Read it, write it, love it…tweet it

What’s so special about 2020 for those of us who love books? It’s the 10th anniversary of the first UK Meet for one thing. My goodness, how we’ve grown and developed from a dozen authors in a room in Ely having a chinwag, to the weekend event we’ll be having in September of this year.

For another thing, it’s the 60th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists Association. A number of UKMeeters are, or have been, RNA members. I bet that when the organisation was first formed in 1960, the membership wouldn’t have expected that romance stories that didn’t feature a man and a woman would one day be welcomed into the fold. Hell, 1960 was the year Penguin was up in court over Lady Chatterley’s Lover – with the famous trial quote, “Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?”

How we’ve moved on. Nowadays the RNA has a newly-founded Rainbow Chapter with the tagline “Love stories are for everyone,” which is open to all with an interest in LGBTQIA+ romantic fiction.

On the 9th February during Romance Reading month the RNA would like to provide an opportunity for readers to share their favourite LGBQTIA+ novels to @RNAtweets using the following hashtags. #DiamondRainbowReads  #RNA60 

The UK Meet team would like to encourage everyone to take part and to spread the word.  Feel free to add #ukmeet to make sure we don’t miss your tweet!

Let’s show how many people read (and write, and love) our genre.

 

Behind the scenes – choosing the venue

We get asked about how we decide on UK Meet venues, so here’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

We start planning the next meet as soon as the previous one finishes, with everything fresh in our minds.Step one is a first sift through of potential venues, based on our two key non-negotiables:

  • Size – has to accommodate 150 cabaret style (that’s the round table arrangement for when we’re all together) with other event rooms and break-out areas
  • Location – has to have good public and private transport links, with other hotels, restaurants, etc close by

That takes out a large number of options!

Then we get dozens – literally – of quotes, both direct and through agents. These get a second sift, based on our next key considerations and on feedback from our attendees about previous events:

  • Rainbow dinner – for example choices at each course. (Amazing how many places can’t offer this.)
  • Value for money – we feel a duty towards our delegates in terms of not raising costs unnecessarily. So, while we’d love to hold the 2020 event at Twickenham we’re not putting £60+ on tickets just to do so.
  • Ease of access – we consider venues across the country, but the team need to make several visits to the hotel in the run-up to the event and we also have a pantechnicon of stuff for the weekend itself. Having a venue near to where team members live enables this to happen more easily. (Also there was one year where having one of us living close by avoided a major calamity. Don’t ask.)

From this we produce a short list.

Third step is visiting short-listed venues, applying our even longer checklist of requirements. Sometimes this is thrilling, when we find a real winner, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking. This year we visited four hotels we’d not used before, all in new locations, but we soon discovered that what looked great online didn’t match up in reality. Tatty decor and poor disabled access took out one, while lack of adequate socialising areas eliminated another. In each case we found ourselves standing and saying, “The event wouldn’t work in this space at this place.” In this case, back to step two.

Fourth step is choosing which hotel to ask for a contract and then reviewing what we’re sent in minute detail. We changed our minds on the 2018 venue at this point as they didn’t deliver what they’d promised to.

The fifth step is agreeing between us to sign a contract with our chosen venue and that’s the hardest step of all. Such a responsibility…

Latest news on 2020

The team met on 9th February to plan the 2020 event. We’d read every piece of feedback from delegates, seen the patterns, and were keen to address what needed to be addressed.
We’re hoping to announce the venue and date within the next two months, with a view to ticket sales starting in October 2019. Priority will once again be given to people on our newsletter mailing list. If you received an email earlier today then you’re on that list already and can breathe easy. If you want to sign up, or check you’re on the list, then click on our sign up button (any page of our website).
New for 2020 will be a dedicated ‘reading room’ which will run during the whole event and be a safe space to discuss and celebrate the books we love. We’ve also got some great ideas for making this ‘reading room’ an exciting place to be. We’re intending to have some ‘ask the expert’ informal sessions instead of some of the Sunday panels: we’ll be tackling panel planning in a different way, too!
More news when we have it.

UK Meet mailings – please read

The way we operate our mailings changed when the new data protection regulations came into force in May 2018. This means that some of you may not be getting  the communications you want from us.

We operate two sorts of list. a) Specific lists, eg one for all delegates attending the 2018 event, through which we could share event information. b) A general news one (we call it our ‘big list’) for a wider range of information. That will have all the gen about 2020 on it.

Just because you’re on a specific delegate list doesn’t mean you’re on the general one (we won’t transfer the data across as we feel that’s not proper data control). Also, just because you got mailings from the big list in the past, you won’t in future unless you have opted to do so (as we encouraged you to do back in May).

What do you need to do now? Check that you’re on the ‘big list’ and with the right permissions. So:

  • Did you receive an e-mail earlier this week introducing the two new team members, with the headline “Personnel changes to the UK Meet Team”? If yes, all is well. If no, you need to take action>>> 
  • Go to any page of our website and click the mailing list sign up button. Follow the process and remember you must opt in for e-mails.
  • If you’re already signed up, it will tell you either at the sign up page or at one of the following ones. Choose the ‘update your preferences’ option then follow the process, again, opting for e-mails.

 

 

 

Information for spotlight delegates

There are  fewer than four months until UK Meet and we start to see our deadlines approaching. We’ll keep reminding you of them as they get imminent.

1. Spotlight fair/author signings

In response to delegate feedback we’ll be having two of these again this year, likely both on the Saturday afternoon, so that spotlight delegates can be buyers/browsers as well as sellers/signers. Not all spotlight delegates want to have space at a table, so please let Charlie know by July 31st  if you want to be included as we need to advise the venue regarding room layouts.

2. USB  stick

You are entitled to space on the USB stick (given  to every delegate) for your promotion and/or free fiction samples. Please note that this year we have increased the allocation of space. Your content needs to be with our stick goddess, Petronella (tuckerpuss@aol.com ) by July 31st.

Sponsors: Please contact Jamie if you’re unsure of your USB entitlement.

Spotlight delegates: see below
Maximum size of content – 20MB
Ideas of things you could include:  Biographies. Bibliographies with cover art and buy links. Flash fiction.
Complete self published short stories, novels, and novellas. Excerpt chapters from published works. Discount vouchers for self published stories
Format – PDF is the most widely accessible and far preferable to a Word doc as it’s easier for readers to view on their ereaders. Last year some authors also included mobi/prc and epub files of their stories.
Free fiction: Please use the following naming convention for any story files: YourAuthorName_YourTitle. Remember to include a copyright notice at the beginning to protect your content.

3. Goodie bags

These are given to all attendees and contain a selection of promotional goods. We’re working on a likely 150 delegates, therefore 150-160 bags.  Bag stuffing usually takes place around 9am on the Saturday morning of UK meet. We’ll confirm details nearer the time. If you need to send material in advance of the event, it will need to go to the hotel. You must check that you have paid the correct import duties if they apply, or else your parcel may not be delivered.

Is it September yet?

UK Meet ticketing – why we do what we do

For years, at our UK Meet planning meetings, we used to say, “What if we get a feeding frenzy for tickets?” Then we’d laugh in our Brit way and say, “That would be a nice problem to have.” However, in our 2016 planning we realised demand was likely to exceed supply, so we needed a cunning plan that would work for both us and our delegates.

We appreciate how annoying it is to sit trying to buy tickets, madly pressing the ‘refresh’ button and hoping everything isn’t all sold out by the time you get the page to work. We also wanted to a) avoid people bulk buying tickets and b) reward people who’d already expressed an interest in the event. That’s why we came up with the ‘booking codes’ system which we used in 2016 and which, at least from our end, worked so well.

Briefly, this is how it works:

  • Prospective delegates need to register for our newsletter before the date tickets go on sale (9th October 2017).
  • On 9th October we’ll send out a “Thunderbirds are go” e-mail. Reply to this e-mail to get a priority booking code, one per subscriber You won’t get one any other way.
  • All replies are dealt with in a strictly chronological order, so once you’ve sent a reply you can relax.
  • You then have a week to use your priority code to book a place. At midnight BST 16th October these codes are no longer valid.
  • If we run out of priority codes before 16th October, we’ll start a waiting list as in past years, which will be administered on a first come, first served, basis. Nobody gets to jump the waiting list – we’re British and revere queues.

Survey – does the UK need LGBT publishing houses?

We’ve been approached by an MA student studying professional writing currently focusing attention on the need for LGBT publishing houses within the UK. If you’d like to help him as he gathers opinions within the industry, please send your answers to the these questions to mrtomyoung@hotmail.com
1) Does the UK need LGBT specific publishing houses?
2) Can larger non-LGBT publishing houses reflect the interests of the LGBT community with their publications?
3) How do you feel the amount of the LGBT publications within book stores would change if there were LGBT specific publishing houses?
4) How has social assimilation affected the need for LGBT specific publishers. I.e. Are the removal of LGBT publishers just another result of social equality?

Deadline is Tuesday 24th May.

Writing on the Wall Festival and competition

The team at UK Meet are always pleased to share news of like-minded events, so today we’re welcoming Tom from Writing on the Wall to tell us all about the event and a very special competition:

There are a swarm of literary events happening over the course of May in the city of Liverpool as part of the Writing on the Wall (Wow) Festival. This festival celebrates not only the written and spoken word, but also diversity within the writing world. We are running an event on the changing definitions of Gender in the 21st Century that is sure to be unmissable. Led by Juno Dawson, formerly James, and The Vivienne, Liverpool’s very own UK Ambassador for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Abigail Tarttelin author of Golden Boy, we discuss gender identity in the 21st Century and ask the question: Mainstream or Minority?

We understand that not everyone is able to attend the festival so we are also running a fiction writing competition that can be applied for both nationally and internationally! WoW’s acclaimed Pulp Idol novel-writing competition returns for its 10th anniversary. Are you an aspiring novelist wanting the chance to have your work published? Then this competition is for you. Focusing on new and unheard voices, with huge success from previous finalists, this is an opportunity for new writers to have their novels showcased to the public, including the possibility of exposure to new audiences and communication with publishers and agents. Past publishing successes include James Rice (Alice and the Fly), Deborah Morgan (Disappearing Home) and Clare Coombes (Definitions).

To celebrate 10 years, we are again having a national entry, and opening up for the first time to an international online entry! You will have a chance to enter online in our national and international categories via our YouTube channel. The Pulp Idol winner will have their work read by an agent/publisher. All finalists will have their first chapter published in our book of ‘Firsts’, available as an eBook on all major online outlets. A copy will be sent out to agents and publishers across the country. The guest judge for this year’s competition is author Tony Schumacher (The Darkest Hour, The British Lion).  

TO ENTER PULP IDOL 2016: CLICK HERE

For details on competition rules please download them here.

For YouTube entries (National or International) click here –  For more details on competition rules for National and International entries please download them here.

Deadline for Entry: Midnight Sunday 10 April 2016

Heats: Week commencing 23 April 2016

Final: Friday 27 May 2016, 7.00pm. Venue TBC

WoW is very keen to increase the number of entrants from the LGBT community and would appreciate your support in circulating this information as widely as possible in order to help the festival, and you, reach their potential!

 

Ticket sales – looking back and going forward

Just to clarify about ticket sales for 2015 (and by implication 2016).

We sell tickets on one basis only – chronological, first come first served. No other conditions are applied.

We received a number of requests this year for people or their friends to be given a ticket, even though the event was sold out and a waiting list in place. In every case the request was refused as it wouldn’t have been fair on people who were trying to get places through the proper channels. We offered those requesters the chance to go on the waiting list, but this was rarely taken up. As it turned out, and much to our surprise, we were able to offer everyone on the waiting list a ticket, albeit at short notice.