Thursday, June 6, 2013

BookExpo — 2013: Notes for authors, bookstores and reviewers

Technicians are taping speaker Chelsea Handler at the Authors Breakfast while the women at my table bury their noses in the free books. "BEA is a book lover's dream," says Sue Hartley, one of the enthusiastic librarians at the table.

BookExpo America is a great place to be if you're interested in anything to do with books and publishing. I go every year because I'm a book reviewer. While I'm there, I try to get the most out of it. And there's a lot you can learn.

It can be daunting. The Javits Center is big and ugly and the antithesis of what a business center should be. It's inhospitable, without access to free Wifi and cell phone service. Women have to wait in long lines to use the bathroom and almost everybody has to wait in long lines for coffee. Food is expensive and mostly unhealthy. Sometimes you can't hear a speaker because the speaker in the adjacent room is louder. This year I looked up and saw sparks and burning ash drifting down from the ceiling of the entrance to the packed room where an Authors Breakfasts was about to begin. Yipes!

And then there are the enormous, crushing crowds surging to meet an author and get a free book or cramming into a conference room. Between the vendors on the one hand and all the publishing-related concerns on the other, I've read that there were more than 30,000 attendees this year — a 7% increase over last year.

So I've done the legwork for you. But who are you? Who might want to go to the trouble to read through these notes I've taken and finessed (just a bit)?

  • Published authors looking to improve sales and writers planning to publish
  • Those who work with independent bookstores
  • Book reviewers and book bloggers
  • Readers
My iPad was a great help here, but, still, these notes are far from complete. If I raise a question you don't see answered, feel free to contact me:

BookExpo America 2013

**     Raes aside
TW=Twitter or Tweet


Presenter: Adrian McDonald. Adrian works for Twitter. His expertise is in TW content for authors.

TW is akin to a global town square.

The Publishing Cycle goes something like this:
Year 1, author releases a book. Publisher supports it for a couple of weeks. A few years pass. Author releases another book and publisher again supports author for a week or two.

How can that author maintain visibility during intervening cycles? TW helps you create your own press cycles. You can put yourself in front of new readers.

Be your own perpetual campaign. Become part of story, create regular engagement, tell stories

Gossip Girl: Author live-tweeted episodes including series finale. Got a big boost in her following.

Open City author: @tejucole  (great young author originally from Nigeria and a beautiful novel, by the way) 
He tweeted the bones of an essay in 7 tweets. His subject: The White Savior Industrial Complex argument in response to the Stop Kony campaign. Atlantic mag saw this and offered him the space to pose a much longer, more reasoned response.

Express yourself in smart, thoughtful ways to get new readers. TW poses real opportunity for authors.

Creativity on twitter:
Twitter Fiction Festival. 25,000 tweets #twitterfiction. 29 showcased  participants. 120+ hours of live fiction on TW. Elliott Holt, an author with a book coming out in June 2013. In Dec 2012 Elliot TWd a story of a woman falling off a roof from 3 POVs. Slate loved this. "Twitter Fiction Done Right"  Five mo's before her book released she amassed a large number of followers. A huge opportunity for authors willing to experiment with their writing in a public space. Consider it a public experiment.

Key: TW a great place for authors. Built on written word. Built on voice.

To publishers: Work with your authors to train them to do these tasks; to create their own press cycles. Be constantly relevant. Always in the public eye.


Q:  What about the TW void, that feeling youre TWing into the emptiness?
A:  Engage with an audience. Getting involved in other people's conversations (via hash tags, for example); engage with other authors you like. TW replies. Get people used to the idea that they can engage with you on TW.

A:  What about TW Cards?
Q:  Thats when you experience media inside a TW. Video or other visual content is the best way to use cards. YouTube, Flickr. Results in 2 to 3 times engagement.

Q: Tips for a good hash tag?
A:  Short, understandable, start a sentence with a hash tag,

Q: Is the hash tag overused?
A:  Hash tags drive larger engagement when used judiciously. Use them to connect with a conversation. With a hash tag in play, you are one click away from a larger audience.

More tips:

Penguin runs a book club via TW.

Following the TW books acct youll find lots of tips for authors:

Offer "tune-in" fiction (set time) for serializing.

Collect your related or serialized tweets using storify, which allows you to gather TWs into one file and retweet the link.

How to build engagement:

Engagement: retweets, followers, and clicks on links
Engagement: live tweeting (drives higher follower growth)
Engagement: Q&A, can drive higher engagement vs. follower growth)

Very interesting: Engagement not directly correlated book sales.
[**what does create book sales on TW, then?]

Lynette Young, presenter   @Lynette Radio
Author of the new book: "Google+ For Small Businesses"

This discussion focuses on Google+ Hangouts. Lynn Young is very keen on Google+, in part because its associated with such a powerful search engine that puts users at the top of the list when searches are conducted.

Hangouts is like a video roundtable where you can engage groups of up to 10 in a conversation that is broadcast live or later on YouTube. Every Hangout discussion goes to YouTube. Its also a good way to be interviewed or answer a Q&A and embed it in your website, etc.

Young is a self-described big fan of Google+

2nd largest social network in world
Has 500 million users
There are 60+ online properties of Google+; she calls it a "social layer"
Almost 2 years old

Google+ Hangouts now an app.

can text, and make audio and video calls from the Google+ Chat

How do you find interested readers in Google+?
Search for groups. You can search hash tags (G+ comprehends related hash tags); communities; pages, events

Search: key to G+; she searches for #bookclub.
Look for tighter niches. Lifestyle specific. Businesses.Women's issues. "Google & YouTube is almost the same thing right now."
Nobody loves Google more than Google; their stuff goes right to the top

**  She said Google Alerts just tanked. Ive noticed this with my own published work. Im not getting nearly the number of alerts I used to get. Young says it may have to do with the fact that the internet has doubled in size.

Google+ finds things faster.
About 1/3 of G+ users don't use any other social media platforms.

Don't forget to network with other writers.

(1) Hangout and (2) Hangout on Air are video chats (10 people).
Hangouts only visible to people participating.
#HOA (hangouts on air): broadcast live and recorded on YouTube. Have high priority in searches.

Heres how to set it up:
set up in advance
have a google acct
log in
go thru checklist
visit to install plugin
join a hangout    Lynette's cheat sheet for how to get set up and started

Hangout applications: screen share; work on docs together; post a hangout party invitation; take meetings with clients

Can do HOA by yourself. Can have readers message questions and you can answer on air. Just invite yourself on the HOA. Can bring in people afterward. Think of it as a talk show.

You can embed a hangout. A YouTube embedded link. Can use same link to see the live and later the recorded link, which means you can post in advance.

Can start and stop using start button.    Books & Beer; one of Lynns Hangout video series

Ideas to promote a book on Google+
- Seek out book clubs
- Interview other authors
- Hold a fan Q&A
- Create or join Google+ Community
- Look for book reviewers in your genre
- Run a live Google+ Event
- Make a page for your book
- Create a writer's group
- Do "virtual book signings"  --  (can do virtual book signings if you are on Amazon)
- Start a discussion group around your book topic
-  Host your own book tour.

VBTs: Virtual Book Tours
Make a one-sheet for VBTs
Create a landing page to direct readers to view HOAs and video archives
Determine how much time you can dedicate to VBTs
Reach out to unconventional Tour Hosts.

You can have polls integrated into hangouts (third-party apps)


Panelists (they all write for

o    Katherine Sears, Chief Marketing Officer of Booktrope Publishing; co-author How to Market a Book
o    Lisa Hazen: President, Hazen Creative; formerly web dir at Chronicle now has her own web design biz and specializes in author website
o    Brittany Geragotelis, Author
o    Lori Culwell, self-published a novel, marketed in MySpace

Katherine Sears
Booktrope publishing
team publishing
formal submission process
published 122 books. 200 team members. Our most successful title "Book Marketing"
Methodologies new, but it's word of mouth marketing. WOMM: family, friends and coworkers best word of mouth
Pew internet research: did study, family, friends and trusted cohorts generate the largest percentage of WOM recommendations.
Goal: meaningful interactions with friends/family
Women put more emphasis on WoM recommendations

ID your target market
- be very specific: where they live, how old are they, what do they do. Make use of one or two raving fans
- 3 to 1 rule.
- Write a character sketch of your reader
- Picture your ideal reader in your mind. imagine what's in her purse
- Keyword grab! Go through my book and pick a page and a key word on the page
-Have discussions. Talk to target reader about what they like to talk about
-Where are they engaging: pinterest, facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblur
-Modern marketer: part artist, part scientist

Lisa Hazen (all panelists write for; go there for whole presentation)
-Use author website as extension of your own voice. Blog natural extension once a week
-Julia Sweeney, her lively website has a lot of short elements; broken up with lots of energy
-Grethen Rubin: all her social media and newsletters feed back to her site
-Make it easy to buy your books
-Press Room on site
-Maintain your website. Not keeping site up to date #1 mistake we make
-Same rule applies to social media and blogging
-Book authors favor longform copy, which is not translating well for web. But you can layer down by starting short at top.
-Everything should circle back to your site. Encourage press to visit your site.

Brittany Geragotelis
**Check out BG. Shes successful, she's organized, she gets results.

Got her start online with Wattpad, an online book community of writers and readers. Great place to get a fan base. "LIfe's a Witch," her book, uploaded to Wattpad. She got 6 million reads. 18 millions reads after a year. Decided to self-publish; The book was up 3 to 4 weeks; PW did article and then the book went to auction; between 4 pub houses for the rights to the series.  It’s like YouTube for writers; anybody can post; one of the largest online communities of readers/writers

**What BG does everyday:
Website is the central hub for all of these media

I cover all the bases.

** Each medium requires a different voice

Lori Culwell
Every author should:
--  build mailing list. Collect emails. This is the minimum thing you need to do.
-- Reputation management is your always your concern.
-- Keyword research: or Market Samurai. Do this search first and then add these words in titles, etc.
--  500 social media sites
-- don't be afraid of "free," as in give-aways and free books.

Don't repeat keywords on metadata; search for your topic's keywords and then use them in a natural way. The best SEO is an organic SEO.

KDP Select is the only official way to make your book for free on Amazon. 5 out of 90 days. Hard to get it back to paid.


Barbara Marcus, president, publisher Random House Children Books
Jane Friedman CEO & Co-founder, Open Road Integrated Media
John Ingram, CEO, Ingram Content Group
Michael Pietsch  CEO Hachette Book Group
Steve Bercu, co-owner BookPeople, Austin TX

Steve: E-book sales leave people no reason to come into the store; what's the added value?

Barbara Marcus (Random House Childrens Books): How to hook kids into reading? Start with great content. We depend on retailers who are selling the books. Kids aren't walking into the stores. We need the parents.

"Discoverability" is key. Our job is to increase discoverability. We need to increase social media. We have to figure out how to build the brand so people know these books.

Jane Friedman (Founder, CEO Open Road, which publishes classics as e-books): She created a publishing business from scratch, building from the content. This is an amazing time for independent bookstores. They can really help with spreading the word in local communities.

Eternal Wonder, a newly discovered Pearl S. Buck ms.

Its a clean slate. We bring the greats back to life. Started with Wm Styron. Now it is the new Bill Styron. Alice Walker. Leon Uris. We are the digital pubs of those authors. Easier to reach out because of soc med and technology. We are thinking of ourselves as a futuristic publishing enterprise: e, on demand, short print runs. Open Road.

Michael Pietsch (CEO Hachette): The publishers job, more than ever, is to get the book heard (marketing, publicity). Nowadays, with great books, true excitement builds, and word spreads faster than ever. 3/4 of books sold in US are physical books.
Sense of community imposed on publishers. Have to make partners with authors. Most exhilarating time in our business. We're here, books biz is strong, big sigh of relief this year. Yes, there's a path forward, let's go.

John Ingram: Not an either or world. It's an either and world (Moderator).

Barbara: app developers have done especially well in children's books. We (random house) should concentrate on great print products. We are publishers. And we put out e-books.

Jane: apps fizzled. We are a marketing behemoth. A Night to Remember. Sinking of Titanic. Acquired rights. 100th anniversary of sinking of Titanic. Our marketing is done through milestone marketing. We develop our own milestones. A Night to Remember became #1 ebook in country. Paperback had a little bump. But it wasn't in the stores (so it couldnt sell). You will sell more of these books because of Open Road.

Michael: 99cent books a way to bring new readers to an author. Evelyn Wagh 99 cents for a day.

Steve:  What about self-published authors? Strategy, try to treat self-pub authors with same respect as published authors; and I expect the same behavior from them as any other publisher. We vet the book; show preference for local authors (put anything on shelf fr local authors); and, finally, we expect to monetize the hassle of dealing with an individual publisher of one book.

Jane: (worked at knopf); We are listening. Ebook is "and." It is the additional sale.

Readers want relationships with writers.

Steve: inde bookstores like ours bring authors in contact with readers. websites, 3 newsletters, 3 blogs, tweet, we do stuff I don't even know what it means. We're part of all of that. What we have to do to be relevant.


Kristen Hess
Amy Cox Williams (Dir of product mktg at Ingrahm. Email, print, all media
Lynette Young (expert at Google+)  Calls herself a solopreneur. Owner of Purple Stripe Productions. Likes digital platforms that allow peo talk to ea other.
Andrew Fitzgerald (Twitter) Works with authors and publishers; prt of TW media team; focus on TW content
Amy Stephanson  (social media and events coordinator for Booksmith, SF, Silicon Valley). Does tons of social media.

Lynette: sees a lot of social inertia right now. People stay in a platform they're comfortable with. Need to go out and find your audience. Audience not in one place, at the same time, in same ways.

Diff platforms have diff cultures. Learn the cultures (Amy S).

Who are we talking to? Are we talking with them instead of at them? Want to know more than what the book is about; they want to know why you liked it.

Amy Williams: E-mail still works for us. All media feed into it. e-newsletters can have a call to action.

Question about TW: What is the biggest misconception about TW?
Andrew Fitzgerald of TW answers: It's ephemeral. Real time. It gives you the opp to interact/engage w/ customers when they're not in the store. TW out what author is saying when they're in store.

Amy S: Use TW all the time. Asked why do they follow you? We live-tw events; and we have Booksmith recommends

Lynn: You can learn how to hand sell in Google+.  Utilize search engine feature. Google Local; Google Events.

Amy S: Ask yourself, How do I keep in touch with my friends? You send a text to a friend with your fun message.

Andrew F: Leverage an author's pull. Get them to TW about your store. The same with publishers.

Amy W: "E-mail is social media's secret weapon (in an ironic twist of fate)"

Q: Should you share same content over various platforms?
AS: No, mix it up. Meet them where they live. Diff content and voices for ea platform.
Amy W: E-mail great for coupons.

KH: Let's face it, we'd all rather read a book.

Andrew F: prominently display TW handle in your bookstore. Look for communities that are already there. Try to engage them in conversation. If something is happening around town, talk about it. (In SF, museums tw at ea other; becomes part of culture) Search for hash tags

KH: Authenticity is key vs. selling at us. Do you have a social media strategy?

Amy W: Stay engaged. We are creatures of habit. FB page lets you sign up for e-newsletter (app)

***  LY:  Go to her website to find out how to write a social media strategy and tactics. Goal. H- holistic. O-objectives. S-specific T-tactics (what I'll do)  GHOST strategy.

Andrew F: TW has a wealth of performance info. To see how well you're doing.

Amy S: I don't have a strategy but do have guidelines. Lots of them.
The internet has the memory of a goldfish. Post your enthusiastic hype mere days before an event or publication date of a book unless you are doing pre-orders.

Andrew F: TW makes it easy to connect w/ just about anybody. Authors fans of inde stores and will respond.

Question: What are the downfalls of social media?
Misspellings. "We're a certain kind of audience"
Andrew F: Time mgmt. hootsuite/tweetdeck. Set up mobile notifications on cellphone. So you won't miss anything. Schedule your TWs.

Amy S: TW is what's happening right now. I have a smart phone and carry the Internet in my pocket. Take the time to get to know the community youre serving and it will cut down the learning curve.

***  iPage: all an author's info on one page

****Vine: TW, 6-sec video we create w/ phone. We can embed these videos in a TW.


Editors pitch favorite books in the fall schedule.
Very fun to see editors so excited and articulate about the books they acquired.

Betsy Burton, co-founder and co-owner of The Kings English Bookstore.
It feels more like passing on the Holy Grail, not like selling a book. Our faith lies in books, not one book.

Discovery takes place 81% of the time in face-to-face communication.

Houghton Mifflin: Hitler's Furries
Wendy Lower (author). Deanne Urmy (ed)
We know very little about the thousands of women who killed.
Women systematically mobilized to betray other women and children.

Eric Lundgren's The Facades. Liese Mayer (ed) for Overlook Books.
Founded by Liese's father and grandfather. Good books create a hunger for other great books. Based on one of Calvino's invisible cities. Plot grabs you: opera singer vanishes; not an ordinary det story; imaginary city and troubled det. About self-deception and self-discovery.

The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd. Ed Anna deVries at Picador
The protagonist is grieving the loss of her husband. Shes a landlady in NYC with a select group of tenants that begins to change as time goes on. A taut and breathless read. Very sexy.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
Venessa Mobley, exec ed Crown
Fink is a journalist and physician. Spent 6 years reporting on this New Orleans hospital that suffered great loss during/after Katrina. Conducted 500 interviews. 45 patients died in one day. The 2nd half of the book explores what happened. This book is about the basic foundation of society. Ethical and moral certainty. Out Sept 10

Knocking on Heaven's Door by Katy Butler. Scribner ed Whitney Frick
This book started with an article titled What Broke My Fathr's Heart in NYT in 2010.
Part memoir, part investigative reporting and part spiritual portrayal of dying.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
ed Lee Boudreaux, Harper Collins
Jennifer investigated the documented effects of childhood on parents and winds up documenting the agonies of parenting.
Started with this New York mag article: "I love my children, I hate my life"
This is a parenthood book; describing to us the topography of our lives
How we got to be in this age of madness.


Lorin Stein, Editor, Paris Review
Parul Sehgal, Editor of NY Times Book Review
Eric Simonoff Literary Agent, William Morris
Carlin Romano, reviewer
Maureen Corrigan, book critic, NPR Fresh Air

Heres a link to the video of this event:

National Book Critics Circle ethics project (see
 • Surveyed authors, critics, publicists, editors
 • From this, they will develop what they say is a badly needed code of ethics and best practices. Coming in the fall

About objectivity/partiality: One critic said, "Check your bias at the door"

Maureen: Be clear as a reviewer about your own biases; make them explicit in the review. I read reviews to get the sensibility of the critic. My biases are part of what make me worthwhile as a critic.

Carlin: pay attention to the review venue; theyre very different (and readers have different expectations of them). Your biases will come out. Part of book review world to be quasi-bereft of biases. A review is a performance.

Lorin: Reader expectations change with the medium.

Theres a difference between impartiality and bias: Tell the reader, be present, own up.

(not sure who said this) I like it when I find reviewers interrogating their own tastes: poetry reviewers are especially good at this. Reviews use adjectives and other evaluative words. A lot of people commit their biases in the reporting of the book but getting the facts wrong or misrepresenting the book. Panel considers this a more serious fault.

Any bias can be overcome by ruthless honesty.

Talk about what the book does and be accurate.

Basic honesty.

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