My last official conference was RWA in 2021. I was a speaker and taught for an hour and a half, giving my Male POV workshop in a condensed form, plus taking Q/A. I loved it, even though pre-recording it did add to my stress, but that’s okay. What was important was getting back out in front of others to teach, speak, share, learn, connect.
Before that? The last thing I attended live where I had any involvement as a guest would have been DragonCON 2017 where I moderated a few panels, spent inappropriate time on others, and then, 2018 hit, knocking me down several pegs but not because of an ego check, anything bad or terrible outside of Lover Mine’s death later in the year. I realized that the audiences I’m speaking to at various conferences and the panels I’m chosen for aren’t really in line with my brand.
I am not an erotica author. I have written it, but it’s not my mainstay. Don’t throw me on some queer fiction panel because I wrote it back in 2007 and had a gay romance published. Or that I’ve had a healthy start compared to numerous other authors in erotica with the release of Mistress Anna and Other Erotic Tales, and my erotic short story collections. I am a romance author.
The other thought that occurred to me was the audience. They’re always dope, right? But pairing me with the proper audience, and pairing the proper audience to me? There has to be a fit. Honestly, I generally do not speak to hobbyists – my advice to hobby writers is different than it is to career authors. One smaller kink oriented conference I was a frequent speaker at for a few years had me talking to hobbyists. It was fun, the people were awesome for sure! But to be honest, I’m pretty sure me talking to the small group was simply a way to get in to a conference for free so I could find some pussy. Which, I did.
You wanted honest. I never denied who I am.
Anyway, the last thing that became clear to me? Because I can blame the audience for not being mine, I can blame the marketing department for putting me where they do all I want, but it does come down to one thing for me. Value.
Am I giving you value based on what I’ve DONE? Or am I parroting those who are more successful because I’ve had minute successes?
Yes, I’ve had a great deal of success and experiences in the publishing world. Yes, I’ve transcended and yes I’m a great source (not an expert) of knowledge on craft, marketing (more or so…) but where’s the proof? Am I making six figures and have I become one of those authors who makes a lot of money you’ve never heard of? Or have I made a shit ton of money AND you know my name?
I didn’t fake what I’ve done, I’d never do that. But for now, I’d like to go back to doing conferences like RWA and RT – industry conferences where I can network, connect, in some cases reconnect, with authors and act like I never did shit, because that’s a perspective I’ve been lacking. Reaching back to that beginning point of being an author when you were hungry for knowledge, and not chasing some goal? Yeah, I want that again. And when I DO present on a larger scale, I want it to be because I can back it up with sales figures and stats, and bank records, not mere talk.
The same goes for the BDSM world. I’ll expound now. I spent 20 plus years being actively kinky, learning, writing, before burnout set in as a writer on the kink front. No one really wants kinky stories outside the niche market and I’d grown cold after 2015 but didn’t realize it until 2018. Lover Mine passing away didn’t help, either. But I stopped writing kink, outside of direct for pay situations. BDSM on the grand scheme was out in publishing. It’s cyclical, so don’t worry. It’ll come back. But I’m a romance author. Not a kink author. I’m a romance author who happens to have written some kinky stories, and who happens to have been a real life dominant (and submissive for a VERY short spell!) while writing. But I saw the writing on the wall for kink. When a moron damaged my bullwhip, I should have listened and just let a local whipmaker repair it, but I didn’t. And I haven’t picked up a flogger in probably five years. The same with my singletails and snake whip. I suppose I’ve grown, but being in Atlanta with one of the larger kink-friendly areas of the country, I still haven’t been to our local dungeon. I’ve been to maybe…three play events outside of Frolicon. I may be back, I may not be.
I am a romance author. I’ve never been anything less and while the story of my publishing career has mimicked those who came before me, it’s evolved and the things I’m choosing to do will require more thought in the future. Yes, I’ll still teach. That’s a great opportunity to share knowledge to authors, new and seasons. Yes, I’ll still participate in group stuff online and off, but when it comes to bigger events like DragonCON? I’ve determined there is currently nothing for me at present. If you’ve read this blog in the last three months, you know my weird geek shit isn’t the same as the normal weird geek shit.
I may come back to Kink and alternative lifestyles, I may not. I don’t know. And I will return to conferences, but I will do it in a manner better suiting me, my brand and the audience, in that order, otherwise it makes no sense for anyone.