Big thanks to British novelist A D Starrling for compiling this comprehensive report on her experience of visiting the BEA expo in the US for the first time – lots of really useful feedback and information here for indie and self-published authors from all over the world!
What I Learned at BEA 2015
I’m writing this post from my hotel lounge in New York, seven days after getting here for Book Expo America and two days after the uPublishU Conference, where I spoke on a panel on International Markets and Indies on behalf of ALLi.
Was BEA worth travelling thousands of miles for? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. So, in points form, here’s what I learned at BEA 2015:
- The number one advantage of being there was networking. I had set up a couple of meetings before coming over, but the best networking came from just walking around and talking to people. You have to be bold and confident. I have now made important contacts who will be able to help me further my writing career, just as I did at London Book Fair earlier this year. I have also made new friends in this industry.
- London Book Fair’s international market focus this year was Mexico. The market focus at BEA was China. From what I’ve seen both at LBF and BEA, all publishers are working hard to get into these international markets, as well as other exploding markets such as India, Latin America, and the Far East. Taiwan, Philippines, and Japan are particularly exciting markets right now. Expect Africa and Russia to start coming on everyone’s radar soon.
Three sub-learning points:
- Though there is demand for print, the e-book market is where publishers are mainly concentrating their efforts. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, most consumers are using mobile devices to read and watch all their content (>60% in China alone).
- Don’t just focus on translated works. The main area of interest for publishers right now is the skyrocketing demand for English-language books in these markets.
- Don’t just think exotic. Publishers are also working hard on increasing visibility for their books in Australia and Canada.
- Nielsen Book’s Vice-President Jonathan Stolper showed some never-before seen data on print and e-book sales covering 2010-2014. These were for books with ISBNs, from over 30 US publishers. As expected, the e-book market has seen the higher growth rate compared to print, year on year, but overall Nielsen claimed that e-book sales have slowed since 2014. With regards to fiction, adult fiction has generally seen the higher growth compared to juvenile fiction since 2010. In terms of fiction genre, no surprises with romance leading the way; mystery/suspense/thriller came in at a strong second. Their data suggested teens are increasingly favoring print over e-books, which surprised me. Pricing is the key-decision maker for buyers when it comes to print versus e-books. The heaviest readers buy mainly e-books.
- Exciting news for indies: Pubtrack Digital, Nielsen’s aggregated e-book analytic tool looking at point-of-sales data, is coming to the UK and Australia this year. Pubtrack Digital will soon start capturing data on self-published e-books. However, e-books priced at $0.99 and under won’t be included. It was unclear whether they would only be tracking e-books with ISBNs.
- Things are hotting up on the intellectual property rights and global commerce landscape. Since one of the principal focus of this year’s book fairs has been reaching international markets, I attended a panel hosted by the Copyright Clearance Center, with representatives from the Association of American Publishers and the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights speaking on areas of concern for IPR infringements. Go check out this annual “301 report” on Intellectual property Rights. Also, have a look at gov and the International Intellectual Property Alliance.
Four sub-learning points:
- English-language books demand is rising in the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, and the rest of the Far East. Readers in the Philippines are looking for trade fiction in particular, whereas Taiwan is seeing a demand for non-fiction educational books.
- Copyright infringement in the Philippines is rife and the country has created an IP office to address this concern. China, India, and Russia remain on the priority watch list in terms of IPR protection and enforcement. Turkey, Indonesia, and Argentina are also countries of concern.
- Although digital is the main area of concern lately, one must not forget other formats such as print and audio when it comes to IPR infringements.
- The unclear definition of “fair use” with regards to using copyrighted content for educational purposes in Canada’s revised Copyright Act of 2012 remains an area of concern for the AAP, who has seen abuse of intellectual property rights under this new law.
I asked the representative of the Office of Intellectual Property Rights whether authors were doing the IPR movement a disservice by not enabling DRM. He said the music industry had learned the hard way about the fact that they should use DRM but, bottom-line, having DRM enabled in e-books does not protect an author from piracy.
Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy spoke about innovative and groundbreaking partnerships between authors, distributors, and retailers. They spoke of their exclusive deals with Ingram Company Publishers to get their print books in physical stores. Barbara is the first indie author to get a physical book in Target, the second largest discount retailer in the US after Walmart. They also spoke of their deals with Kobo and its “Buy More, Save More” program, where dynamic bundling of their e-books is increasing their sales and cross-pollinating their readership with those of other authors in the bundle. Bella was also approached by Apple in the last year to feature one of her books in their new iOS. After Barnes & Noble secured a deal last month to provide books to Amtrak, Kobo has just signed a deal to deliver e-books to a major airline. The message is clear: everyone in the publishing industry needs to re-evaluate how they reach readers in this increasingly competitive market.
Incidentally, Kobo Writing Life is working toward providing further analytic tools within the KWL dashboard. KDP is apparently also working on this right now.
Interesting companies present at BEA and uPublishU:
- Bitlit, an alternative to KDP’s Kindle MatchBook, this allows you to do e-book-paperback bundling for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo
- Vellum, a platform for formatting e-books for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. British Urban Fantasy and New Adult author Pippa DaCosta is a fan.
- Aerbook The platform’s manifesto is “Sell your books on the social web”. Their aim is to help authors go to where their readers are and make it easier for organic book sales to happen.
- Inscribe Digital, an e-book publishing services company providing conversion, distribution, marketing, and analytic solutions.
- Book Grabbr Launched at BEA 2015, this is a mobile and web-based platform aimed at helping authors harness the power of their social networks to achieve more visibility and sales. They achieve this through viral shares.
- Pentian, a new crowdfunding platform working in the English and Spanish market that also offers publishing, distribution, and marketing services.
Other things to check out:
- Amy Cuddy, social psychologist, did a brilliant in-conversation talk with actress Julianne Moore about confidence and the power of body language. This is her inspirational TED talk.
- Cindy Ratzlaff of Brand New Brand You fame did amazing talks on The New Rules of Facebook Marketing and Advanced Social Media Tactics for Indie Authors at uPublishU. According to a 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry report, Facebook still has the highest market share when it comes to outreach, with Twitter second, and LinkedIn third. The latter was a bit of a surprise to all of us there, especially the power of LinkedIn’s own blogging platform, Pulse. She spoke about how Facebook favours direct video uploads versus link sharing in terms of its algorithms and outreach power, and how adding links at the end of videos can be a powerful tool. She recommended using Heyo Cart to create special buy posts on Facebook where readers can purchase your books without leaving Facebook. She recommended using Pinterest to redirect traffic to your website’s landing page or buy pages and highlighted the fact that title boards are indexable by Google. She also spoke of the increasing power of Instagram and how one particular author, Lizzy Ford, is paving the way of how to use the platform effectively for outreach.
Other tools she recommended:
i).Animoto, a video and slide show maker.
ii) Deposit Photos, a platform for royalty-free stock photos.
iii) Instapage, a landing page creation platform.
iv). Woobox, a platform with interactive apps for social media marketing. She specially recommended the apps that integrate other social media platforms with a Facebook page.
v) Iconosquare, a platform that connects to Instagram and provides analytics on growth and engagement.
vi) Pinvolve. a platform that syncs your Pinterest and Facebook accounts.
And did you know you could put active links in your Facebook and Instagram banners?
Bookbaby did a presentation on keywords, which was interesting. Here’s a link to the slides.
App Annie is a platform providing insight into international market data and analytics. You can look up where your books are ranking in Kindle and iBooks stores in every country. This was recommended by Dan Wood, Director of Author Relations at Draft2Digital.
Last but not least, Halli Melnitsky, director of Editorial Operations at Bookbub, did a fabulous talk on tips and tricks to sell more e-books. Here’s a link to the presentation slides. Bella Andre, Cheryl Bradshaw, Marie Force, and Denise Grover also spoke on this panel. They talked about the importance of book descriptions, which should be more than just about the blurb; the importance of integrating keywords; review quotes; other books in series, even a short author bio were mentioned. They all spoke about how they are constantly reviewing their metadata, updating their descriptions, using affiliate links inside their e-books, and reviewing covers. Bella spoke about cover sensibility in different markets, i.e. different audiences like different covers. They also spoke about pricing, with some of them pricing novellas from $2.99 and full-length novels from $4.99 to $6.99.
And that’s all folks! I hope you found this article helpful.All you need to know about #BEA2015 by @ADStarrling Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
If you were at BEA this year and have more to add to AD Starrling's meticulous report, please feel free to add a comment.