I like to do two runs through the goodie room. Writers arrive in waves that have more to do with cheap flights than logic, and it’s always an experience. Naked torso-bookmarks, naked torso postcards, excerpts (with naked torsos), key chains and lotion. Candy, (not in the shape of naked torsos) and more business card magnets than a refrigerator.
This year there were more book marks and fewer “substantial” promos like notebooks and bag clips. Someone did homemade chocolate in squished up foil cups, which—excuse me, came across like flip-flops. IMHO, they should have brought some single-serv candy boxes using the forty percent off Michael’s coupon, and run off a sheet of inkjet stickers. No matter how delicious it is, that’s no excuse for poor presentation.
More people were using promo CDs and fewer were using excerpt booklets. Nothing pulled me except Cowboy. He pulled me like a barge; pointing out things (in his brilliance) he thought were worthy. Heavy paper bookmarks (look, at this quality!), good use of covers (I like that) and those little mini-disks that look like business cards and play like CDs.
Last year, I noticed more candy. In Atlanta I saw energy drinks. This year there was a preponderance of Starlight mints.
I co-opted some of the overflow. I don’t know what people were thinking, but three thousand, one title, non-erotic bookmarks are hard to push. I always check under the tables. The room police throw extra boxes there for clean-up--like a pumpkin on the last day, those expensive bits of paper get tossed and they need something to carry the trash.
I filled box after box (in a polite way, of course), hauled them back to the room and taped them up like a killer on a torture binge.
I’ve been shipping boxes out of the Marriot for years. Maybe I have a faulty memory or something, but I don’t remember it being so expensive. Ten dollars, per box for a handling fee? What were they doing—handling it with ermine gloves?
So I said, (in a hopeful voice) “That’s per order, right?”
Wrong. If I hadn’t been the ultimate scavenger, I’d have also had an up charge of three dollars for the box itself. And the shipping table was just a front. Only special people with accounts (FedEX accounts?) could use it. "Real” shipping was across the hotel and down a floor. While I waited in line, Harlequin dumped the extra books from their autographing on the swap table. Harlequin Presents, Special Editions and Love Inspired.
There’s a limited market for inspirationals and straight up contemporary.
People would saunter up casually, in the hope no one was looking and flip the books. Cowboy and baby, baseball player (I think baseball players are starting to replace cowboys), pregnant woman and Greek Tycoon, something tasteful for the inspirational line. I didn't see too many books slide off the table into the Harlequin provided conference totes. There was already a big stack of some thriller the people from Harper were pushing, but--romance conference? Straight up thriller?
Not like there was a half-nekkid guy on the cover.
If the Ellora authors had chucked their leftovers on the table, hotel security would have had to form a cordon.