RT Virgin No More, Part I

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated my blog, even longer since I’ve updated regularly. Yesterday was my birthday, a great time to turn over a new leaf, and since I’m trying to be a good girl, I will attempt this blogging thing once again.

For Drew, and for any others who miraculously still follow Alien Barbecue, I know I still owe you many a post about my trip last October. I’ll get to that, I promise. But this past week, it was all about RT, RT, RT.

RT stands for Romantic Times — they publish a magazine full of book reviews in the romance genre, and every year for the past 28 years, they have a convention where readers, authors, and other industry professionals meet. I’ve been in this business since 2003, and until this year, I had never attended the convention. I’m a cover artist, after all, and the convention isn’t really targeted toward someone like me but really more toward the aspiring author than anything. So I simply couldn’t justify the cost.

However, this year I went.

It was held in Los Angeles this year, so that helped me make this decision. Another thing that helped is the increased profile of the ebook industry and therefore the increased attention to it and the independent publishers at RT as well. They even had a spotlight on graphic novels, too — a definite plus.

So how could I not go? And now having gone, I’m glad I went. For those waiting to hear from me about it, here’s my take on it:

April 5, 2011

I arrived on Tuesday because I didn’t want to have to drive in on Wednesday during the hellish rush hour in L.A. traffic. I checked in early and attended the RT Book Camp, and I finally got to meet in person Angela James, Jane Litte, and Sarah Wendell, people whose blogs and tweets I follow every now and then because, seriously, they’re the Nikki Finke of ebook and romance reading, and if you want to keep up with the industry news, they’re simply whom you follow. Anyway, as popular as they are, I wanted to keep a respectful distance and not impose my presence, but they were friendly and über nice. Angela even took the initiative and suggested I host a session on cover art with her. I was both so pleased I wanted to hug her for being so sweet and so anxious because I’m a total wallflower hermit who had never been to a convention and hadn’t done any public speaking since — good God, I couldn’t even remember. School, maybe? Never mind that I’ve done workshops online or that I’ve actually recently been asked to propose a class at another conference (which I think I will do after all); I simply didn’t feel prepared. There were plenty of other topics, though, so it turned out there wasn’t any room for our session. I was both disappointed and relieved.

As for the sessions themselves, I attended one on social reading, hosted by Ami Greko of Kobo, where we had a really good chat about the experience of reading and the many ways people can share that experience with others. There were probably about 15-20 people in the session, from all walks in the book industry, and the discussion was really lively; everyone participated and had something really great to say that I actually learned a lot in those 40 minutes. For my part, I made at most two comments comparing the experience of reading to the experience of watching movies — some people have to have absolute quiet so they can immerse themselves in the story, after which THEN they’ll discuss it with their friends, and others like to have a running commentary with others AS the story unfolds, like in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The second session I attended, hosted by author Jeannie Lin, was about who reads digital books and who doesn’t, and why or why not. I think the conclusion on that one was that the demographic ranges far and wide and the reasons for choosing digital over print or vice versa also range far and wide. The point is, so many more options are out there, and for whatever reasons, people can now choose what’s best for them and their purposes.

The third session was about the future of libraries, which I believe was hosted by the very likable Katie Dunneback of Copia and/or a librarian from the Los Angeles public library, whose name I’m afraid of butchering in spelling so will just leave off to be safe. As someone who has used the library regularly and often in childhood and as someone who has worked in a library in high school, I had a strong interest in libraries, but I honestly didn’t think I would learn much. I WAS WRONG. I actually had questions to ask once the topic got going, and I learned about Overdrive and how I can borrow an ebook from a library. Unfortunately for me, though, the Huntington Beach public library doesn’t have an ebook lending program at this time. Grr.

For me, the only bump in the discussion was when a latecomer tried to use it as a platform for selling his printing services. “For those of you authors who want to make money, I have goodies for you.” Um. OK. I took one of his free handouts, though, because, hey, I’m a graphic artist and designer; I might be interested in using his services after all.

After the sessions, there was a followup chat to see what people learned, what people liked or didn’t like about the sessions, and even later, there was the cocktail hour at a bar across the street from the hotel. Tina Burns of Liquid Silver Books (the only person I’d ever met before RT!) and author T.A. Chase were there, and I got to meet Marty Mathews and Scott Carpenter, both of Samhain Publishing. For those of my fellow cover artists who are reading this, Scott is actually very nice.

Speaking of cover artists … there were actually FOUR attending RT that I know of, including myself, which was a pleasant surprise to me. More on that later…

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8 Responses to RT Virgin No More, Part I

  1. Frauke says:

    More, more, more! LOL! Thanks for the fab first impressions. And so great to hear that you had even fun networking, my favorite wallflower hermit, you. :)

    I look forward to hearing/reading more about your first RT.

    • April says:

      BTW, Frauke, the trading cards were lovely!! There were so many of them out there, and I know you probably did most of them. :)

  2. Amanda says:

    Great blog April. Glad you’re trying to get back to it.

  3. April says:

    Feel free to whip me if I start to flag a little. :)

  4. Tuesday says:

    Darn, I didn’t get to meet Scott. Well maybe next time. It was fun hanging out with your for a little bit, April. I hope we get to do it again.

  5. April says:

    Ah! You gave it away. Was trying to see if people would guess who the other cover artists were. :-D

  6. Cris says:

    Good shtuff, April! Glad you had fun!

  7. Drew says:

    Hey! I still was checking your blog every so often just to see if you had posted anything new. And today I was rewarded! Very interesting experience. I hope you find the time to write more soon!

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