The week of July 20th saw a who’s who of authors descend on New York City for the 35th Annual Romance Writers of America Conference. The annual gathering draws thousands of readers and authors. It also travels the country (it’ll be in San Diego next year); still, there is always something a little extra special when it plays NYC.
Maybe, it’s because NYC is home to the big publishing houses (Avon, St. Martin’s, Simon & Schuster, Random House Penguin), trades like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and across the river, Kathryn Falk’s Brooklyn-based fan magazine RT Book Reviews.
Maybe, it’s just the chance to take in a Broadway show with fellow book-lovers (Kim Miller of NBPR took in An American in Paris and had her photo taken with the Playbill to prove it).
Whatever Manhattan’s allure, the only downside to RWA in NYC is that most of us don’t get to go. So to ease the pain, we’ve assembled a little montage of the conference compiled from what authors and industry pros have been posting this week on their respective Facebook pages.
The fun begins before the planes land and usually with skyline photos, airport tweets, and tongue-in-cheek posts from the likes of Nora Roberts on the new high heels she plans to wear. 2015 was no different (a particularly fetching pair was apple red), but in a colorful twist one of the world’s most successful authors also posted some pretty fancy sneakers headed with her to the Big Apple.
Upon arrival, it is all about the meet cute. As much as fans love getting to meet their favorite authors in person, the authors also like seeing and meeting each other—some are mentors, some are old friends, some are rivals, and some, strangers. Their respective publishing houses also pull out the stops with lavish cocktail parties, fancy private dinners, and one-of-a-kind off-site events (USA Today buzzed about a panel talk with authors the likes of Robyn Carr and Susan Elizabeth Phillips held in Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library).
The conference is also a time to honor those who have left their mark on the industry, and this year that included a party feting Nancy Berland of Nancy Berland Public Relations, whose firm celebrated 20 years of publicity work with such authors as #1 New York Times bestselling authors Linda Lael Miller and Robyn Carr and bestselling authors Sabrina Jeffries and Sherryl Woods.
Truth be told, author talks and parties aside, the only thing that rivals having so many beloved authors in one place could be the swag: the authors and their publicists and publishing houses — and even RWA itself — pride themselves on finding the newest and most unusual goodies to giveaway: Chocolates in the shape of a RITA. Umbrellas in the color of Lifesaver candies. Bookmarks. Coloring Books (Avon). Notebooks. Cell-phone battery chargers (Courtney Milan). Book bags. The list of freebies to tote home was limited only by the space in an attendee’s luggage.
That said, I suspect most readers say the highlight of the week was the annual Readers for Life Literacy Signing, which fills a room the size of a football field with authors from A to Z signing their latest books. Since 1990, RWA has raised more than $900,000 for literacy programs through the signing.
Which just goes to show you: it is possible to have fun and do good all at the same time.
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– Jeanne Devlin