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Discoverability: Reach Readers and Sell More Books
(Post 1 of 4 in “Publishing University Delivers”)

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In publishing, the number of things that can come between the writer and the reader are becoming fewer—and less necessary. The old rules are going away. Discoverability is king. This is the first blog post in a series called “Publishing University Delivers”.

Mary Cornell-IBPABy Marly Cornell, LightaLight Publications, an IBPA Publishing University scholarship recipient (Originally published at MIPA)

I was the grateful recipient of the 2013 IBPA Publishing University scholarship and MIPA stipend that made it possible for me to attend the conference, “Discoverability: How to Reach Your Reader and Sell More Books,” held at the Palmer House in Chicago, April 26–27. Along with this privilege was the responsibility to bring back and share my rich experience with my colleagues in MIPA. So begins the first in a series of blog entries on the topics and informational tidbits that I found most valuable while at the conference.

IBPAThough I’ve been a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) for some years, and participated in other IBPA-sponsored events, this was my first experience attending the annual “Pub-U” that I’d heard so much about from others. The event was impressive—more so than I ever expected. These were the movers and shakers, the trend setters and futurists, the talent and genius of the old pros alongside the new pros in the contemporary publishing world. The environment was rich with learning opportunities for newbies, veterans, and everyone in between.

One good reason for so much excellent new information is because publishing has been changing so dramatically in recent years. As one of the keynote luncheon speakers, David Houle (author and TED-talk speaker who helped launch MTV, Nickelodeon, and VH1), pointed out: There are New Age forces at work that have everything to do with the changes in publishing. He described the accelerated technical connectivity of our planet. He pointed out that 5.8 billion people (out of the 7.1 billion on Earth) have cell phones—that is more than the number of people who have toilets! Time, location, and distance no longer limit human connection.

In publishing, the number of things that can come between the writer and the reader are becoming fewer—and less necessary. The old rules are going away. The diversity in publishing formats, distribution choices, and methods of positioning and promotion are a direct result of this global stage in human evolution.

One example: Ingram used the IBPA keynote luncheon on Saturday as the platform to introduce “Spark.” This new Ingram service was created to allow independent publishers to deal directly with Ingram in DISTRIBUTING print on demand (POD) books. The quoted costs for the POD service: 1.3 cents a page and 90 cents for the cover (no varnish or embossing). A $49 fee to set up a title is waived if you order 50 books. Ingram will make the books available throughout the US and 38 countries across the world. Spark is scheduled for launch on May 28. By August, Ingram will also offer e-book conversion and e-book DISTRIBUTION for Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Nook, and all LSI partners. Ingram plans to eventually offer the sale of ISBNs (as arranged through Bowker) and add marketing services. Ingram Content Group sponsored the luncheon and served also as a vendor at the conference, describing the company as “the world’s largest and most trusted distributor of physical and digital content.”

As one speaker said, the way the publishing world worked even five years ago is now like the Dark Ages. The diversity of choices for publishers of all sizes is mind-boggling. And the changes keep coming. As the other keynote luncheon speaker, Dominique Raccah (founder of Sourcebooks, the largest woman-owned trade publisher in the US), predicted—within three years, her own business will change so much as to be “unrecognizable.”

She offered this formula for the time being:

Make a strong book.
Rinse and repeat.

More to come soon.

Read the full Publishing University Delivers blog series:
Blog #1: Discoverability: Reach Readers and Sell More Books
Blog #2: Reaching Unique Audiences
Blog #3: The Latest on eBooks
Blog #4: A Closer Look at IBPA’s New Executive Director, Angela Bole

Mary Cornell-IBPAAbout the Author: As a writer, freelance editor, and artist, Marly Cornell’s expertise includes writing, ghostwriting, developmental, and substantive editing for author manuscripts as well as copyediting and proofreading for books, articles, newsletters, and promotional materials. Subjects of prime interest are healthcare, human behavior and psychology, ethics, philosophy, social justice, art, animal issues, spirituality, and faith.

She is the author of The Able Life of Cody Jane (LightaLight Publications, 2011), which was published with the support of the Spina Bifida Association (see www.theablelife.com), and coauthor, with Don Warner, of the award-winning book, Walks on the Beach With Angie (North Star Press of St Cloud, 2008).

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