PUBLISHED MARCH 2017
by Sally Dedecker, Print & Digital Consultant
With BookExpo starting in just a couple short months (May 31 through June 2, 2017), we wanted to speak with Sally Dedecker, BookExpo’s education director, about the conference and, specifically, the history and changes surrounding BookExpo’s program for self-published authors, uPublishU.
When and why did uPublishU start?
uPublishU at BookExpo launched in 2012. It was the follow-up conference to the BookExpo DIY conference. This separate conference was held on the weekend—not on a show date—with a separate ticket price. In 2016, we stopped the separate conference and started blending all the vendors and programming together. This opportunity gives indie authors more exposure to the industry. They can meet and network with more companies, booksellers, and librarians, and attend a variety of education programs.
I heard attendance will be capped and the application process will be more rigid this year. What sparked that change?
There is a great deal of confusion on this one. It is critical that each meeting and every networking opportunity brings together the right parties. The establishment of the application process, which is common for many other trade shows, is to ensure that the attendees at BookExpo are members of the industry looking to grow their business, looking for new networking opportunities, and not just non-industry members focused on bringing home as many ARCs as possible.
I have been keeping an eye on the process, and, as best I can tell, no author has been turned away, and others who are directly engaged on the B2B end of our industry have been approved for a badge. It is very important that we hear from authors and others who are engaged in our industry and feel that the application process was not handled properly. I think the issue was picked up by media without a stronger understanding that many who have attended the show in recent years are not engaged in the book industry. BookExpo wants to ensure that members of the industry can access and connect with others who are all focused on content and publishing.
Are there any other ways the 2017 event is different?
We are really focused on finding ways to matchmake between exhibitors and attendees. We have expanded the Author Market area, where indie authors can exhibit, service providers to indie authors can exhibit, and where we have a stage area that is three times larger than the one we have in Chicago. We will have speakers in this area, allowing authors to have a focused home on the show floor. And we are reviewing every conference submission, reducing the number of sessions, and focusing on ensuring that each panel has clearly defined takeaways stated in the session description, allowing attendees to maximize their time.
What differentiates BookExpo, and uPublishU in particular, from other events of its kind?
Self-publishing is part of the book industry; indie authors need to be able to network and engage with the same companies as other members of the book industry. The big point: This is the only North American show that brings together every sector of the book industry. Publishers, authors, retailers, librarians, digital service providers, distribution companies, agents, rights staff, international companies, and many more are all under the same roof. We vow to always strive to offer indie authors and publishers numerous ways of engaging with the larger publishing industry.
How do you see the world of independent and self-publishing evolving in the next few years?
The number of books that will be published by the independent the self-publishing communities will continue to grow. As this expansion occurs, authors and publishers need to ensure that they are standing out from the pack. Clearly, quality in every step of the publishing process is critical. From editing the manuscript, through cover design, layout, etc., authors need to have support from good, experienced professionals. Bottom line: Independent publishers and indie authors need to invest in the books they are publishing. Readers have many choices, and good quality books will win out every time.