(First part of a 2 part post) This was my 4th BEA I have attended, but the first in 11 years. In those years long ago I was working as a District Sales Manager for the Waldenbooks/Borders Books group. Whenever I attended these events or national sales meetings I would try to do a recap of my notes for my store managers. It is all in bullet points and in chronological order of what I attended. Some points will make sense, others will not, and some will seem like ramblings – which they are.
Think of my view as Wilson from the TV show Home Improvement. I am looking over the fence talking to a group of authors. However, I am not an author and see the world from a different perspective at times.
It was a full 3 days in NYC with 4 different conferences happening over a 4 day period. I attended the following:
- BEA (Book Expo America). In many ways the same as it was 10 years ago when I last attended the event while with Borders/Waldenbooks. Technology changes (digital) caused some new vendors. But overall still the same dog and pony show.
- Book Bloggers Conference (Monday only). First time ever held. A little disorganized. About 400 or so people. 300 or so are bloggers who are heavy book readers blogging about the books they read. Mainly for enjoyment. Usually in their favorite genre or two. The publishers are taking much more of an interest in this group and are providing them copies of books. They have done this for years. Some of these bloggers have been doing it for over 5+ years. Interestingly almost every one of these bloggers had their own business cards. I got a stack, but wish I would have realized this because I could have gotten many more connections. Still got a stack of 50+ cards.
- IDPG Digital Book Conference (Mon/Tues). This is the 3rd year. An extra fee. Much more professionally run. Had a few interesting breakout topics that were helpful.
- Blogworld Conference (Mon/Tues/Wed). Did not attend. Much more orientated to nonbook blogging. Video/technology/business/video streaming. Saw the list of subjects and decided not to attend this conference.
- Meetings. I had a chance to meet in person 18 authors who have been associated with Digital Book Today over the past 16 months in some form or fashion. I really learned a lot visiting with these authors. A very motivated group.
- Introduced and visited with a lot of active book bloggers. Still wondering if there is an opportunity for a business relationship with this group. Looking for ideas…
At this point I going to just start recapping my notes on topics, trends, observations, and overall feel of the conference. I am not going to spend a whole lot of time organizing or making it pretty. Take what you want from it. Some of the notes or comments may seem to be just for me – and they are.
- Adsense. No good. No control of what appears on your site.
- Should you monetize your blog? Most book bloggers are just in it for the books. A recurring theme.
- Affiliates. The normal including Amazon.
- Blog for someone – and get paid.
- Good is you are getting money.
- Bad is you are building an audience for them. If you leave then it is tough to take customers with you.
Advertising – Getting people to your site
- Check a couple.
- Stumble and tweet a few.
- Random acts of kindness
- Brand your site
- Facebook wants you to share the link
- Tweet has to be cool, unique.
- Pinterest page
- Daily post on Pinterest
- “Purple Cow” – Seth Goodin.
- Social media is driving traffic to something unique.
- They want to talk about it.
- Degree of success is based upon the amount of work.
- Put your articles in a book. ePub it.
- People will pay for the convenience of all the content in one spot.
- Do your own work yourself or have someone to do it.
- Top 50 entertainment Blogs
- Only 5 are book blogs (two are Harry Potter and Twilight)
- Don’t treat them like an ATM machine.
- Publishers: Not failed to accept technology. Failed in accepting a new business model.
BEA Book Bloggers Conference (Monday afternoon)
- First time for this conference. A little disorganized.
- About 300 people in attendance.
- 250 of attendees were women.
- Estimate that at least 200 of 300 were book bloggers.
- Generally heavy readers who blog just about the books they read.
- Personally talked to about 40 bloggers (mostly in a table setting).
- Almost all had own business cards.
- Approx. 50 – 250 regular visitors to a site.
- Limited advertising. Mostly doing it for the love of reading a specific genre.
- A lot of them now being tied into the major publishers for ARC’s. Some are now using NetGally.com.
- Very few monetizing their sites to any degree. They have a loyal readership.
- Wonder if there is some way to use them on Digital Book Today. A win-win both ways.
- 11:00 AM
- Author Jennifer Weiner was the “keynote speaker”.
- Her quote “Very few indie authors will make it”.
- 12:00 Zoe Triska from Huff Post books.
- “Future is the more enhanced digital book. Tie into blogs, author, bonus content.
- Other workshops I did not attend
- Demystifying the Book Blogger and Publisher Relationship
- Creating Community and Driving Engagement.
- Critical Reviews.
Went back to the IDPF Digital Book conference for the rest of the afternoon.
- Speaker: Author Bella Andre – Making it as an indie author.
- Currently at 700K in digital books sold
- Ave. book price $4.99. Uses $0.99 only as a promo price.
- Very clear author branding on her books (shown on overhead). FYI: take a look at her books on Amazon. A very good example.
- Believes author name is the most important.
- Readers don’t care if the author is an indie. They just want to read good books.
- Series magic. Is a big driver of book sales.
- Every time you gain another sale of book one in a series there is a corresponding increase in the other books in the series.
- She was very dynamic.
- Publishing in 2 different sub-genres under 2 different names.
- Look at the branding of the pen name books written by “Lucy Kevin”.
- Self published in foreign languages (I heard this theme elsewhere – emerging markets)
- Uses an interpreter, editor, translator. Changes cover. Audio.
- “I put out the books readers want. “ “I know my readership.”
- “It takes a great deal of time and effort to self pub.”
- “Readers don’t know that I am self pub.”
- “In 3 weeks earned my money back on Audio.” (ACX.com)
Online discovery of books. If a book is not discovered in the top 10-20 results of a query, no chance of discovery. Most books discovered by search.
“It is the biggest day of my life.” A quote by a book blogger of BEA.
Emerging Market Sales: Brazil, China, Russia, Asia, India.
Sell More Books workshop (at IDPF digital book conference)
- By DoubleDayPub
- Analytics – only tell you the best things.
- Schedule your creativity. – day, week, month.
- When you find something interesting then you can insert into your blog.
- Buzzfeed.com www.toodledo.com
- Short on ideas? Use your “backlist” content.
- Feed your creativity – promoting your backlist. – using Tumblr
- Use other people “stuff”. Copy. Mash together other peoples news. The search engines do not look negatively on this anymore.
- Check out Random House’s Pinterest page. Supposedly very good.
- Post on your own site. Free to use.
- RT and sharing other posts.
- FREAKS – finding new followers
- Offer them incentives
- FB likes. Give them prizes. Like a PDF file of social media tips.
- Respond to trends
- Give opinions
- Enter conversations
- Encourage to share
- Twitter. Ask questions.
- Your followers
- Respond to their comments. Always
- Ask questions.
- Offer deals. Coupons.
- Show them content (exclusive).
- Encourage them to share.
- Try anything to get interaction.
- Ex. #literaryTurDucken (turkey, duck, chicken combined) (look it up. There are recipes).
- Do this with 3 book titles. Such as: The incident of the dog who kills a mocking bird. Combines 3 books.
- Max Performance in Social Media (#socialflow)
- The real challenge you face in social media are millions of conversations at once.
- What is the real opportunity.
- “Attention is the bottleneck.” How will you be heard?
- You schedule your social media. How do you know that at (ex.) 9:00am that people want to hear what you have to say.
- The opportunity of Attention.
- Attention yields conversion.
- All monetization strategies begin with attention.
- First time in history our audience is based on attention exchange.
- Tumblr mentioned again.
Workshop: How to Use Social Media to Launch a Book
- Thank everyone in a personable way.
- Be a personable twitterer. (is this a word?)
- Humanize your book
- Share valuable content.
- Book quotes.
- Don’t sell. Share valuable content.
- Implement fun incentives
- Tap into blogger and influencer interest.
- Hardest and most time consuming.
Random observations, thoughts, and comments.
- Still dominated by the big publishers.
- The reason for this event is to set the merchandise buys for the holiday season. Do you have your marketing plans in place yet for the holiday selling season?
- Foreign publishers. Emerging markets. Next great opportunity for authors
- Amazon was out in force with 3 different booths. Really impressed with the ACX.com site for audio. They did a great presentation of this service.
- Digital services of all kinds for publishers, authors, retailers, web. Seemed like every third booth. Kind of wonder if this will continue to grow or if there will be a shake out sometime in the future.
- Sat in on a lot of topic specific meetings. Still amazed by the questions posed by a lot of people concerning digital books, selling, creation, and promoting. Topics that have been covered extensively by indie author’s blogs in the past year. Seemed like I was in another era. However, some of the people on the panels were way ahead of us (existing indie authors). Don’t think you have an insurmountable lead. The national and regional publishers are gearing up… and they do have resources ($’s).
- The number I read was 22,000+ attended BEA. This was the first year they allowed non-ABA members and industry people to buy tickets. These are the tote carrying book fans with their loot.
- Saw a lady who needed a cane to just walk at a slow speed. Now add the fact that she was dragging 3 totes of books on the ground behind her. I still wonder how she ever got home.
- Obtained a VIP pass for the main event on Wednesday at lunch. 1500 people attended the lunch which featured Neil Young (he has a book coming out in the fall). This will be a big gift book seller. (I will repeat). The book industry all ready knows what the “big books” will be for the upcoming holiday season and their promotions. Do you have your holiday marketing plans in place?
- Best conversation with a non-author: With an ex-Barnes & Noble book buyer now working for a company who is selling the technology to add additional content to ebooks. I made the following comment as we discussed the book industry in general. “Sales for the book industry the past 40 years have been relatively flat on a week to week basis for 46 weeks out of the year. The only time sales really increase is during the holiday season. People new to the book industry need to understand this concept.” He laughed and commented that I must be referring to authors (remember he was a book buyer). His last comment was something like “I bought books for 12 years and authors would call me and ask why their sales were slow. What could they do to help? I would tell them the only way to increase sales was to get on Oprah or move forward in time to the next holiday season.”
- My thoughts exactly. Authors need to be focused right now on writing more books and getting their marketing plans in place for the holidays. There are just so many books sold on a weekly basis during the non-holiday season. It has been that way for years. It may make more sense to focus your efforts on what you can do to more sell books during the holiday season.
- Consider this. Shades of Grey has been estimated (according to the NY Times) in the past two months to have 25% of all book sales. However, the overall sales of books during this period are at the normal volume. Shades of Grey did not increase total book sales. They took 25% of your possible buyers away from you. (I can’t say I totally agree with the percentage, but the result is the same.)
- Really? 30 years ago the mall based book stores killed the independent stores. 20 years ago the superstores killed the mall based stores. Amazon and digital books are now killing the superstores. The simple fact is the same amount of books (approx.) are being sold on a week to week basis. The only difference is who is selling them.
Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope it give you some insight in my trip to BEA.
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