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May 7, 2013

Report From RT13

This past week I attended my first Romantic Times convention in Kansas City with my fellow Princess Sylvia McDaniel. RT has always been billed as a readers convention, where avid fans of romance can meet the authors whose work they love, but in recent years the con has added a craft track for writers as well. 

All in all, I had a wonderful time. I found the vibe at RT to be playful and exuberant. There were parties and games and all sorts of give-aways. There were dress-up parties of every sort, from the Western Saloon Girl party I co-hosted with a fabulous group of historical writers, to Steampunk and Regency Soirees, and a Vampire Ball. Writers and readers wore a variety of costumes throughout the week, competing for prizes for the most elaborate and convincing get-ups. 

Despite all the cos-play, I did manage to learn a thing or two professionally. As a whole continues to be a dynamic, rapidly changing industry, and that no one approach (traditional NY publisher, independent small publisher, digital publisher or self-publishing) is best, nor desirable. The authors who seemed the most content and confident, were those who are publishing their works across all formats (trad and self), at a variety of price points, and in a variety of lengths (collections of stories, novellas & novels). 

There were some genres that are ‘hot’ (hello “New Adult!) and some genres rumored to be losing steam (Urban Fantasy and especially Historical always seems to be rumored to be ‘dead’ when the NYT and Amazon lists clearly show both are alive and well.)


But the greatest common denominator is that those authors who are the most successful, across a variety of publishing formats, are those writers who are passionate about their genres, and deliver GREAT stories to readers. 

For me personally, the highlight of the week was the huge author signing that took pace on Saturday. There were hundreds of authors, thousands of readers and hundreds of thousands of books! I sold books to readers who had never heard of me, and I sold books to readers who had loved my previous books, and I even managed to sell a book to a reader who took the time to find me, and tell me that she didn’t like one of my books! (She didn’t like that she had to “wait until France for them to have sex” in Almost A Scandal) But the loveliest moment was when I had the honor of signing a copy of my debut novel, The Pursuit of Pleasure that an avid reader brought from home with her.  

The best ‘takeaway’ from the conference is that I made new friends (just like we were supposed to do when our moms sent us off to school at the beginning of each school year). I made new friends who are authors, I made new friends who are readers. I connected with both authors and readers who are my friends on Facebook. I reconnected with old friends I only get to see once or twice a year and deepened those friendships.  

All that socializing may seem like a frivolous waste of conference time, but writing and publishing can be a fraught, soul-crushing business, and the people who are going to see us through it are our fellow authors. Gather your friendships close and cherish them. And then form a group like the Plotting Princesses. :)




Sylvia said...

I had a fabulous time and learned so much. I will attend next year and I hope to use some of what I learned at RT to RomCon. The best part of the conference for me was meeting so many readers and writers. I made some new friends and I hope to work with them on a panel next year for RT. The Indie booksigning was disappointing, but the number of readers at the main booksigning was phenomenal. I will attend again and hope to sign at the big booksigning next year.

Elizabeth Essex said...


Get your panel idea in ASAP. I heard you need to submit for next year as soon as this year is done!

And I'm sorry the indie book fair/signing was a disappointment, but I was impressed firstly that RT had the initiative to try to have a big independent booksigning, and secondly by how many authors there were there with great books to sell. I think it bodes well for the future.

And the number of readers at the main booksigning was phenomenal. It stood as a true testament to the original purpose of the RT convention to bring reader and authors together.

So glad we got to hang out and drink some scotch together! :)

Elizabeth Essex said...

I forgot to include my GIVEAWAY in the post - so here's the fine print:


Don't be shy! Comment today. :)

Diane said...

Sounds like you had a great time! I hope to go next year.

Elizabeth Essex said...


RT14 will be in New Orleans, and I imagine that the city will be a big draw to bring people to the conference. I'm looking forward to it myself. I'm pretty sure I'll be doing a VooDoo Queens party, as well as (hopefully) a Lady Jane's Salon reading from works in progress.

It will be wonderful.

Thanks so much for stopping by to chat! Cheers, EE

Kathy Ivan said...

Well, Ms Essex didn't you look just lovely in your party dress.

Glad you had a fabulous time. I'm saving up my pennies so I can go next year to New Orleans. It sounds like it will be one heck of a party.

Thanks for posting about your special RT trip with the Princesses today.

Kathy Ivan said...

Well, Ms Essex didn't you look just lovely in your party dress.

Glad you had a fabulous time. I'm saving up my pennies so I can go next year to New Orleans. It sounds like it will be one heck of a party.

Thanks for posting about your special RT trip with the Princesses today.

Michelle Miles said...

Sounds like you had a great time! Wish I could have been there with you ladies. :)

Elizabeth Essex said...

It was a wonderful experience, Kathy, and I am already saving my promotion pennies for next year's conference as well.

It promises to be a great time. Roadtrip anyone?

Thanks for stopping by to chat.

Cheers, EE

Elizabeth Essex said...

I wish you could have been there, too, Michelle. (I could barely keep up with Sylvia on my own. :)

I hope more authors are available to take advantage of this conference next year. :)

Cheers, EE

Kimberly Kincaid said...

I think I took that picture in the lobby ;) How funny!

I agree that the vibe of RT was very social and fun, while there was still a chance for authors to gather professional information and meet and greet readers. A win for everyone, really.

As far as any subgenre being "dead"...I think there are tides (how's that for a nautical reference, Ms. Essex? ;) They come in and flow out, but really, they always return, often even better and fresher than when they waned.

Looking forward to all great romance from the authors I met!

Elizabeth Essex said...


THanks so much for stopping by to chat. And I LOVE the nautical reference, and agree that there are tides, ebbing and flowing, in publishing.

There has been a lot of scuttlebutt (another nautical word) on other blogs this weeks about the historical being dead, or readers wanting it to 'die' in it's present , dominated-by-regencies-with-dukes-and-society form. But the readers weren't saying they wanted it to go away—they were just saying they wanted more choices, and I think the very diverse publishing market we have at the moment is primed to deliver. :)

Cheers, EE

Elizabeth Essex said...

AND our WINNER for one title from my backlist AND a good bag straight from the Jazz Breakfast at RT is...... DIANE.

Diane please message me on FB, or email me at: elizabeth (at) elizabethessex (dot) com.

Congrats and cheers, EE

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Thanks for posting all this!! Y'all looked like you were having fun.

My new editor asked me if I'd gone... I guess next year I'll be going with you guys.

Elizabeth Essex said...

Yeah, Kathleen! So glad to know you'll be coming to New Orleans.

And now that we have a few intending to go, and thoughts toward putting together a panel? What might the Plotting Princesses have to share with the world?

Let's think about it. :)

Cheers, EE