work they put into bringing this conference together. I know Jo didn’t get much sleep for many, many days but from my end, she made it look effortless at times.
So what about our conference experience itself? Poor Aideen spent much of her time at Club RT manning the Carina Press and Harlequin tables, sneaking out when she could to attend workshops (next year we’re bringing extra staff so she has help!) She was the friendly redhead many of you met, and the whiz behind organizing the Carina presence at RT, including the brochures, the awesome portfolios that were in the registration bags, the banners, and last, but not least, the Carina luncheon. Compared to that, my part was easy!
I arrived early in the week and, as I have for the last four years, gave the closing session at Judi McCoy and Bobbi Smith’s pre-conference writer’s workshops on Tuesday afternoon. I love closing their workshop off, because they have so many enthusiastic new writers with questions to ask. Right after this, I ran up to registration where I got my badge and a copy of the June RT magazine. And this is what I saw when I flipped to page 12:
Of course I knew there was going to be an article, because I’d done the interview with the fabulous Elissa Petruzzi, but I had no idea I was going to have my picture front and center–and in a Kindle no less! I immediately danced around the registration area announcing that I had “arrived” (pictorial proof of that can be found via this tweet). Thanks so much to Elissa for an incredibly flattering article about both me and Carina.
On Wednesday I did a two-hour session with very business-smart author Lauren Dane. We ran a workshop on being an author in the digital publishing age. If ever you’re an author with questions, wondering what it’s like to write for both a digital-first press and a traditional press, Lauren’s a fantastic person to ask. For those who are interested in that workshop, I’ll be doing a similar version (though only one hour) at RWA Nationals with the also smart Jaci Burton.
On Thursday, I sat on the editor panel. That’s always an interesting experience because there’s a short amount of time (an hour), a lot of editors (at least 12?) and everyone wants to speak up and get the word out about the fabulosity (yes, I made that word up) of their publisher. I didn’t speak much because others had more to say, but I hope that didn’t lead any authors in the audience to believe I wasn’t interested in their questions. Also, anyone in the audience will probably tell you my sense of humor is fully intact. Editor panels tend to bring out my wicked humor for some reason!
Friday was a busy day for us. First, Aideen and I ran the Carina Press spotlight. We were thrilled to have two guests in the audience to support us: Harlequin CEO & Publisher Donna Hayes and Loriana Sacilotto, Executive Vice President of Global Publishing and Strategy (no, no I wasn’t nervous about that, why do you ask? Heh). We had a full room and a lot of fantastic questions.
From there I was off to a one hour session with Jane Litte of Dear Author and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. We did a session on reading digital that included an eight-question process to buying an ereader, as well as an opportunity for everyone in the audience to get their hands on the Kobo Reader, a Sony Pocket Reader and Sony Touch, an iPad, a nook, a Kindle, an iPhone and a netbook. And I need to give special thanks to both Kobo and Sony, who sent me devices so I would have demo models for not only RT (where Aideen was also able to demo them at Club RT), but at future conferences. Up next, I’ll have them at the Lori Foster Get Together and my Birmingham RWA Chapter appearance! We were also fortunate to have a Sony Touch to give away, compliments of All Romance eBooks/OmniLit (they also had some of the coolest stickers as swag that said “ebook addict”). I tell you, we have some very generous partners in the digital space and we’re grateful to them for helping us spread the digital love (or, as I always say, drag people to the digital dark side). If you’re interested in more about that session, Jane did a blog post based on some of our information here.
After this session was what Aideen has been working up to for month’s: the Carina Press launch lunch. Our goal for this lunch was always to use it as an introduction to Carina Press without doing a hard sell. We know that people like free food (and goodies) but also appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the free food without listening to a lengthy speech. Especially when they’ve already been attending workshops all morning and would be going back to them again. Thanks to the people at Barnes and Noble, we had a nook to give away at the luncheon. The winner was actually a bookseller (who assured me she planned to use it and had plans for what books she’d be buying–I hope she meant Carina books! ;) ) In addition to the nook giveaway, and keeping in mind our goal of not holding people hostage with a long speech, I gave a short welcome speech:
At the end of the speech we introduce a video. Rather than watching it on the blurry, bouncy (I swear Aideen wasn’t drinking) video, you can view it here:
Whew! It was pretty thrilling to get to introduce Carina Press to the RT attendees, and I’m still coming down off that high!
Friday, as I said, was a busy day for me and I left the luncheon and ran over to take pitches for a few hours before the digital book fair began. I was able to end my conference with a day of “rest” on Saturday, and enjoy both the book fair and time spent with readers, authors and other industry professionals. I gathered a metric ton of swag, which will be part of the Carina Press Countdown giveaway (participate on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog to win!) and also got a huge bag of signed books from authors, which I’ll be giving away on my personal blog in honor of Carina’s launch at the beginning of June.
Overall, though I had to spend quite a few hours in my hotel room working in order to get the Countdown going and to meet production deadlines for the books, I had a terrific time. As I said, I thought this was the best RT yet, both in terms of my experience, the hotel and the RT staff’s energy and dedication to making it the best. I appreciate everyone who showed us support, stopped me to tell me how excited they are about the launch of Carina and that they can’t wait to read the books. I can’t wait for you to read them either!