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July 9, 2013

The Great Hunt for Readers


Some of the Plotting Princesses attended the RomCon Convention, and have been talking about what a great experience it was spending three days with readers. For those who don’t know, RomCon is a romance readers convention. A place where women who love romance novels get together for a weekend. There were silly games, contests, meeting authors and a book signing. Mainly there was just a lot of fun attending events.

As a writer, you want to interact with readers, but sometimes they’re hard to find. I’ve done book signings where there were a few readers lined up, and I’ve done them when I sat there all alone and smiled thinking I’m so uncomfortable, I just wish this hour would end. People will walk by gaze at you and think, oh my God, she wants me to purchase something from her. You can see the panic in their eyes, right before they run.



Look, I’m a writer, I tell stories, but I’m also a reader. We probably share some of the same favorite authors or books. Yes, I hope you will try my stories out, but if you don’t its okay. We still have a lot in common with our love for books and stories.

The reason RomCon worked for me was that we were able to interact without the sales pressure. We could just be friends who have met and are enjoying our love of reading. The games, the speed dating – oh my God, I loved the speed dating. For two minutes, we could sit and talk about books. Playing cover bingo at lunch, gambling (fake money) and the cocktail parties. We hung out together, talked books and had fun.

Sure there was a book signing, but I didn’t feel the pressure to sell, sell, sell. There were quite a few authors there for you to choose from and if you decided to purchase my book, I felt grateful.  I hope for a few hours I was able to entertain you with a great story. But if you didn’t purchase my book, it was okay. It’s hard to compete against Gemma Holiday, Darynda Jones, Allison Brennan, etc. (Though, I did sell every single book I took.)

Please remember, I get up every morning just like you and put my panties on, one leg at a time. I love what I do. I love writing stories, and I know that not everyone is going to appreciate my small-town family stories the way I do. But even if you think I can’t string together a coherent sentence and I haven’t met a comma since sixth grade English, we still have that common thread of loving books, of loving great stories, of loving reading. And it’s fun to hang out together and learn there are other areas in our life that we probably have in common.

So have you ever attended a reader’s conference? Contact me if you’d like a list of Readers events. I’m trying to compile a list for next year because I want to attend as many as I can.  If you’re looking for a girl’s weekend away, try one of these events. Maybe I’ll see you there.

34 comments:

Elizabeth Essex said...

Sylvia:

I loved Romcon13 as well because it was so intimate and fun! I had a blast, and I think that readers who attended did to. It will definitely be on my list to do next year.

I just added another potential romance convention to my list, but I think it will be for British Isles set Historicals. Fellow SMP author Valerie Bowman just tweeted that Gretna Green, Scotland is thinking of hosting a Romance Convention. I'm nearly giddy with delight at the idea. :)

Cheers and happy writing all!

featherpenstartandreams said...

Fortuitous timing on this post. I'm desperately trying to reach new readers. But as a self-published writer working a full time job, I only get so much vacation time and hubby doesn't want it *all* spent on conferences. Can't leave him out :)

The next RT conference is close to me, but still don't know if I can make it because RWA national is only the schedule for next year.

I'm still navigating the waters. Glad you had fun at Romcon.

Melanie Macek

Sylvia said...

Liz,
Scotland!!! Wow! I don't think the types of books I write would be very popular there, but what a great experience. You should definately go.

Sylvia said...

Melanie,
Thanks for stopping by. I'm also a self-pubbed author and of the two conferences you mentioned. I would recommend that you attend RomCon over RT. The reason is that RT is so big, so huge and so overwhelming. I met more readers at RomCon than I did at RT. It will be held in Denver next year and I know the dates, but I don't have them in front of me at the moment. I'll get back to you on that.
Sylvia

chris keniston said...

okay - i am SO on board for Scotland. Just the thought of fun and tax deductible makes me giddy- lol.

I have found from my sales at Apple that a good chunk of my buyers are in the UK. I wouldn't mind expanding that market at all.

Great post Sylvia and a fun read, but I'm afraid I'm the queen of missing commas. Ask Vicki- : )

Barb Han said...

Scotland? I'm in. Did you see my red hair? :-)

I also had a blast at RomCon2013. I almost came back with blue streaks in my hair (a story for another time). The people I met there were genuine and funny.

Melissa Keir said...

Thanks for the post. It is so valuable to me as a newer author who is looking for those events that have that intimate feel. All my books are ebooks which makes signings even more awkward and I'm a fan girl too. I can see myself being so geeked about seeing my favorite authors. I'd love to hear more about your readers list of events.

Melissa
daringzoey@yahoo.com

Sylvia said...

Chris,
I had forgotten I do have readers who buy my books in the UK. Hmmm...and it would be a tax deductible expense, but I know I would not go without hubby. It's a least worth considering.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Barb,
Well now we have four PP girls interested in Scotland. I'm sure we could arm twist a few others.

Purple hair? The bachelorette party maybe? Or one too many cocktails? You're going to have to tell us this story.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Melissa,
Believe me we had a couple of fan moments. Michelle had pictures taken of her and Gemma Holiday. And then several of us went to The Broadmoor Hotel afterwards with Allison Brennan. OMG! She's very nice and down to earth just like all of us. It was fun.

I felt totally lost at RT. Very overwhelming experience, but I will attend again. They have already sold the hotel out for 2014 in New Orleans. Hard to believe.

Sylvia

VICKI BATMAN, said...

Well, you know I had a blast. Meeting Barbara Vey was a big highlight too. And several readers have liked me and the PP FB page. I'd go again!

Eva's Flowers said...

I haven't attended one yet, but I certainly hope to! :)

Liese said...

I had a great time at RomCon too! What the readers reported to me was how much they LOVED attending the initimate chats with their favorite authors. Everything was about fun and having a good time--whether reader, writer, or both!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hey Sylvia, great post!
Love the pictures. You look so cute there with your books. Congratulations on selling all of them!!!

What kind of swag do you have there on the table? What's in the basket?

And what's behind the books? Are those crowns and wands? Also what is on your board? That looks interesting?

I'm so impressed at all you are doing!!!
hugs

Elf2060 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elf2060 said...

I actually had the wonderful opportunity to attend RT and RWA when they were in my neck of the woods but those were very fortuitous events where everything aligned. It requires a pretty hefty investment to pay for entrance and adding the cost of travel and lodging makes most of these events out of the reach of quite a few of us readers. No offense, but if I do have that kind of discretionary cash, I would much rather buy books, lol.

One of the things I like the most is interacting with authors at online chats, and it's even more fun when they give away a copy of their book or something else. I realize that it requires an investment of time on the part of you authors and sadly, the audience can be relatively small but it is a great way to connect. One of the chats I regularly attend has a new releases day where authors from all kinds of genres drop in. If any of you are interested, please let me know and I would be happy to give you more info (0:

Geri Foster said...

Great post, Sylvia! I loved RomCon and the opportunity to meet readers. I had a wonderful experience and a ton of fun! That conference has a warm, inviting feel. I'm going next year. Anybody gets a chance to go to Scotland, go!

Geri Foster

Sylvia said...

Vicki,
Yes, I know you had a blast and meeting Barbara Vey was neat. I hope she will remember me the next time I see her.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Eva,
You need to go. It's so much fun.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Kat,
I gave away an Amazon Kindle Fire and the board was to attract people to sign up for my giveaway. I did pretty good and collected 50 names. I had crowns from the Plotting Princess group to hand out and wands. Then I had my swag, postcards and squeezie hearts.

There was a big YA following. You need to go next year.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Elf2060,
Yes, unfortunately it does require an outlay of cash. But they did have day passes, I believe and it wasn't as expensive as RWA or RT. Both of those can be pocket squeezers. The smaller conferences try to keep their costs down.

Let me know about the online chats. I've never done one before. You can send it to Sylvia.McDaniel@verizon.net.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Hi Geri,
Yes, we all had fun at RomCon and I will definately attend next year. Now I've found two other readers events. I want to go, but not if they are more erotica oriented. I'm not an erotica writer. I even had one girl come up and ask me if I wrote erotica and when I told her no, she wasn't interested in buying my book. That's okay. I'm not the author for her.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Melissa,
When I get home tonight, I will send you the list of events I'm following for next year.

Sylvia

Cara Marsi said...

Vicki, great blog. RomCon sounds like such fun. I want to go to one. I think conferences where authors connect with readers are much more fun than pure industry conferences. You did very well at the signing if you sold every book you bought. I'd be interested in a list of readers conferences.
PS-You look great in the pictures.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks for the post, Vicki. RomCon sounds great. While I enjoy learning more about the writing craft and all at writers' conferences, reader gatherings look like fun. Yes, I'd love to hear more about your list.
lynnlovegreen@gmail.com

Sylvia said...

Hi Cara and Lynn,
Sylvia - here. I'll send you the list. This is what we loved about this conference is that it was about the readers - not the writers. Hope to see you there next year.

Sylvia

Paty Jager said...

Sylvia, It was fun meeting you and Vicki. Ladies I've communicated with on the internet but not met in person. Romcon was fun!

Christine said...

UtopYA, held in Nashville TN, is a reader, writer, blogger conference. It's aimed at paranormal YA Indie types. But it's very relaxed and friendly.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Great post, Sylvia! RomCon was a blast! I hope I can go again next year.

Sylvia said...

Hi Paty,
Great to see you here. I so enjoyed RomCon and you did a great job with the Bingo cards. Very impressive. Plus a lot of fun.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Hi Christine,
UtopYA in Nashville. Wow! I hadn't heard of that one, but that makes 3conventions in Tennessee.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

Hi Karilyn,
It was a great time. I'm planning on going next year.

Sylvia

Sylvia said...

For those of you wanted a list of readers conventions, I've got the ones I know about compiled in one list. If you know of others, please let me know. I'm emailing it to you now.

Sylvia

librarypat said...

I attended RomCon this year. It was the first reader/writer convention I have ever been to and I had a great time. My husband and 15 year old grandson were also there but staying away from the hotel as much as they could. We took our grandson out West for the "Grand Tour" and this was the first stop. My husband has encouraged me to go next year, by myself and enjoy. Haven't decided yet -will have to check the budget.

It was nice getting to meet the ladies from RomCon. It was great being able to finally meet the writers behind the books I have enjoyed. The intimate chats and the panel discussions were a good opportunity to find out about the author's approach to the craft, their research, plans for future books, and more about them personally. It is nice to be able to connect a name on a cover with a real person. I now have a list of new authors I want to try. The only downside: my husband didn't want to haul the books around for the rest of our trip, so we mailed most of the books home. One small box got here, ripped open with books missing. The big box with all of the books I bought, had signed, or got has disappeared. My husband and daughter work for the Post Office so I know good people work there, but there are also some careless ones. He has a trace on it, so we know it made it to Memphis. It just never got to this end of the state. He is now kicking himself for not putting the books in a bag inside the box and at least putting some insurance on it. I will be doing that next time. (As an aside, UPS and FEDX have the Post Office deliver packages for them, and they have more damaged boxes than USPS does.) I'll stop whining now and say I did have an enjoyable time. I've never really had a girls night out, so it was a treat.

Other than UtopYA, what other conventions are in TN. We live in East TN and it would be easy to go to one. I would love to go to Scotland and a romance convention in Gretna Green would be a treat.

RomCon next year will be June 20 to 22. I read on their site last night that they will have a University session with workshops for aspiring authors being held June 18 & 19. They are currently taking suggestions for games, events. Other than the registration cost and the dates, not much else has been decided.

I enjoyed meeting you ladies and look forward to reading your books and seeing you again at another convention. Sylvia, I would like a list of those other conventions when you get it compiled.