On Saturday I attended "Getting Your Piece of the Publishing Pie", an all day conference put on by the St. Louis Publishers Association. The point of the meeting was to help us publish smarter and more profitably. Who doesn't want to do that? I found the day to be chock full of helpful information. Lucky for me, my husband got me an iPad for my birthday recently, and I was able to take all my notes on it. Plus tweet while the conference was taking place! For once I felt like the cool kid in class!
First up for the day via Skype was Mark Coker, founder of the highly successful e-book publisher Smashwords. Mark spoke at Publishers University in May, and I was excited to hear from him again. He did not disappoint. Mark shared that 33-40% of all e-books are read on a computer, and 8% of all book sales in 2010 are e-books. He said that e-books are consumed differently than p-books, so we need to think about that as we design our books. On pricing of e-books, Mark suggested that we price them lower than print books but not too low. Pricing them too high encourages piracy. In summation, Mark stressed that the power of publishing is shifting to the authors and small publishers. Indie e-books are the equalizer.
Marion Gropen of Gropen Associates spoke next about the need to build a budget for your publishing company. An interesting concept she brought up is that we should be paying ourselves as a publisher separately from paying ourselves as an author. There is a cost to your time when you function as a publisher because then you are not writing.
For the luncheon panel, Davis Scott of McNaughton & Gunn printing company offered advice on preparing your books for the printer, while Sue Sylvia of Staircase Press and Christine Frank of Christine Frank & Associates discussed book design and editing. Lois Mans of Big Ideas Studio talked about the creative ways she has marketed books, including book events and novelty items they sell which tie into the books.
The final speaker of the day was Plumb Web Solutions Deltina Hay, covering all aspects of the social web. Some of the areas were ones we all tend to think of, such as blogs, social networking sites, and micro blogging, but she also delved into social calendars, social pages and hybrid sites. The goal of utilizing all of these areas is to increase your reach on the Internet. It is about relationships and building trust with your potential market. She had so much great information that my head was spinning by the time her two hours was up. I purchased her book, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization, and can't wait to dive into it.
All in all, the conference was great and I learned a lot of new information. But another benefit of the meeting was not on the itinerary. And that was the opportunity to network with others in the publishing industry. We are lucky that in St. Louis we have a community of individuals so willing to share their experiences and expertise with others. And that is something you can't put a price tag on.