Countdown to RT: A Guide for RT Virgins

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Attending the RT Booklover’s Convention is an event that ends up being one of the best things we at UTC do every year. This will be the third year attending for Francesca and Leigh, the second for Angela, and the first for Suzanne. For us seasoned veterans, we look forward to it as much as we did the first time, maybe even more so now that we know what to expect. However, RT is one of the largest book conventions you can attend. The convention is six days long, features over 700 authors, and has a plethora of panels and events to attend every day of the convention. With all of that, can it be a bit overwhelming? You bet. So that’s why we at UTC thought we would put together tips for RT newcomers, from what to expect to how to plan.

RT Panel/Events

  1. If you haven’t already, one of the first things that you should do is check out the RT agenda to see all of the panels and events that are planned. You can find it here:
  2. Once you have logged in to the RT Convention website, you will be able to add panels and events to your own personalized agenda to help you put together an agenda that is more manageable and tailored to your interests and tastes. Print this and bring it with you to RT. If you have registered for the convention in full, you will receive a nice pamphlet listing all of the RT events and panels, but having your personal agenda on hand will prove helpful to have.  Plus it will help manage your time and try to get what you want done if you have a guideline before hand.
  3. If there are multiple panels or events that interest you that occur at the same time, go ahead and add them all to your personal agenda. It is better to have your options laid out in one place, so that you can make a decision at the last minute, or if you attend one but want to check out the other, you can easily go to the other without having to search the entire agenda while you’re there.
  4. If you attend a panel or event that features one or more of your favorite authors and you have a book from them that you would like to have signed, bring it with you to the panel. Sometimes, if the panel is not too crowded and there is time afterwards, the authors may stick around for pictures and signing. Better to have your book(s) just in case. This will also be helpful with regard to the Book Signing (more below).
  5. Going as a reader doesn’t mean you can ONLY go sit on the panels that are labeled Reader.  If you are interested in listening to a one hour chat by Nalini Singh talking about Worldbuilding and how she does it, then go for it!  We did two years ago and let me tell you it was an awesome and informative panel.  You are allowed to sit on those unless it’s a private event, which they wil quickly let you know or should be labeled on the Agenda online.
  6. Please keep in mind that “cutting” the lines will happen.  Usually people go to RT with groups of friends (or make friends there!) and one person will go get in line to hold the spot and then closer to the time of going in the rest of the group will come.  Usually people are used to this and won’t cause a stir about it (of course as long as the group isn’t 15 people! Be considerate of others as well)

Some things worth pointing out:


4:00pm – 5:15pm: LADY JAYNE’S SALON RT STYLE.

If you’ve ever attended a Lady Jayne’s salon you know how things work but if you’ve never gone it may be a neat opportunity to get the feel for it.  Authors that will be doing readings and talking about what’s coming next are:  Claudia Dain, Elizabeth Essex, Tammy Falkner, Shana Galen, Sabrina Jeffries, Deb Marlowe, and Ava Stone

5:30pm – 8:00pm:  CINEMA CRAPTASTIQUE

Tuesday night RT hasn’t kicked into the hectic pace that will take over starting the next day.  So give yourself the opportunity to sit back and relax and watch a BAD movie with a bunch of fun readers and authors while at the same time having fun with it.


8:45am – 9:45am: PIMP MY BADGE

If you are crafty or just want to bling out your badge, stop by here where you will find great supplies to sparkly up and personalize your name badge!

12pm – 4:45pm:  CLUB RT

You can find a lot of authors at Club RT, where they have a table for a certain amount of time and will talk to fans that come up to them and even sign books and take pics.  Club RT is open for this schedule on Wednesday and we recommend going by Club RT early on to check the authors listed on the board outside of the room.  Authors are constantly deciding to stop by if there’s a slot for them so be sure to check when there.

2:30pm – 4:45pm:  ENTANGLED’S CANDY & SPOONS

Satisfy your sweet tooth craving, have the opportunity to meet some of your favorite Entangled authors and play some fun games to win awesome prizes.  Just be sure to bring your competitive game on!  The ladies here can get a little wild!


8:30am – 9:45am – CASINO RIVER BOAT

Play cards and talk books while on a River Boat down the Mississippi.  Dealers will be authors: Jennifer Bernard, Shelley Coriell, LJ Charles, Dee Davis, Jana DeLeon, Cynthia Eden, Colleen Gleason, Samantha Grace, Liliana Hart, Lauren Hawkeye, Tamara Hogan, Julie Johnstone, Liz Kelly, Julie Kenner, Mina Khan, Elisabeth Naughton, Theresa Ragan, Katie Reus, Lizbeth Selvig, Heather Snow, Juliana Stone, Denise Grover Swank, Laurin Wittig

9am – 5pm:  CLUB RT

11:15am – 12:15am:  AVON’S HATS AND TATS

Go make a hat or paint a body tattoo


10am – 3:45pm: CLUB RT

12:20pm – 1:20pm: 1001 DARK NIGHTS SPARKLER

Come meet and mingle with the authors that have joined forces to bring you the 1001 Dark Nights stories.  While sipping mimosas 🙂


11am – 2pm: GIANT BOOK FAIR

Self explanatory!  Don’t miss out!

6:15pm – 8pm: FAN-TASTIC DAY PARTY

Fun event and lots of prizes!


  1. The first thing to know is that costumes are NOT mandatory. Some people like to stay casual the entire time at RT, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so.
  2. That said, dressing up can be LOTS of fun! 🙂
  3. If you would like to dress up for one or more event, the first thing you will want to do is look at the RT agenda and/or your personalized agenda. Check the descriptions of the panels and events that interest you and see if they have a theme or request attendees to dress up. Some of these panels are in the middle of the day (e.g., the Clockwork Carnivale Tea, which is steampunk-themed) and some are events in the evening (e.g., Samhain’s Saints and Sinners Party). Some of them hold costume contests and can give away some very sweet prizes for the winners.
  4. If you want to dress up, start planning your costume(s) now. Check out online costume/party websites that have coupon codes, sales, or just great low prices. Look into piecing things together to make your costume unique or to suit your tastes.
  5. If you are heading to RT with a buddy or a group of friends, talk to them ahead of time about some of the events and see if they are interested in dressing up as well. Coordinating outfits can make for lots of fun!
  6. If you just want to be in the spirit of the panels/parties by accessorizing instead of a full costume, then go for it!
  7. Costume changes take time!  So keep that in mind when deciding what you’re dressing up for and how many times you will change.
  8. If you are dressing up, we recommend you bring with you a sewing kit, scissors, glue, etc.  Anything that you may need in case something goes wrong.  Believe me, you’ll be thankful you had with you!

Here’s an outline to some Costume Opportunities at RT this year!



Wear your college team t-shirt and comfy pj pants.

10:15pm – 11:55pm: YA SPOOKY SLEEPOVER

PJ’s are optional but there will be a slipper contest with prizes.


12pm – 1pm:  COWBOY CORRAL

Wear your favorite Western Attire!!


Think Pirates and Mardi Gras circa 1718.

This party is off site about 1 mile from the convention hotel at the Grand Oaks Mansion at Mardi Gras World.


Same as above, this party will be off site at Mardi Gras World.  And since it’s keeping in with the Mardi Gras theme you may consider picking your Mardi Gras costume to stay in for both parties.

There will be transportation (buses) non stop from Mardi Gras World to the convention hotel.


1:30pm – 2:30pm: CLOCKWORK CARNIVALE

Wear your steampunk costumes!


9:00pm – 11:55pm: SAMHAIN SAINTS & SINNERS

This party calls for angels and devils but get creative and feel free to give one of those two a twist!

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The only must is the color red, preferably red shoes.  However, feel free to accessorize in a burlesque style (heels, feather boats, corsets) or wear a burlesque costume!


6:15pm – 7:45pm: AVON’S KREWE OF MUSES

This event is sponsored by Little Black Dress wines so feel free to wear your own little black dresses!


**Dinner will be served at this event**

Think of a mardi gras party and then turn that into a paranormal theme by going to this mardi gras party as all creatures of Day and Night.



This is the closing of RT and the dress code is up to you.  Wear a costume, wear comfy clothes, club clothes.  Whatever makes you happy.  Just be prepared to let loose!

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The Book Signing

  1. In previous years, RT had two (2) book signings – a smaller one on Thursday for e-book and indie authors and the large Book Fair on Saturday. For the first time, they are combining both signings into the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, May 17, from 11:00am – 2:00pm. There will be over 700 authors in attendance.
  2. For someone who wants to meet with a lot of authors and/or get a lot of books signed, trying to navigate that many authors can be quite daunting. The first thing I would do is follow the advice under Panels/Events – try to get authors to sign your book(s) at the panels and events so that you can eliminate some of the authors you’ll need to visit at the Book Fair, saving you some precious time.  Also be sure to check Club RT because if you can catch an author you want there, that’s another way to save time from the book fair.
  3. Prior to RT, go through the list of authors and prioritize.  Who are the authors you would die if you don’t get signed?  Start at the top until you get to the I want to have something signed or a pic but if I don’t I won’t sweat it.  That way you attack that list from the top down and assures you you won’t miss someone you really want.  As you finish them, cross them off!  You will clearly see where you need to go next.
  4. RT will allow you to bring from home two (2) books per author to have signed. If you bring or plan to buy a lot of books to be signed, you might want to bring a rolling cart or small suitcase with you to to the Book Fair. Trust me, your arms and back will thank you.  There is usually a separate line to get these books from home stamped (with invisible ink) so that you don’t get charged while leaving.
  5. If there’s a particular book by an author that you want signed, we recommend you bring it with you from home.  Why?  First of all, most authors only sell one book there.  Or their stock runs out pretty fast of what they have.  So if you really want Ilona Andrews to sign GUNMETAL MAGIC, don’t take a chance and bring it with you!
  6. In previous years, RT sets the authors up in an easy way to navigate. On one side of the Book Fair, they have had Young Adult Alley, with all of the YA authors, set up in alphabetical order. After that, the remaining authors are also set up in alphabetical order. To find out which of your favorite authors are attending, check out the list here: I would suggest printing this list and highlighting the authors you would like to meet. That will help you navigate the Book Fair with much more ease.  However, with your registration pack (or at the signing) you should be receiving a cheat sheet of where they are.
  7. The Book Fair is open to the public, not just RT attendees, and our experience is that YA Alley has some of the longest lines, especially at the very beginning of the Book Fair. If you don’t have many YA authors on your list, it might be best to start with your other authors and then hit up YA Alley later once the lines have died down.
  8. I recommend traveling around the Book Fair with a book buddy. We at UTC travel as buddies, and it works beautifully. We walk down the aisles together, stop for each others favorite authors, help take pictures, and lend a hand when trying to keep books, swag, etc., in order.
  9. If you can, bring your carry on luggage down to help you roll those stacks of books around.  The ones that open at the top are the most helpful!  Sylvia Day is sponsored these roll on carts too this year that will be given away at the convention.  Not sure if there will be enough for everyone but I would recommend having a back up plan.  You don’t want to have to carry around a ton on your shoulders.
  10. However, do bring a separate bag that you can fold easily and if needed for more books you can use.
  11. I wouldn’t recommend bringing a purse if you are carrying all of that.  Just bring your wallet and camera and keep handy.


Other Tips & Advice

  1. Definitely plan to bring the following with you to RT:
    • Printout of Personalized Agenda
    • Printout of Author List
    • Sharpies – recommend black and metallic, add colors if you’d like (most authors have sharpies with them, but it is helpful to have them as well…just in case)
    • Highlighter (to highlight your agenda or author list as necessary)
    • Note pad – if you want to take notes at panels where your favorite authors might divulge juicy information about their books and/or series
    • Scrapbook/Colorful Note Pad – if you read e-books and don’t plan to bring or buy very many paper books, bring something with you so you can still get signatures of your favorite authors.  Get creative and make it a scrapbook!  If you can have authors sign a page of a scrapbook, later on you can insert your picture with them on that same page.
    • Camera and battery charger
    • Smart phone and battery charger – again, if you read e-books and don’t plan to bring or buy paper books, there is an app you can download where you can get authors to sign and then add it to your picture with them
    • While you will likely be given a tote at RT, either from RT itself (if you registered for the full convention), from an author’s swag, or from an event, you may want to bring one with you just in case – something you can easily carry around with you to the events and panels throughout the day with all of your essential item
  2. We recommend ALWAYS carrying with you a camera, a sharpie, and your agenda. You never know when you might need them.
  3. Be prepared to carry water and some snacks with you around.  You may not get to lunch and it’s better to be prepared and keep your energy going by having snacks handy.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.  There’s usually lots of walking so try to wear something comfortable. When packing always ask yourself, how do I feel if I wear these shoes for more than 8 hours and walk around constantly?
  5. THE GREAT AUTHOR HUNT.  This is a fun opportunity to go up to authors while at the same time enter for a chance to win some pretty awesome prizes.  There will be a green button in your registration bag that you can wear so authors know you’re playing and you basically have to find the authors on the list provided by RT and get stickers from them.  Get at least 25 and you will be able to turn in your completed entry for your chance to win.
  6. SWAG ALLEY.  Be sure to visit swag alley as soon as you can.  Some things go pretty fast here so the earlier you get there the better. 
  7. THE GOODIE ROOM.  Check with the regulations for how many books you can take from the goodie room, but again, try to get there early on to be sure you have the best selection!!  Things run out here too!  This is for full convention attendees.
  8. CLUB RT.  Club RT is not just about meeting authors.  Be sure to walk around as there will be cool vendors as well as the display of all the raffle baskets you can enter to win!  Suggestions!  Have either a name stamp made or small address labels made that have your contact info so you can go through the raffle basket process faster!
  9. PUB CRAWL.  The Pub Crawl is on Thursday.  You have to check in to get a bracelet.  There are different color bracelets that will tell you where to line up to go.  Check in will be open 8:30am – 12:15pm and then again 1:30pm to 5pm.
  10. Try to keep some etiquette and respect when you come across your favorite authors walking around.  They are people too, have needs, need to go to the bathroom or eat.  And while they love meetings fans (that’s why they are at RT) maybe when you see them going to the bathroom may not be the right time to stop them.
  11. Are you a blogger?  Bring business cards!
  12. Don’t be scared to talk to people.  You will be stuck in lines to get into panels etc for quite some time.  Talk to the people around you and make new friends!
  13. Consider the fact that you may be mailing stuff back home (hotels usually have a Fedex or UPS service, or if you stay for a bit you may be able to take a quick trip to the closest Post Office).  Because with all the free stuff you will find and even the books you might end up buying, this is a very real possibility.  Either that or bring with you a fabric carry on bag that you can have handy in case you need an extra “purse” while traveling back.
  14. And speaking of FREE stuff and FREE books.  There’s always a ton!  But if you are flying back home, weight is an issue.  And the last thing you want to do is pay for a Fedex package of books you will never touch.  So be picky!  Getting a ton of free stuff is cool but once you are in your room and ready to pack, take only what you really want.  Same goes with the swag.  We always do a clean out session in the room where we leave in the hotel room anything we don’t want cluttering our house.
  15. Follow Twitter!  There’s usually tons of things getting posted using #RT2014 or I even think I’ve seen #RTNOLA2014.  Check Twitter to see which hashtags are being used and keep up with them.  You will find you can win prizes or get latest news about events or where people are if you follow that.  And if you’re not attending, it’ll feel as if you’re there!
  16. Come find US!  You’ve seen our faces in this post, now come find us at RT!  Say hi if you see us and we will give you a UTC pin and enter you on our RT Giveaway!
  17. Did I mention you probably won’t sleep much?  Plan on being on an RT hangover for about a month after coming back and running on pure adrenaline while you’re there.  Just a few hours of sleep, get up run non stop and repeat.  RT doesn’t have much downtime and yes you really need some time after coming home to be functioning at full speed again.  Make sure your loved ones are warned.
  18. Make sure you have time to sit and chill at the bar or lobby.  Don’t try to do everything.  If you miss something don’t sweat it.  You are there for the experience too!  The most important thing is HAVE FUN!!!
  19. …And remember what happens at RT stays at…. no that’s a lie, it’ll be all over the internet in about 10 seconds flat! 😉


Feel free to share this post with all your friends attending RT!
And if you have any questions about it, just ask away!

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Amber Hughes

This is a great post!! I still have to read through it all when I have more time, but thanks so much for doing this! Great information!


Very thorough and well done post it makes me wish I was going…Thanks for sharing and have fun!

Sophia Rose

It all looks so fun. Great sensible advice! I hope you gals all have a good time.


Great info…I wish I was going….can’t wait for all the updates and reading about everyone’s experiences!…enjoy 🙂


Can you give advice on twitter hash tags? If I want to see #RT2014 posts, what do I need to do?

ki pha

Next year, for sure!!!

Mina Khan

Thanks for a great post! I was a RT virgin last year and felt quite overwhelmed. This list and my past experience, should make this year’s RT even better! Also, some of my favorite authors will be there…so stoked!