Book Expo 2017

I’ve been attending conferences my entire professional life. None as awesome as this one.

I can say hands down, that Book Expo America was the most transformational and impactful to my career as an author. 

And I got 13 books to take home and read. Seriously, can’t get better than that!

I’d wanted to attend this conference for several years now. The timing never worked out until this year. I will tell you that for sure I will be making the timing work in the future. There’s no way I’ll miss this conference again.

So what is Book Expo America? Here is the description from their website:

BookExpo is evolving to lead the global publishing industry to its consumer-driven future and celebrate storytelling in all its forms. 

It’s the place where industry, authors, and readers converge to define the new publishing universe.

BookExpo provides a focused professional environment to discover emerging authors and the next blockbuster titles, engage with the world’s most influential publishers and learn from industry leaders and peers.

In my words, it started as a publishing conference but has evolved over the years to include more for the self-published author. 

Like me. Like YOU! Like all us indies.

I’d always wanted to go because it seemed awesome to be so close to all the amazing authors who attend it. 

It is the #1 conference of its type in America. 

Not only were there a million books that were in the area called The Book Marketplace, hoping to be picked up by store owners and librarians, but the education sessions were jam packed with great information. 

I wanted to clone myself to be able to attend tracks running simultaneously there were so many good ones to choose from.

It was so beneficial because there were topics discussed from many different angles, giving me a great perspective. 

The conference isn’t aimed specifically at us Indie Authors, but we would be silly not to realize how much we could learn from the big dogs. I got to listen to panel discussions about how publishers were using the same methods we all use to gain exposure and great sales for their authors.

It gave me so much validation that I was doing things right.

As I’ve mentioned before marketing falls heavily on big-name authors just as much as it does on us little guys. The main difference is they can usually pay for more help then we can. 

But we will get there!

To hear how the traditionally published authors are using tools such as Goodreads and Facebook live was incredibly encouraging to me because it reinforced my belief that we all have the ability to be successful. There isn’t some magic formula out there. 

It’s a lot of hard work and hustle.

The conference went Wednesday – Friday, but I didn’t get into NYC until later Wednesday, so I got to the conference center bright and early on Thursday. 

I wasn’t the only one who had that idea because an hour before the doors opened and there was already a long line. Since I’m not a fan of lines, I decided to find a coffee shop and wait until a little after 8 am when the crowd that was waiting would disperse. 

It was a good plan. I was able to enjoy a great pour-over coffee and pastry and still get to the conference center, get registered, and make my way to the author panel breakfast only a few minutes late. 

It was a great way to start my day. I got to listen to authors tell a little about themselves and how they got the ideas for their stories. And imagine my surprise when I left the room and books by these authors were being passed out. ARC copies. Books that won’t even be available to the public for months, some not until next year.

I resisted the urge to sit down right there and start reading my free books. I wanted to make my way to the author stage for the first educational session.

I love how they organized the sessions. So often you go to conferences, and the sessions are an hour long, and it can be so hard to pay attention after the first 20 minutes or so. Not because the speaker isn’t interesting but because let’s face it. Our attention span these days isn’t all the long. At least mine isn’t.

The author panels were 50 minutes, and a couple of the sessions were longer, but the majority of the ones I had on my schedule to attend were 20 minutes long. It was perfect. Most of the speakers jammed a ton of great information in this small time frame. I got so much value. Because they were one right after another, I was giddy with how much great information I was picking up, and I’ve got pages of notes.

In hindsight, I’m glad that first day I went to get coffee instead of standing in line because it was non-stop until lunch. And even though there were 2 Starbucks in Javits Center the lines were CRAZY!

When I finally got a break and started walking around, I was in heaven. The books. The amazing volume of books, after books, after books. Even thought it wasn’t a bookstore where I could buy things (thank god for that, I’d be broke) for someone who loves books it was heaven. 

Then when people started shoving books in my hand to take I was beside myself. There were many authors there doing book signings and publishers promoting them and giving away ARC copies. The ARC copies are so cool because they have marketing info and such on the back. I felt like such an insider. 

And when I got home my kids thought I was important to have them.

My top takeaways from this were:

  • The publishing industry has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Us authors will direct the future of this industry now more than ever.
  • The Indie Author has the same potential as a big name author. Instead of thinking of the resources we don’t have we need to think about all we do have.
  • Fan engagement is key. Email list building is key (you’ve heard me say that a time or two).
  • Putting out an amazingly perfect product is how you will compete.

The experience was more than worth the $500 conference price tag. Even when I add in the travel expenses, it was totally worth it. I came away feeling empowered, inspired, and more importantly authentic.

There is no better time than now to start your journey to being a full-time author.


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— laina

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