Thursday, August 16, 2012

Romance Writers of Australia - conference day one wrap up

This is me at tonight's
Harlequin author dinner
with a couple of the cute
sexy gifts from the tables!
Hi everyone! Here I am on the Gold Coast -- and it's warm, and sunny and there's blue sky! Feels like forever since I've seen any of those things! Mind you there hasn't been much time to enjoy it since I got here -- the schedule has been jam-packed full of stuff to listen to, take in and talk about, not to mention all the wonderful people to meet.

I wanted to provide a quick run-down of Day One -- my first Author's Day (known in the inner circle as "A Day"). So here I go. Forgive me if you find any typos or weird sentence constructions -- it's been a big day, it's late, and I've just got back from the Harlequin authors "Naughty or Nice" dinner. But more on that later!

A few of the gorgeous LoveCats ladies (L-R): Helen Lacey,
Annie West, Michelle Douglas and Sue Mackay.
First off, I got to say hello to a few of the gorgeous LoveCats who I'm lucky enough to blog with regularly. It was great to finally put faces to names to some of those I hadn't met before. We've put together an awesome LoveCats gift hamper for the charity auction, which includes a couple of my books!

This is only my second full conference (I went to a workshop in 2010 at Coogee) and I have to say I've already felt much more comfortable this year. There are just more people wandering around that I know and I feel a little more confident about walking up to people and introducing myself.

In terms of the sessions today, to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. But there was a good, interesting mix of content. The self-publishing panel was a fascinating insight into how some authors are making self-publishing work for them. What I appreciated most was the level of detail that they discussed about the various platforms, their pros and cons, and how to get the most out of each. The presenters were incredibly generous about sharing their personal information about sales figures and dollars -- which made the session very valuable. Key learnings for me (may not have been the same for everyone):

  • use a professional formatting service because you don't need that drama
  • ensure your cover reflects your genre and works well as a thumbnail (and a good cover is one thing to invest in!)
  • "discoverability" is key
  • you need to learn Amazon and how to make its system work for you. 

I can usually resist table mints. But
Fantales? Who can resist Fantales??
We then had a session from Google+ which, I figured would just be a giant advertisement for Google+. And . . . it was a giant advertisement for Google+. And YouTube. (Which Google owns). But that doesn't mean it wasn't useful. They are doing some really amazing things for the romance community and the word "community" was used a lot. I really liked that they had looked at what users found least likable about other social media platforms and deliberately set out to fix those things.

As a result, I now have a Google+ account. Except right now I can't work out how to provide you with a link to my profile and/or page. Luckily, the Google people are around for the conference, so I'll ask them tomorrow and get back to you on that.

In the afternoon we had a brilliant session from Kate Cuthbert on how to organise (and handle) reviews. I found this very useful as a relative newbie, although I think I've been reasonably good at sticking to Kate's advice. (Still it was nice to know I was doing the right thing!) Her key message was "Don't take it online!". If a reviewer, or a reader, says something you disagree with, call your friends, your mum, someone, and complain, but don't ever, ever, go into battle online. Good advice.

After Kate's session we separated into groups and I spent the rest of the afternoon with the lovey group of ladies that made up the Aussie contingent of Harlequin authors. I managed to get them to all pose for me in a photo:
Too many super-stars for me to name them all here. 
And then, with barely a moment's pause it was on to the Penguin event for the launch of their new Destiny romance line.

There were readings from their first release books and, most importantly, champagne cocktails -- by this time it had already been a long day, and a drink was sorely required. As well as hearing all about the new Destiny line, it was a lovely time to catch up with everyone who'd flown in during the day and say hello before I whisked myself off for the next, and final, event of the day.

The Harlequin authors' dinner was a highlight for me last year, because I was presented with the "new chick" gift. It was lovely to watch someone else receive that this year. There were a number of presentations, including the famous "Woman Fuzzies Awards". There were also four 25-book pins to present. That's 100 books in total from four authors!!

One of the winners of the stunning 25-book ruby pins was the amazing Sarah Mayberry, a fellow SuperRomance author and all-round cool gal. There was much cheering and applause and then there was a standing ovation for a special presentation to legendary NZ author Helen Bianchin.

Sarah and I with her gorgeous pin! 
And, that, my dear readers, is that. Day One done! I'm really, really tired. But in a good way. I'm hoping I might be able to bring you a similar wrap up for Day Two, but it really depends on how much fun I have at the cocktail party and whether or not I'm in any shape to blog. :)

For now, good night!


  1. Thanks Emmie. What a great round-up. Keep them coming for we who can't be there and have a fabulous time :)

    1. Thanks Margaret! I'm going to do my best to keep up a daily update -- we'll have to see how I go!