At our recent conference, the RWA raised over $6,000 for the nominated conference charity, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Keynote speaker Anita Heiss was very eloquent on the importance of education for all, particularly children in disadvantaged communities. Thus it was interesting to read Hachette Australia co-managing director Louise Sherwin-Stark’s reflections on her her trip to the Tiwi Islands with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Sherwin-Stark said, ‘Most of all, I witnessed a fierce determination to nurture and support their kids through reading and education, something often missing from the news coverage about indigenous communities we see in the media.’
Books+Publishing’s Weekly Newsletter of 2 September included a detailed report on the RWA’s annual conference, Get Fresh 2015 under the headline ‘Romance goes mainstream at RWA conference 2015’. The report mentioned that the conference attracted over 400 attendees, the largest in the organisation’s 24-year history and quotes RWA president Leisl Leighton as saying the response to the conference was ‘100% positive’, with many attendees claiming it was ‘one of the best conferences they had been to’. During the AGM, the RWA also announced that membership had exceeded 1,000 writers for the first time.
Leighton said the conference ‘diversified its program this year by bringing in fresh non-romance presenters to broaden the professional development opportunities available to members’, covering ‘all elements of craft and the business of writing’.
Books+Publishing’s reporter went on to say that one of the topics discussed in-depth and over several sessions at the the conference was the stabilisation of digital sales and a return to confidence in traditional formats and outlets. The report quoted Random House editor Lex Hirst, Sourcebooks editorial director Deb Werksman and US agent Courtney Miller-Callihan on the subject.
- Lex Hirst: ‘Ebook usage has reached a plateau.’
- Deb Werskman: ‘Print is still ‘obust, with US sales for print romance titles exceeding 30 million dollars in 2014 … a Nielsen Bookscan report revealed that physical bookstores are the most-mentioned way of acquiring new books among romance readers … while digital sales are important for many romance subgenres, authors should be aware of all potential sales channels or risk missing significant segments of their readership.’
- Courtney Miller Callihan: ‘The atmosphere within publishing is more positive and people are more comfortable with digital as the format has stabilised.’
On-site bookseller Dymocks Melbourne told Books+Publishing that conference-goers were ‘inspired by the words of guest speakers and presenters, and keen to read outside of their genre to glean as much insight into their craft as possible.
‘The conference committee included some great speakers such as Anita Heiss, C S Pacat and Graeme Simsion to bring some great ideas to the table this year,’ said the bookseller.
The bestsellers at the Dymocks shop were:
- Not Always a Saint (Mary Jo Putney, Kensington)
- Captive Prince (C S Pacat, Viking)
- The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion, Text)
- Avoiding Mr Right (Anita Heiss, Bantam)
- Prince’s Gambit (C S Pacat, Viking)
You can read the full Books+Publishing report here:
In other news, Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) CEO and artistic director Lisa Dempster reported this year’s festival had the highest attendance on record. Dempster told Books+Publishing final figures are still being tallied but that the turn-out had exceeded expectations. International headliners at the festival, which ran from 20-30 August, included Naomi Klein (US), Jon Ronson (UK), Sarah Waters (UK), Daniel Handler (US), Antony Beevor (UK) and ‘Veronica Mars’ creator Rob Thomas (US), who were among more than 500 local and overseas guests who appeared at 531 events.