10 Observations on Book Expo America from the Author Hub
This was Cool Gus’ third BEA. With the launch of the Author Hub, for the first time we actually had a footprint on the convention floor.
Here are ten observations from the Cool Gus team (aka Jen and Bob)
- Bob was doing an interview with someone from NPR and she mentioned there was a different vibe this year. She said she sensed that people were realizing authors were more important.
- We very much felt a different vibe. We realized it came from 2 things: we were approaching things differently and that the whole traditional publishing, Patterson comments, etc. were of little consequence to us. Dinosaurs braying in the tar pits, and we’re not in the pits. It is a natural tendency for people to defend an antiquated system that has, and continues to, treat them very well. But to wrap it up in the guise of speaking for all authors, means Patterson and many authors never ventured near the Amazon KDP/Createsapce/ACX booth where . . .
- A group of very successful indie authors made their their own footprint on the floor right next to Amazon’s booth where a video monitor continuously played with many authors giving their testimonials about self-publishing and their success. What’s most interesting is these are authors in whom Amazon has no vested interest, in the way that Hachette and its authors are tied together. If that had been the case, Amazon would have featured AP authors instead of self-pubbers who also do very well on other platforms such as Apple and Nook. I think the message being broadcast was that Amazon truly does view authors as customers and they were celebrating some of their best customers. Such as Bella Andre (being a trooper and attending even though under the weather), Barbara Freethy, Hugh Howey (who wrote an interesting an accurate blog about the Amazon-Hachette thing here), Tina Folsom (who sells as much in Germany as in the US), Lilliana Hart, HM Ward, Jacinda Wilder, Debra Holland (and if we missed anyone we apologize.) Listening to their words, while they all were more than happy with the money they make, one word kept coming up again and again and it’s a word traditional authors are pretty clueless about, because they don’t have any:
- Control. Control over content. Lilliana Hart said no trad publisher would touch the type of books she writes, yet her readers devour it. Cover, promo, pricing, distribution, etc. are all in the author’s hands. This is one of the keys to Cool Gus, because we work for the author, which is a unique perspective as a publisher. Because . . .
- A lot of people kind of like Cool Gus, but many of them aren’t sure what we do. Jon Fine of Amazon said that flat out as we crossed light sabers on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. He said, “I get what you do, but I don’t get what you do.” We like to believe we’re the template for a new type of agile, small, author-centric publishing model. The problem for others trying to do it is that it’s taken us five years to learn how to do it and we experimented on my backlist, not other authors’ books. For example . . .
- We had Jennifer Probst do a booksigning of Executive Seduction at BEA. She loved meeting her fans, but being Jennifer, because she has to have an intimate discussion with everyone she meets, she ran out of time before she ran out of fans. Janice Maynard met us there where she was doing a signing for her trad publisher, Harlequin, and we discussed ways we could help her sales of those books. Why would we care about her HQ sales? Because our approach is author centric. We want our authors to succeed regardless.
- Bob and Jen were also interviewed by a stringer from Associated Press. He pushed Bob for comments on the Hachette-Amazon debacle. Here’s the deal: readers don’t really care if a goat publishes a book they want. There have been plenty of great blogs and articles posted on it. What we do believe is that sooner or later, some big name trad author is going to realize they want the control of going indie; along with the much higher royalty rates. No one’s talking about it, but I bet several authors are seriously considering. Drop us a line.
- And Amazon isn’t the only game in town. We had lunch with Nook, meetings with Apple and Google and walked away feeling very positive. Each platform brings unique opportunities for us and we’re going to start using those better.
- Looping back, we felt the Author’s Hub was a great idea. It gave us a place to have meetings with companies like Bookbub, Library Thing and other platforms that help us reach our readers. Thanks for Porter Anderson and everyone else involved in making it reality. We’ll be back next year for it because . . .
- We left BEA feeling very upbeat and positive about the direction of Cool Gus and publishing.