Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Emerald City Conference at the Bellevue Hilton, WA - Fini

As usual, the Greater Seattle RWA chapter's Emerald City Conference was very fun, very informative, and very full of creative energy.  I believe we had more attendees this time than last; I understand that it's the largest chapter conference on the west coast of the U.S.  There has not been one time I have departed from that conference with anything less than renewed enthusiasm for writing and full of ideas.

Quite a few authors were there of course: Cherry Adair, with her marvelous "Write the Damn Book" challenge; Deborah Cook (a.k.a., Claire Deveraux); Lisa Jackson; Alexis Morgan; Pat White; Stella Cameron; Jane Porter; Gerri Russell; Christine Warren; Yasmine Galenorn; Katie McAllister; Susan Mallery; Megan Chance; Terry McLaughlin; Bob Mayer; Eileen Cook; Robert Dugoni; and many more.  Oh, and me.  :-)

The workshops were set to appeal to writers of many levels, from brand new to multi-published and everything in between.  Is a critique group right for you?  There was a workshop to help you decide.  What about the editor/author relationship?  How does that work?  Assistant Editor Peter Senftleben of Kensington Publishing and two of his authors, Gina Robinson and Shelli Stevens gave their expertise with that.  Are you an author who needs to think about career planning?  Katie MacAlister gave a workshop on that.  Interested in writing for the Young Adult market?  Authors Heather Davis, Serena Robar, and Dona Sarkar talked with expertise about what's allowed, how far you can go, and the current market trends.  And research!  If you wanted to know about Medieval castles, dragons, the Old West, and urban fantasy, there were workshops for those topics, too.

I want to give a special shout-out to Serena Robar for her workshop on the "Long Tail of Sales."  This was a workshop I gladly moderated, as I feel it's a marketing model that will shortly become the dominant one.  It favors smaller niche markets, and as romance is so very much about niches, it should adapt extremely well to this model and make a good deal of money doing it.  It also favors the quick, mobile companies; mom-and-pop shops; and other small, flexible companies and individuals that are good at acting on the spot.  I will do my best to suggest this workshop for the RWA National Conference, as I believe it's a very important one in our current economy if individuals--and companies--are to survive.

As for the market news...well, I heard a bit, not much.  For now it seems to be steady as it goes:  paranormals and historicals are doing fine, as I expected. First person novels seem to be popular, and I have to say, for a writer, it's great practice in keeping to one point of view. Young Adult novels are doing very, very well, and are definitely on the up-cycle (I remember a time when the Romance Writers of America dropped the Young Adult category from their contests, as there were too few entries--not any more!).  Urban fantasy romances are still doing well, and steampunk is making inroads.  Yes, vampires are still in, but the fantasy/paranormal romances are expanding in scope, thank God.

Romantic comedies--trust me when I say that their day is soon to come.  I don't know why publishers are not publishing more of these.  If they don't start coming into their own in the next year, I guarantee you'll see demand for them by 2012--only 3 years from now.  If you're a writer of "romcom" get your stories written now.  By the time the publishers get on board, you'll have a raft of manuscripts ready to submit.  The reason I say this is that I do not think that our economy is going to recover quickly at all, and will still see some dips along the way.  People buy entertainment when economies are down, and they go in droves for comedies (think of the popular movies of the Great Depression, and you'll see what I mean).

Westerns don't seem to be in, my gut instinct says they may not see much publishing light that soon, even though I do think there's a large market for it.  Our economic cycle is hugely focused on urban tastes right now, and even though the more small-town areas are probably dying to read a good solid western, since the major publishing companies exist in huge urban centers, they probably have no idea that there is this huge untapped market.  It's really too bad, in that some good solid, steady sales could be had in this "long tail" market.  Certainly, a smaller, more flexible publishing company could take advantage of this niche.

Well, that's it for now.  Next year...well, I doubt I'll be going to this lovely conference, as I'll be out of the country in Europe, if all goes as planned.  It'll be quite expensive to fly out to Seattle, even to the East Coast.  So unless our fortunes change, that'll be it for writing conferences.