I’m just home from #BEA12 (Book Expo America 2012) in New York City and I’d like to share with you a few insights and observations (beside the fact that their WiFi sucked):


1)   WHY INDIES MATTER was the first panel discussion I attended, hosted by author and veteran TV reporter Lynn Sherr with guest Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls. Silly me, thinking this would have anything at all to do with indie writers.


Russo immediately launched into why Amazon is evil, should be shut down by the Justice Department for monopolistic practices, and why nobody should make or buy eBooks….ever.


Um, what?


‘How will new writers ever be discovered if not for independent bookstores?’


Um, what again?


I like the dude’s writing skills. He’s a talented, skilled writer. His point is that indie booksellers (one of which includes his daughter), are losing their ability to make a buck solely because of Amazon, eBooks, and Kindle. It’s all Amazon’s fault. He admits to being a dinosaur when it comes to social media and asked Lynn to Facebook his new book, made for print (and sold on Amazon, I might add).


Whatever. I became so frustrated with the Amazon bashing, I left the talk wondering if he still buys vinyl.


2)   BOOK PROMOTION by Lori Culwell. Terrific talk, this woman knows what she’s talking about. Several YA bestsellers, an SEO and marketing expert, Lori was full of great practical info. I asked lots of questions in the SRO room and I can honestly say, I got the most out of her talk than any other. Her site is great and offers many insights for authors regarding social media, keywords, and other marketing tips. Do check it/her out. She rocks.


Next year, BEA, give this woman a bigger room, dammit.


3)   FUTURE OF PUBLISHING I attended on the last day (it was the last panel), with a panel consisting of four young publishing interns (three young women and one young man, all intelligent and well spoken…with the exception of ‘like’ and ‘ya know’ peppering every other word. Ah, youth.), completing their Master’s degrees in publishing. Most interesting to note: while they are all digital, and still occasionally read books in print, their primary source of information comes from social media word of mouth – meaning blogs, online reviews, and Twitter.


They all use Twitter as a source of discovery (the current publishing buzzword) as opposed to Facebook, which they use for family and friends. They are looking for authors who are authentic, who engage, who are not spamming links constantly. They will block those authors and not return. (They also all use an ad blocker on every site.)


With regard to self-publishing, they look at indie bestsellers as ‘the slush pile,’ which is interesting to me. I raised my hand. “So, I’m an Amazon #1 Bestseller with two books, one of which made the Top 100 Paid list. That makes me a slush pile candidate?” to which they, to a one, said yes.


Instead of embracing my inner snark, I took it for what it is. Meaning, they cruise the Top 100 lists. They look at rankings. You never know who’s watching.


They also mentioned the Rule of Three: if they see a title or author name in three places, it sticks. A review, a social media mention, an interview. What does that tell you? If you’re only on Facebook right now, you are missing out.


These people are our future. They are children of traditional publishing mixed with digital. And I’m okay with that.


It’s up to US to keep up with them.


4)   AMAZON KDP had a great booth and I had a long discussion with one of their very friendly nerdy marketing dudes who was very helpful when it came to discussing KDP Select and not so helpful when it came to discussing the impact of downloads on rankings. The precious algorithm. Aw well, I tried.


Tip: He did suggest that the best use of KDP Select is to stagger your free books. So, for example, I would run MANCODE: EXPOSED free by itself, and then a few weeks to a month later, run A WALK IN THE SNARK. Why? The whole point of Select is to gain exposure for your books. If people enjoy one book, chances are they’ll purchase your backlist.


What if you don’t have a backlist? Create a virtual backlist with another writer or writers in your genre. On we offer a free spreadsheet where you can see which authors will be taking their books free so you can hook up and promote each other.


5)   EXHIBITION HALL As I walked through the hundreds of booths, I was still a little shell-shocked at the number of people struggling to balance all the books they were picking up. One gal had an entire suitcase filled with books. Many had sore backs from carrying bags full of books. It was a good week for FedEx (who also had a booth).


Wait a darn minute. Isn’t this the freakin’ digital age? Why can’t I scan those free books into my Kindle or iPhone or iPad? Is BEA that behind the times? Er, don’t answer that.


  • AUTOGRAPHY: Tom Waters, cofounder of Autography, is the coolest dude ever. We had a wonderful chat about his product and how authors can now eSign their digital books using their app. They can also take pictures with fans and sign that. So many terrific applications. Virtual signings via Skype or Spreecast. This is the future, my friends. Go, already.



6)   BUZZWORDS at the conference were discovery and authenticity. By discovery, they mean, how will people find you? Never has your author platform been more important. You need to have a branded presence across all channels. How will you be discovered?


Social media, interviews, blogging, visual display networks (YouTube for example), panel discussions, guest blogging, even comments on someone else’s blog, Twitter chats…the list goes on.


(Several people came up to me and said, “You’re BadRedhead!” – sure, this color is hard to miss. So is the snark. But what you see is what you get.)


Which leads me to authenticity. I won’t beat the anti-spam, anti-link dead horse again, but those who read me know: those who use social media as a toxic spam wasteland for their broadcast-only medium to hawk only their own books are being inauthentic and it shows.


Share authentic content. I suggest keywords as a way to brand yourself simply as a way to give focus to your content. For example, on my author platform RachelintheOC (across all channels—site, blog, books, Twitter, etc.), I’m a humor, nonfiction author who writes about men, women, relationships, love, loss, sex, snark, and okay, chocolate. So my keywords are:


  • Men
  • Women
  • Relationships
  • Love
  • Loss
  • Chocolate
  • Humor
  • Nonfiction
  • Sex
  • Snark


People are afraid of branding but as you see above, this is exactly who I am, this is what I write about, and you know what to expect when you come hang out with RachelintheOC (@BadRedheadMedia is branded differently since it’s my business stream; though some tell me the snark still comes through. Imagine that.).


Okay, I had six lessons. Oh well. You learned more.

There’s lots more to tell but these are my initial highlights. A shout out and I encourage you to follow @SwiftInkEditor (my fabulousamazingwonderful editor), @MelissaHuie (talented author and sweet soul), @LorcaDamon (lunatic, published author, and reporter), and @LK_Editorial (copywriter, creator of media kits, and hot chick), all of whom I hung with and couldn’t be more grateful to know IRL. You want these awesome chicks in your corner.


Especially when getting a tattoo in the East Village. But that’s another story…


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  1. Bri Clark on June 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I didn’t make it this year. I’m speaking at a Global Women’s Summit in Vegas and going to RomCon in the same week this month. But next year BEA for sure.

    Thank you for the usuall no BS info.

    I couldn’t agree more with keeping up with the offspring hybrid of traditional/digital publishing.

    Also love the keyword suggestion… No its just Damn true! Only a fool wouldn’t listen.

    Mine are Sass, sarcasm, southern, belle, Bri Clark, literature strstegist, romance author.

    PS Forgive any typos I’m on an iPhone encased in a water proof Otter bos that is not acrylic nail accommodating!

    • Rachel Thompson on June 9, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Thanks for the comment, Bri. Good for you on the panel in Vegas! You rock.

      As humans, we like to categorize…that’s why we place our books into genres. Branding is not different. When we embrace it as authors/bloggers, it’s easier for our followers and readers to find us and embrace us back.

      • Bri Clark on June 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

        Warning still on iPhone

        Thank you ma’am! I love speaking to women especially. I’m pro womenprenuer!

        I especially like how you narrowed down the explanation that people need branding and categories.

        And I agree.

        But not only that in today’s overwhelming influx of information people guard their time aggressively. By branding they are more easily able to narrow down their interest or not.

        And frankly it’s about relationships not random readings. What makes a playform sustainable is a strong cornerstone of branding.

        • Rachel Thompson on June 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

          What she said.

  2. Bri Clark on June 9, 2012 at 10:16 am


  3. Toby Neal on June 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Awesome. SO jealous. maybe one day I’ll get to go, when I make it big! Great points, Rachel.
    Toby Neal

    • Rachel Thompson on June 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Toby — appreciate your comments. It was a great experience — overwhelming but wonderful. Met great people, new clients, lovely people. I hope you do make it and we can meet up there!

      • Bri Clark on June 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

        New clients and you weren’t even a presenter or on panel. (you weren’t right)

        Just proves that it’s when you aren’t trying to actively sell you usually get the best return. Congrats girl…

        • Rachel Thompson on June 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

          Thank you, Bri. No, I wasn’t involved in any presentations or panels. Simply a wide-eyed observer.

          People were very friendly and I had my cards at the ready — but not in an annoying, pushy way. Not how I roll.

          I also had one key meeting off-site so hopefully that will work out also … we shall see 🙂

          • Bri Clark on June 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm

            Props girl! It’s a age old successful practice. One I engage myself. Keep us posted on that off site… Hope it works out!

          • Rachel Thompson on June 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

            Thanks and I will. Waiting to hear :))

  4. eden baylee on June 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Great points, Rachel. Thanks so much for sharing it all.

    What’s up with the first guy and his Amazon bashing? He needs to let it go already! Sheeesh!


    • Rachel Thompson on June 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      That first guy is a famous #1 bestselling NYT author! His story is he feels it’s always been the indie booksellers who handsell books to readers personally that have made the difference for him. With digital, that’s not possible.

      It’s like fighting about electric cars or iTunes. If people don’t embrace change, we’d never have television. Or, say, electricity for that matter. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe it’s him being stubborn, I don’t know. He’s golden at this point — people love his writing and will continue to purchase his books for any price.


  5. Dina Santorelli on June 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    This was an awesome wrap-up. Keen observations and insights. Thanks for posting!

    • Rachel Thompson on June 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Thanks so much, Dina. There’s so much more, but I’m letting it all settle for the time being. It’s good to know that the anti-spam stance I’m taking is what the industry is embracing. In fact, they’re even keeping track of authors they block who send in queries and MS. Publishing is not playing around. Authenticity is key.

  6. Ciara Ballintyne on June 10, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Another day to regret living in Australia. Sigh. Can’t have everything I guess.

    I totally get your brand for non-fiction, but I constantly wonder how to brand for fiction.

    • Rachel Thompson on June 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

      You know, it’s really not that different. Start with genre, of course. So for you, fantasy yes? Then look at the characteristics of your main characters: men, women, fairies, magic, etc. til you have your main six. Then your back six can be more about you as the author. Again, this is to give your blogs, tweets, and messages focus. Does that help? xo

  7. PRice on June 10, 2012 at 4:55 am

    I’ve had young people give me the line about rather having a physical book in their hand. It’s something they learn from old folks.

    After I throw in a few mentions about the environmental impacts of the standard book production and distribution processes, though, they usually come over to the eBook side.

    • Rachel Thompson on June 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Paul, I so agree. It’s such a greener option to go digital! No question. One small section of the BEA exhibition floor was dedicated to all things digital, and that’s where I spent the majority of my time. Fascinating, the latest tech. I can’t get enough.

  8. Jane Isaac on June 10, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Interesting feedback from the conference, Rachel, and certainly food for thought. Thanks for sharing:))

  9. Heather Manley on June 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Fabulous post Rachel! Thank you and can’t wait to get on Skype with you soon. xoxoxo

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