Last weekend I went to Melbourne for the R*BY awards, but I thought I’d let you in on some of the things I heard and experienced which I think would be of interest to other readers. You can find all my photos on Flickr.
Anna Campbell now with Grand Central
Anna Campbell has changed US publishers. Her next book will be published with Grand Central, which is part of the Hachette group. She will still be published under HarperCollins in Australia. I had a chat with her about the Australian format for her books (C format, which costs about $30 retail), but I’m not sure if the change will have an impact on the Australian editions.
Dymocks trade stall
The trade stall by sponsor Dymocks (234 Collins St), managed by the lovely Helen, was fantastic. They arranged books in bookshelves and had couches and seating set up for browsing. It was lovely and cosy and so entirely appropriate for a romance convention.
Plenary session – Publishing panel
I heard separately from two people who attended the Saturday morning plenary session featuring representatives from various publishers. The impression I got was that the Australian (non-romance specialist) publishers were very reluctant to even say ‘romance’ and that they didn’t want to know who ends up with whom in the first page.
One of my sources said it was embarrassing, given that they were in a panel with overseas romance publishers and agents. Both sources felt that the Australian publishers were jumping on the romance bandwagon for the reader dollars while treating the genre with…if not disdain, then at least without the respect one would expect at a romance conference. This was particularly galling given the support that romance readers have given some of their authors. (Not that we hold it against the authors!)
Publishers take note.
Authors in real life
I didn’t get to meet as many authors as you may have expected. This is due to the fact that I turn into a complete airhead when I meet an author crush, but also because I seriously just couldn’t work out who they were most of the time.
But I did get a photo with Bob Mayer. (Thank you, Kate!)
Our Twitter meet-up was surprisingly well attended, and I got to catch up with @TezMillerOz, @Belles74, @RomanceDirect, @GirrlitsBooks, @dumblydore, author @SaraCreasy and, of course, Book Thingo co-blogger @Envyious. We had afternoon tea at Laurent and talked about books, books and more books. Sara Creasy’s Scarabeus series was highly recommended, including by someone else who wasn’t at the meet-up so it’s not just because the author was with us!
We also talked about the lack of support for local authors in Australian bookshops. Creasy’s books, for example, aren’t easy to find in Melbourne. (For the record, Dymocks at 234 Collins St has them—or will have them on order already.)
On Sunday morning, I caught up with @katydidinoz and @Oldbitey, again at Laurent. I was almost comatose from staying up so late the night before that all I remember was that we talked about authors, the conference and food.
The awards dinner was very glam indeed. Everyone got free Baci chocolates and I don’t know what’s wrong with the people at my table, but I got loads of unwanted choccies. I was seated with authors Jess Dee, Lexxie Couper, Rhian Cahill and romance reader, advocate and reviewer Kate Cuthbert.
I also met Carina Press executive editor, Angela James, who was just lovely and so gracious even though I petty much just accosted her and wouldn’t leave. :D
Apparently, Denise Rossetti’s red shoes are legendary and she wears them every year. Shoe envy.
We hung out at the hotel bar after dinner, where I had a long chat with Diane Curran and Shannon Curtis.
Crashing the RWA conference
I sat in on a panel for about half an hour. I did it just to see Sarah Mayberry. Author crush! But sadly, I didn’t get to meet her this time. Mosty I hung around the bookshop chatting with people. I bought Sophia James’s R*BY winning historical, One Unashamed Night, and I plan to review it soon.