IBPA Publishing University conference recap

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publishing universityLast weekend, I attended the Independent Book Publisher’s Association (IBPA) Publishing University in Salt Lake City, Utah. I thought a conference recap might help other self-published authors, freelance editors, and indie publishers who are considering attending next year’s event in Portland, Oregon, April 7-8.

Spoiler alert: I’ve already booked it in my calendar.

This year’s event packed in a ton of knowledgeable instructors and networking with interesting peers. I came back energized and inspired—and with a serious to-do list.

Key Takeaways: Publishing University 2016

  • In the introduction for newbies, one of the Publishing University veterans cautioned that we shouldn’t worry about feeling like we should have accomplished more at this point. You are where you are, and that’s OK—which is equally applicable to freelancing.
  • The 15-minute Meet the Expert one-on-ones were incredibly valuable. I had a chance to sit down with Shari Stauch of Where Writers Win, immediately followed by Jeniffer Thompson of Monkey C Media. Both had excellent strategic suggestions on the Dr. Freelance books, brand, blogging, and speaking opportunities.
  • I focused on breakout sessions in the marketing and sales category, which are most important at this stage for my books on freelancing. (There were entire other tracks dedicated to book creation and publishing business topics.) In addition to Shari and Jeniffer’s sessions, I found myself furiously scribbling down ideas during Jared Kuritz‘s presentation on “The Four P’s of Sales Success: Price, Product, Place, and Promotion.” Joel Friedlander‘s “Book Launch: The Agony and the Ecstasy” was a reality check about how far in advance you need to start marketing a book. Sharon Castlen and Brian Jud‘s breakout on non-retail book sales was a wellspring of creative ideas.
  • Author Kwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal, nailed the keynote. Inspiring, hilarious storyteller, lovely poet, and you have to respect a guy who figured out farmers markets were a good place to sell children’s books.
  • The exhibition area wasn’t just a place to grab pens and other swag. I fixed a technical problem with the help of a book distributor, made new book printing and editing contacts, and found out about some new book marketing programs.
  • Salt Lake was prettier than I remembered it, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The bar scene was hoppin’. Definitely check out The Bayou and Squatter’s Pub if you’re headed there.

A final thought: One of my fellow Publishing University newbies noted how different his experiences were in the movie and publishing industries. Whereas film conference attendees fight over limited slices of the Hollywood pie, book publishing is far more collaborative. Again, I see similarities with freelancing—it’s not a zero-sum game.

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  1. says

    Sounds like a great conference, Jake. Who knows, maybe I’ll make the trip north to Portland next year.

    Salt Lake City is beautiful and interesting. My partner Stephanie and I were there three years ago and found a great brewpub downtown.