The winds circling Chicago’s McCormick Place on May 11 had noticeably shifted on the first day of Book Expo America (BEA). The show’s return to Chicago signaled a downturn in attendance from the previous years in New York . Despite the aisles not being as congested as they have been in the past, the energy level felt very high. I think this was largely due to the authors and independent publishers who were there in large numbers buzzing from booth to booth, on a mission to learn and to do serious business. No longer relegated to basement level programming, author and indie publishing sessions commanded main floor BEA stages that were continuously in action and packed with knowledgeable, empowered indies. Yes, the winds had shifted for the better.
BEA Wrap-Up Highlights
BEA was smart to arrange the program as they did, in anticipating this seismic shift from focusing on traditional publishing to becoming more oriented to the self-publishing realm. I hosted a session called “How to Sell Your Book Now That It’s Published?” in an alarmingly large and difficult to find conference room; I was sure that only 10 people would show up. As it turned out, the session was packed. My knowledgeable panelists on the subject, Brooke Warner (She Writes Press and author of a new book, "Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing"), Mary Cummings (EverAfter/Diversion Books) and Dana Kaye, (Kaye Publicity) willingly shared their experiences concerning the importance of distribution, creative promotion, working with bookstores and non-traditional outlets and selling directly to consumers.
I asked each of these experts in our BEA wrap-up to give one piece of advice to the audience to help them better sell their content and this is how they responded:
- Distribution has to be in place BEFORE you launch your book and before you do any publicity. Distribution can range from wholesale distribution (like what IngramSpark offers) to full service distribution (See my prior post on distribution).
- Have a marketing plan and a budget in place before launching your book. All marketing (including publicity) has a price tag associated with it. Think about this well in advance of the publication of your book. It can get expensive if you’re working with an agency so go in small, get some traction and then move up the list as you’re learning how to successfully promote your book
- For nonfiction titles, consider non-traditional book outlets (grocery stores and restaurants for cookbooks) or publicity tie-ins that are quirky and out of the box. Be as creative in the marketing of your book as you were in the writing of it.
Shout-Out to an Excellent Author/Marketer: Timber Hawkeye
If you don’t already know him, let me introduce you to Timber Hawkeye, author of “Buddhist Boot Camp” (Harper Collins) and his newest, self-published book, “Faithfully Religionless” (Hawkeye Publishers). Timber knows how to promote and sell his books but more importantly, he connects with his readers in powerful ways. I recently had the privilege of attending an event for him at Bookworks bookstore in Albuquerque, NM and heard more than one person tell him that he “changed their life.” That has to be the single most significant comment a reader can pass along to an author. Timber is also an astute businessman who comes prepared to his events with boxes of books in the trunk of his car just in case the bookstore runs out—which they did. He is learning the publishing business from an indie point of view. Rather than complain about where publishing falls short, he is generous in sharing his first-hand experience about how things can be improved for all self-publishers. Thanks Timber!
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