One change this year is that there are no luncheons; the sessions with featured speakers are breakfast sessions in the morning. Undoubtedly a cost-cutting measure, and I am not sure whether it is a permanent shift or if they are just trying it out. All of us missed it Thursday because we were invited to breakfast the the Simon & Schuster Offices – for booklovers, that was pretty cool and a major perk of having the conference in New York. Incidentally, there do seem to be a lot more men milling about at this conference than the one in say, San Antonio. Don’t get me wrong; this is a very female dominated industry and there are far more women than men – just more men than usual. We were trying to decide whether half of them were husbands and boyfriends who find New York more alluring than say, the South in July, or whether there are more men breaking into romance writing. I will note that the only time my ex came to RWA with me was when it was here last time, despite being invited along to other places. There is, after all, something for everyone in New York.
As far as emerging conference trends, after sitting through a few publisher spotlights it doesn’t seem to be substantially different from last year. I’m still hearing “the paranormal market is soft but we’ll look at a funny one.” Although I would say that New Adult seems to be a little less white hot. I always like the point in spotlights when an aspiring author asks editors what they are personally looking for. Sure, many times you’ll just hear, “I can’t get enough alpha bad boys!”, but sometimes, like yesterday, someone enthusiastically supplies, “Virus in a submarine!”
Since I have personally been a little less connected to books this year (and in fact, fielded more than one “Are you still writing for AAR?”) this has been an opportunity to reconnect with longtime conference friends and really talk books in a fun way. Also, I sort of can’t shut up about my own real life romance, so there’s that. But because it’s so fresh in my life I’ve heard a lot of other people’s love stories. And it’s good to know that love in alive and well among romance writers, bloggers, and industry professionals. Also, more than one woman at this conference has seen Magic Mike XXL.
What’s up for AAR today? Lynn and I will continue tweeting publisher spotlights. Dabney has been accumulating a treasure trove of author interviews, so stay tuned for that as well. And at night? Well, probably more than one cocktail (perhaps accompanied by an impromptu discussion about love, man buns, or both).