At the Independent Authors Conference, every workshop or session I went to, I learned something new. That makes for an awesome experience.
It opened with talk of cheesesteaks, Rocky Balboa, and flying the self-publishing flag. It closed with a call for writers to find their own community to improve writing skills, build their brand, identify their readers, and create success as an author.
These were the bookends to BookBaby’s inaugural Independent Authors Conference (IAC), held on the first weekend in November in downtown Philadelphia. 400 authors, writers, speakers, and sponsors gathered to learn, explore, discuss, and share insights from their personal journeys in self publishing. An all-star team of successful self-published authors and industry leaders conducted over 20 workshops, presentations, and panels focused on publishing and marketing books as an independent author.
In my opening keynote remarks, I suggested the attendees had “come to the right place” in a variety of ways. I reviewed Philadelphia’s own rich self-publishing legacy, from Ben Franklin to our beloved Rocky Balboa (aka Sylvester Stallone). I highlighted numbers from BookBaby’s Self Publishing survey to illustrate how networking and attending conferences are a key part in the success of many authors’ careers. My key point was to prove that the IAC is the kind of event our community of writers needs to help motivate themselves and validate their publishing choices.
It was no coincidence that the IAC sessions were just a few blocks from Independence Hall, where a nation gave rise from the documents written, edited, and signed by our revolutionary founders. My hope was that our conference would be the start to many writers’ own self publishing revolution. The early reviews from those in attendance seemed to agree.
“I have been to many, many conferences over the years. I have gone to conferences that didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know. With this conference, every workshop or session I went to, I learned something new. That makes for an awesome experience.” – Patricia Otto
“Writers – put BookBaby’s Independent Author Conference on your radar for next November. This was my take-away from the weekend: writers need to hang with their peeps every once in a while, learn techniques and strategies on how to find their readers and plan for longevity and get inspired to stay motivated. I raise a glass to those authors. Go Get ‘Em!” – Eva Lesko Natiello, author of The Memory Box
“There was such a vibrant, engaged audience of independent authors at this conference. Everyone had insightful questions and was eager to soak up all the knowledge available to them this weekend. Author conferences like this are a great way to prepare for book marketing and publicity, as well as a fun way to meet other authors on the same journey.” – Sandra Smith, President, Smith Publicity
The weekend was jam packed with so many tremendous presentations and panels. Looking back now it’s hard to cover all the highlights. Off the top of my head, some include:
- Author coach Shelley Hitz teaching the process of researching your target audience.
- Marin Bookworks owner Joel Friedlander sharing ideas about using technology to enhance and extend authors’ content.
- Self Publishing Boot Camp instructor Carla King sharing essential information about the business of self-publishing and the necessary dollars and common sense of creating your own book.
- Nancy Erickson (the Book Professor) teaching her very simple three-step formula for telling your non-fiction story.
I want to publicly thank all of our amazing speakers, whose presence at our first-ever event catapulted the Independent Author Conference to the very top in publishing conferences offered today. I also want to thank Jessika Griffin from Rock Paper Scissors who quarterbacked our IAC team from day one of our conference planning.
And of course I want to thank my hardworking BookBaby team of publishing specialists, customer service team members, and marketers. A lot of hours were spent in the planning and execution of our first conference, and they did themselves proud with the event that unfolded.
My lasting impression of our inaugural conference relates to a lighthearted point from my keynote, where I showed a photograph of our city’s leading cheesesteak vendors and stressed how important it is to seek help in making your sandwich choices. This conference proved help is out there in so many forms, including a huge (and growing!) community of authors who are willing to share and give of themselves to promote and elevate the concept of self publishing.
I also reminded the audience that self publishing is the place where authors don’t need permission to publish. I talked with, shook hands with, and enjoyed being in the company of hundreds of authors who now get to choose their own publishing destiny.
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