Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Mission Statement

For the past couple days, the inbox for Deborah and I have been overflowing. All with the same question. Just what is WRR 2013? That’s quite simple to answer. It stands for ‘Writers, Romance, & Rainbows – A GBLT book fair for those in the GBLT Romance genre’. The explanation for that, however, is a bit more extensive.

With all the different cons and such happening through the year, only a few were geared toward those in the GBLT romance genre. Not surprising since this genre is still up and coming. It has made great strides, but sadly, still not as popular as the het romances as far as being mainstream goes. It hasn’t stopped us though. The books are still getting out there and the authors are still writing them. Unfortunately, these cons can only allow so many authors to attend. Then there is the price of registration. Flights, hotels, and other miscellany are added as well. All totaled up, attending one of these events can set an author back thousands. And for a newbie or even a mid-author, sometimes that price is just too much to pay. Especially if you’re relegated to a lesser role than what you expected. And what of the other’s that are involved in the writing process? The pubs, editors, cover artists, photographers, reviewers, readers, and fans? What about them? Don’t they have a right to be a part of these events as well? So far, these events are for the pubs, authors, fans, and readers. But what if there was an event that could encompass everyone involved in the writing process? That could bring all these people under one roof to talk, meet, promo, and sell their work?

That question had plagued Deborah and I for many months. Both of us had attended events, but none were geared for everyone. Then the wonderful guys at Bent-con invited us to share our media with their media in a conflagration of GBLT fireworks. Both us jumped at the chance. What better place to have everyone involved in the writing process sharing knowledge, disparate experience, and their wares to those who will appreciate it. It was a win/win for everyone.

Another question that arose was, Will I be treated as an author? That answer is a resounding yes! There are no lines drawn here. It doesn’t matter if you have one book, still writing that book, or if you have twenty. If you sign up as an author, register as an author, or get a table to sell your books as an author, then you will be treated as an author. The same with the pubs, cover artists, photographers, editors, reviewers, fans, and readers. Everyone is welcome here and will be treated the same. With respect for who you are. This was one of the main distinctions that Deborah and I wanted to make when committing to this endeavor. We wanted EVERYONE to be equal, to have a good time, and share themselves with the GBLT community. We also didn’t want to limit this event to just the pubs, authors, fans, and readers. We wanted everyone involved in the writing process to attend. They helped get us out to the masses. Only right we have them share in that glory. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

WRR Origns and How It's Different from Other Events

This is from Kimberly and Deborah in answer to spoken and unspoken questions about this event.

I am not alone in asking this question. I'm certainly not alone in the vaguely frustrated tone that often colors that question. 'How do I find more readers?' A couple of months ago, I was online chatting with Kimberly Hunter about that very question. I maintain blogs about my work. I am a professional editor in my genre that keeps me connected to an audience. I've even spent money on advertising now and again. My sales were consistent. My reviews were largely positive. But I had hit a wall with my sales. What had been particularly frustrating was that a book fair that was usually very good for my titles had changed its thrust to such a degree that my usual audience stayed away in droves.

“What does a writer have to do?” I wondered. I was wondering this with Kimberly Hunter late one night while chatting online. We had both been to writers' conventions and conferences. We'd both found them useful, but they were more about authors interacting with industry people more than they were about finding readers. I had even attended really big events like the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. There wasn't a lot of time to really connect with authors. That would be frustrating for me, considering the expense of going, and I was already frustrated. I speculated that we needed an event at a venue where there was an audience for our books. I was thinking about Gay film festivals where we could have a book fair. I even knew how to sell ebooks at a booth, so this event could work for mainly digital authors as well as those in print. I was being a bit dim about this, because it hadn't dawned on me that the perfect venue was a convention that I had been a part of for two years. The wonderful coordinators at Bent-con gave me a mental smack to remind me that they were a celebration of LGBT themed media. Books were a perfect addition.

They were so very right. The most awesome thing about Bent-con is that it is a great place to interact with the artists present and learn about what they create and look at samples without pressure. It is such a fun environment that I've seen guests stay all day just going from table to table. There is a lot of laughing and the atmosphere is really laid back. I see authors enjoying talking to each other when not talking to readers or comic fans who didn't know they wanted to be readers. This was the primary thing we wanted was for authors in our genre to find new readers. What better place than an event that is all about being gay friendly? It is priced to make it economically feasible for even an indie author to attend with stock to sell. The panels are perks included in that economical price that will cover things we've known authors to be curious about. The special events are for authors to have a lot of fun and let off steam with their readers. I want us all to leave with huge mailing lists and potential reviewers. Maybe indie authors will find a publisher. I hope everyone gets to look at pretty boys and really laugh for a little while.

We are also readers who love a good story. So when these conventions did roll around, it was hard to connect with the authors who made such an impact on us with their work. Most of the time was spent on panels, workshops, or the like. Very little time was made for one on one with the author in a casual setting to just talk shop or talk about anything. Now, I’m not saying these conventions aren’t great or don’t have their place. They do. Authors learn a great deal about their craft at these conventions. But somewhere along the way, the reader was delegated to a day or less to meet and greet their favorite author. Not really fair considering it’s the reader who is buying our books. Who is telling this friend and that relative how much they enjoyed the new they book they bought. That’s why WRR has become so important to us. It’s a chance to not only share our craft and works with fellow authors, but more importantly, to share it with our readers. They are the reason we keep at it. The reason we haven’t given up in this business when so many have thrown in the towel. And they also deserve to meet and greet the authors and pubs they have been buying books from.

As an author, I get a little thrill every time a reader contacts me to tell how much they enjoyed one of my books. It’s a validation of a sort to let me know I got it right and to push to get the next book out. Being at WRR will be further validation when we can meet our readers and fans in person to tell them just how much we appreciate them. It’s a win/win for authors and readers alike.