Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Why I Go

Well that didn't take long. According to Kate Rothwell's blog some authors were upset by the presence of reviewers and bloggers at this year's RWA conference in Dallas. Instead of doing what I want to do (which is swear a lot), I'd like to explain why I like to go to RWA.

I like going to RWA because they traditionally host a nice event specifically for librarians, and it is professional. As much as I'd love to attend RT to mock the heck out of it - if I wanted to see greased up half-naked men I'd hit Venice Beach. Also, the whole idea of costume balls is so not my thing. So, so, so, not my thing. (Somewhere my sisters have dissolved into a puddle overcome by hysterical giggling)

I tend to fly under the radar at RWA because it's been my experience that some authors (not all of them) get a little uncomfortable around reviewers. So I firmly attend wearing my librarian hat - which is a bit selfish on my part since I get more love that way. I didn't pimp my blog or my reviewing at all - but some authors did recognize me and ask if I was the "Super Librarian." Some I knew because they comment semi-regularly, some I didn't because they lurk. Hey, lurk away! And "hi" to all of you out there. I even had one newbie author (her book is out next year) comment, "You sure like baseball a lot." So it was fun for me to discover that people actual stop by here.

I understand that writer's attend RWA to network and connect with other writers, see their agents/editors. It's business, and I get that. But I don't think the inclusion of a few fans/bloggers/reviewers is going to ruin that atmosphere. Unless RWA decides to host a costume ball or cover model contest - which isn't likely to happen even if Hell freezes over.

I love connecting with readers. Sybil made a comment that I "talk a lot" and I think it was just the sheer pleasure of being around so many women who are just as passionate about romance novels as I am (although they're a heck of a lot more articulate than I am!). Regardless of what some authors think of bloggers/reviewers, we really do love the genre. We're passionate about what we love, and vocal about what we don't. What tends to get lost in all of this is that we do love a lot of books. Kristie spent all week nagging me to death over the great books in my TBR I haven't read yet (too many to name, it's damn embarrassing) and Jane gushed effusively about a historical romance out next year (sorry y'all, you'll just have to wait).

Yes there is fan-oriented stuff out there for romance readers (RT being the largest), but the simple fact is that what RT offers isn't going to appeal to some readers. And that's where RWA can come in. Just because a few reviewers/bloggers are there doesn't mean we're all "frustrated writers who can't hack it." Some of us have no desire to write a romance, but we love reading them, and that's why we go. We want to meet authors. We want to meet editors. We want to talk about romance with the people who love it as much as we do. And we don't want to have to dodge cover model contestants in order to do it.

(And for the record, I had nothing but a wonderful, fabulous time at RWA and met nothing but lovely, adorable people. Write on sisters, write on. In the meantime, I'll keep reading)


Nora Roberts said...

To my knowledge some readers have attended National in the past--just as readers. To meet authors, to attend workshops for insight or interest. I never heard anyone get bent about it. So I can't understand why anyone would get bent because some of those readers are now doing reviews and/or blogs and choose to attend.

Blogs and on-line reviews are a fact of life, and are now very much a part of the industry. They matter. Why shouldn't those who write them attend to get a first-hand impression of the organization, its members, hang out, check out the workshops, parties, and so on?

Why are some of us so touchy?

Anyway, it was great to meet you, Wendy--and I LOVE our picture. Aren't we adorable?

However, if RWA ever loses its mind and intros costume balls and the like, I'll be home during National.

In fact--sorry Sherrilyn--I fervently hope never to see a giant black swam perched on any author's head again in my lifetime.

Jennifer said...

Hey Wendy, I wasn't at RWA this year, but reviewer/bloggers don't bother me at all. I love talking to ANYONE about books. I've met you several times and always had fun. I don't even think about what you're going to write when you review my next book.

The pic of you and Nora rocks!

This is what I just don't get--people are supposed to talk about books. It's what WANT. But we don't get to control what they say. That's why I think it's best to just let the readers talk and stay out of it, unless they want to chat with the author.

I'll see you next year in San Francisco!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Wendy, I enjoyed meeting you, Jane, Sybil and Kristie J. I honestly don't understand why anyone would get upset over you guys being there. There was a Publisher's Weekly rep there. They do reviews, too. There were readers at RWA who attended more than the literacy signing. I even met a university professor who is writing a book about romance as an evolving part of pop culture.

It was all enthusiasm for romance. I felt comfortable. I didn't have to put up with people trash talking the genre. Or listen to some moron ask me, "Romance, yeah baby, it's all about the thrust, right?" Sheesh.

Wendy said...

Nora: I think a lot of readers are naturally curious about the conference, and I know most of us who have been blogging about it have gotten a lot of wonderful feedback. Readers who didn't attend are generally excited - and how could they not be? All of our favorite authors in one place!

Years past I have slipped into a few workshops, but this year I was just way too busy. Not every workshop is about "writing" and from a reader's perspective I tend to enjoy the Publisher Spotlights to get an idea of what's coming up, what they're buying etc.

Yes, we ARE adorable and I love our picture. It's going up on the work blog next week so I can make all my coworkers envious.

And I don't see RWA losing it's mind. They're so firmly entrenched in the business of writing I don't think we have to fear costume balls anytime soon :)

Wendy said...

Jennifer: I have always thought you have the best attitude about reviews - they're for readers, not writers. Keep that perspective! You'll avoid many a flame-war that way :)

I was so tempted to get you a J.R. Ward autographed book - but alas, her lines were HUGE! I like you, but not enough to wait in line that long :)

Assuming real life doesn't go awry, I'll be in San Fran. I can drive it, so no shipping back books!

Wendy said...

Bonnie: There were also reps from Library Journal there.

I know Kristie just adored meeting you in person, and I am so glad she had such a wonderful time and got the "whole RWA experience" after the year she has had.

That's the main reason why I love the conference so much - it's professional. You can have intelligent conversations with others about the genre without having to defend yourself or brush away catty remarks.

I've attended other conferences, but so far this trip to Dallas has been a favorite. It was a real love-fest for me, which is A-OK in my book.

Rosie said...

Can't wait to talk more about this.

Kristie (J) said...

Thank goodness there doesn't seem to be many authors that minded that we were there. And I think we all handled ourselves very well.
And I plan to say more about it, but I think reader blogs can be very, very good for authors 'cause we speak out of love, even if we don't love certain books, we still love the genre.
It was a wonderful trip and I have decided defintely to go to the next one. Hopefully then I will sit in on more of the workshops. I really wish I could have made more of them. But there was just much to do and to see!

Wendy said...

Kristie: This was my 3rd conference, and the best one I've attended so far. To think I almost didn't make the trip! I didn't have one negative experience while there, and met nothing but lovely people. So while I normally would have ignored this dust-up, felt it was important to address the appeal the RWA conference has to *this* reader (although the librarian gig gives me a minor air of respectability). I think other readers could enjoy the conference as well, because let's face it - RT isn't going to be everyone's cuppa.

Zeek said...

I had no idea what RWA is all about other than the fact they hold conferences every year. I thought it was more of a professional thing than say something like RITA, which seems to me to be for the fans more than anything else.

But if the conference planners and the members themselves don't mind, then there shouldn't be a problem with continuing on with its open policy.

And frankly, other than a couple comments from authors who left their name anon, I didn't hear that much complaining. Everyone seemed to have had a fun time.

I think my first reaction towards this all was sympathy for those authors who would like to keep it more professional ... I wouldn't want to feel obligated to show up at a clownfest costume ball either.

sybil said...

As I said before... if Nora is the face to millions as 'ROMANCE'... that is so fine by me. She is one hella rep.

I plan to do San Fran next year and plan to have a better 'plan' so I can make the few things I missed.

So many sites go... I saw Fresh Fiction, AAR, Romance Junkies, Rakehell and the Romance Divas. They had all been there before. The difference to me is blogs bring this home more to the readers. They are there in the middle of it. It is exciting and not so much author x told me they love my review site as much as I am sitting with the buyer for borders talking books (who btw is a very lovely lady, if Sue asks you what you like, tell her).

So if a few more readers join RWA or go to the conference - isn't that good for RWA? Our money spends just as well. And really nine times out of ten, those authors to be ARE readers.

Who knows... the authors who are mad are prolly pissy Nora didn't invite them to her party.