If you’ve been hearing about all the comicons and their flood of superstars and costumed fans, you might wonder whether there’s anything like a comicon for romance readers. Wonder no more! Numerous romance-specific events are scheduled throughout the year. They’re tailored to the mostly female audience for romances, and feature all kinds of girlish shenanigans the likes of which you probably haven’t indulged in since you were a kid.
Sleepover parties in your PJs? Check. Romance-oriented swag? Check. Costume balls? Fabulous gift baskets raffled for charity? Off-site group tours? Male models on parade? Why not? Authors will be everywhere at these events, sponsoring small or large group parties, doing book-signings, speaking on panels, and more. You’ll have to bring an empty suitcase to haul away all the freebies.
There’s a romance convention specifically geared for every kind of personality, too. Do you like super big events? Head for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (in Vegas!), where the Giant Book Signing can have 600 authors. Prefer a small, intimate convention? Try the Indie Romance Convention (in Lebanon, TN); it promises a limit of 70 readers but 30 authors—which is a great ratio if you want to rub shoulders with someone who writes romance. The Interracial Romance Author and Fan Gathering (in New Orleans) is keyed to a specific subgenre of romance, and Authors After Dark (Savannah, GA) features a corset and tattoo room (hmm…). The list goes on and on, so check online for these and many other romance readers’ events to see which are within your travel comfort zone, your price comfort zone, and of course, your introvert versus extrovert comfort zone. Some individual authors, such as Marie Force, sponsor their own readers’ events. If you follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or if you join a social media readers’ group, you’ll get the skinny on what’s happening.
For those of you who dream big, but don’t have a travel budget—either the time away or the money outlay—there’s another option. Some of the best events I ever attended were very simple. The public library usually has a room that can be booked at no charge, with the proviso that the event is free and open to the public. If you’re a person with organizing skills, you could hold your own romance fan gathering. Sure, it’s a lot of work, and you’d have to start by checking out a venue, approaching a few authors who might be local (romance authors are lurking everywhere), and planning just how to hold an afternoon event that might draw 30 to 50 people and feature just one or two authors. Can you do this? Absolutely! And wouldn’t it be awesome to bring romance fans together with romance authors? Where do you start? Talk to the organizers of similar events. They’ll tell you how much work is involved and what the rewards are. Your librarian also may have some wisdom to impart about how to generate publicity, and more.
What if all you want to do is talk about romances? Start by going to author blogs and joining social media groups. Hang out long enough to get the vibe each gives off. If there’s a dedicated group that always comments and seems to know each other, you might want to start as a lurker rather than a participant until you get a good feel for the crowd. Many authors give away gift cards and other swag to random commenters, so that might encourage you to dip a toe into commenting. Eventually, if you persist, you’ll find an online site than matches your tastes. Then every day you’ll be able to attend a romance convention for readers without having to leave home. In PJs or not.