We’re back from a very successful Book Expo America (BEA) and BookCon 2019 in New York City. It’s the biggest gathering of the book industry here in the US, and the place to spot emerging trends. The growing influence of the indies was palpable with more authors in attendance than ever before and more exposure for those authors than we’ve seen in the past.
Here are our top three takeaways from BEA and BookCon 2019:
Professional Presentation and Early Buzz Counts More than Ever. Oh the covers we saw! In a sea of content, it is clear that publishers are creating gorgeous book covers to capture readers’ attention. But presentation goes beyond the cover. Forthcoming titles were being showcased with Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) four to six months (or more) before launch. While ARCs have always been part of BEA, they are being introduced earlier than ever and often with digital assets that can be shared on social media. Building early awareness of a title has become the norm in today’s competitive book marketplace. More than ever, publishers and authors are letting readers, influencers, the media, bookstores and libraries know as early as possible that a book is coming.
Author Brand Trumps Noise. With 70,000 books now published every month, it’s crucial to have a clear, engaging author brand that resonates with your audience. To begin to understand your brand as an author, you must be able to answer the question: “What is your promise to readers?” What type of reading experience do you promise to deliver? What type of experience do you offer around your writing? Why do you write? How do you include your readers in your writing and publishing journey? If there’s one thing you should nail down as an author in 2019, it’s your brand.
Book Fans Seek Out Interesting Real-World and Online Experiences. The important and growing interplay between real-world engagement at conferences like BEA and social connection online was in full display with authors meeting their fans and sharing photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (the latter of which had a huge booth overlooking the entire conference floor). This year, there were more creative real-world and online games, activities, and opportunities for interaction. Penguin Random House, for example, asked readers, “What book changed your life?” Readers answered by filling a huge wall with book titles on post its. Simple, but powerful. There was even an Indie Publisher Stage sponsored by Ingram Spark where a reading competition was hosted during BookCon. Bublish’s own Grace Blair read from her book, Einstein’s Compass, and did a great job.
Watching indie authors shine at BEA and BookCon this year was exciting. The world of publishing is changing and there is no doubt that the indies are rising!