I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with Christy Leskovar, a writer with two books currently out and a third one in the works. It was very lovely to meet her, and in addition to a number of other topics, we had a chat about writing and publishing. In her own words:
I’m the author of two narrative nonfiction books, One Night in a Bad Inn (2006) and Finding the Bad Inn: Discovering My Family’s Hidden Past (2010).
I am working on my third book. My publisher is not publishing new books, so I’m looking for a new publisher. To that end, I attended the 2017 BookExpo in NYC.
BookExpo is a conference in New York City for professional writers, editors, publishers and agents looking to make connections, promote their work and learn more about the current trends in the industry. It's held every year, and it's a great opportunity to meet others in the field. There are professionals there connected to all aspects of the publishing business.
This year, some of the more well-known guests included Alan Alda, Chad Michael Murray, Daniel José Older, Denis Leary, Don Carey, Ed Asner, Gabrielle Union, James Patterson, Katherine Paterson, Lemony Snicket, Maria Shriver, Mary Higgins Clark, Neil Patrick Harris, R.L. Stine, Rosemary Wells, Scott Kelly, Al Franken, Stephen King and Veronica Roth.
Since it's geared towards professionals, a number of panels for the attendees have to do with marketing, how to increase sales, and how to utilize the best tools to increase an author's visibility.
I asked Christy if she would chat a bit about her first experience in attending BookExpo. Here are a few things that she said she took away from the conference:
- One of the speakers cited Nielsen Bookscan data, comparing sales numbers for trade paperback, ebooks, hardcover, and mass market paperback. The moderator pointed out that Nielsen Bookscan does not include Amazon Kindle because Amazon will not release those numbers.
I was confused. Did I hear wrong? Why cite these numbers? So I pulled out my iPad and Googled it. Yes, Nielsen Bookscan does not include Kindle eBooks. I asked the moderator afterward, why cite these numbers to compare print sales to eBook sales? The numbers are meaningless without Kindle. Kindle is king of eBooks. He agreed and expressed exasperation and told me about a reporter at a major newspaper who continually cites these numbers, which are meaningless at best, misleading at worst.
- The first 200 characters of the book description is vital, that’s the hook, you can bold it.
- The demographics of BookBub is mostly retired women.
- Most book sales are from a personal recommendation.
- StoryRocket is a new social media website for movie and TV ideas. They were encouraging published authors to sign up, as well as publishers. You can list your dream cast for a movie or TV series to be made from your book. Sounds like fun!
- Hollywood studios have book scouts. They are looking for existing material, such as books and comics, the thinking being, these already have an audience. As for audience demographics, the studios look at four quadrants – over 25, under 25, men, women. If you can hit all four quadrants, that’s good.
- Timeless stories are best, they last.
Ending on that note is, I think, a good summation of what we are all looking to write – a timeless story.
I want to thank Christy for the report and for her time – sounds like it was a very informative experience. Thanks, Christy!
To give you an idea of the type of programming that BookExpo offers, the panels Christy attended were:
~The Future of Publishing: Building New Opportunities for Growth and Profitability
~Results Driven eBook Marketing: How to Reach and Capture Digital Readers
~Cracking the Code: What Booksellers, Publishers and Librarians Want from Author Events
~The First Amendment Resistance
~Using BookBub to Sell Books: Best Practices for Publishers
~Selling Your Book to Hollywood: Presented by Storyrocket.com
~Using Actionable Market Intelligence to Merchandise your Books in a Digital Marketplace
~10 Ways to Make Data-Driven Decisions to Sell More Books
~Bestseller to Blockbuster: Authors Talk About The Book to Film Adaptation Process
I am a freelance writer and poet with over sixty short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. When not writing, I review books for the ezine Bewildering Stories. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Connecticut, where I live with my husband and three children. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on!