RT was a funny conference this year, somewhat different from years past. I heard of no conference scandal at all. Does this mean there was none, or does this mean that I was so buried in meetings that I missed half of what was going on among the attendees? You tell me.
But I tend to think that there was nothing really shocking going on with the attendees. I tend to think that this year, all the buzzing and whispering was happening on the other side of the fence. It was almost as if there were two different conferences occurring in the same venues with the same people on parallel tracks. In the conference that had microphones at podiums, everyone was talking about how great things are despite the economy. In the conference that occurred behind closed doors and whispered in corridors, the talk was all about the economy's impact on the industry. There was no real news in all those whispers, just confirmations of what has been known for months. Print has taken some hits. Digital chugs along on its growth curve. For anyone interested in knowing more about this, just remember the old adage: figures can lie, and liars can figure. If someone throws a number at you, try to figure out where that number is coming from. One good example of this is Amazon's X% growth recently announced in the media. When you look closer to see where that number originates, it's not books. It's electronics and other sectors.
But there is a general feeling that the market may have bottomed out, though happy days aren't quite here again. There is a general feeling that certain retail outlets and distributors, once teetering on the edge of big trouble, might be past the crisis point. There are flashes of hope here and there, and I'm proud to say that my company has been one of those flashes. We've been beating the market for our type of books.
Our Big Announcement
Last Monday night, after months of complex paperwork and negotiations, we finally got word that the ink on our big new deal was dry. What great timing, huh? We were able to leak the announcement to our authors on Tuesday and make the announcement at RT all week long.
Red Sage's stories will be translated and distributed in Japan!
For a small press that's not part of a conglomerate with a built-in funnel to foreign markets, this is a big deal. We had to get this deal the old-fashioned way, with a quality product and lots of tenacity. The books are already being translated -- or, I should say, the first batch of eight books selected by the Japanese publisher. We have only a rough understanding of their timeline right now, but expect the translated books to reach the Japanese market later this year or early next year.
Other RT Tidbits
So that's the general impression of what was happening at the conference.
In no particular order, here are a few other notes and details.
* There is no sign of slowdown in the paranormal romance arena. I had the opportunity to chat with Heather Osborn from Tor books, an acknowledged expert in this subgenre, and her feeling is that because so many of the younger readers grew up on these kinds of stories, the trendline on paranormal will remain strong for years to come. I tend to agree with her.
* But paranormal is shifting around a bit. In pitching alley, every time I had a moment between pitches and could eavesdrop, I heard the word zombies. I entertained myself by imagining a hot erotic zombie hero who has to eat lots of -- well, not brains. 'Nuff said.
* Larissa Ione was the star of this conference. Everywhere you went, people were buzzing about her. We're very proud that the industry's newest NYT initiate is part of the Red Sage family. She and Cynthia Eden, another Secrets alum to hit the bigs, signed books for hours at the Red Sage party. Those ladies are champions. They deserve all their success, and more.
* Big thanks to the RT volunteers, the Mr. Romance candidates, and hotel staff who worked so hard to make the Red Sage Poolside Party a huge hit. We're especially grateful that hotel staff let us stay an hour past our scheduled time so that all the partygoers could get their books signed. RT staff was very nice to us, and let me tell you, we noticed.
* Kathryn Falk looks amazing. I want to know what face cream she uses. Her skin glows.
* Gritty realism is less appealing to readers right now. (Think cop stories, romantic suspense, etc.) Escapist fantasies are driving sales in this economy. Some publishers (Avon and Harlequin, in particular) also report successes with the cozier family stories. Of course, these trends might not hold beyond the edge of the bad economy, so if gritty crime dramas are your thing, you might find some light at the end of the tunnel. Just wait it out.
* I've heard confirmed reports that two houses either don't copy edit at all or expect their editors to also do their own copy editing. No, I won't tell you which houses, and I doubt you'd be able to guess. Well, you can probably guess one of them if you've been paying attention at all. It just seems to me to be a questionable efficiency measure.
* Conference attendance was down, but you never would have known it from wandering the conference center. I attribute this to the weird layout of the place. Long narrow halls can feel crowded even if there are just a handful of people in them.
* People didn't like the hotel, not at all. The multi-building layout and lack of elevators was a real problem for some, and there was no easily accessible bar close to the conference hub. Bad layout. The Red Sage suite was lovely, spacious, and well-appointed. But my adjoining room was loaded with problems -- burned out bulbs, broken coffeemaker, no modem or other internet access. The modem thing was a big problem because the hotspots in the rest of the hotel were, well, cool at best. I never once managed to pick up a web signal with my laptop, no matter where I tried. The first thing I did at the airport was check email, and I almost cried when they called my flight and my inbox was still insanely packed with unread messages.
* I was asking around for three things: longer (over 40k, but especially 70-100k) stories for our e-books program, M/M of any length for our e-books program, and resumes for acquisitions editors. I need to hire some freelancers. Soon.
* I heard through the grapevine that a woman had scheduled a pitch with me, but due to a mixup, it wasn't on the schedule and I was released from pitching alley before she arrived. Still trying to find that woman and make a connection with her. Can anyone help?
I'm probably forgetting a lot because I have that post-conference hit-by-bus feeling. Anyone wondering about anything in particular?