by Maita Rue
Last May 2 to 7, I attended the Romantic Times (RT) Booklover’s Convention for the first time. The said event is the largest single-genre book convention in the United States, focusing on romance and all the other sub-genres that fall under it. It took me a year of savings, but it every penny was worth it.
I got to Atlanta without much fuss and quickly got registered as an author, to whom they issue green badges to. The specific events I signed up for were packed with other participants. I stepped into the venue, my breath shortened. This is it, I thought. This is the place where I will grow, where I will experience moving into the international scene as an author, to learn about global trends and network. The hype of learning excited me so much.
As an additional opportunity, I was given my own free table to do a book signing. This experience added so much flavor to the whole event.
The convention kicked off with a pre-convention session. I took up Cherry Adair’s Master Class. It was $125 well-spent. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have attended such a class in my life. Her teaching style was fast-paced but easily followed. Because of this, we tackled a lot of topics. It was interesting to learn about her insights into the industry which helped me gain more information.
The best part of this two-day class was her one-on-one session with the agenda to help her students with plot crafting. I learned a lot about plot development and how to fix such plot holes.
The following six days of the convention were divided between seminars and socialization. Seminars or workshops were equally as fast-paced. The panel discussions covered a wide range of topics such as “BDSM Beyond 50 Shades,” “Publishing Beyond Amazon,” “Marketing on a Budget” and “Hot New Trends in Publish,” among others.
The socialization part involved parties sponsored by authors and publishing houses. The best part was receiving goodie bags filled with free books. These parties were for us to meet other authors. Among those, I met Heather Graham, Linda Lael Miller, Lora Leigh, Sherrilyn Kenyon, B.J. Daniels, Kerrilyn Sparks, Karen Rose, Beverly Jenkins, Tina de Salvo and many more. It was fun to share thoughts and discuss with fellow authors alike.
There were also pop-up book signings in the corridors so you could meet new authors and grab books and goodies from them.
The highlight of the whole convention was the Giant Book Fair on the Saturday of the one-week event. Over three thousand people came from all over the world to buy books and meet authors. Although I still wasn’t prepared to participate in this, I familiarized myself with the event by being a volunteer. Being a volunteer meant I was entitled to perks such as great discounts and I had my time to do my rounds and grab books.
FAN-Tastic Day was scheduled that very Saturday night. This social activity was sponsored by the LGBT publishing house Dreamspinner Press. Just like the event name suggests, it is where author and fans could meet and socialize together. I was given a space with other writers to meet and greet new fans for around forty-five minutes.
As a cherry on top to the whole event, the RT Roundup was scheduled on the last day of the convention to send-off all participants. It was a mini book fair for new, self-published and hybrid authors. I was the only Filipina author for the roundup and was given a table to represent my country. It felt good to have been given such an honour. I was glad to meet new people, other authors and potential fans. And to add to my happiness, two of my books sold out: Resto Rescue and Victorian Steam. The first is a paranormal romance about a hot-tempered Werewolf visiting the Philippines, while the latter is a collection of three steampunk stories in one book.
All in all, my RT experience is an eye-opener. The socialization, book signing and workshops were a whole other level from the usual standard back home. As a Filipina author, I asked myself if fellow Filipino authors could compete globally, and my answer is a resounding “Yes!” We already have an advantage of having English as our second language and we can easily understand and relate to the Western culture. Best of all, we have the creativity and talent to write beautiful stories that will touch everyone’s heart. ☁