Goodreads Blog

Six Lovely Lessons Learned at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention

Posted by Cynthia on April 20, 2016
More than 3,000 romance authors and readers attended the Romantic Times Convention, which was held in Las Vegas this year (many attendees noted that their husbands were more than happy to tag along to this one!). Romance authors are among the most savvy when it comes to online community building, creative marketing, and reader engagement, so they are worth listening to even if you write non-fiction or mysteries. Here are some of our key takeaways from the convention:

1. Get your street team working for you. A street team is a curated group of your biggest fans that helps build buzz and excitement for your books. The romance authors we talked to give them early access to new books, chat with them regularly via email and video, and give them other exclusive experiences. In turn, their street teams spread the word about their work online and off. A street team is not quite your mother boasting about you but also not quite a hired PR-hand. Find your most passionate fans and cultivate them. We recommend using a Goodreads group to build and communicate with your team.

2. Every author is a reader first. Always remember what first inspired you to write: reading a story and realizing you wanted to tell one, too. Even the biggest romance authors get star-struck when their favorite authors are in the room with them. Engage on Goodreads as you would as a reader by reviewing, rating, and shelving books—meeting other readers and building your platform while you’re at it.

3. Driving discoverability is the key to building a readership. 60% of survey respondents told us that because they read so many romance books, they actually have a hard time finding enough good new romance books to read! Reviews and recommendations from friends top the list of where readers turn when looking for their next book. At Goodreads, the book page reflects the social circle of each member, displaying reviews from friends first, then people you follow, and then the general community.

4. Rethink your tchotchkes. Besides the standard bookmarks and buttons, we saw shot glasses, breath mints, and temporary tattoos getting handed out for free—the raffle prizes were even more elaborate! If you’re going to invest in promotional items, invest in something memorable. But remember, for most readers, the most valuable thing is still your time and your writing.

5. Your cover is your biggest advertisement. What’s on your cover should reflect what’s between the lines without giving too much away. Don’t mislead a reader by showing a sweaty, shirtless guy with a six-pack, only for them to read a clean love story. Keep the packaging consistent if you’re writing a series, and make sure the cover looks good as a thumbnail image on a computer screen or phone.

6. Metadata can be sexy... Though we know it’s not the most exciting thing (we heard that groan!), metadata is critical for helping readers find your book. Be as descriptive as possible and think hard about what keywords to use. For instance, keywords for inspirational romance books would include ‘sweet,’ ‘wholesome,’ and ‘gentle.’

Did you attend RT this year? What was the most important thing you learned as an author?

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Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by C.M. (new)

C.M. McCoy I was there and was fortunate to run in to EL James, who was absolutely the most gracious, sweet, and FUNNY Aether I've ever met. Loved seeing her interact with her fans and chatting with her about books

message 2: by Lola (new)

Lola Karns This is the first article I've seen in a long time that encourages authors to review books too. There has been a lot of virtual ink spilled about disappearing reviews from other authors and I think that hurts us both as authors and readers. Most of us started writing because we were readers first. Thanks for the virtual RT trip. I hope to go sometime in the future.

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Connell I agree with Lola. Many of us have blogs with other authors, and because we are 'related' or 'grouped' together, we aren't allowed to review each other's books. They aren't posted.

I would love to see a fix to this.

Cookie Encounter A Chance Encounter Inspirational Romance by Michelle Connell

message 4: by Lori (new)

Lori Robinett I agree with Lola and Michelle. I read voraciously and write. Just because I happen to have met or friended an author doesn't mean we're truly friends. I'd like to be able to review the books I've read, and would like to see reviews on my books stop disappearing.

message 5: by Sabine (new)

Sabine Priestley Totally agree with the others on the review thing. That's a *huge* problem that Zon really needs to rethink. RT was great, I fan-girled with Nalini Singh. She's the nicest person in the world. I want to be her when I grow up. She literally laid down on the floor with me so we could "fall into Nalini's world". Did you see the floor decal by the reception? It was cool.

message 6: by C.M. (new)

C.M. McCoy Ugh...thanks auto-correct...

Forgot to mention, as an author, I found the best way to interact with readers at RT was to chat with them in line. RT was huge, so pretty much every event had a line, and readers were sitting in some lines for over an hour. MUCH better than being separated from readers by a table in the chaos that was the book!

I took my fuzzy dice game to groups of readers camped on the floor. We chatted about books; I gave the paranormal lovers an EERIE bookmark and asked if they wanted to play my fuzzy game for prizes like gift cards and Alaska swag. It was big hit, and I met a ton of awesome readers and authors that way :-)

message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan Squires Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow authors to review other authors. Your review will be deleted! Very disappointing.

message 8: by Clifton (new)

Clifton Hill Good article.

I agree, it's annoying that Amazon's algorithms gobble up legitimate reviews. As much as I wish they'd stop, I can't blame them too much. When others stop abusing the system by buying fake reviews, then Amazon could probably let up on their excessive culling.

Susan, unless I'm mistaken, there is nothing that says an author can't review another author, it just seems to be the case, based on their current practice.

message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Connell Clifton,

Unfortunately, it is true. My writer's group has a blog with 4 authors, we've also written a book of prompts together, and we are not allowed to review each other's books. One of my friends checked with Amazon's personnel directly. Because we are 'hooked' together as coauthors, we now can not review each other's books, no matter the genre.

message 10: by Clifton (new)

Clifton Hill Ah, well I guess I can see that as being a conflict of interest. But I don't believe if you are an author and your review a book that the review will be brought down unless there are other factors. Such as you mentioned.

message 11: by Bishahus (new)

Bishahus It was an incredible convention. Since my childhood, I love to read novels and I was incredibly happy to attend this event. I liked it so much in Vegas that I went back there several times already, and at the last time, I had a chance to attend one of the las vegas concerts. It was incredibly cool and I am grateful to for providing many announcements for the best events. So, maybe I will ever release my book about it.

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