Sunday, August 19, 2012

Romance Writers of Australia - conference day three wrap up

The shoes! 
So, how long can Emmie live on too much wine and not enough sleep? Three days, apparently. The red wine this evening, although the exact same wine as I've been merrily gobbling up for the past few nights, just didn't taste quite right. But that's okay, because there was so much going on that made being a little more alert and alive worthwhile.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First off, the question everyone on Facebook wanted to know -- would I be brave enough to wear the leopard-print platform heels I'd bought a few weeks back?? And the answer was YES! But only up to lunchtime, then I had to swap to ballet flats. They were actually surprisingly more comfortable (and stable) than I'd thought. Although I did feel VERY tall in them.

Fuzzy pic of
Eloisa James
The keynote speaker this morning was Eloisa James. She gave a terrific keynote full of touching moments and personal anecdotes about her personal journey to writing success. She had the entire room swallowing back tears as she told the story of her mother and her own journey into motherhood. Her key messages were about using the emotions and moments of your own life to build your stories -- "best sellers are born of strong emotion," she said.

Fun fact I learned from the Harlequin presentation this morning: 1 in every 6 mass market books sold in North America is a Harlequin. Whoa.

The lovely Paula Roe took
this photo of me at lunch
with my virgin pina colada!
After this, I have to admit, my conference coverage is woefully inadequate for a while. I had a couple of people to meet, and then Birgit Davis-Todd from the Toronto office of Harlequin took me and a few of the other authors from the Toronto-based lines out for lunch and to catch up. Yes, you heard it right -- I had to go have lunch with my publisher (still so exciting to say that). :)

So the next session I attended was titled New York, New Directions, and it was a panel made up of literary agent Helen Breitwieser, editor from St. Martin's Press Monique Patterson, authors Alexandra Sokoloff and Eloisa James and Harlequin editor Birgit Davis-Todd.

I wrote quite a few notes from this session because I thought there were some interesting things discussed. The two questions that were asked that provoked the most interesting answers were:

What will publishing look like in two years?

  • people will continue to be reading more than ever
  • we will need to find new ways to reach readers who are no longer browsing for books in bookstores -- options like "gamification" and using online algorithms to find them will become important, as readers want to become immersed in the world of their authors (I'm really interested in exploring this topic further!) 
  • there will be more overlap between books, TV, movies and games
  • e-readers continue to provide a more immediate and intimate connection between authors and readers -- and so does social media
  • authors need to be aware of their on-line brand (their franchise, Eloisa James called it) and reputation and of the intimacy of relationships with readers now -- readers think they know you
  • marketing, distribution, etc, might change, but at heart readers will still always want a good story
  • writers shouldn't worry too much about trends -- your book might be the one that starts the next trend! 

What are you buying?

  • yes, stuff like 50 Shades of Gray -- it is big right now, but it could die quickly too
  • stories with strong elements of home and community and comfort -- given how much people travel these days and live away from extended family, they like to feel they are "going home" when they read fiction
  • war themes are not very popular right now -- too close to difficult realities esp, in the US
  • highlander romances

It was a very good panel session and all the speakers provided great information.
And so the Awards night begins! 
Pretty jewelled table decorations at the dinner
- plus plenty of Baci chocolates too! 
This evening, of course, was the fabulous RWA Awards dinner. This time last year, I was on the high of my first sale, I won the Emerald, and I was emcee for the dinner as well. It's been quite a year! I have to say, it was lovely to sit back and relax and enjoy the evening and applaud for all the worthy winners. Anne Gracie's traditional "stand up" closing was as energising and awe-inspiring as usual.
Me and my room-mate for the conference, the amazing
Ebony McKenna. Despite the dim lighting, I'm sure my
bloodshot eyes are detectable.. ;)
Definitely time for me to hit "publish" and then hit the hay! Another big day tomorrow!


  1. Thanks for the overview. It was a great day and thrilling evening.

    1. Thanks for the comment Fiona! It was a great night!!

  2. Great blog, Emmie! I can't believe you wrote all that while at conference. We stay-at-homes appreciate the updates. Looks like you had a fab time. Love your leopard print shoes!

    1. The shoes were pretty awesome -- I think they're going to need another outing soon!

      Glad to hear the updates have been of interest!

  3. Hi Emmie... I've got a pic of the award dinner's table setting that looks just like yours - funny that. It was lovely to meet you and sit next to you at the dinner. I had such great table companions.

    All the best, Cheeries


    1. Hi Gabrielle! Was great to meet you too, and have a chance to talk and relax at dinner -- we certainly did have a great table! Best of luck with your writing -- see you round on Twitter etc!!