My last weekend in Florida and yes, I am whining about it. Tomorrow I head home to the frozen tundra. But I did spend it well.
The Southwest Florida Romance Writers Conference managed to jam pack a ton of information in their conference. Held in beautiful Estero, Florida, the conference itself was in an Elk’s Lodge, but it was a perfect venue. Lots of space, lovely area and everything went smoothly.
After an early breakfast, we were off and running with an editor’s panel. Writers always seem to sit up straighter and take notice when editors have anything to say. I was honored to be asked to moderate the group of Gwen Hayes of Entangled Publishing, Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks and Barb Wison of Taliesin Publishing. Tips were given about pitches, marketing and trends, but as usually is stated, if anyone knew ahead of time what the next big thing was going to be we’d all be millionaires.
Jennifer Fusco offered her class on Market or Die and Rae Monet gave expert advice as a web designer. Speaking as a person who really believes in an author needing a great website, this was much needed and valuable information.
Sheila Clover English and I did an afternoon session on Building Reader Loyalty, Branding, Transmedia, Book Trailers and more. It was an intense 4 hour program that made writers really think about what they were writing about and who. We did a couple of exercises. One had the writers write a tag line about their book that would entice readers. Many great ideas came out of this and it was interesting to see how the authors thought of their stories. The winner received a free Book Trailer from Sheila. We also had the authors answer questions about their readers. Who they thought they were, what age group it was geared for, male or female, and so on. It caused a lot thought and conversations about how authors perceive readers.
My favorite part, though, was the speed dating. Writers sat at round tables and the speakers and editors spent 10 minutes at each one. It really did go fast, but I loved learning about the writers and their concerns. The amount of creativeness always amazes me and I love to hear their ideas because I think, “Why didn’t I think about that?” Now if they can just get them into books so I can start reading them.
While many published authors attended, Loretta Chase seemed to be the star attraction. Loretta writes incredible historicals and her fans quickly surrounded her to talk about some of their favorite books of hers.
A lot of work goes into these conferences and I know it is much appreciated by the attendees. I know I get energized after attending them and after talking to many of the writers there, it seems like they can’t wait to get home and put some of their new learnings to good use.
Bottom Line: Adieu Florida, you’ve been a great break in what would certainly have been a dreary, gray winter.