Though it’s been but four years, I’m already nostalgic for my first Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, also in "the land of big hair." Back in 2004, I was a goggled-eyed romance fan, awestruck at being in the same hotel as many of these wonderful authors, no less sitting at a luncheon table with them. Did I manage to eat one bite? But that is the beauty of RWA. Well-known, established, award-winning writers sharing their skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm with people just starting out, with women (and men) with a dream and the passion to contribute to the world of fiction.
A twist of fate brought me from groupie to someone planted on this genre’s hallowed ground as the editor in charge of Library Journal’s romance coverage. Our columnist is Kristin Ramsdell, a wonderful librarian from California State University–East Bay, a card-carrying member of RWA. But editing the column has put me in touch with publishers and authors and settled me firmly in the professional romance ranks.
With the 2007 Dallas conference just ahead (July 11–14), I am equal parts excitement and apprehension. No longer the new kid on the block, I speak with authors about libraries, promoting them to an audience still not as sure about this market as they are of Waldenbooks and Borders. The nonreturn policy usually gets me in the door; I have more trouble with the “royalty per circulation” question. But it’s now my beat, so I come bearing new information and absorb as much as I can from the experts.
Romance as a genre is growing, with younger readers taking up the gauntlet dropped by their mothers and aunts. There are a lot of books out there. Well-written love stories with satisfying endings can grab you and never let go.