I’m Home! And a Bit of a Rant.

Jillian here. I was at the Romantic Times convention in New Orleans (didn’t get to meet Marie- alas)- and had a great time for the most part. It was awesome to see old friends and to meet some I hadn’t known before in person. I also was able to connect to some readers who I have been chatting with on social media. That part was awesome to the max.

The bad thing was the way the organization split the writers in the book signing and the way they ushered readers to the NY published authors. We all paid the same fees to be there and we were treated horribly. They had the NY pubbed people on the left and the small/medium presses and indies to the right. I am small and medium press published and two of my publishers sponsored events at this convention and yet we were shuffled off to the side. We didn’t even have any customers for the first 45 mins of the book fair.

As the volunteers let people in, they ushered them to the NY side and even told some people not to go into the other room as it was the “overflow” room- I even heard one person was telling people that the published writers were to the left and the aspiring authors were to the right.  HELLO??? It was unreal. I had one lady who had already bought my book and brought it from home to get me to sign it and she finally found me- she was upset as she didn’t know if she ever would. And I heard from someone else that they never did find me. So, how many sales did we in the other room lose out on? I won’t be going back unless this changes.

RWA already treats us non-NY pubbed writers as persona non grata and now RT does as well? Makes you think, doesn’t it? Makes me sad/mad at the same time. One NY pubbed gal I know said she didn’t see a problem with the way they did the split. I told her that was exactly like the days of “separate but equal”- the white folks didn’t see anything wrong with it because they were the elite. Harsh? Maybe, but I think the analogy works.

I had a dream last night that Lavada was in_ I think I was fretting over being late to blog (haha)_ anyway, she was trying to help me sew (which I CANNOT do at all) and when I got frustrated, I said, “I can’t do this like everyone else so I quit.”

I think that was a psychological leftover from being treated as a second class citizen at RT. What do you think?

38 responses to “I’m Home! And a Bit of a Rant.

  1. conniefischer

    Shame, shame, shame on them for doing that. This is big for the readers who obviously stand in line for quite some time to see THEIR favorite authors. If there isn’t already a map given out ahead of entering, there should be to let readers decide which way they wish to head when they enter. Sigh. I guess there’s “illegal” and immoral stunts everywhere, not just politics. I’m sorry this happened and you should absolutely speak up and let them know!

    • thanks Connie. It was awful and completely unnecessary. And yeah, it cheated the readers- how many really know what publisher they are reading? I am in the industry and 1/2 the time I have no idea what house my fav. author is with. It was frustrating for the readers for sure. Lots of people I chatted with had the same experience as I did.

  2. That is truly shameful, Jillian. Segregation like that is offensive to say the least, and wrong on so many levels. I agree with you about not knowing who my favourite authors are published with. Wouldn’t have a clue. As for that person who mentioned real authors as opposed to aspiring authors…I would have thought the display of ‘aspiring’ authors books might have clued her in to the error of her definition.

    I’m disappointed to hear this about RT. Many UK authors visited the conference this year, so I’ll be interested to hear their take. Is RWA the same? I’ve been hankering to come over for it one of these days, but not if they treat us small/medium press authors that way. In July I’ll be attending the RNA conference here in the UK. Haven’t been for years, so it will be interesting to see how they do it.

    • For sure Tricia. RWA at least lets them all in the same room. I didn’t go to the conference just for the book signing but I paid the same as anyone else for the privilege to be there and should be treated the same.

  3. It made no sense that some of us who are also published with small publishers were placed in the big room. Maybe because we were signing books that were ordered by the bookstore? I know I looked for you and Connie and Shay and Jenna and couldn’t find any of you—that was before I knew about the other room. Cynthia Moore was signing the same book I was (the Christmas book) and we were both in the big room. I don’t know why they didn’t just put everyone in alphabetical order and let it spill into the second room. Common sense isn’t very common anymore.

    But what’s disturbing is that Steven Zaccharius (Kensington CEO) is defending RT as being generous to give the indie/small publishers an opportunity to be part of the action even though it’s the Big Five who pays for everything. No kidding! That guy can’t keep his mouth shut. Sort of like authors arguing with reviewers who don’t like their books. Not classy AT ALL!

    • I saw that, too Susana- the Kensington man is an ass. We both know Elloras Cave sponsored some things and one of my other publishers did as well. I can’t believe his audacity. I can’t understand the logic in the separation- they could have done A-L in one room and M-Z in the other.
      I think part of it is NY is worried about the small presses taking over as well as the indies since some of those people make more than traditional published authors.

  4. I’ve never been to RT but I have been to AAD & TNEE. Both were reader and author friendly. There was no segregation as far as I could tell. True there weren’t as many NY big names but there were a bunch of terrific indy and hybrid authors. I met a bunch of new to me authors and had a great time. You should check it out

  5. I think you might have a better experience at a Readers’ Luncheon. Barbara Vey’s luncheon had over 500 people that attended. Most were readers. Our luncheons in Alabama are a bit smaller for turnout, but they provide an excellent way to connect with readers at a much lower cost to the author.

    • yes, I agree Christine that small experiences are good but I also think there are people at RT from every state as well as international that we can market to and meet. I met about 8 people this time from Australia. I wouldn’t have the chance to interact with them at a small luncheon in Alabama- it’s a different audience and we should all be treated the same.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Jillian. This is the reason I don’t go to RT or RWA national.

  7. There is so much wrong about the way the convention was handled,I don’t even know where to begin.I am so sorry that you and the others went through so much trouble and expense and were treated so horribly.I don’t think your analogy was off the mark. My thought was of Gandhi on the train in South Africa. Although he was a professional man, (a lawyer), and had paid first-class fare,he was thrown off the entire train because only Caucasians were allowed to ride first-class.You had everything going for you but are not published in NYC; “same difference”.
    Seems that you had a similar experience.Aspiring writers, Indeed! I am offended FOR you, with all you have legitimately published.
    I hope the organization gets enough feedback OR enough of you who will not go back to amend their ways for the future.(Hit them in the pocketbook, as my mother would say!)
    Go ahead and be mad, you have a right.

  8. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Jillian. I’ve heard a lot of the same since my first time attending a couple of years ago. It’s very sad and in poor taste that RT has chosen to treat authors this way. I was going to plan on attending the next one, but after reading this, I’ll find another convention/conference to spend my money on.

    • amen Lynn. I will always love RT for the fun folks I meet there- including you- but I am sorely disappointed and will be spending my money elsewhere too!

  9. I have heard this same thing on a couple other loops. Bottom line, it’s not about where or how a story gets published. It’s about the readers who love to read it. Seems to me they were done a disservice in this conference.
    I’m glad your home, though, Jillian. Did you and Marie find each other?

    • amen, Laurie. It’s all about the story and the reader- it should be and it should be easy for the reader to find the writer they want at the signing.

      Nope. Marie and I didn’t connect. Sadly.

  10. I hate that this happened to you and all the others. This would be the time to write RT and let them know how unacceptable actions like this are. It will also serve to inform them that something like this is going over the airwaves. It’s not so easy to get away with discrimination now days. Look at Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers. Things like this can go virile. I know there are two sides to a story, its just hard to see what that other side could be with this one. They at the very least owe an apology.

    • They know all about it Lavada. The hotel was a hot bed of angry people that afternoon and evening. One of my publishers was meeting with the officials Sunday afternoon. That publisher has all the normal outlets as NY pubs and books are returnable but we were ALL over there and being called indie when we are with a medium sized publisher. It’s an excuse – that whole returnable thing.

  11. I was just reading Courtney Milan’s blog (http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/05/18/rts-giant-bookfair/ ) where she talks about the separation being due to how the books were being sold. It was still a mess at the signing, but what she says makes sense.

  12. Laurie- I don’t really buy that because we were all in the same room at the last RT I attended.

  13. Last year in Kansas City, there were two separate book signings—one for the digital and one for print. The indies might have been in a separate room, I don’t remember.

  14. Reese Monroe/LynnRush

    I’ve heard this from a few authors. I did not go to RT this year, but what I’m hearing about the book signing…it just breaks my heart. Truly breaks my heart.

  15. Hugh Howey blogged about this mess, too. It’s just sad. I wonder how many indies won’t go next year because of yet another year of RT snubbing. Sigh. I hope they figure something different out. They sure need to.

  16. Disgraceful! Organisers have done themselves no favours for the future, it sounds to me, especially as everyone paid the same. Small independent publishers are just as valuable as the big boys. I certainly couldn’t tell you who my favourite authors are published with – who can? It’s the author that’s important and to be treated as almost “second class citizens” is appalling. Heaven forbid it should happen thus here.

    • Amen Kit. I think the average reader is like both of us, we like the story and the author and don’t pay one bit of attention to who publishes the work – I actually read a review the other day that the person went on and on about how the book needed edits and he hoped the self pubbed person would hire an editor the next time and so I scrolled up the page to see the publisher name and it was Harper Collins. Lol. So, the guy read it and didn’t even know who pubbed it.

      I hope this trend doesn’t reach your side of the pond.


  17. sounds awful.
    not only poorly planned, but horribly executed.
    And the conference “staff” was evidently untrained or misinformed. Possibly both.
    Yes, there’s a huge bias, even still. It’s almost as bad as the old days when the published authors looked down on those who used subsidy presses.

    • I agree Jeff. I think that some of the people who commented that the NY pubs are scared of the way things are moving are spot on. I think it was def. done on purpose and to mislead readers.

      • jeff7salter

        the NYC “bigs” are right to be frightened. Their entire paradigm is under threat. And all the better for us, in my opinion.

      • Oh, I totally agree with you on that, Jeff. I heard from one of my friends who was in some session at RT where someone from the big pubs said there seemed to be an air of desperation around the convention this year. This was a couple of days before the book signing so I thought that was pretty telling.

      • jeff7salter

        “An Air of Desperation” — great title for a thriller featuring a literary agent who can read the writing on the wall…

      • Lol Jeff. You write it, I’ll buy it.


  18. Valerie J. Patterson

    Wonder what RT would think if the small press folks simply stopped placing advertising with them after this fiasco? And stopped sponsoring events? I’ve been hearing about this practice at other conferences, too. Sadly, just when you think times have changed, someone does something thoughtless and insulting like this and you realize times are not progressing all that much. SMH

    • I know, right? I thought things were progressing- I really think NY is nervous and scared and are trying to push the little guy down.

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