RT Book Reviews Holds Its 29th Annual Convention

The readers rite of spring, Romantic Times Book Reviewers Convention, is held in a different U.S. city each year. Readers meet authors and other industry professionals on not only even playing field, but one filled with fun. Authors aspiring and published, booksellers, publishers, librarians, editors and literary agents from as far away as Australia, Europe, Asia, Russian and Canada are ready to party and share the joy of ‘story’ with book lovers.



image by C London

More than one hundred workshops and seminars, for readers and writers, are spread over three jam packed days of topics covering e-publishing, traditional and self publishing.

This year, the 2012 convention was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. Its four mauve towers wink in the sun on approach from either ‘the loop’ subway or shuttle.


image by C London

I arrived late Tuesday, nesting on the seventh floor in a crescent shaped room occupying the curve of the tower.

Spring in full bloom, the hotel rich neighborhood showed off its finery.



image by C London


Naleighna Kai,

My Photos

image from Linked In

creator of the Cavalcade of Authors and other Chicago based book festivals led a seminar about setting up a literary event, more fun than promo. What a dynamic energy-filled gal. The Cavalcade sounds like a weekend not to be missed — full of tours, bus loops to amazing restaurants, music, dancing and p-a-r-t-y!


Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords Self Publishing platform, enumerated the best practices of the most successful e-published authors.



image from Twitter

–Be a fanatic about quality. Write an amazing book and hire a professional editor.

–create a great cover that makes a promise you keep within the pages of the book. It should look good, even in thumbnail size, with name and title clearly legible. There is a list of artists at:


–publish multiple books to reach the largest audience and establish reader trust. Include in each:

* hyperlink to all your other books

* sample of next book

–Maximize distribution by posting your books through all the major distributors (Apple i-book store, Sony, B&N, Kobo, Baker & Taylor, A.R.E, W.H. Smith)

— give a book/books away for free to build platform

–have patience. You never know when luck is going to strike. Books forced out of traditional print before they had a chance to find an audience, can have an eternal life in electronic format. Keep tweeking.

–Don’t worry about pirates. Those that take time and effort to seek out pirated books are not paying customers anyway, but the word of mouth possible through that avenue far offsets

–Platform building begins yesterday

* Did you know?? What you post on G+ gets preference in Google search engine

* Fellow authors are your partners, not your competition. “A rising tide lifts all ships”

* Be a pioneer. Try things out to see what works and what doesn’t.

Tweek: title (research best selling titles), blurb, story, price, category, make available in multiple platforms

–Pinch promo pennies. Invest your time. Once you are profitable, then consider re-investing money into your platform

*Participate in social communities by adding value to them


— Proactive market focused on discoverability touchpoints:

29% use online communities for recommendations

18% look for favorite author

80% actively look for new authors

5% read only free books

7% buy via cover image

5% browse randomly

Don’t forget foreign: 42% of Smashwords sales are outside the USA:

#1 Germany, #2 France, #3 Spain #4 India #5 Portugal – all have vibrant English markets

FREE: Smashwords Book Marketing Guide



book cover image from amazon.com

This free book marketing primer provides authors easy-to-implement advice on how to market their books at Smashwords and elsewhere. It starts with an overview of how Smashwords helps promote your book, and then provides 30 simple do-it-yourself marketing tips. The book is useful to all authors, even those who don’t yet publish on Smashwords.


smashwords, book publicity, social media, book promotion, public relations, promotion, publicity, pr,ebook promotion, ebook marketing, marketing


J.A. Konrath a phenomenally successful indie published fiction writer working in the mystery, thriller, and horror genres writing as J. A. Konrath and Jack Kilborn. The Future of Self Publishing was topic, “You need to keep writing until luck hits”, the message.



image from Amazon.com

What’s Coming??

Enhanced e-books or ‘V-ooks’ will require authors to think about multimedia rights as another contractual concern.

User aggregated content (generating reader specific ads) with forums/chatrooms within the book

advertisements within the book makes many books free

Books will be apps

“The enemy of writers is not piracy – it is obscurity.”

Optimal price point is $2.99- $5.99

Sell through your website via paypal , but DIVERSIFY (Google books, Scribed, Diesel etc) Don’t be like a corporation with ‘existence bias’ (‘we will be around forever’) DIVERSIFY. Give readers options to buy.

Overdrive– service catering to libraries is a GOOD thing. Each e-copy is like a book—to be checked out one at a time. When waiting list is long, readers more likely to buy rather than wait.

Search out truthful critics. Avoid critics who dish out ‘proud parent syndrome’. “The candy of praise we love, but it’s not good for us.”

“Your writing sells your writing. The best way to improve virtual shelf space is to write more books.”

Story is forever—only the vehicle of its delivery changes. We are all resistant to change, but change comes. If you are open to it, you will succeed.

Mr. Konrath’s blog A Newbies Guide To Publishing, garners several million hits a year jakonrath.blogspot.com


Even author/ author advocate/speaker Bob Mayer has taken the self publishing leap, calling traditional publishers “slow and technophobic’”

image from Amazon.com


He views the shelfless book as the future. To build a solid platform he suggests working on name recognition, play up what is unique in your background, establish yourself as an expert in that or other area of passion, write your passion, build and extend your community by commenting on other’s blogs, produce product, articles, give classes, blog—build relationships.


Marketing Your Backlist

A seminar urging authors to retrieve their rights and take a year to publish this ‘backlist’, spruced, polished for 2012 and ready to go digital. Find a list of best sellers in your niche and use their meta tags as your own. Give away a book, not so much to entice readers as to increase discoverability. Put up a swarm of backlist books at once—creating more buzz and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I liked a tip or two in the “D.I.Y. Marketing” seminar (joanschulhafer.com)

–put your press release at the bottom of appropriate emails directing those who wish to know more, there >>>

–prepare a Q&A for any media that might wish to learn more about you. Include it on your website press page

—have some comparable author’s names listed and/or works that might enable readers to get a sense of what and how you write


A big thank you to author Rosanne Bitner for infusing the power of passion back into the storytelling equation in her panel dubbed “The Power Of Passion”.

image from Amazon.com








Image from amazon.com

image from: https://twitter.com/kathrynfalk/

veterans Kathryn Falk 






and author Jennifer Blake

imgres                Order Now!

images from Amazon.com

spoke of the changing industry, the stresses of life and how not to compromise the passion for your writing. Love for genre and writing is what ignites reader’s heart and keeps authors sane through all life’s challenges.

These classy women have certainly had their share of family demands, health challenges and tragedies in their lives. Cheaper, and often more effective than the psychiatrist’s couch, immersion into the life and times of very real characters can help all of us heal, be uplifted, even inspire to higher things.

Founder of RT, Kathryn Falk, has been a huge supporter of romance since she first started publishing a newsletter about romance way back in the early 80’s. imgres

As romance and publishing has changed, RT has gone right along and continued their strong support of all forms of romance over these many years. It was a pleasure hearing her speak of undying support and love of the genre.



image from My Space

She promises a spotlight on those that serve in our nation’s defense at the 30th RT Convention to be held in Kansas City Missouri May 1-5 2013


The huge book signing and the evening socials are THE place for authors and readers to mingle.

images from Romantic Times website

RT does it better than anyone else, providing a relaxed fun atmosphere where everyone can interact.




images of Anne Rice by C London

Anne Rice


Sue Grafton — images by C London

Were two of the many authors who met readers. I chatted with Ms Grafton about her progress on the upcoming “W” novel in her enormously popular Kinsey Millhone Detective Mystery ‘alphabet’ series.

“I’m about 100 pages into (writing) the next book and have not made up my mind yet…” Sue paused, thoughtful, but with a definite twinkle in her eye. “ ‘Warrant’ or maybe  ‘Witness’…” she raised a brow in a ‘what do you think’ arc.

“You’re not going to give me a scoop?” I teased.

She just chuckled. “I really don’t know—yet.”

What, dear readers, do you think?? Leave a comment with your suggestion?? Sue Just might drop in for a look-see. 🙂


photo by C London

Author Roz Lee chats with eager readers at the “FAN-tastic” party Saturday evening.

J.A. Konraths blog recommendations:

Scott NicolsonPassive Guy and Let’s Get Digital

Best quote of the conference:

“The enemy of writers is not piracy—it is obscurity” – J.A. Konrath

Authors—go forth and be discovered.

Readers—There is a wealth of undiscovered talent at your fingertips.     Go forth, discover and enjoy!

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9 Responses to RT Book Reviews Holds Its 29th Annual Convention

  1. Wonderful, insightful post as always from Muse's very own on the ground journalist. A lot of information to chew over. Well done, Miss London and watch out Oprah.Vivianehttp://www.vivianebrentanos.com/

  2. Roz Lee says:

    Oh, you take such good notes!! I need to print this out to supplement my own. And when did you take that picture? I had no idea you did that. That was such a wonderful evening, meeting and talking with readers, and you were right there beside me! We met some great people, didn't we? Loved the post. You always do such a good job of summing up your travel experiences. *taking notes* I want to be you when I grow up!

  3. Felice Fox says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Wish I could have been there!

  4. Fantastic notes, Christine. Really makes me wish I could have been there! I'll have to make plans for another year.Jana

  5. Robena Grant says:

    What a fabulous post, Christine. So helpful, and I'm going to have to come back and read it again.It sounds like you had a great time!

  6. Thanks…and yes–so much information…and I only attend but a few seminars. Oh that we could clone ourselves in such situations!Roz–I am sneaky, with a capital "S". Must be how I get such good celeb photos at Hollywood events. It's in my blood…bwahhh!!

  7. Wow, fabulous. Must have taken you hours to post!I found the Smashwords creator's words and information especially interesting.Great job.

  8. Great post, Christine. I wish I'd been able to go. You did well as 'backup'!I'm going next year for sure!

  9. If you enjoyed this and/or found the stats and info useful, please Tweet, Facebook, G+ about it. There are so many authors and readers who will appreciate the share!xoxoChristine

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