This is Chicago and the Sears Tower as we were driving in. It's been renamed the Willis Tower, but the locals still call it Sears, and totally didn't understand what we were asking for when we said Willis.
They added the glassed in observation decks a couple of years ago, and we had to step out onto them, just to say we did. I don't think Kally would have done it if I hadn't tugged her on.
This is Kally on the left, taking a picture to prove that she did it. My shoes are on the right, and I have to admit, it was a bit terrifying when you first stepped out. Theoretically, you know that plexiglass could hold a bus, but it's still difficult to convince your brain.
This is a view from the Sears Tower on the left. I've never been to Chicago before, so it was amazing to me how very blue the water was. It looked like the ocean. In a later tour, I travelled to the Navy Pier, which seemed even more like the ocean, with giant sail boats and jet boats available to take rides on.
I believe this was called the Linkin Park Conservatory. The bus driver was extremely difficult to understand. For one thing the speaker was too loud, and then he spoke like Captain Kirk from Star Trek. ''In 1923....an architect by the name of blah, blah, blah.....built this....in memory of....his dog....fido...". The gaps in his speech were very drawn out, and we realized at one point that he was using a recording as well, because he started repeating things. Anyway, it was beautiful inside, and the air was so lush you could almost taste it. Had to take this picture to the right because it appealed to the naughty writer in me. This was a sausage tree, and the sausages themselves were about a foot long.
This was a huge tower of Marilyn Monroe. You can't see it because of the head rest, but there was a gentleman underneath her taking a picture up her dress. On the right is a picture of Robyn and Deena Remiel, another Decadent author hanging out and dancing at the Ellora's Cave Party. (Once again, the best party of the week.) The three of us hung around a lot together.
The amazing Sabrina Jeffries at the booksale on Saturday. We ran into this lady at another party a few days earlier, and she was so friendly and open, and I honestly didn't realize who she was at first. We talked about beading and our bad feet, and she was so very down to earth. I bought a couple of her books and had them signed to my mom and grandmother.
This is the incredibly funny Gennita Low. She and I sat next to each other at the e-book sale, and we laughed and giggled the entire time. She was another incredible lady who really made an impact on me.
Although these pics are mostly of the parties and the tours, I did actually attend a lot of fantastic classes. Far and away the most impactful for me was the class that JA Konrath and Blake Crouch taught. Actually, I'm going to devote a whole seperate blog to them tomorrow, because they had so much fantastic information. Plus they were the funniest for several different reasons, which I'll tell you about tomorrow.
One of the most informative classes I took was hosted by Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches), Joyce Lamb, Sara Reyes, and a few others. It hit several points differentiating websites and blogs, and I realized I have to revamp my website to make it more streamlined. They all agreed that you have to have a book list available, and preferably a press kit, neither of which I have.
Mark Coker taught a class on habits of Smashwords bestsellers. It was similar to the class I listened to at last year's RT, but I'll give you the top 10 points he mentioned.
- Write a superfabulous book.
- Choose a good pen name. Avoid using initials. (Well, hell. Too late now!)
- Cover image. Make sure it looks good in a thumbnail.
- Publish another great book.
- Maximize your distribution. EVERY retailer.
- Give some of your books away for free. He said that this is an underutilized practice.
- Patience is a virtue.
- Trust your readers and partners.
- Platform building starts YESTERDAY!!! Also, he said use Google+, because whatever you post gets preferential positioning on search engines.
- Architect for virality. Tweak every aspect of your book, cover, description, formatting to find what works best. And find what categorization also gets you attention.
There was a marketing class that suggested working with other corporations to advertize each other. If you write horse romances, think about having a book signing at a horse show, or something like that.
The information is a little dry when related in a blog. I suggest to everyone that can do it, you need to go to the conference itself. Next year is in Kansas City, and Robyn and I have already mapped it out! Thanks for stopping by and if you have questions, post them in the comments.