Sunday, April 26, 2009

RT09 Report

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?



Dara Edmondson said...

I had a great time at the conference, particularly meeting the Red Sage gang;-)
I had the good fortune or misfortune (jury's still out on how this affected my book sales) to sit next to Barry Eisler for the book signing. I played his photographer several times when readers wanted their picture taken with him. Didn't hurt his sales any that he was the only man signing among 300 female authors. Also working in his favor is that he's smart, funny and pretty darned hot.
On the other side I had Cynthia Eden, who is an absolute doll and had a respectably sized and well deserved crowd around her most of the time. All in all, I had a blast this week.

Saskia Walker said...

I've been following all the reports, tweets and blogs, avidly. Felt very proud to be a Red Sage author! Just wish I could have been there.

Liane Gentry Skye said...

I can't say that I heard any hints of scandal, but yes, this was a different get together, more of small groups hanging out doing their own thing than the 24/7 party from years past. For me, the Red Sage events were truly the highlight of the week. I never dreamed I'd write at RT, but got one short and two chapters done.

I also noticed that this RT crowd was older--I imagine it's hard for students and young aspiring and first time authors to fork out the cash for big conferences right now. Maybe that accounts for the quieter nature of the crowd. I have to admit that I liked it.

Riley Murphy said...

Congratulations on the deal, Theresa! You guys deserve all good things. You try so hard - it's nice to know that it's rewarded on occasion! The best of luck with all of that.

And as an aside? You had to know that I nearly fell off my chair reading your zombie comment. HILARIOUS!!!

Julie Harrington said...

Hm. I wonder if the Zombie-isms of the paranormals is more about zombie hunters or zombie "issue settlers." I know there's a series out there already that's going in that direction. But for a hero and heroine? Hm. I wonder how that'd work. Or maybe they're talking necromancers. Huh. Now I'm all curious. :D


Edittorrent said...

RE: the zombie thing--

Now you know what we do to entertain ourselves between pitch appointments. We either chat with the other editors and agents in the room, or, if they're busy, we imagine a whole new kind of flesh-eating zombies.

I don't honestly know if there would be a way to make a zombie hero. It would have to be sort of campy and funny to work at all, wouldn't it?


Riley Murphy said...

Zombie hero?! Where's the 'EW' factor on this one? Which got me to thinking...(insert one brow hitched up in a curious fashion). How about this pitch:

A love so deep that even a stint in the graveyard, couldn’t kill it. Two soulless mates with a hankering for earthly pleasures, lure a daring, self-assured ‘wanna be’ witch, to their tomb on All Hallows Eve. She has ideas about raising the dead, they have ideas about raising her skirt - and what none of them realize is that ‘this seeming recipe for disaster’ cooks up a heady brew - potent enough to bring the dead back into living...

The title of this Campy and funny tale? ‘Mange e’ tois’ of course.:)

PS : I hope I spelled eat correctly. The most I got from French class was: 'Le Chat sur la table' (the cat under the table). Well, that and 'Henry is at the door' - but seeing as how I didn't know anyone named Henry that phrase never stuck.

Unknown said...

Murphy! That's brilliant! LOL! I'd read it.:)

Adrian said...

A few weeks ago on, there was a link to a graph that showed that the number of Zombie movies produces correlated to bad economies.

em said...

I had to read it again! LOL! I think I like it, too. How weird is that?

Anonymous said...

Murph, did you write it or are you going to? Truthfully, I thought there would be zombie mania before this and your idea has merit. How else would you do it? I think paranormal is fading away fast. Lets hope not. I like the genre so I was encouraged by the comments on this post. It's always a pleasure to come by and see what you guys are talking about. Such interesting stuff.:-)

Wes said...

Erotic zombies??????? Murph, you are too much.

Riley Murphy said...

Well, someone had to get the ball rolling...let's hope it's doesn't roll too close to the zombies - I've heard that they deteriorate in such a way, that body parts can easily fall off of them...Hey, hey, hey - I was thinking ear, nose a finger perhaps?...What were all you guys thinking?! Um, have you been talking to Theresa? I think she may be an expert on the subject.