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Friday, May 12, 2017

REPORT ON RT2017



I’m just back from a week in Atlanta at the RT Booklovers Convention, six days of parties, panels, signings, photo ops and various creative events designed to let romance readers get up close and personal with their favorite authors and cover models. The mixing and mingling culminated in the Giant Book Fair on the next-to-last day, where some 500 authors signed and sold books for eager readers in a four-and-a-half hour frenzy of activity. Whew!

For the most part, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves here to give you a sense of what the whirlwind of RT is like. But this was my third RT con, and it was a little different, so I have some observations.

First of all, I got in the Giant Book Fair for the first time and did pretty well for a newbie. I’d do that again without reservation. I loved meeting SFR readers face-to-face and talking with them. 

But there were fewer opportunities to do that this year than in past RT cons. SFR star and past RT stalwart Linnea Sinclair was not at RT this year, so there was no Intergalactic Bar and Grille party for SFR readers and nothing to replace it. In the past, the IB&G event would draw around 200-250 readers for fun and games and an opportunity for SFR authors to showcase their work. This year, there was no event for SFR readers and no showcase for authors like me.

Heather Graham's Dancing Dead Party Invite
At past RT cons, Linnea would host up to three panels on SFR themes, inviting both veteran SFR authors and newbies to sit on the panels and be introduced to readers. The panels were always well attended. This year there was ONE panel. It was also well attended, but the issues raised were on the order of SFR 101—a rehashing of old, too-familiar themes.

Perhaps for these reasons, there was a paucity of SFR authors at RT2017. Certainly SFR Brigaders were scarce this year. It was unfortunate, and I would hate to think this is the future of RT. More than almost anything else, we need to connect with readers. We need to let them get to know us personally, to hear our opinions on what SFR is and where it’s going, to see our latest work and our backlists, to compare us with the paranormal and contemporary writers and others. Five authors (the number on that one panel) among 500 is just not enough to make an impact.

What’s it going to take to get us there? I don’t know, you tell me. 

In the meantime, have a look at some of the fun to be had when readers and authors come together!

My roomie--SFR blogger/reviewer Riley Moreland--and me.
500 Authors and eager readers at the RT2017 Giant Book Fair
                                                                            
                                                                  
Nashville's Zippy's Clutch perform at the Rockabilly Street Festival
                                                             
  
Cheers, Donna

12 comments:

  1. Nice post, wish I could have attended this year but I'm not traveling in 2017. I did have my own SFR panel at RT last year, with a great group of ladies and also was thrilled to be one of Linnea's co-hosts on the IB&G. She's amazing! If I'd been able to go to RT2017, I would have proposed another SFR panel for sure, love to talk about our genre. Thanks for representing all of us and reporting back! Fun photos...

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    1. I remember your panel in 2016--lots of fun! Missed you this year! :(

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  2. Thanks for the report, Donna. Looks like a great time in spite of the lack of SFR visibility this year--and especially Linnea's missing event, which is always a fantastic time for SFR fans and authors alike. :( Glad you were able to take part in the gigantic book fair this year.

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  3. Looks like you had a blast. But yeah, seems SFR was on the sidelines. Perhaps we're a bit too reliant on the wonderful Linnea.

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    1. Fun is where you find it, as always! But someone may have to take up the banner if Linnea will not be returning.

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  4. Hi Roomie! So glad you had a good time at the book fair. You were a great roommate and party buddy!

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    1. Thanks for being my partner in crime, Riley! It was great getting to know you better!

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  5. Donna--it looks like you might need to lead the charge on this one for RT 2018. :)

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Selene, but that kind of organizing is not in my skill set. It takes someone with a LOT of energy and even more "pull" in the SFR community (both readers and writers) to really make it work. Linnea really has that, and I think we'll need someone of her stature, and/or a group of someones willing to take this on.

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  6. I'm taking 2017 off from conferences, too. Need to focus on getting books out, not me out. And family stuff. My memory is that RT allowed us 2 SFR type panels, and you have to pitch them early. If you know you're going next year, then you should start working on an idea now and pitch it. :-)

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  7. Love that photo of you and Riley! Reminds we of when we were all there (with Laurie too) a couple years ago.

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