Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

It's that time of year again – when we head off to the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention—aka "RT". This has been my favorite event for several years, because it allows me, as an author, to get close to my readers.

Once more I am honored to be entrusted by my publisher to represent them at their table in the hospitality suite, that rocking room called Club RT. And like last year, I will not be alone—my dear friends and sister Siren authors Heather Rainier and Peyton Elizabeth will be with me as they were in Chicago in 2012; and we have one more colleague joining us: Corinne Davies, who is not only a Siren author, but a fellow Canadian as well.

I cannot help but reflect back over my years attending this convention, because it has played such a pivotal role in the development of my career. I will never forget that it was at RT in 2006, in Daytona Beach, that I "pitched" what became my first published novel – Made For Each Other – to the publisher of Siren-Bookstrand.

Now, seven years later, I have a backlist of 31 books; my career is thriving; and I am living my one and only dream—to be a published author who writes books that people read.

So thank you, RT Magazine, for the part you have played in making my dream come true.

You know that old saying; all good things must come to an end? This could very well be my last RT Convention. That is not something I imagined I would ever say. But the truth of the matter is, attending future conventions may just simply not make good business sense.

This convention has, in the last few years, featured 2 "book fairs" – opportunities for readers to meet their favorite authors and get autographs, and purchase books. The first, the "Book Expo" has primarily been for the e-book format, and in the last couple of years, graphic novels. It is held mid-week for 2 hours, usually from 4 pm to 6 pm. It draws the readers who are attending the convention and maybe a few more avid readers, besides. Then, the major event, the Giant Book Fair, takes place on Saturday, with the emphasis on printed books. This book fair is always popular with the thousands of readers who attend.

Many if not most of us who are "e-published" also have our books available in print, and they can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and a few other book sellers. Of course, the books are print-on-demand, which means they cannot be "returned".

This has never been an issue, as those of us who wished to attend the Giant Book Fair, had no qualms about "guaranteeing" our sales. For myself that meant, ordering a specific number of books from the bookseller and agreeing to purchase whatever didn't sell, so that the bookseller would not be left with books that he'd paid for and not recouped his investment on.

Here is where I tell you that the true value of any book fair, but especially the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, is not in the books you sell there; it is in being seen. It is in having your name read by passers-by. It is in the promotion that takes place beforehand.

And this year, for the first time ever, those of us who are primarily e-published, and any who are self-published, are not being permitted to attend this Giant Book Fair.

We've paid the same amount of money to register for this convention as every other author, and we are not being permitted to attend the marquis event.

We are excluded from it, absolutely!

I have heard from many of my fellow e-published authors who've promoted this event to their readers only to find out after the fact that this new policy is in place (it was not mentioned during the registration process). Many of those authors will not attend another RT Convention.

One of those authors has arranged for a separate book fair to be held after the RT event on Saturday is closed; and she has also arranged for a free shuttle bus for readers to go from the Conference hotel to the Marriott (and return) where this second event is being held. Admittance to this book fair is free.

That author's name is Kalypso Masters. I am pleased to report that I will be at that book signing in support of my fellow e-published and the self-published authors, on Saturday, May 4th. The event is called Romancing The Plaza and you can read about it on FaceBook here:!/events/367249456727252/?fref=ts

If you are in the area, please stop by. If you know people who live in Kansas City, please tell them about this free event. There are fabulous door prizes available, and you will be helping good people who have been, in my opinion, unjustly discriminated against.

Technology never goes backward; e-books are here to stay. I'm not only disappointed that such exclusion is being practiced; I am shocked that an organization I'd always considered to be business-savvy would act in such a short sighted manner.

How many magazine subscriptions did this move of theirs forfeit? Who can tell? One thing about my readers, and the readers of other authors I know. They're loyal. And they are not afraid to speak with their pocketbooks.



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