It seems criminal that it should have taken me this long to write about my first full day at RT, but what can I say — I’ve been working, and working is a good thing; it means income and the ability to pay off bills, like the big one I’ll get for attending RT.
Anyway, I got up early on Wednesday so I could line up, officially register, and get my badge — the passport to all RT events, they like to call it. That was easy enough to do, though it did disturb me a little that no one asked for my ID. But I guess no one would want to walk around RT with the name April Martinez around their neck — well, except maybe me. I think I’d rather walk around RT with the name Nora Roberts around my neck and see what THAT gets me.
There was another line for the registration bag full of goodies, including two novels and a bunch of promotional material from attending authors. This turned out to be the first of many free bags that come my way during the entire event, and let me tell you, these free bags come in very handy for all the stuff people keep giving away in the hopes you’ll buy their book.
Then I went downstairs and attended one of the orientation workshops available, called RT Convention Virgins, hosted by Sahara Kelly and Amanda McIntyre. They handed out RT Virgin buttons for us all to wear so that everyone else can tell who the newbies are. No one gave us wedgies or threw us in the lockers, though, so the branding of the neophytes was not a bad thing. Questions were answered, suggestions made, and then we were all let out to go stampeding through Promo Alley (OMG, freebies galore!) to the Goody Bag Room FULL of books, and — be still my beating heart — they let us look around and pick nine, yes NINE, books to take for our own. As often as I buy books, read books, and even get books for free in my line of work, I always, always get really excited walking in a room full of books. Most of the authors were completely unfamiliar to me, though, so I selected books either by the quality of their cover art or because of the fact that they were hardcover or signed (“Hm, that’s pretty! Hm, this looks expensive. Hm, this one’s signed!”). I did recognize a couple of author names, though, so I selected those books, too. So when I left the Goody Bag Room, it became necessary for me to pluck another free bag in Promo Alley, and Jade Lee’s big green tote was perfect for all my books.
By this time, I had befriended a reader — whose name I have completely forgotten because I’m an idiot easily overwhelmed by names and faces — and we went to the Welcome Party upstairs with our books in tow. There was tea, coffee, and pastries, to which we helped ourselves, and we waded through the human sea of readers, authors, male cover models, and other industry professionals, looking for a free table with open seats. Keynote speeches were made, and I discovered that on either side of me and my reader friend were a bookseller who won an award at the party (she started to shake when she realized that the presenter was talking about her) and the author Brenda Jackson, whose free Harlequin book I’ve actually read. Gifts were handed out — wine glasses with hand-drawn decorations — and at the end of it all, everyone filed out.
My reader friend and I went downstairs and took a peek at Club RT, where many vendors were still in the process of setting up. We perused all the gift baskets being displayed before it was time for them to be raffled off. Many of them had candy, bath products, and books, and a few had actual e-reading devices. I didn’t sign up for any, but I did enjoy looking around. A Thai bookseller who had attended RT Book Camp the day before came to greet me, and we chatted for a while about our work. Later, Tina and T.A. Chase showed up, with Lila Dubois, and I chatted with them for a while as well. Then it was time to head to my first workshop of the day: E-Book Business: Digital First: Is It For You?
The panelist was Angela James. I probably already knew whatever she had to share with the attendees, but I wanted to attend the panel because it was the only one in that time slot about e-books, and e-books just happen to be my bread and butter. I wanted to see who would attend, how many, and if there would be anyone there whom I should meet and with whom I should exchange business cards. From Angela’s assessment of the room, it turns out that more people attended this year than last … because the e-book business is growing.
I discovered a new publisher during that panel — Chafie Press — and I exchanged business cards in case they needed a cover artist. Networking. Go, me!
The next panel I attended was E-Book Business: Money Matters! ‘Nuff Said, hosted by Jackie Barbosa, Tessa Dare, Lindsey Faber (Samhain Publishing), and Shelli Stevens. Honestly, though, I don’t remember much of it. I should have taken notes, since I can’t for the life of me recall a single audio or visual hint from the depths of my murky mind to even figure out if I enjoyed the panel or not. I might even have to entertain the possibility that I wasn’t there and merely thought I was, though it is more likely that I attended as it was in the same room as Angela James’ panel.
It was also in the same room where Self-Publishing: Digital DIY: The Pros & Cons of Digital Self-Publishing, which I know I attended because I expressly wanted to meet a couple of the panelists. The program lists the panelists as Lori Armstrong (aka Lorelei James), Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Sylvia Day (aka S. J. Day), Delilah Devlin, Lindsey Faber (Samhain Publishing), and Gennita Low. Mark Coker, however, was sick so couldn’t make it. But Sylvia Day and Delilah Devlin, the two authors I wanted to meet, were there, so I introduced myself before the panel started. I’d done covers for them both and wanted to give them some goodies for their book signing later that week. Delilah was especially sweet and asked for a pile of my business cards to give out to anyone who might ask, and she let me know that Jimmy Thomas was in Club RT and that I should drop by and say HI to him.
The panel was to last from 3:30-5:45 pm, a pretty long session, and I honestly wanted to stay the entire time, learn what they had to say about self-publishing — especially as that’s one of the things I do in my line of work, help authors self-publish — and maybe meet a few people that might help or need help. But I also wanted to be at the Publisher Spotlight for Liquid Silver Books, which was only a half hour into the panel. It’s only right that I attend the LSB publisher spotlight, as I happen to be the art director at LSB and have been working at LSB for almost eight years. Plus, I wanted to be there for Tina and the LSB authors. Makes sense, right? That pretty much meant, though, that I could stay only long enough at the self-publishing panel to hear the panelists’ introductions, and then I had to slip out quietly. Oh, decisions, decisions.
I’m glad I went to the publisher spotlight, though. I met Tuesday Dubé, one of my cover artists at LSB, and she was sweet, warm, and enthusiastic through and through. I met many of the LSB authors who came to RT, too, like Pepper Espinoza, who said Vivien Dean would hate to have missed me (she was back in the hotel room, resting). Some of the authors were new and didn’t even have book covers yet, their books still early in production, like Becca Jameson, whose first cover with us I had actually already assigned to Tuesday, though at the time I wasn’t really aware of it — with so many names and faces at RT, I was hard put to try to remember where all the books were in production and to whom I have assigned what project.
Afterwards, I stayed for a little while and attended the Total E-Bound publisher spotlight so I could introduce myself to Claire Siemaszkiewicz, the publishing director with whom I’ve corresponded and worked with on my Total E-Bound covers for three years now. Nikki, who sends me all the contracts, was there, too, assisting with the presentation. They had a very interested author in the room asking really great and probing questions, so I didn’t really get a chance to introduce myself and get to know them before I had to leave quietly to make it to the Happy Hour event that Tina was hosting for all the LSB authors.
The happy hour get-together was where I met more of the authors, especially Vivien Dean. Let me tell you, working as I do at LSB, I get access to all the books there and can read whatever I want, but I’m a slow reader and tend to have eclectic tastes, so I haven’t actually read that many of the LSB books. I have read two of Vivien Dean’s books at LSB, however, and I’m a fan — maybe not a rabid fan, but a fan nonetheless. I’ve always thought that Under a Rogue Moon would make a great movie, and given Vivien’s film background, I’m actually not surprised. Nico Rosso was also there, the only male author in the bar, and I made a mental note to myself about one of his covers in my work queue (new logo!).
Anyway, I had a mojito and tons of spicy buffalo wings, thinking that would be my dinner, but someone suggested dinner at an Italian place a block from the hotel, and so I went, too — there were at least eight of us. Having eaten so much, though, I had only a hearty soup with the evening conversations. I sat between Vivien Dean and Becca Jameson.
Afterwards, I called it a night. I skipped the evening socials, like the Ellora’s Cave Fantasy Party (the theme was Bollywood), and decided to stay in, chat with H.E. on the phone, check e-mail, and go to bed.
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