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We Want More.......
Romance Conferences!!!

We queried the listers and here is what they had to say!
May 2001 Issu

PNR Q.: : Whether or not you have ever attended aromance conferences we'd like your opinion.

If you have attended a romance conference, whatelements did you like about them and which could you do without. What things would you like to see that are not being offered?

If you have never attended a romance conference, what would attract you to attend one?

Shelly: I haven't attended a romance conference. I would be interested in hearing authors do readings, buying artwork and books (both new and used OOP), attending panel discussions (though that's not unlike what we do online). I don't particular care about gettig books signed. If I have questions for authors anymore I send them emails, so basically there's nothing to do at a signing but gush. (I do go to special interest signings as a way to show support, so if there were a group of PNR authors who set up a time I'd make a point to go).

Other things of importance: price, location, ADVERTISING!!!. I never hear about conferences unless someone mentions them online.

Leslie T: I love interacting with authors, I love the author panels which are intimate and deal with various subgenres where the authors both ask and answer questions. I also love themed activities that relate to the various sub-genres especially when the authors host or participate in them.

I don't care for too much for being forced to deal with the business aspect of publishing, particularly when I am part of a captive audience (i.e. at meals - ugh). Its fine to combine but confine it to workshops where the folks that are interested can attend. But please don't force them on the whole conference while they are eating. Same goes for bad poetry and fashion shows featuring purchases from jetsetters vacations. I'd much rather listen to individual authors speak, that would capture my attention.

Of course location and price are a factor but if a conference makes a good impression I am more likely to attend a second one which might be less convenient. I am with Shelly on the point of promotion, we can't attend unless we are aware. Conference planners should really keep this in mind.

The other thing I think needs some work are the book signings. The rooms are generally too small, too crowed, and way too hot. This is one of the most popular aspects of the conferences and the planning needs to be well thought out.

If you are going to have cover models, how about a formal affair, instead of the usual beefcake parade. I think the gentleman look just as nice dressed up and perhaps it would be easier to keep the event "dignified".

Gil: I'm back, finally. Haven't been to a romance con, but many sf cons--I loved the masquerade balls, chance to meet authors, and attend panels on topics of interest at SF cons.

Kerri A: Things I like-- the workshops, the chance to hear first hand what publishers and agents are actually looking for, the chance to pitch your novel at agents/publishers, meeting other writers,
catching up on gossip.

Things I could do without-- long winded award ceremonies. What I would like to see more of-- decent conferences inAustralia! <g> Other than that, I can't think of anything.

Karen M: I've been to a couple of regional romance conventions and last year's RWA conference in DC.

What did I like about them? The chance to network with other writers and editors, although, being a serious introvert, I'm not really a good networker. Still, I've met a number of very nice people at them. Most of the workshops I attended were excellent and well worth the time. I appreciated the opportunity to hear what publishers were looking for, what they thought was hot, etc., straight from their own mouths. The FF&P minicon at last year's RWA was terrific.

What did I not like? Meals! Ugh~ Long lines to get into the banquet areas; very crowded conditions (I'm claustrophobic, as well as an introvert, and crowds tend to make me hyperventilate); food so bad I actually skipped out on a couple of the meals even though I'd paid for them through the nose with my conference registration (at least that was true at the RWA con in DC, not so much at the regional cons, although banquets always seem to be extremely crowded).

I've been to many more sf cons than romance ones and in general I like them better. You get more chance to mix with a lot of very different people, including many more readers, gamers, etc. who just come to enjoy the con, not to work it. They don't do a lot of big luncheons or dinners, so you get to
retreat with a small group or just have impromptu meetings in the bar or coffee house or at the nearest Cheapo-Burger. SF cons always seem less formal and more relaxed to me (maybe it's all those people running around in their Klingon and Dr. Who costumes). Their parties are a lot more fun,
somehow, too.

Candace S: I'd go to more conferences if they had more paranormal subject matter and/or publishers, speakers, or readers of the genre attending. I love all romance but, unfortunately, since paranormal is what I write and
read, I don't have money, right now, to attend things that don't specifically deal that subject.

I'd like to see someone present statistics just on paranormal romance (which can obviously be tallied different ways if the survey isn't done properly) on why people read paranormal romance, what kind they like best, etc. If a good survey was done, it could help a lot of writers give readers what they want. I hate to see publishers 'guessing' about this kind of thing. I saw, in a recent magazine, that a particular publisher is saying that tortured heroes are on the rise. While I love tortured heroes, where did this particular publisher get their information? Who decided this? What survey yielded these results? Also, I'd like to see conferences where paranormal readers are encouraged to attend. Not just one major conference, but a lot of them.

Maybe we could have a paranormal romance conference someday with a lot of exposure for the paranormal romance genre in particular. Invite people who might want to collaborate on novels/ screenplays, movies, etc. There's got to be people out there looking for script material! Some of the stuff I see on t.v. is worse than anything any paranormal romance author could ever come up with!!!

Also, I'd like romance readers in general to finally understand that there are different kinds of paranormal romance that can't be lumped (as I just did) together. Science fiction romance is not necessarily fantasy romance which is not necessarily shape shifter romance, etc. There are differences. Maybe we could delineate this more by having conferences where these differences are elaborated?

Kathy B: Considering CR2001 was my very first conference, I thought everything aboutit was enjoyable. I just wish I could have visited more with everybody! With CR2001 being a fairly small gathering, being able to talk practically one on one with authors was like a dream come true.

Jennifer: Location, location, location! I need one near me here in NJ...I live in South Jersey, so anywhere in NJ is good, as well as some locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania/Philadelphia, Delaware, Virginia, and states not too far off. NY is possible, but not the best for me.

Raelene G: I've attended only CR2000 and CR2001, and a few very small local events (Rose City Romance Writers Readers Luncheon, things like that). I prefer small and intimate (under 100 or so people) to big events. I haven't felt any interest in attending the RT conference, things like that -- so huge that you can't really feel like you're a part of it, little chance to really get to know people.

I enjoy hearing writers talk about their books, how they write, how they plot. Also funny stories about being a writer, people's reactions to their books. What I would very much like to hear are representatives from major publishers talking about their policies, how they decide who and what to
publish, how readers can contact them and express opinions, how readers could have an impact on what gets published. And I'd like those publishers to listen to the people at the conference, take back some knowledge from real readers and fans.

I am NOT AT ALL interested in cover models, but I would find it interesting to listen to the artists who create the covers. How do they get ideas, how much is their choice versus dictated to them by the publisher, do they read the book or a synopsis before creating the cover, how do they respond when hearing reader or author complaints about inaccurate or ugly covers?

Location and cost are big factors in being able to attend any conference.A conference on paranormal romance would be wonderful!

Judie A:
I have to confess that although I do attend smaller conferences -- I LOVE RWA's National Conference!! There's a wonderful buzz about being with all those writers! The workshops are fabulous with topics that embrace every level of the genre from the PAN (Published Authors Network) retreat to the workshops for beginning writers. Meeting new people is so easy and new friendships continue long after the conferencevia e-mail/internet.

" I enjoy hearing writers talk about their books, how they write, how they plot..........."

ALL of this -- and more -- happens at RWA national conference. Because it's a writers' conference and not a readers'/fans' conference, there are no cover-model contests or kitchy costume "balls." The conference is about writing and the business of writing with editor and agent appointments, panel discussions by the publishing houses, meet-the-author programs, how-to workshops, information on contracts, presentations by some of the top individuals in the industry, etc., etc., etc. Contacts made at Nat'l Conference can make a career.

I always come home jazzed up and ready to write, write, write.

Linnea: I've attended a few romance conferences, or rather, one romance for readers conference (Romantic Times) and several RWA chapter conferences. The two are vastly different and as someone's already noted, the RWA chapter conferences are where you can really learn about writing. Romantic Times is where you really... just have fun. [grin]

I think there's a need for both, IMHO. While Romantic Times is more of a 'fan' event, there's still much a writer, newbie or otherwise, can learn. There ARE writing seminars, or writing-issue seminars. Plus, as a writer, you NEED to speak to READERS and you find lots of those wonderful readerly-people at RT (as you do here on PNR).

I thought the better seminars at RT were those where readers, writers AND publishers were together and shared ideas and hopes for the genre/books in general. One of the problems I saw at RT, and have also seen at RWA chapter confs, is the tendency to have a large panel of 'experts' so in essence, you get 3 minutes of each 'experts' thoughts and that's it. IMHO, it results in a disjointed presentation.

Let me digress and say that, except for RT, I've TAUGHT seminars at every writing conference I've attended (and MWA conferences as well). As a teacher, I prefer to teach solo or with one, max two, others. I've also been on a panel of 5 at a conference and didn't find that as rewarding.

When I teach short story writing, or writing the Investigative Romantic Suspense (two areas I've been teaching for several years), I want to get a feel for the needs of the audience/students. That's tough to address if there are four or more other 'teachers' up there as well, IMHO.

Keep in mind for fledgling writers there is always the option of online writing seminars through various RWA chapters, and for many, you needn't be an RWA member to take the class. The RWA Kiss of Death romantic suspense chapters is one of several that offers classes. I'm sure someone else out in PNR land can supply a few more.

BARBARA SHERIDAN - Paraphernalia Feature Columnist
Leslie Tramposch: Managing Editor ~ Sara Reyes: Marketing and Publicity ~ Cy Korte: Reviews Editor

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