Now, onwards... The final day of the Festival of Romance was turned over to the 2013 Romantic Fiction Conference, subtitled "If It's Digital First, What's For Seconds?!"
The first panel session was "Paths to Publication" with relatively new authors Laura James, Linn B Halton, Celia Anderson and Christy McKellen. All had reached their current status by different routes but had similar advice to impart on finding a way that's a good personal fit.
After that we had the first of the day's publisher presentations from Joanne Grant, Executive Editor at Mills & Boon, focussing on their five main UK series lines: Modern, Cherish, Historical, Medical and Modern Tempted. There was quite a bit of discussion on where older heroines fit in and also a lot of emphasis on the fact that all lines are constantly seeking new authors.
Next up was Caroline Kirkpatrick, Assistant Editor at Piatkus Entice , who was talking about this digital-first line from Piatkus. I've seen some interesting titles with both parent and subsidiary publishers, so they're definitely another to watch.
After the coffee break, we had another author panel: "It's my party and I'll tweet if I want to" featuring Mandy Baggot, Tony Drury and Carmel Harrington talking about building an author platform. I really am going to have to do more with my website, much as I love posting here. We also split into small groups and got lots more excellent dialogues going about the best ways to connect with more people.
The middle panel of this session featured Emily Ruston and Jenny Hutton from the boutique editing service Ruston Hutton. They had lots of great advice, including "rewrite, rewrite, rewrite", "all authors need a good story regardless of genre" and "anger isn't conflict". Wise words.
Immediately before lunch we had Lucy Gilmour, Editor at Carina UK, talking about this relatively new line, which seems to be up for a wide range of genres and stories and has a great bunch of titles already. They are very much Digital First with some titles making the jump to print next year, but are also looking for projects that incorporate more than just words on a screen/page. Publishing is very exciting at the moment.
Some of us were feeling the after-effects of our late Saturday night more than others, and charliecochrane for one didn't feel up to staying for the afternoon. Then again I might not have stayed if I'd been driving back rather than going by train.
The first of the afternoon's author panels, which I'm sure Charlie was sad to miss was "The Y Factor: Trends in the romantic hero". This one was subtitled "Today's romantic hero, is he alpha, beta or what?", was chaired by Hazel Osmond and featured Fiona Harper, Lynn Marie Hulsman and jl_merrow.
And here they are:
The main conclusion here was that readers' and authors' tastes in heroes are very personal. I also have a note here, courtesy of Lynn, to check out Jennifer Weiner's The Next Best Thing.
Next up was a publisher presentation from Donna Hillyer, Editorial Director at Harlequin, talking about their single title imprints, particularly Mills & Boon Special Editions, MIRA and MIRA inc (New Adult and Young Adult).
Donna was followed by the final author panel of the day, with Jon Beattiey, Tracy Bloom, Lizzie Lamb, Talli Roland and Adrienne Vaughan talking about "Author Publishing in 2013: What's New, What's Possible?" and the various methods of publishing either totally alone or as part of an author collective. Again, there appears to be no one true way, and different methods work for different people.
The final publisher presentation of the day was by Charlotte Ledger, Editor at HarperImpulse along with Katie Sadler, Digital Marketing Manager at HarperFiction. HarperImpulse was launched in the UK in March 2013 and is another exciting development (sadly I was getting too tired to make notes by this point in the day).
All that remained was for Kate to wrap up proceedings and then for all of us to make our way home and start planning for next year.
All in all a great event once again.