Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adventures at RonCon Day 1: The Panels and Raves About Harriet Klausner

RomCon started on a bright and sunny (no steam bath) day with everyone registering. You knew someone was a RomConer by the bright orange bag with the Harlequin logo on it. After getting a few hours of sleep (I don't sleep well at all in hotels), I headed down to the hotel resturant for breakfast. You can't go wrong with a buffet for under $13. I had a wonderful breakfast with my 2 roomies and Carolyn Crane. Later on Jeaniene Frost joined us and I finally had the pleasure to meet Jessica from Read React Review who also sat down with us.

Stacey, Jeaniene F, Louise, Yours Truely

The first panel I went to was the Anti-Heroes You Hate To Love which was much like speed dating. 15 authors would go from table to table for about 10 minutes and talk everyone. We mainly discussed about when writing an anti-hero how dark is too dark and close to entering villain territory. Who are our favorite "dark" heroes? And is an HEA (happly ever after) a must in romance. Have we ever read a romance where there hasn't been a traditional HEA. Gone With the Wind was mentioned about being one of the all time favorite romances but if you think about it, it doesn't have an HEA.

Some of the authors at the Anti-Heroes panel:

Terri Brisbin/ Hana Samek Norton and Jo Beverly

Elizabeth Hoyt/ Nalini Singh

After the panel, I met up with a few familiar faces and everyone wanted their picture with Mho.

Courtney Milan/ Amanda McCabe and Sally Mackenzie

Next stop was the Book Reviewer Panel, which I will get to in a moment, but first, Stacey went to the Initmate Chat with Nalini Singh and took some interesting notes:

- Hawke's book will have a great deal of his backstory. As for anything about Sienna? You'll have to wait until the book is published.
- Nalini plans to write future books with 3 Psy heroes.
- Nalini picked San Francisco, CA as her setting because it is close to cities, forests, lakes and rivers.
- Sasha and Lucas's baby will born in Hawke's book and the baby has very special abilities.
- Nalini plans to write a Falcon trilogy.

The two most talked about panels of the day seem to be the Author Fairy Godmothers to the Rescue and Book Reviewer Panel. I didn't go to the Fairy Godmothers panel, so unfortunately I can't report on what was said.

Because there have been many tweets about these two panels, check out Twitter and #romcon for more details. But then again, something written in 140 characters doesn't give you the full range, atmosphere and overall reactions about what was being said.

As for the Book Reviewer Panel

From my point of view I found the Book Reviewer Panel to be an interesting discussion on what authors would like to see from reviewers and reviews. There was great interaction between the panel and the audience. Cathy Maxwell was a wonderful moderator. She was full of energy and all smiles. On the panel were Catherine Anderson, Deb Werksman (Sourcebooks editor), Melissa Mayhue and Courtney Milan. The lone expert reviewer was Jennifer, reviewer from Bitten by Books who has an incredible 7,000 followers on Twitter and one of the premiere review sites on the web.

Overall, the authors on the panel respect reviewers. They ask that reviewers only criticize the work and not the person writing it. They would prefer a positive review over a negative. Reviewers should be professional. I then raised my hand and say that a negative review is better than having no review at all. The worst thing for an author is not having their book mentioned. If an author's book isn't reviewed, how will the reader know about it?

Catherine Anderson said some things that made me want to shake my head. She thinks that Harriet Klausner is a wonderful reviewer (mainly because all her reviews are so positive) I had to hold back a shocked laugh over this. But again, Catherine may not be that knowledgeable about the whole drama surrounding Harriet Klausner. Also, Catherine doesn't understand why a reviewer would give a book 1 star (based on a 5 star rating) and not at least 2 stars. Shouldn't an author get something for effort? How can you say a book maybe the worst book you ever read and perhaps give it the lowest grade possible because again, an author should get some praise for at least writing the book.

Courtney Milan, in her opinion, isn't in the same agreement about Harriet Klausner like Catherine is. *cheers Courtney* I fully side with Courtney on this issue because in my opinion, I think Harriet Klausner makes all book reviewers look bad and her reviews are total crap. Cathy Maxwell then asked the audience to raise their hands if they ever bought a book based on a Harriet Klausner review. You could have heard crickets in that room. No one raised their hand.

Cathy also asked by a show of hands who has bought a book based on a review, a blog review or someone vocally mentioning a book. Many hands were raised. Cathy also thinks that word of mouth is important. Book bloggers are responsible for starting word of mouth.

Then, there was talk about an author's book being their baby. A blogger from the audience gave the analogy based on what she has heard about authors saying their characters are their babies. No author on their panel said their books are their babies.

One of the most important things I got out of the panel was respect. Authors should respect a reviewer's opinion and a reviewer should respect an author.

Cathy ended with going around the room and having those who blog mention their blogs. I would say the majority of the audience were bloggers and were very proud to announce their blog. But then again 2 very recognizable bloggers sat there and didn't announce their blog names and I'm wondering why. But I guess that is their decision and they have a reason for it.

Overall, the atmosphere of RomCon is awesome. There are so many happy faces and the energy is very high. Day 1 was everything I could have asked for as I wandered around talking to many people from readers to authors and bloggers. The readers I've met think that they are just a reader and really have nothing else to give. I had to correct a few of them. A reader is the most important person at this conference. They should think of themselves as THE READER, not A READER. Authors and editors should be going up to these people first and thanking them. Without readers, authors wouldn't be published and have an event like RomCon. If you think of yourself as only A READER, please keep in mind how very special and important you are to the publishing industry and should be applauded for your support and spending your hard earned dollars on books in a world where we hear no one is reading.

RomCon is proving that people do read and are proud to admit it.

more to report later on...



PJ said...

Kate, thanks for the update! I've been following along on Twitter but appreciate the additional insight into the RomCom events. Have to admit to a bit of head-shaking myself last night.

KMont said...

Great recap.

I have to be honest, though, I'm not too keen on some of the things from the reviewing panel. For one thing, reviews aren't for authors, they're for readers. I'm sure - and well, we have proof - that authors love to see reviews done a certain way, but if everyone reviewed the way some authors thought we should, what would be the point? The authors themselves might as well go and write their own reviews. I wouldn't have been comfortable listening to an author tell me how a review should be done. I'm not blogging to do things the way someone else thinks I should. It's about how I as a reader thinks it should be done. Bloggers and readers are intelligent enough to know through practice practice practice how to help readers looking for reviews. And yes, authors are readers too, but the advice given was from the author perspective. I think I'm most reproachful on the whole thing because some authors were so dead set on positive reviews only.

Are any panels staffed with readers only, or more equal ratio of readers to authors? I guess I'm a little confused on the goal of the conference at this point - is it so that authors can explain to bloggers/readers what it's all about?

I have no words for the Harriet Klausner bit except that I'm actually not surprised some would love her because she's strictly positive in her reviews. Otherwise.... *crickets*

Oh, and standing in front of a crowd to introduce myself and my blog? I'd freak out lol. I hate talking to crowds.

HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

Sounds like disneyland for the romance reader !! The panels sound real interesting too (you already witnessed my confusion and denial on 'The Kluas' lol). Glad your having fun and can't wait to see what else goes on during RomCon!

enjoy yourself & stay safe,

nightsmusic said...

I wouldn't trust a Harriet Klausner review to save my life! I believe that Harriet Klausner is really 100 monkeys with keyboards, sitting locked in a room and whatever they produce is posted under the Klausner name.

Honestly, the reviews are all different 'voices' and grammar and punctuation, spelling errors abound in one and in another, the grammar is perfect...

Nope. It's either the monkey theory or someone owns a company named Harriet Klausner and employs dozens of reviewers, posting them all under the HK name.

And before someone says, "I've met Klausner" keep in mind, there have been many instances where a person has been hired simply to play a part.

Fiction Vixen said...

Thanks for the recap Kate!

AnimeJune said...

Great post, Katiebabs,

I will agree with the authors one key point: you are reviewing a book, not the author. In NO WAY should a review make reference to the author's personal life, appearance, or habits - unless it's relevant to the review (like when it's a book about, say, horse training and the author's a farm vet).

That's pretty much my sole criterion for a professional review.

For one, someone writing, "Oh, that fat bitch NAME NAME wrote a terrible book, go back to your mom's basement!" THAT is unprofessional. You're not supposed to review the author's life.

For two, the FIRST thing authors do when they unwisely respond to negative reviews is accuse the reviewer of making a personal attack - so making your review personal is just proving them right.

HistoricalRomanceJunkieRita - well, RWA 2010 is literally the Disneyworld for the romance writer. So excited for that conference (and the reason I didn't go to Rom-Con). Disneyworld! Free books! Romance! I love this industry, really I do.

Michele Lee said...

One star ratings are for people who have failed to actually write a book and instead have just strung 80k or so words together. I've had a few 1 stars I've had to give and in every case it's because there have been horrible typos, grammar and formatting problems and/or the plot hasn't been logical at all, but has been an author saying "This happened because I said so". If I think it would appeal to anyone it automatically gets at least 2 stars, usually 3.

Misfit said...

I can't believe anyone could still believe that Klausner is a reviewer to be set up as a shining example for the rest. Send that gal back to camp with Candace Sams :)

HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

@ AnimeJune , thanks for the 411. I MUST check this one out. I wasn't able to go to ROomCon this year and most likely won't be able to go to any 2010 convention-thingys (does not my wide vocabulary amaze you!?) ... but next year, I hope to be able to experience a few of the real-life romance novel events... maybe i'll see you there!

LVLM said...

I find it interesting that authors all want positive reviews. If you have 5 paranormals and all get 5 star reviews, then what distinguishes them from each other in order for people to chose?

If an author is in a massive group of 5 star reviewed books, then chances of a person then picking up hers over others goes way down.

A negative review, or a 3 star review in a pool of 5 star reviews is going to stand out and get people to even read about the book. If I see a book has all 5 stars then I don't even read the reviews unless I want specific information about what's in it.

And how will readers get an idea of what a reviewer's taste is so they can then use a blogger's reviews for buying, if a reviewer just gives all rave reviews.

Giving two stars for just writing a book and putting in effort? WTF? Well, you know, I think everyone should be rewarded for just showing up to work too. Maybe a free coffee every day to say thank you for your effort to show up to work.

KMont said...

LVLM, you are so right. I was a bit huh? over the auto entitlement to two stars for effort. Just thinking about it now is bringing on the chuckles.

But if we're ever entitled to free coffee for rolling out of bed and showing up at work, let/s go all the way and make it Starbucks, too. With our own barista in house. That's worth at least two stars. ;)

WickedLilPixie said...

I 100% agree with LVLM! Pfft on stars for effort, I'm not reading books because you wrote them I am reading them for MY enjoyment.

Harriet...really...AAHAHA some people have NO idea. I can reword a back cover blurb too, most of us can.

vi said...

Thank you for the info on Nalini Singh. I am dying to get the focus on the changelings aka the wolf pack aka Hawke. Btw, I hope Kaleb is one of the Psy heroes.

RomCon seems like such a blast. I wish I was there to meet all of the wonderful people that are part of Romanceland like you and KristieJ.

Cannot wait to read more about the events going on!

booknerd said...

It's always great to get the inside tip of what goes on at these events and I appreciate the updates. I've seen some of those reviews over at Amazon and wondered... It's great that so many bloggers were there to give input. Looking forward to more fun info.


orannia said...

Thank you so much for the update KB! Sounds like an amazing first day and OMG I'm so excited about the info from Nalini! Fingers crossed Kaleb is one of the Psy heros and I'm beyond excited about the falcons getting books. The falcon wingleader sounded...rather yummy :) And he can fly!

Janicu said...

Since Harriet K slants her reviews to the positive, if I see a 4 star review from her I think the book must be like 1-2 star in my world, and 5 stars from her is anything from a 3 to 5 star. She doesn't give less than 4 stars, therefore I take that into count and it really impacts how I read a review. I do the same for certain other reviewers. You can have positive reviews but still have something that bothered you about a book, and you CAN write about this diplomatically. That's more honest and will make me pick up a book more, even if you had a problem with it, than if you NEVER had a problem ever.

Heather said...

KB I think that you nailed it on what the panel was like. I learned a lot in the panel.

Victoria Janssen said...

Thanks so much for the report!!!