Readers are Plentiful: Authors are RARE

Some Thoughts about RARE Edinburgh

Here, RARE stands for Romance Author & Reader Events. They have taken place in various cities around the world since 2014. Basically, you get a large venue, and fill it with romance authors. They each pay about £300 for a table. Attending readers (their fans) descend on the event to have their paperback copies of their favourite books signed by the author. Many of the authors will also take advance orders for their books and will attend with all they need.

Readers queuing to enter the Heart of Steel signing event in Sheffield.

Nowadays, these events sell out VERY QUICKLY! Tickets are priced anywhere from £50 to £80

Authors coming to Edinburgh by Nationality

  • Australian          10
  • Canada               10
  • Ireland                4
  • UK                     25
  • USA                   163

So the vast majority of the attending authors find it worth their while financially to fly to the UK, and to make all the arrangements for their paperbacks to be there for them. For the majority of them, this they must do themselves: there is no publisher to do it for them.

Among the authors there is massive competition for places too. ALL these events have a substantial waiting list for tables.

Romance Author Reader Events on Facebook.

RARE Events on Twitter.

A great many are USA Today Bestsellers and/or New York Times bestsellers and are VERY productive,  insatiable writers. Just look at these figures!

Number of books published by the attending authors.

  • Total (using Goodreads)               13650
  • Mean                                            About 52 per attending author.
  • Highest                                         382 in 12 years!  i.e. over 30 a year!
  • Lowest                                          2

Asll this demonstrates just how VERY broad is their spectrum of productivity.

Out of 239 attending authors, 189 are independent authors. These are publishing under their own name with CreateSpace, IngramSpark and the like for paperbacks, but on EVERY platform for their eBooks. i.e. Amazon, Barnes&Noble, I-Books, Smashwords, Evernight and Kobo.

Because of Covid various signings have been cancelled, but the organisers are really hitting the ground running with RARE Edinburgh next year – and this event will take place over 2 full days with over 230 authors coming.

 There are a few Romantic Novelists Association members attending, including Carrie Elks and Julia Sykes. All attendees’ tickets for RARE Edinburgh are sold out.  When they go on sale, they normally go within a couple of hours.

Although all the authors write in the romantic genre, a LOT of them write fantasy or erotic romances, both MM and FF, and books in the alpha, rockstar, bad-boy, and cowboy tropes.  Also plenty of historical and romantic suspense. Saga type romances seem less common.

Nearly all of them use Linktree and put links to EVERYTHING on their Linktree page.

And – invariably – a cover and link to their books, under every writing name they use.

Almost all of them will write “series” of up to 10 inter-connected books. This seems to be very much what their readers want. Writing a series also has several marketing advantages. I know from experience that some established authors have suggested that their work is not of a “high quality”! Well, it certainly appears to be of a suitable quality for their numerous readers.

Among the 50 authors who are conventionally published, their publishing houses include Montlake and Skyscape (both part of the Amazon stable), Piatkus. Penguin, Macmillan, Carina, Hachette, Avon and Bantam.

From those I have seen, the standard of their websites is very high. Lots of stuff going on. Pics and links to all their books and a very professional appearance. A lot of their covers show echoes of Fabio! As with conventional publishing, there IS a noticeable difference between authors from the UK and the USA.

Although most authors attending are from outside the UK, there IS a trade in the other direction, with several British authors attending similar large events in the USA.

I’ve been to several of the smaller signing events within striking distance of York, and I’ve found them ALL amazingly friendly and convivial occasions. Independent publishing is “the other side of the coin” to those of us grounded firmly in the conventional side of the game, but I think it behoves us all to look at the Indie sector and take a note of what makes them so successful, and to note their amazing productivity. This is not unknown, particularly in the category romance area. I know of several HM&B authors who produce 4-5 books a year.

Some shots from signings in the UK.

Thay are invariably fun events to attend, and for meeting old friends and new!

Many readers will attend a signing event with a wheeled trolley or roll-along case and take it home FULL of the books they have collected and bought.

Perhaps its most important to note that any success they achieve is purely by their own efforts and on their own terms.

Personally speaking, I would like to see more formal recognition given to indie authors, possibly along the line of one or two awards in the Romantic Novel of the Year awards reserved specifically for independent authors. Does the RNA need to reach out to all these bestselling authors of romance to make them feel welcome and included?

After all, romance is for everyone!

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