#RT14 review: Was the conference worth it?

cara at book fair

The Big Book Fair.

This was my second time attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Conference. RT is a crazy, chaotic, cacophonous, overwhelming convention that brings together writers, publishers, agents, booksellers, bloggers and readers. Although I found many of this year’s seminars lackluster compared to RT13, I feel I got more out of this year’s because of the people and the networking.

The highlight of the convention for me was meeting fellow spanking fiction authors Celeste Jones, Sue Lyndon, and Alta Hensley. I’ve known these ladies for several years, but we have never met face-to-face. Being able to sit down with them and talk was wonderful. Blushing Books publisher Bethany Burke—which recently purchased LazyDay Publishing, one of my publishers—invited me to the Blushing dinner and to a get-together at her suite. Bethany provided very open, honest information about publishing. I learned a lot from her.

On the way to a voodoo museum, I got to discuss career options at dinner with literary agent Tish Beaty of the L. Perkins Agency.

I met author and Wizards in Publishing founder Kate Richards, who had edited A Scent of Longing, my Decadent Publishing 1Night Stand vampire romance, talked about audio books with Kellie Kamryn, and had breakfast with a group of my fellow Loose Id authors and Kierstin Cherry, LI senior editor. I also met authors Veronica Scott, Pauline AllanShoshanna Evers, and LB Grant. Lori, “LB” joined my Street Team.

Those types of interactions made the conference all worthwhile.

My goal was to learn more about self-publishing as well as marketing, and while I got that out of the conference, in general, I found most of the seminars disappointing for their lack of hard data, with a new notable exceptions: “The Millionaires Club, Secrets of the Best-Selling Indie Authors” and “How to Buzz Your Book in this new Crazy Marketplace,” moderated by author M.J. Rose were both good. And the very last session I attended, “Building a Sticky Digital Readership” by historical romance author Courtney Milan (who has a science and math background) was phenomenal. It was the best session of the entire conference and gave me exactly the information I wanted. I’ll be talking about what I learned in Thursday’s blog, “Why some books sell and others don’t.”

This year’s conference location was fabulous, and I pretty much ate my way through New Orleans.

Would I do it again? Maybe. I’m thinking I might try some smaller conferences before doing RT again. If anything, RT sold me on the value of conferences for the networking opportunities.

The  best part of RT was meeting (from left) Celeste Jones, Sue Lyndon and Alta Hensley.

Meeting Celeste Jones, Sue Lyndon and Alta Hensley was the best part of RT.

Red and rice, jambalaya and some kind of crawfish thing. Yum.

Red and rice, jambalaya and some kind of crawfish thing. Yum.

group with kate

With Sue Lyndon and Celeste Jones and Kate Richards (on the right). Next to Kate is her niece/assistant, and I confess I don’t remember the other woman’s name, other than it was Nicky (sp?) something.

Redfish dinner. I tried to eat as much fish as I could, because you can't get good fish here in Missouri.

Redfish dinner. I tried to eat as much fish as I could, because you can’t get good fish here in Missouri.

Tish Beaty of the L. Perkins Agency & Holly Atkinson, Samhaim submissions editor.

pot pie

Some sort of pot pie thing. It was good. The last food picture I’ll show you. But there are more.

My roomie and "assistant" Amanda Buxton.

My roomie and “assistant” Amanda Buxton.

veronica scott

Author Veronica Scott

Author Courtney Milan who did a fabulous presentation on “half assing promotion while making still making money.”


Dawn Cosby (a reader!), me, and author Lisa Medley

Dawn Cosby (a reader!), me, and author Lisa Medley

Venturing into an "authentic" voodoo museum: Sue Lyndon, Tish Beaty, Dawn Cosby, Lisa Medley and Amanda Buxton.

Venturing into an voodoo museum: Sue Lyndon, Tish Beaty, Dawn Cosby, Lisa Medley and Amanda Buxton.

Voodoo dolls.

Voodoo dolls.

The view from my 18th floor hotel room.

The view from my 18th floor hotel room.

 Come back Thursday to find out why some books sell and others don’t!

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34 Responses to #RT14 review: Was the conference worth it?

  1. Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more. I was quite disappointed with the sessions. I found the panels to be more cheeky than informative. I finally tried to stick to one presenter panels because i found the authors on multi presenter panels fought over each other for comic interactions. Overall, the networking was so valuable. It was great to meet you and have lunch with our band of naughty Loose Id authors. Meeting Christy Lockhart has changed my writing outlook. That alone was worth the money. And I too ate my way through the city!

  2. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Cara!
    Loved the pics.

  3. Excellent analysis (and photos)! I had a similar experience with the panels and finally stopped attending, but I’m glad you persisted and got some good info.

    For those of us who work alone (and often in secrecy) the value of just getting away from the house and computer for a few days of laughing, good food, and comaraderie was priceless.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I do plan to let RT know which sessions I found useful. It was nice to get out and meet everybody. I really needed the break.

  4. Casey McKay says:

    Thanks for being so open and honest on what you found useful and what you didn’t. I would love to get to a convention at some point but really need to weigh cost and travel expenses against what I would get out of it.

    Love the pictures! Looks like you had a blast!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I had a lot of fun, and I got some very useful information, but one has to weigh the cost. By the time you add up conference fees, hotel, air fare (or gas/parking), food — it’s quite pricey. I think for an aspiring/newbie author, it could be invaluable, but they’re the ones who can least afford it. For me, the networking and contacts made the conference.

  5. Lisa Wells says:


    Thanks for dishing about RT14. I think networking is the main reason to go to conferences. What is being taught can be learned via on-line classes and books which are much cheaper.

    How did you feel about the split of authors in to traditional and aspiring?


    • Cara Bristol says:

      I didn’t like that part at all. There was definitely a second class citizen feel to the Book Fair. I was in the epubbed steerage section and we were squeezed in like sardines. But I think what happened is after the Book Fair requests filled up so quickly, they squeezed in more authors into the epub section so they could accommodate more requests.

  6. Sharon Davis says:

    I soooo wish I could have gone. I can’t wait to see Thursday’s post.

  7. Reading your post was bittersweet. I wish SO MUCH that I could have gone and met y’all! I was planning to go to RT because I’m new and wanted to network, also it was close to where I live. I’m a Louisiana native, and we make it to the Big Easy several times a year. For connecting with readers and a bump in sales the smaller conferences are better in my opinion. It all costs money and you have to prioritize. I lost a fortune this year because I had to pay for not only registration but I got some “deal” where I paid for my hotel when I booked it. Then, when I couldn’t go at the last minute… my only consolation is using it as a write-off. Hope I get to meet you soon!

  8. Alta Hensley says:

    It was worth it for me. I had a great time, and I walk away with great memories. It was also what I needed to kick my butt in gear and start cracking out my books faster.

  9. Sounds like I need to go next time. I love conferences. I come away so inspired. But I sgree sometimes the small ones give just ss much info.

  10. Sue Lyndon says:

    Great post! I agree that hanging out with fellow spanking authors was the best part of RT. Second to that, connecting with other authors and people who worked in the industry. The workshops I attended didn’t blow me away. Honestly I learned a lot more at the workshops I attended at Romance Novel Convention last summer. Of course maybe it was just the workshops I went to. I’d like to attend at least one more RT though and I am 99% sure I’m going to Dallas next year.

    • Rayanna Jamison says:

      Sue, is the Romance Novel Convention you are talking about the one that is in Vegas this summer?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      There is such a variety of workshops and it does depend on what you need and what you pick. But some workshops did not deliver on what they promised. I’m up in the air about Dallas. I would definitely do promo lane again. Of all the promotional opportunities, that was the best, but I think it was the best because I gave away something unique. Had I given pens like most everybody else, it would not have been as successful. I would do the Book Fair again, but I would have more SWAG for that one.

  11. I love all the pics! Thanks for sharing them (and thanks to the ladies in the photos too). Looking forward to the posts you have coming and appreciate you sharing. Bummer about the workshops not being great but I am interested in what you did learn.

  12. Renee Rose says:

    Aw, so fun to see the photos! Thank you for sharing!!

  13. S.J. Maylee says:

    Even though I haven’t been to a conference yet, I love experiencing them through those I know online. I can’t imagine how amazing it would be to actually attend one. It’s inspiring to me and I wasn’t even there, lol. I can’t thank you enough for sharing what you’ve learned.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, SJ. Maybe we’ll meet at a conference some day. I would like to attend more of them–but want to try some smaller ones.

  14. Rollin Hand says:

    I wish I could have gone. This has been a busy year for me and I could not get away. That said, the networking would have been priceless. But the thing I wonder about is how “spanking romance” fits into the genre. Is it considered a real sub-genre? Because, point of fact, in the real world of publishing, it very much is. But I’m curious as to how the larger community views this niche.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      My guess is that it is considered a subgenre of BDSM, but I would consider spanking fiction as its own genre. I know Loose Id groups it under “BDSM and fetish.”

  15. Great post, Cara. I was certain I was going to go to Dallas next year until I heard about non-trad (read: eBook only) authors being called “aspiring authors.” What the heck is that all about? Anyway, I found it so insulting that I’m thinking twice about going to Dallas. If I knew I would be meeting so many respected colleagues, it would definitely sway my opinion. Besides, I love Dallas, unlike NOLA. Loved your pictures and I’m looking forward to reading about what you found valuable in the sessions.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I think the “aspiring” authors thing was a rumor started after a volunteer mistakingly referred to an ebook author that way. RT does not treat epubbed authors as “aspiring” — but the traditionally published authors did have better digs. I suspect that after the Book Fair filled up, they tried to squeeze authors in to accommodate those on the wait list and figured that “ebook” authors would not need as much space as print authors since they would not have stacks of books. That’s my theory, anyway.

  16. Adaline Raine says:

    What a great post! It is so nice to hear about what you saw and what you got out of it. I love the pictures especially with you, Sue, Celeste, and Alta. I wish I had been there!

    I wonder if Bethany ever considered a spanking romance convention. There seems to be enough interest…. it would be amazing. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your trip!


    • Cara Bristol says:

      Actually, Alta, Celeste, Sue and I have talked about a spanking romance convention. But what would we call it? Would people be willing to show their faces? Would readers be willing to admit they read it by showing up? Would it be geared toward authors or readers?

  17. Loved the photos, Cara. Made me wish I’d been there. I’m not sure I’ll attend another conference, but I’ll never say never. Looking forward to your post on why some books sell and others don’t. Despite what some say about eBooks not needing good covers, I disagree. I think a good cover helps capture readers’ attention, and good writing has them reaching into their wallet. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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