To promote its annual author excellence awards and to help finalists interact with their fans, Romance Writers of America is sponsoring a series of virtual video chats.
Romance Writers of America is putting a spin on the traditional book talk to help promote its annual author awards as well as raise the profile of the romance genre.
Now with social media, we hope to raise the recognition of the award directly with readers.
In partnership with Shindig, a video chat provider, RWA will host an 11-week series of interactive video chats among romance fans and authors. The authors are finalists in the association’s annual RITA Awards for published romance fiction.
“We’ve been promoting the award for years, typically to librarians and booksellers and the curators of various collections, but now with social media, we hope to raise the recognition of the award directly with readers,” said Allison Kelley, RWA executive director.
The RITA Reader Series of video chats also provides the association with a more cost-effective way to reach romance fans around the world, including its 10,000 members, Kelley added. “Trying to promote the award, and certainly the work that [places in the finals] in the event, it’s difficult on an association budget.”
The chats are free and open to the first 1,000 people, members or nonmembers, who RSVP. The association will also be tweeting the live chats using the hash tag #RITAchat.
Social technology helped RWA discover the range and breadth of international romance fans a few years ago. While live-updating its website to announce winners of the RITA awards, RWA found that the city with the third-highest number of people logging in to the site was Shanghai. Although the staff had always had an idea of the scale of international interest, “that was the first we had the opportunity to track it,” Kelley said.
RWA hopes the video chats will help raise the profile of romance fiction—a genre that people sometimes don’t try because of preconceived notions, Kelly said.
“Since its inception, RWA has endeavored to raise awareness of and respect for romance fiction, and that has been primarily accomplished through RWA’s awards of excellence,” she said.