Thoughts of an RT Booklovers Newbie

For years, I had perished the thought of going to Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Admittedly, attending isn’t cheap, and that’s just for the registration fee. Factor in hotel and flight costs, and there was no way I could afford it on a struggling student’s budget. Luckily for me, I’ve been working for the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and I had the opportunity to attend this year.

Not only that, I hosted an event with the rest of the bloggers at SBTB, along with the executive editor at RT Book Reviews.

Let me say, it was an experience.

This year, RT was held in Dallas and typically, the convention takes place over the course of five days. There are events for every type of romance fan – librarians, booksellers, aspiring authors, and readers. There really is something for everyone and countless opportunities to meet with authors. Of course, there are panels scheduled starting at 10am and parties lasting until midnight, offering chances to schmooze with authors. But trust me, you haven’t known nervousness until you’re in an elevator with Tessa Dare or you see Kresley Cole at the hotel bar while you’re wearing yoga pants and a shirt that says, “Nobody cares about your stupid boner.”

Day two book haul

Day two book haul

This was actually my first book-related convention I’ve attended. I’ll be at Book Expo America this year and it’s my first time going to that as well. I carefully constructed a color-coded calendar from the RT agenda. I even printed out the damn thing in its entirety (eleven pages) in order to go through and narrow down what I wanted to attend. It was a process, and I packed my schedule from morning until night with activities. If this was my first and possibly only time attending RT, I wanted to make it count. Though by Friday, I realized that was a grave mistake.

With so much to do, it’s tempting to want to experience everything, but in true introvert fashion, being around lots of people for long periods of time tends to wear on me. Come Friday afternoon, I was skipping events in favor of napping and watching Cops in my hotel room.

Nearly every event for readers comes with some swag. Usually, it’s books, but there’s chocolate, little bottles of champagne, stress balls shaped like…anatomy. At the end of the convention, I shipped 30 lbs. of (free) books home because there was no way I could fit them in my bags.

Anyone care to guess how much this cost? Price is Right rules apply.

Anyone care to guess how much this cost? Price is Right rules apply.

 

If you’ve been stalking the Book Riot Instagram, you may have seen the hotel’s décor for the event or the fact that there was a mechanical bull. But aside from those things that may not seem to have much to do with books, there’s a certain feel to RT. As a romance reader, there’s still a stigma attached to the genre. It’s not for everyone, but the vitriol sometimes aimed at these books astounds me, and it was such an incredible experience to be surrounded by thousands of people who like what I like.

The attendees and authors were welcoming and just downright gracious. One blogger even gave me the necklace she’d been wearing (and made!) after she heard me gushing about Jaci Burton’s book covers. Unlike BEA, which is industry and press focused, RT is very much for readers and fans.

If you can get there, I highly recommended going. Next year’s convention will be in Las Vegas and if I thought a mechanical bull was crazy, I can only imagine what’ll happen next spring. But you can bet I’ll be there. With bells on.

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