On March 9 and 10 Barbary Coast author/publisher Maria Matson attended the annual Publishing University's (IBPA International Book Publishers Association) two-day session at Fisherman’s Wharf.
This prestigious conference matched newcomers to publishing, like Matson, with publishing pros. Matson says, “It was a fantastic experience to learn, share thoughts and ask questions with the people who know the business inside and out. Also I loved the open networking environment and supportive atmosphere of the independent publishers and authors.” Below Matson writes about some of the highlights from the meetings.
Maria Matson, Resident
Each morning I walked from the Barbary Coast to Fisherman’s Wharf where the Publishing University held its seminars during the two-day conference and walked home each night filled with new ideas. As a new author and publisher I was eager to learn everything I could.
This prestigious event was just what I needed. And, I was in luck, for the first time in five years, the IBPA was holding its 24th publishing conference here on the West Coast. [The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) held their 24th Publishing University conference in San Francisco on March 9 and 10.] More than 200 people attended this important meeting, which was attended by author-publishers, beginning publishers and interested parties from around the nation.
The event included opportunities to Ask the Experts questions in a one-to-one consulting session, workshops with a variety of topics ranging from eBooks to ISBN numbering and plenty of time to speak to industry vendors or network with peers.
This year’s theme, Content is King: Print, Electronic and Online Strategies to Help New and Growing Publishers Boost the Bottom Line, turned out to be a timely topic for me and for many others in the audience.
Keynote speakers included:
- Steven Piersanti, president of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Berrett-Koehler Publishers
- Otis Chandler, founder of Goodreads
- Dan Poynter, author of more than 100 books and a publisher since 1969
- Representatives from Google, Amazon, Copyright Clearance Center, and Smashwords along with over 50 speakers who presented their seminars and met with attendees.
Following are a couple of interesting topics I covered:
ABOUT STORY CONTENT
Content is KING—whether in a digital format or in print. These days readers have less time to read and are looking for ways to get their content quickly and easily. Industry leaders are aware that one of the greatest, single reasons books are purchased is as a pass-along sale—in other words, for gifting.
The use of social media (Facebook, Tweeter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Bloggers, etc.) connect a unique community online. As authors/publishers it behooves us to connect with these communities—to share information and stand out within a group with common interests. The way to do this is to find successful people in your field then get socially engaged with that community online. As they say in marketing: Find a hole and fill it. Know your end consumer—who is that power buyer—and give him what he wants!
DOING IT YOURSELF
Self publishing a book digitally is growing rapidly. Content—good content—must reign. Two of the industry’s biggest eBook distributors are Smashword and Amazon. Speakers from both companies joked that this area of publishing is still in the Wild West stage! Devices, formatting methods, international distribution are constantly improving and changing.
WHAT DO YOU CHARGE?
FREE is the operative word with eBooks. Over 50 per cent of all downloaded eBooks are free. Low—or no—cost is the Number One market driver for eBooks. The virtual shelf of eBooks is globally expanding and a click away for the reader.
WHERE DOES ALL THIS GO?
The eBook trend is increasing. However, statistics reveal that there will always be readers who enjoy the printed word on paper. Attracting new customers, digital fatigue, unread eBooks, income levels were some factors effecting eBook sales. The trend: People are moving toward eBooks, but printed books are social, and buyers are lamenting the fact that eBooks can’t be shared with others, resold or be given away. Buyers often use brick-and-mortar stores as preview sites before buying the eBook online! With increased online book selling, bookstores are becoming an endangered species.
“Along with change comes opportunity,” claims Dan Poytner. He advocates using your time online productively and get to know your audience. New book reviewers are bloggers (98 per cent are female and the majority are 28-year-old, stay-at-home moms). Seek out your target niche group, get known and communicate directly with your “tribe.” These and many other tips from Mr. Poytner filled my notebook.
Using social media as a marketing tool is a hot trend, but don’t underestimate the human element—walking, talking, shaking hands. eBooks are revolutionizing the way books are discovered and read.
The bottom line for us students at Publishing University was a message straight from Marketing 101:
1. Spread the word about your book and watch it go viral.
2. Think globally with eBook sales.
3. Think long term.
4. Selling your book is your responsibility.
5. Good luck is good planning.
Editor’s note: 2012 IBPA Publishing University attendee Maria Vezzetti Matson is new to the world of publishing. Her company, Polenta Publishing of San Francisco, released the book "Gelsomina’s Story of Caesar Lucchesi, A True Tale of Italian Immigrants" in June, 2011. The book is available at www.TheLucchesiStory.com. She is a new member of IBPA and also Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association.