San Francisco: Tips 4 WritersThe most shocking moment for me was in the Harlequin/Silhouette booksigning (the free books, that is) when an inspie writer apologized for what she wrote - basically. I mean, there I was, there she was, and she said in a low voice "You do know that it's inspirational, right?" - and I didn't have my badge on, so unless she just hangs out incognito at the Passionate Ink parties, or unless she was a smoker, she had no way of knowing that out of those 3000 women at the conference, the one before her was me.
That said...the inspie publishers seem to want more of what used to be plain Jane Harlequin or Silhouette Romances, something that doesn't beat the reader over the head with the inspie part of it, but a book that doesn't go beyond the closed bedroom door. They want intrigue, mystery, suspense, sweet romance.
I noticed a decline in sci-fi/fantasy. Everything close to that was labeled paranormal or urban fantasy. Lots of those two, and editors seemed to want more, more, more.
Both keynote speakers were historical writers, and the historical authors even had their own mini-conference the week prior, same hotel - we're talking nearly a full week of just them, if that tells you anything about how hot historicals are becoming.
Booksellers told me that they can't get enough erotic ficton and that those historicals are indeed in demand, whether hot or not.
I spent a lot of time with 3 ladies from a California book shop who said that if you're an author, make sure your publisher uses Ingram.
My new Irish friend said that Mills & Boon's "Modern Heat" was called "Presents' Little Sister" by the authors in the UK, said that they have purchased 1 American author during the past 2 or 3 years, but the door is open, and she said that they are a welcoming bunch who support one another. I read the 2 books she gave me, and to me they're a cross between Presents and the old Temptations.
Young Adult is HUGE and is growing so fast that the publishers and bookstores can't keep up with it. A former chick lit author who now writes YA and a new YA author both were bowled over by the response to this genre. Oh, and YA stretches boundaries...no longer the Sweet Valley High type books, although there are those out there as well.
Talked to historical author Hannah Howell every day - and she has changed to writing a different series. She, like other historical authors I met, seemed frazzled at trying to keep up with the demands on them, especially for series.What types of historicals: Scottish anything. (Spent a lot of time with author Sandi Blair who writes those) Highland, English, Welch. I didn't talk to a single person who was writing American or French historicals.
DRAGON historicals. Dragon contemporaries - we are loving dragons at this time, it seems. Shape-shifters seemed in demand, particularly Native American (yes, yes, I told an editor I'd go for one).
There were a ton of Aussies there this year - I mean several. One pitched to Desire and was picked up on the spot on a PITCH. Harlequin opened their Friday night soiree, that has always been by invitation only, TO THE PUBLIC, meaning to ANYONE at the conference who wanted to attend.
There really are a LOT of newer, younger editors.
Everyone is picking up that ebooks are good business. Harlequin, RedSage Publishing, even Random House - publishers who only did print - are now on the ebook bandwagon.
In summary: Chick lit seems to be dead as a doornail. YA has been ressurected. Inspies and erotic fight for the top spots (erotic is winning so far). Sweet romance readers have battled and won the good fight, proving that sweet romance is still in high demand...authors just need to look for where to send it, and Mills & Boon is one place not to overlook.
The overall atmosphere of this conference reflected the current/outgoing board...very upbeat, light-hearted, nothing overtly politically motivated, everything of the "let's get along, we're in this together" mindset.