Money Money Money

So what’s the behind-the-scenes magic about the UK Meet money?

Like all of you, we’re interested in value for money. We know everyone has a million demands tugging at every pound/dollar we earn (or it feels like it!). The aim of the UK Meet Team is for us to have a great time, with everything available to all, without breaking the bank.

We’ve never sought to make a profit, though it’s not always easy to juggle things so the receipts and payments match up exactly. But, overall, at the end of the day? We’ve had a few years’ practice, and they usually do.

The only leeway we allow ourselves is to leave enough in the bank to pay the early deposit on the following event’s venue, as this is billed to us before we even start selling tickets.

Our general strategy goes like this!

  • The attendee fees pay for all the meeting room facilities, and the daily refreshments including lunch.
  • The Saturday dinner, and any Friday entertainment we arrange, is funded separately, and has to cover its own cost. That’s why we offer separate tickets, and make these events entirely optional.
  • The money from sponsors covers the other running costs of the Meet.

Yes, it’s not just the free-flowing coffee and those free pads, pens, and mints! We have to cover a lot of other housekeeping things.

  • The PayPal fees we are charged on all receipts.
  • Event insurance, as extra security in case anything goes wrong on the day.
  • Printed programmes.
  • Site visit expenses, when we’re exploring potential venues for the next event.
  • Planning meeting(s) expenses. Team members are scattered miles apart, and even though we deal with a lot of the organisation through email, there’s no substitute for getting together occasionally and thrashing out the details (ouch!).
  • The souvenir memory sticks that authors and publishers so kindly contribute to.
  • The AV equipment and displays – hotels will usually only offer the basic and we like to have our own arrangements to rely on.
  • The branded and different coloured lanyards / badges / ID cards.
  • Website registration (the minimum, as daily maintenance and updating is done by us).

Some of our treasured sponsors also fund specific items like the goody bags, the branded lanyards, and programme printing costs.

Then, once tickets go on sale, Charlie and I keep a monstrous spreadsheet of the tickets that are allocated and to whom, and I match up the money when it arrives in PayPal.

(If I say that quickly enough, it sounds like a complete breeze LOL).

This system for attendee payments works well enough for us, and at the moment we don’t envisage automating things any further. We like the personal touch of staying in contact with attendees as and when their payments arrive, and being on hand for any queries. We’ve kept the attendance at a similar level over several years, partly because we know what we can deal with efficiently and comfortably.

And like I said at the beginning – then we can all have a great time at the event itself!

Clare London, May 2019

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Elin Gregory Interview

  • How did you first discover your genre?

Mary Renault. I read The King Must Die when I was about 8 and absolutely couldn’t understand why Theseus was paying attention to Ariadne when brave little Hippias so clearly would die for him. And there were the tragic Scythian girls too. I cried. Thankfully we can avoid that trope these days. Then I cried again when I found gay romances online in the early 2000s. Such a relief. At first it was a lot of erotica – not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s just not what I want to read – but now I can find all my favourite types of book with LGBT+ characters AND masses of plot. Sci fi, fantasy, murder mysteries, police procedurals, military, action/adventure, paranormals, historical and steampunk, it’s all there to choose from.

  • What are your favourite tropes and why?

Probably characters thrown together by circumstance who develop mutual respect FIRST and then a romantic relationship. Also, that lovely moment when one betrays their feelings by rushing to assist the other when in danger. And hurt/comfort obvs because one leads from the other. I’ll read all that with enthusiasm and I write it too.

  • UK Meet began in 2010 with a dozen writers in a library in Ely. How do you think the genre’s changed since then?

In 2010 there seemed to be more possibility of actually covering your costs. There were people getting a decent return on the money they invested in editing, covers, promo, swag, attendance at events. There are still people making enough to live on, but I honestly feel that it’s only the real warriors – the ones with their finger on the pulse of the market, who have an astonishing and dedicated regimen of production, who invest oodles of time and effort – who are breaking even or better. I never expected to make any money from my work – though I give thanks that my publishers have made a bit of profit – but I can imagine how horrifying it is for an author who was making a successful living to have seen their income go down the pan as Amazon tightens its stranglehold, publishing houses go bust and readers demand cheaper/free books. I hope the publishing industry has another sea change to make life easier for the creatives because, at the moment, a lot of people are getting discouraged. Discouraging creatives is a bad thing because it leads to homogenisation – only stuff that is BOUND to sell will be published and the only people who will be able to afford to self publish are the ones with the disposable income to invest and wait for the return. That will reduce the number of wildly talented but cash challenged authors who write the quirky ‘out there’ stuff this year that will be what the market is craving next year and the year after. And that would be a really sad thing.

website:   https://elingregory.com

Helen J Perry Interview

Describe the books you write/books you publish/your cover art in three words.

Erotic LGBT romance.
What do you like best about your genre?

As a mature, British, queer woman, I’m writing stories that I can relate to and about people I know.
What are your favourite tropes and why?

As a gay romance author, I like OTT stories. First time in love, coming out, and what is controversially known as Gay For You are among my favourite tropes for light romance.

As a queer woman I’ve been “coming out” to other people for 35 years, it never ends, so I like coming out stories that are positive and uplifting.

In my experience, in the UK, coming out is generally well received and that’s what I write.

I also write layered characters whose thoughts, words and actions are contradictory. Again, drawing from real life in which the most liberal people say quite shocking homophobic things because they are thoughtless and not hateful. When put to the test, they often 100% support LGBT equality.

As for “gay for you”, in real life, I know so many people who’ve changed how they identify themselves over time, often from one of the LGBT letters to another. I think stories about either a “gay awakening” or a fluid and changing sexual identity or having the opportunity for a bisexual character to experience same-sex love are all perfectly valid and reflect the experience of many people.

Regards

HJP x

Susan Mac Nicol Interview

UK Meet began in 2010 with a dozen writers in a library in Ely. How do you think the genre’s changed since then?

It’s grown in leaps and bounds. When I first published my first MM book back in 2013, the market was ‘relatively’ small and enabled me to enter it and at least be noticed. Now, as the genre grows in popularity and more readers are turning to writing, it’s become a giant. I used to be able to look through the new releases on my Kindle and be disappointed because I’d got them all. I’d have to wait for the next release run. Now there is no way I can keep up with them and I must pick and choose what I read. It’s wonderful that so many people are entering the market as authors because it gives the genre a boost to the outside world and grows its visibility and its diversity across the LGBTQI spectrum. It also means that readers have more choices, and competitive pricing (including the KU programme) has more impact than ever before. The downside is that sales get diluted for a lot of us, but in the bigger picture, the genre itself is getting more air time. And that’s a good thing. The only thing a writer can do is keep producing books at the same high quality, (and like every genre this one suffers with those books that are abysmal), keep up their profile by chatting to people and just enjoying the fact that if people are reading your books, and enjoying them, you are a winner which ever way you look at it.


What are you most looking forward to at UK Meet 2018?

I can’t wait to meet old friends I haven’t seen for a while, find out what they are up to. I love the workshops, because no matter how much I think I know, I always come away from them having learnt something new. I enjoy being able to talk books and writing with people who understand what it’s all about and chuckle fondly at the bemusement of the Baffled (who I call non-writers) I think if Harry Potter can have Muggles as non-magic people, we should have the Baffled.

Imagine the conversation…

So, which do you like best? First person POV, second person? Or maybe third person multiple? And Oh. My. Gawd. How about that damned Oxford comma?”

Person at table looking around uncomprehendingly. Authors look at each and smirk ‘Don’t worry about her. She’s a Baffle.”

Knowing grins and eye winks.

Shall we introduce this at UK meet or is that non PC ?!


How did you first discover your genre?

I was writing M/F books (possible unknown fact – Saving Alexander, Love and Punishment, and the Double Alchemy books were all written as M/F and finished before I changed them to M/M) and had a character, a bisexual serial killer who used sex as a weapon to coerce his lovers into unwittingly helping him. I knew nothing about writing gay sex so did a bit of reading to find out how to write it. I started with Brad Boney, Shawn Lane, Sue Brown, Dani Alexander. It’s fair to say I got hooked and decided this was far better than writing M/F) So I wrote Stripped Bare, and that was that. I’ll never change back because the community we have is exceptional.

 

My website link is http://www.authorsusanmacnicol.com

 

Thanks for the opportunity!!!

 

Sue