Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why RT? Why Now?

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
It's September, and you know what that means...
Back to school?
Uh. Yeah but...
Sweater weather?
Hot apple cider with a shot of Fireball?
Dude. Stop! I'm not making this post drunk, damn it. 

September means that RT registration will be going live any day. For those not in the know, RT is the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. May 2014, a bunch of romance authors and readers will be invading the beautiful city of New Orleans. 

I'm sure as soon as you saw "New Orleans," a lot of you clicked on the link to the convention information. And then you balked. First off, the main hotel is sold out. Second, you clicked on registration and saw dollar signs flashing before your eyes. That's what happened to me the first time too. I mean, that's a lot of money to shell out, especially if you aren't possibly going to "make money" from the con. I get it. 

I also know you should go anyway. 

Take away the awesomeness of New Orleans and you should still go. (My first RT was in Columbus, OH, and I've gone every years since.)

No, RT isn't cheap, but of all the cons I've attended, it's the best one for meeting and talking to agents, publishers, and more authors than you can count. And the best part? Most of those people are happy to talk to you. We see "aspiring author" on a tag and you automatically become a sister or brother in arms. "Reader" or "book seller"? You are officially on my favorite people list (especially if you know who I am--that makes me get teary). 

Those people you meet? It's not just cool to meet them, it's professional networking. My first RT, I went as an aspiring author. Within a couple months, I submitted to a couple publishers I'd met there. A few months after that, I had contracts with both of them. Now, it doesn't always work that way. Entangled rejected a few of my manuscripts before I signed with them, but that connection at RT made me realize how badly I wanted to work with the company. So I learned more details about what they wanted and I kept subbing.

It's those connections that can make your career. 

I'm sure some of you are sitting there thinking, "But I don't write romance." 

Go anyway. 

Romance has so many sub-genres that one of them is sure to appeal to you. There's an urban fantasy/paranormal romance track, a steampunk track (I'll be spending a lot of time there), a historical track... the list goes on and on. There is a lot to learn that can apply to non-romance as easily as romance. In addition? Those contacts I mentioned? Not all of them are going to be romance-centric. The agents take other genres. Many of the publishers have non-romance lines. The authors? They run the gamut from romance only to romantic elements to the likes of James Rollins (2012) and John Scalzi (2013)! (Trust me, I fan-girled over Rollins and made an ass of myself in front of Scalzi--I would never forget them. Also...both great guys.)

Besides, where else could you have the opportunity to see EL James (50 Shades of Grey) face off with Andrew Shaffer (50 Shames of Earl Grey)? And yes, I'm still kicking myself that I missed that, however short it was. 

The question always comes back to "is it really worth the money?" I can't answer that for you, but for me, it's always been a resounding yes. The connections you can make and the amount you can learn can't be measured in dollars. But of all the cons I've attended, this remains the most worthwhile and the one that I've never questioned whether or not I'd attend. 

Plus, hello? New Orleans. Bourbon Street Bar Crawl. Enough said. 

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