ALLi Author Advice Center Manager Debbie Young reports back from the latest Amazon Academy day, held on on Tuesday 11th September in Newport, Wales. She shares what she and fellow ALLis gained from the day, and why it's a great idea to grab opportunities for free courses offered by suppliers such as Amazon and IngramSpark. (See end of post for a reminder of an imminent opportunity for ALLi members attending Digital Book World to tour an Ingram plant.)
Any indie author who has been in the business for any length of time will be aware of one constant in the world of self-publishing – that things change.
To give yourself the best chance of success as an indie author, it's important to skill up as much as you can across all aspects of being an author-publisher, and to continue to update your skills whenever possible.
With so much information freely available online – not to mention the plethora of how-to books to buy – it's too easy to spend so much time learning stuff that you leave yourself insufficient time to write.
In my position as ALLi Author Advice Center Manager, I would of course say the most time-effective ways to keep your skills up to date is to follow the ALLi blog, attend our free online conferences, and read our guidebooks, and I do genuinely believe that membership of ALLi is the fast-track to confidence and knowledge in the indie author space.
But I also strongly recommend that if you have the chance to attend an Amazon Academy day, you do so. Although it's pitched primarily at relative beginners – around half the delegates at the one I've just attended had not yet published books with Amazon – more experienced delegates also found it useful.
Interestingly, only one delegate confessed to not having an Amazon account. “I'll talk to you afterwards,” quipped Amazon's Darren Hardy, chairing the conference.
What is the Amazon Academy Day?
The Amazon Academy Day is a free one-day conference presented every so often in cities strategically chosen for their accessibility to a wide range of Amazon authors. The program for the one I attended included:
- an illustrated summary of how the Amazon publishing experience works
- advice on how to write bestsellers
- expert guidance on marketing
- top tips on how to manage your author business
Hosted by a senior Amazon staffer, it typically features a panel of high-achieving indies who have published on Amazon. There's also plenty of time allowed for networking with other delegates and with panel members.
Report from Newport, Wales Academy
Earlier this week I attended such a session in Newport, Wales, not far from my home in the west of England. Its stellar line-up included Amazon's Darren Hardy (on the left in the picture below) as Chair, with the aid of ALLi Director Orna Ross (centre), bestselling indie authors Mark Dawson (right) and L J Ross (second from right), and Jo McCrum (second from left), a legal expert from the Society of Authors.
Key Learning Points for ALLi Delegates
With four cozy mystery novels and several collections of short stories and essays published on Amazon, I've been publishing with Amazon for six years, but the conference brought my knowledge bang up to date with the latest developments within KPD:
A key learning point for me was about KDP Print will work. – I'm one of the ostriches waiting for Amazon to move my books for me from CreateSpace to KDP Print, rather than doing it myself, so this was my first introduction to how it will work. After Darren's clear, illustrated explanation, I'm now positively looking forward to the transfer and will approach it with confidence.
David Penny, with five historical novels published via Amazon, shares his takeaway from the day:
This was the second of these events that I've attended – and, boy, has it got better. The panels discussed book creation, how to write what people want, and how to market a book, all from panellists who were successful role models. If anyone has the chance to attend one of these free events, make the effort – it will not be wasted time. And apart from anything else you will make new friends.
JM Forster, who has two bestselling YA novels with Amazon, also found the day invaluable:
For me, the most rewarding part of the day was the opportunity to hear Mark Dawson, Orna Ross and L J Ross talk about their respective experiences of combining writing with running their businesses. I picked up some very useful tips on marketing and would wholeheartedly recommend the day to anyone who has just started out on their independent publishing journey.
Not Just About Books
Interestingly there was a second Amazon conference taking place in the same hotel, aimed at regional businesses that were looking to build their market via Amazon.
This was a useful reminder that while authors tend to think of Amazon as being book-centric: it's actually about much more than bringing writers and readers together.
With self-published books now being used by many entrepreneurs as a super-effective form of business card, there was also a little crossover between the two audiences, with at least one entrepreneur joining the authors at the end of the day to seek guidance about a proposed business book venture.
OVER TO YOU What other conferences have helped you build your knowledge as an author-publisher?#Indieauthors - why you should take the opportunity to attend a free #Amazon Academy if you can! - by @DebbieYoungBN and her #ALLi #selfpub allies! Click To Tweet
ANOTHER GREAT LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR ALLi MEMBERS (Book by 19 September!)