Thursday, August 11, 2011

RomCon Report 3

One thing there's a lot of at reading/writing conferences is swag, or all those free giveaways. RomCon was no different. Everything from business cards to bookmarks to notepads to pens to postcards to excerpt booklets. Plus the slightly more unusual: a tape measure, luggage tag, and a gizmo I had to Google to discover it's actual use.

And of course, there are books

Sunday morning, I opted to go to a discussion group run the by The Book Reading Gals. Although it was designed as a place where readers could discuss their favorite books, authors, genres (and pet peeves), authors were allowed to attend. After all, we probably read a lot more books than we write.

The "consensus" was that there is no consensus. Readers like all genres, and they want to love the characters. Some have burned out on vampires and shifters, others will keep reading. Likewise historicals and time travel. One question came up: did readers like to see heroes moving forward or backward in time, and the same for the heroines.

There was discussion as to whether a modern-day man would have any of the skills required in a world where he would be required to hunt his own food and defend himself with the weapons of the day.

Another question was how much accuracy a reader demanded before dismissing a book. Some were willing to accept liberties with details, especially historical ones if they weren't too blatant and if the story worked. And, of course, a lot depends on the reader's knowledge of the times.

Historicals aren't the only places where readers prefer accuracy. One attendee pointed out that a Very Big Name Famous Best Selling Romance Author set a book in Oregon and had the characters pumping their own gas. This is against the law in Oregon, but is probably not something anyone who hasn't tried to fill their own tank at an Oregon gas station would know. (I'm proud to say that I knew this and actually used this bit of information in a scene from my upcoming ROOTED IN DANGER!)

Oh -- did I mention that at romance reader conventions, there are usually at least a few hunks, happy to pose for pictures with readers. (note: only 1 of the guys is cardboard)

After the Readers Crown Brunch, where they announced this year's winners, there was the RomCon Rumble. Since the closing of Borders meant there couldn't be a book signing, the RomCon organizers came up with a kind of meet the author/speed dating. Each author was given a stack of trading cards featuring one cover, and could also give away any other swag they wanted. Attendees were to visit an author's table to chat, and every three minutes a whistle blew and they'd move on.

Now, unlike many of the bigger publishing houses, my publishers don't give me boxes of books to hand out. I did have about a dozen books I gave away to people who stopped by my table to chat. One of the ways I decided to select who'd get a book was to write a note on the back of a few of my trading cards. Let me say that there are still two people out there somewhere who could have had a free book had they flipped the card over!

So – anyone want any of my excess swag? Check the Deals and Steals tab.

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Wynter Daniels said...

Sounds like the conference was fun and different. The speed dating idea is unique. Connecting with readers one at a time is a great idea.

Terry Odell said...

Wynter - there were a few glitches in the speed dating system, but overall it was a fun event.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like so much fun! :)

Ciara said...

Thanks for sharing Rom Con with us. I've enjoyed the posts! I'm going to my first Dragon Con this year. Woot! :)

Sharon Hamilton said...

I've heard great things about RomCon and now, reading your posts, I'm going to budget for it next year.

We are lucky there are so many programs where writers can rub up against other writers and readers. Which one to choose? Thanks for sharing.

Lynne Marshall said...

I love swag! One of my favorites was a red heart shaped rubber jar opener with the author's name and book on it. The name and book have worn off, but i still use that jar opener!
Oh, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall with the pet peeves discussion. What great insight!

Thanks for the blogs on RomCon.

Terry Odell said...

Jemi, it was fun

Ciara - you'll have to report on Dragon Con

Sharon - hope to see you next year at RomCon

Lynne - that's why I always recommend bringing an extra tote! Lots to take home.

Helen Ginger said...

Sounds like a great conference.

What in the world is that thing with the white handle?

Terry Odell said...

Helen - click the "gizmo" link and you'll see what it is!

Karen C said...

Hey, the gizmo is cute and a great idea!!

Thanks for sharing RomCon with us - it's been fun to hear about all of it. And even if the speed dating process could have used improvement, it sounds like a great idea to keep the lines moving and allow the readers time with the author.


Isis Rushdan said...

Great pics. In your opinion, what type of swag do you think is best/most effective? I haven't been to one of these conferences, yet, and haven't a clue.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Terry Odell said...

Isis - great question, and I wish I had a "real" answer. I hand out bookmarks to people I meet, although I'm sure only a small percentage of them make it home, and an even smaller percentage lead to sales. My chapter booklets seem most effective, but they're time consuming to make (and I do them myself to save money).

What do I pick up? Emery boards! I'm always needing those. Pens are good, and I like chapter booklets. I definitely kept the tape measure, and post-it notes.

On the flip side: have I bought books based on these? No. I probably couldn't even tell you whose name is on them. I figure it works the same way for my own stuff, so I don't go overboard.

Now, if you're already a recognizable name, that's another story.

Leah St. James said...

Sounds like a great conference, Terry. I've never attended, but I think I'll start saving my pennies!

Terry Odell said...

Leah - hope you do. I plan to go next year.