Six Years

RWA National conference 2016 San DiegoThis week is the Romance Writers of America annual national conference. This year, it’ll be in San Diego, but I’m not attending. I don’t always go to RWA, but I always think about it while it’s going on. This year, they’re showing a documentary called Love Between the Covers, about the business of writing and publishing romance. It’s an excellent piece, which I saw a few years ago – if you have the chance to watch it, do so! – and discussion about it is making me think back.

Whisper Kiss, a Dragonfire novel and paranormal romance by Deborah CookeOne of the time stamps RWA members use for events and memories is the location and date of the annual RWA conference. Accordingly, I remember that it was the 2010 national conference in Orlando where I first encountered the team working on this documentary. Another time stamp writers use is the publication date of a book – my Dragonfire novel Whisper Kiss was going to be published in August, as well as the finale of my Prometheus Project urban fantasy romance trilogy, Rebel.

Rebel, book #3 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Claire Delacroix, out of print mass market editionSix years ago today (more or less) I flew to Orlando for the conference. As always, the industry discussion started at the airport in Toronto. There were other writers on my flight headed to conference and we started to talk shop early. Kate Bridges and Anne Lethbridge both shared news of changes at Harlequin – we had all written for Harlequin Historicals, although I no longer did so. Editorial had moved to the UK for that line and Harlequin was also offering more content in digital-first. By the time I got on the flight, I was already thinking about changes in the business.

Discussions at RWA conferences since 2005 (Reno, The Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy) had been primarily about changes in the business that negatively impacted authors, like the trimming of the midlist, the shrinking print market, the closing of bookstores and resulting loss of shelf space, the diminishing popularity of certain sub-genres (like historical romance), the conglomeration of publishers and the impact of that upon each house’s list. The tone of conferences had been informative, but not always uplifting. I thought I was in for more of the same, but that wasn’t the case in 2010.

There was a woman entering the conference hotel ahead of me, who looked a lot like Julie Ortolon. I hadn’t seen Jules since our days at Dell, probably ten years before, so I surreptitiously read this woman’s luggage tag to confirm that she was Jules before I tapped her on the shoulder. After many happy greetings, Jules began to talk about digital self-publishing and Amazon’s new KDP portal. I was fascinated. We dumped our bags in our rooms and met up in the bar, and she talked more about the opportunities and possibilities. Her enthusiasm was infectious. We talked about pricing. We talked about rights reversions. We talked about packaging. This was an excellent example of the open sharing of information and ideas between authors that would come to characterize the indie movement. It was exciting! The bar had a strange location in that hotel—it was along one side of a corridor—but that meant that people caught a few words in passing and stopped to join in. The group kept growing and the exchange of ideas became faster and faster. It was wonderful to talk about the opportunities becoming available to us. It was wonderful to see people sharing email addresses and giving advice about requesting reversions of book rights and much more. It was wonderful to feel this kind of electricity and excitement. There was good news!

This was when we met the film-making team working on the documentary. I don’t think they were prepared for the energy of this group, and the lead film-maker clearly was more interested in writers pursuing a more traditional path. She left us fairly quickly – but the conversation carried on. It was revisited and expanded over and over again for the next few days.

That 2010 conference was amazing because it marked the beginning of a major shift in thinking for me and many other writers. In the PAN (Published Authors Network) retreat – a full day of sessions geared for published members – Lou Aronica spoke about indie publishing and its possibilities. I still have the notes from that discussion. There are a lot of exclamation marks in them. It was so exciting to think that we had choices, and choices that might prove to be financially viable.

Kim Killion was working full time in those days and writing books, too. I remember we had a discussion in their room as to whether authors would pay for cover art for their digital books. Kim’s design business, Hot Damn Designs, now The Killion Group, was established after that conference.

Once Upon a Kiss, a Scottish paranormal romance by Claire DelacroixI had the rights to my time travel romances already, but began to pursue more reversions when I got home. I remember telling my husband about the conference when I got home and what I’d learned, and him reminding me to breathe. 🙂 I published my first digital edition of Once Upon a Kiss that August, with my own cover. (I soon realized I needed Kim’s services! The cover to the left is her design.)

When I look back, I see that the people who did best in the emerging market were the ones who leapt right in, either starting new series or republishing books that had never been available in digital format. I was “hybrid” before we knew what it was called. I had just signed two new contracts with NAL before that conference – one for the books that became Flashfire and Ember’s Kiss, and one for the Dragon Diaries trilogy – and spent the better part of the next two years delivering those contracts. Leaping in wasn’t an option due to time constraints, but I did re-publish backlist titles during that period and learned a lot about digital publishing. I left traditional publishing in March 2012, on the twentieth anniversary of my first book sale to a publisher, a choice that would have been unthinkable just two years before.

Wyvern's Mate, book #1 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeSo, here we are, six years later. (San Diego, Wyvern’s Mate and The Crusader’s Handfast.) It’s amazing to look back and realize how much has changed and how quickly it’s changed. I’m very glad to be working the way I do now. I love the camaraderie between writers now, and the sharing of ideas and suggestions. The writing community on the indie side is warm and supportive, because there’s room for everyone to succeed.

The years have gone by in a flash. Thank you, Julie Ortolon. Thank you, Lou Aronica. Thank you to everyone who helped to open eyes to the possibilities. Thank you to all the writers who generously shared their expertise and even their mistakes. And a big thank you to readers, who followed me from print to digital, and who kept reading my books. The next six years will be even better!

BookCon

BookCon is a reader conference associated with BookExpo, the annual publishing industry trade show. This year, both conferences will be held in Chicago at McCormick Place, and BookCan will be on Saturday May 14. There’s information about the event, including ticket information, right here.

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixI’ll be signing copies of The Crusader’s Bride in the Romance Writers of America booth on Saturday, May 14, as part of BookCon. (Exact time TBD.) I’ll also have some swag to give away.

I hope to see you there!

Signing at Book Expo America

Book Expo America is a wholesale show for the publishing industry, but in recent years, they’ve offered a day for readers to visit the show. This year, Power Reader Day is Saturday May 31. For $30, you can get into the show, which means you can attend panel discussions with authors, as well as get free copies of many many (many) recently released and upcoming books.

I’ll be signing copies of Serpent’s Kiss, The Highlander’s Curse and Abyss at 9:00 AM on Saturday in the Romance Writers of America booth – that’s booth 2551. I hope to meet some of you there!

RWA National

It will be quiet this week on the blog, as I’m off to the Romance Writers of America‘s annual conference. It’s in Atlanta this year, which is a city I’ve never visited before. I’m looking forward to doing a bit of sightseeing, maybe some shopping, and catching up with friends and business acquaintances. I’m hoping to hear lots of juicy gossip and learn a lot about writing and publishing (because there’s always more to know). It’s like that I’ll bring home too many books, sleep too little, then come home both energized and inspired. It’ll be fun.

Ember's Kiss, a Dragonfire paranormal romance by Deborah Cooke

  The Renegade's Heart, first in the True Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

If you are in or near Atlanta, the booksigning to raise money for literacy is open to the public. I’ll be signing copies of Ember’s Kiss and The Renegade’s Heart there. The “Readers for Life” literacy signing will be on Wednesday July 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. More info is here.

Double Trouble, book #2 in The Coxwells Series, by Deborah Cooke

The Beauty Bride by Claire Delacroix, first in the bestselling trilogy of medieval romances The Jewels of Kinfairlie.

If you’re attending the conference, I’ll also be participating in the Indie Author Signing, which will be on Thursday July 18, from 3 to 4:15 in the Marquis Ballroom D. I’ll have postcards with QR codes for a free digital copy of Double Trouble and/or a free digital copy of The Beauty Bride from KOBO.

If you’re staying home, then be good this week and stay out of mischief while I’m gone. 🙂 Be sure to pop back here next Monday as there’s something good in the works for next week…

Book Expo America 2013

Book Expo America – or BEA – is the biggest trade show for books and publishing in the US. It’s held each year in New York. This year, it’s May 29 to June 1 and will be at the Jacob Javitz Center, as usual.

And I’ll be there! I’m going to be in the KOBO booth as part of their Meet the Author program. My spot is from 11:00 to 12:00 on Saturday, June 1. The KOBO booth is #967.

I’ll also be stopping by the Romance Writers of America booth during the day. They’ll be in booth #951.

Saturday is the day that BEA is open to the public. You can attend as a Power Reader for just $49, which is an awesome deal. This is new since the last time I attended the show and the details are right here.

If you’re going to be at the show, please stop by and say hello. I think it’s going to be fun!

Stay Tuned

As many of you know, the RWA National convention is booked to be at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville at the end of this July. This past weekend, Nashville had a tornado and a whole lot of rain. The levees broke and the hotel is flooded in some places. So, they’ve closed the hotel, cancelled all reservations for the next 90 days, and might be closed longer than that for repairs.

What will happen to the RWA National conference? Well, I’m guessing it won’t be at the Opryland Hotel! I’m curious to see how this shakes out. It won’t be easy for RWA to find another venue that’s large enough, especially so close to the conference date. I’m guessing that my non-refundable airline ticket to Nashville isn’t going to be good for anything. 😦

At close of business yesterday, RWA said they would provide updates on their website, which is here. At this point, there’s only the message about the hotel that was received by potential attendees yesterday afternoon.

Stay tuned!