RT/Hyatt Author Targeted
This last week I attended the yearly Romantic Times convention at the Houston Hyatt. I love the ability to meet face to face all the readers, authors, publishers, bookstore owners and all the other fascinating and intriguing people that come to this event each year. I even participated in the lovely and fun Faery Ball Ball this year with a whole host of fabulous authors. I go to RT to met people and to promote my work just like every other author there. It's a wonderful networking event. I sent 6 boxes of promo items for myself and my ad group of M/M erotic romance and fiction group MANLOVEROMANCE.COM there this year.
The RT promo items I sent didn't arrive until Thursday. I immediate put them up in the appropriate containers RT insisted we use while noting that hundreds of other promo was loose on the tables in violation of this rule. There was no table space left at this point and I refused to move other authors’ items to make room for my own so I utilized several very large boxes sitting at the end of one table. All my items were placed in six rough, manly, woven baskets.
By Thursday afternoon my promo was gone. I write gay erotic romance and fiction. I write in a RWA accepted genre. I’m at a romance conference. My writing wins awards. My books are on best selling lists on both Amazon and B&N. My work is good! I own a small press that print publishes only gay erotic romance and fiction, MLR Press. But I couldn’t find my promo and that of the other gay work I represent anywhere.
In its place were now EPIC promo items sitting on the same boxes. I hunted for mine and eventually Luisa Prieto found a small basket with some of the items I brought on another table. Nothing in it was mine but two DETAILS OF THE HUNT bookmarks with the cover on it and a few excerpt cds. Everything with Manloveromance on it was missing. My posters were missing. I couldn’t find the rest until Jade Buchanan saw it in a basket on the table in CLUB RT, shoved into a corner sitting by the people manning the doorway. Sandy Hicks, AMP, and I rescued it and asked why it was there. The very kind but very flustered woman immediately dragged me outside into the hall and stuttered she would call someone to explain things to me. Not a good sign.
Sharon Murphy, RT staff arrived and told me Hyatt personal had removed my things because businessmen (who should not have been in the conference areas to begin with) had complained about them. I found that hard to believe and said so.
Sandy went off to gather other promo that was far more risque than anything we had. While she was gone I began to object and Sharon asked me to come into a closed room. Sandy saw this occur and followed, not allowing anything to be said without a witness on my behalf to be present.
I wanted a better explanation. Sharon denied RT involvement but they certainly didn’t do anything to support an author attending their conference. Instead they willingly, immediately consented. I paid almost $500 registration to attend this conference and promo my work, $1325 to be part of a special promo event, and hundreds of dollars on flights and hotel expenses but my tame, tasteful promo was removed!
First Sharon tried to blame in on the promo being on boxes and not the table but I pointed out that EPIC promo replaced my promo and was currently still on the boxes, so the placement was NOT a legitimate issue.
Then she said it was thought that it was more risque that anyone else’s. Sandy produced other promo items that included a naked woman on her knees in front of a naked man, a woman with her naked buttocks pressed to a man’s naked groin and other items that had bared male chests, bared male thighs and such just like ours. None of our promo had male couples on it except a few bookmarks and since they are yaoi it hard to tell what the sex of the characters. The same bookmarks were not removed from further down the tables. So appearance wasn’t a legitimate issue.
Apparently at a loss for an explanation that would satisfy me she expressed an opinion it was gay related, but that didn’t explain all promo with my name on it being removed, even the postcards for my single mainstream thriller.
She then called Jo Carol, RT event coordinator and had her call the Hyatt customer service manager that made the decision to remove the items, Lance Barnes.
He arrived, briefly introduced himself while standing sideways to me, didn’t offer his hand in introduction, and never made eye contact with me. I made all the same arguments with him, showing examples of the other promo vs ours. He never mentioned the businessmen (that shouldn’t have been allowed in the conference area anyway) objection that Sharon had, but only stated it was 'his decision and that of his peers and boss' to remove it and if I replaced them they would be removed and taken.
His biggest objection was the poster of a single man sleeping in bed with a book and a sheet covering him. I've added it to this blog. Do you find it objectionable? I stated that single poster could have been removed, not all of the promo, so the M/M content must have been what he had issue with. He abruptly ended the brief chat with “I’m not discussing this with you.” Then left the room. This is Hyatt Customer Service.
I was vocal about the event. I told authors, I told publishers. If they will do this to me, they’ll do it to other authors. Word spread and by morning everyone knew about it. Support poured out of the woodwork. Authors of all genres took my promo and put it on their tables during the book signing on Saturday, especially the very supportive Kate Douglas, Lucynda Storey and Stephanie Burke.
At breakfast I ended up meeting two marketing experts who had witnessed the removal of my promo. They stopped the Hyatt employee and questioned it. The Hyatt employee stated he was just doing what his boss told him to do. The women described the event as a “targeted attack”. I have written letters of complaint, as have others.
I'm an unhappy author.