Here is the summary of my Saturday at the RNA conference at Penrith.
Talli Roland – On-line marketing for writers
Talli opened the session by looking at the differences between marketing (identifying readers and how to satisfy them) and sales (“Buy my book!”).
She recommends that authors first figure out their brand, and suggested a good way to start is to choose three adjectives that describe your writing. Use these words in your signature, and remember them in all promotions and communications.
She gave blogging, tweeting and Facebook tips, and recommended using social media as a ‘circle’ – feeding through from one unique platform into another. She also discussed Goodreads, Amazon, Google Reader and newsletters. Talli ended by saying that marketing is a long term exercise, not an immediate solution.
Kate Harrison – A Woman’s World: The Future of Women’s Fiction
Following the negative headlines late last year about declining book sales (based on print figures only, interestingly!) Kate decided to do a survey of women’s fiction readers. Her background is in television, where consumers are heavily researched, so she decided to use her skills to try to understand book consumers (readers).
This talk was an analysis of the responses. The survey covered reader habits, reader types, as well as a survey of authors and book professionals. The one thing that struck me above all else was the number of readers who said their favourite books are those that are thought provoking in some way. Kate will post the results on her website soon.
Juliet Greenwood – Working with an editor
This talk focussed on Juliet’s experience working with an editor at Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press. She shared the advice given by the editor on how to revise the book, resulting in a vastly improved time-slip book which was then published by.
One thing Juliet said stuck with me: “Follow your instincts and have the courage to do what you know needs to be done.”
Gillian Green – Boldly going where Ebury has not gone before
Ebury used to be a mainly non-fiction imprint with a heavy BBC tie-in, but started publishing fiction in 2010 and have gone from strength to strength since.
Gillian Green discussed what they’re not looking for, and showed a selection of their books as an idea of what they are looking for.
Ebury has three divisions: Rouge Romance, Black Lace for erotic fiction, and the Del Rey imprint for Sci Fi and Fantasy which launches in 2013. These are all new lists so they are very open to submissions. She ended her talk with a big push to promote traditional publishing and Ebury in particular, after saying she appreciates authors now have a choice.
HMB Editors – At the heart of Harlequin
The four editors started the talk by presenting sales facts & figures, then ran through the various lines published out of London.
Regarding the Riva line: in February 2013 Riva will be launched in the US as ‘Kiss’. The imprint’s purpose is to attract new readers to M&B and after conducting a survey they’ve chosen to go with more chick-litty covers.
They ended by repeating exactly what Gillian Green said, kind of like the airline attendants who say “thank you for flying with us, we appreciate that you have a choice.”
The talk ended early and they opened the floor to questions, at which time I slipped out for my one-on-one appointment with Kimberly Young of Mira.
One-on-one with Kim Young
My ten minute chat with Kim Young flew past very quickly. She was complimentary about my writing, and I came out of the chat inspired and re-invigorated. She gave me a valuable feedback on When September Ends, but the over-riding thing I took away from this chat was that Kim feels my voice is definitely suited to M&B’s Riva imprint and she strongly recommended that I do the revisions they requested. I'd better get working!
Mira Editors: Women’s fiction with a romantic twist
The talk by three editors from Mira was centred around lists of ‘Ten Things’, starting with Ten Things Authors Hate About Harlequin (an interesting acknowledgement!), then Ten Things They Hate About Us, and finally Ten Tips for Being Commercial.
Kim Young acknowledged their position is more tenuous than in the past, and that authors have more choice than before and that the barriers to entry are less difficult than ever. They ended with a list of all the things they offer and why we should publish with them. (Are you seeing the pattern yet?!)
For my summary of the final day of the conference, check back here on Thursday.