Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking Back at #RT09

It was suggested on a message board I frequent that there is some big conspiracy regarding the seemingly silent atmosphere following the RT Convention in Orlando. Where are the pictures, the gossip, the models' hand prints on our asses? Sorry to disappoint anybody expecting a crime blotter, but I did not see anything at the con worthy of a gasp or a hastily written Tweet beginning with OMGWTFBBQ? If memory serves, blogs buzzed with tales of impropriety at the Pittsburgh gig, and maybe some kinky stuff happened in Mickey's backyard. I didn't see any of it. Of course, I'm a clueless person in general. I turn my back and a chorus of frogs breaks into "Hello, my baby....!" complete with canes and top hats.

So, in the interest of moving forward - because the work really piles up after I do one of these things - I humbly submit the highlights and grips of #RT09.

The Good

I got to see a lot of Phaze folks again, some I have not seen in years, and I got to put faces to other names. Stella Price, Alessia Brio and Will Belegon and Cat Johnson I see a couple times of year by virtue of regional signings, but I also ran into Christine London, Robin Slick, Eliza Gayle, Marty Rayne, Bianca D'Arc, and of course Piers Anthony:

All through the week I met authors who told me Piers had been an influence and inspiration. Reporters expressed amazement at his presence, and cover models came up to him to tell him how much they loved his books. Just incredible to see and experience, and I'm happy Piers agreed to let Mundania and Phaze host his visit. It will be interesting to read his take on RT if he chooses to mention it in his next newsletter. I'm almost afraid to read it - clueless and nervous.

We hosted a Club RT table, but not an eBook Expo one. Budget decision, one fueled by the pay-for-Promo-Row policy this year. While the expo (which appeared to have a decent turnout) would have provided us with strong attention, the club table allowed our authors a place for their promo at no cost to them for three days. We gave away books and some nice gifts. Leigh's Dare Me buttons were depleted, as were the gemstone charms. Visitors wanted the doo-dads this year, not so much the chocolate and unsigned paper. Good to know for Columbus.

Met the wonderful L.A. Banks and thanked her for her Coming Together: At Last intro. She gave me a hug. Still smiling. I want to bottle her enthusiasm.

More, More, More! was made available in the goody room, which I noticed was much smaller than Houston's. Our contribution seemed to pop out among the other books because of this. In Houston the walls were lined with Ellora's Cave and Red Sage titles, and visitors had an unlimited pick of books. This year: two titles, until the end of the con when they had to get rid of extras. I thought this odd and chalked it up to the economy - maybe pubs couldn't spare the copies this time around. Next year I might just host the 100 books at our table and hand them out there. That way, we have a captive audience for our other offerings.

Wore the corset to the Fairy Ball. I need a picture of me there so I can write it off on next year's taxes. If you can help, much obliged. Heh.

Best food, hands down: the All Romance eBooks reception. Shrimp as big as your hand. Always a pleasure to see Lori and Barb and the growth they are enjoying with that site. If people can't buy directly from Phaze, I tell them to go there.

The Bad

I don't like to be negative, I see enough of it on a daily basis. That said, it would not be fair of me to completely summarize this con experience without mentioning some of the speed bumps. For one, the lack of free hotel wifi was a bother. I encountered this same problem in Houston, and it's my hope the RT convention staff will consider, going forward, making arrangements with venues that offer free access. Some attendees consider RT a vacation, but I need to stay connected and keep my house running. I need the Internet for that purpose, and having to jockey for space at McDonald's while some jukebox blared "The Final Countdown" over and over proved to be a headache.

Some people complained about the hotel's spread - blocks of rooms set far from the convention area. I packed a pair of Vans and two pairs of heels meant for the parties. I didn't wear the heels, and my feet are still hurting nevertheless. The layout at Houston was preferable; I imagine we'll see that in Columbus. I'm sure, too, the Orlando layout made mobility for those who don't get around well even more difficult.

The Interesting

Some things to note: the crowd did look lighter here than in Houston (I didn't go to Pittsburgh, so I can't compare). We can guess the economy and costs kept some away, and the location may have discouraged West Coasters who might ordinarily settle for a halfway point like St. Louis or Houston. It struck me, too, to see a decline in heavy author promotion. I recall moving through one lunch line where an author stood on the sidelines, signing ARCs that her publicist (?) handed out as we entered the ballroom. One day I came to my room to find a gift bag with books and other goodies. You didn't have that here. Publishers saving their pennies?

Nonetheless, I still acquired an impressive amount of promo for my RT Bag giveaway. From my trip I am only keeping a few items: my signed Piers books, a signed L.A. Banks poster, and the small beer cooler of books from the awards ceremony (sorry, it's too nifty to part with). See my last post for details on entering the giveaway.

Then maybe I'll see you next year.


Missy Lyons said...

Thanks for filling us in on RT. It sounds like you had a really good time over all. You're the first person that has said attendance was down.

Kat Lively / Leigh Ellwood said...

Don't quote me, but I had heard offline it seemed down from past cons. Given the last year with the economy, it makes sense.

Missy Lyons said...

To me too, and now that I have been reading around--checking out other bloggers I am seeing them say the same thing. Less people seem to be travelled out this year.