Thursday, October 30, 2014

Conference Report: Romy Sommer's talk on The New Paradigm

This was the opening talk of the conference, an overview of publishing in general and the options currently available to South African romance authors.

Report by Tanya de Ponte (edited)

I much appreciated the copy of Romy's book in the goodie bag and enjoyed the dramatic first page. She did a very interesting presentation on publishers. The topic raised several questions, doubts and fears about which is the best option for you - when there are so many out there. It was nicely covered - to provide solutions about whether to self-publish or get and agent? I enjoyed the advice and tips and would appreciate a copy of the presentation to peruse.

Report by Erich Viedge

Romy Sommer, Chair and founder of ROSA (Romance Writer’s Organisation of South Africa) kick started the inaugural 2014 conference with her talk on the New Publishing Paradigm. With three novels published already and more on the way, Sommer is well placed to unpack the different options that authors in general — and Romance authors in particular — have when it comes to seeing their books on the shelves and their royalties in the bank.

Sommer started by sharing with the audience how the Traditional publishing industry has consolidated over the last few years. She is well-informed and up to date with the latest developments in the industry.

She then unpacked the options that authors have, one by one. How to get published with a traditional publisher; how that process differs from the e-book market, and then finally the difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing.

She shared valuable tips about the kinds of contracts that publishers have, and what to look out for. In particular she mentioned a well-established e-publisher that seems to be in financial trouble — and she unpacked what that might mean in terms of an author’s future royalties and even the author’s ability to re-claim ownership of the work they created!

Sommer asked the audience to hold questions to the end, but every now and then another author would interject with their experience. This made for a very rich session.

I thought I knew about the publishing industry, but Sommer’s session updated my view and exposed me to cutting-edge information about how the model is changing. For example, she mentioned e-book subscriptions, which at the time of the 2014 conference was a new development.

As an opening session for the conference, I felt it helped me contextualise my own ambitions to be a Romance writer. As Sommer said: are you in it for the fame, or are you in it for the money?

Because of the grounding Sommer gave us, I felt by the end of the conference I could make an informed decision about which Imprint to approach or whether to self-publish — or indeed use a variety of approaches.

I would recommend this talk to anybody who is interested in being an author. The information was skewed to a Romance Writers' audience but the information is applicable to anybody, from text-book writers to writers of Erotica.

Next up: look out for the Conference Report on Hester Carstens' talk at #ROSACon2014.


  1. Romy ... your talk on 'New Publishing Paradigm' is interesting. Where can one read the full report?

    1. There won't be a full report, as I'd prefer not to give away all my material, but if you want to hear something similar, attend next year's ROSA Conference.

  2. I enjoyed your talk and agree that a writer of any genre would find it invaluable - thank you so much for sharing your experience.