Kinga here, PublishDrive’s co-founder and CEO. My team and I attended the NINC Conference at the TradeWinds Island Resort in Florida from September 21 to 25. Now that I’ve gotten over the jet lag, I thought I’d share my recap below.
What can I say? It was a truly unique experience where I got to be a speaker and listener. I am so grateful to have gathered a ton of valuable insights from multi-published, professional authors in both traditional and self-publishing realms.
Every day my colleague Abhi and I enjoyed rewarding talks with our existing clients, other speakers, and participants. We’re hoping for future collaborations with some of the folks we met! I have to say, NINC2022 is one of the best conferences to attend if you’d like to grow yourself as a professional author. The gathering is all about empowering writers to make a living out of what they love.
Business-Related Talks from Business-Oriented People
Everyone was super friendly. They also seemed to share this trait: being professionals who know a lot about the business side of growing their income in the publishing world. The conference featured six-figure authors who managed to achieve their success through talent backed by powerful marketing tactics. Here are the highlights –
1. James Blatch and the power of TikTok for authors
James Blatch is a first-time author and co-founder of the Self Publishing Formula. He talked about how authors can take advantage of TikTok to increase their following and even their book sales.
The thing with TikTok is that anyone can grow their following much faster than on other social media platforms if they put work into navigating the algorithms.
Here’s what you can do:
a) Join subcommunities
Join the #booktok subcommunity. That’s the place where authors and readers can easily find each other. The content there is very different from the others on TikTok, meaning you don’t have to create videos to join challenges to grow a following.
This subcommunity is especially good for spicy/erotica but also for romance, sci-fi, and other mainstream genres. It’s a big community that helped many authors sell their books.
Another place you could join is a niche subcommunity using a genretok hashtag, such as #thrillertok. This can be better for a specific genre, but with a smaller following.
You don’t have to worry about the content of your videos. You could use simple tricks such as:
- Using a bookcase background.
- Shooting a video of yourself with the book in your hand.
- Flipping pages of your book.
- Using other videos that talk about the book.
b) Expand your following
You can diversify your audience by creating content for those not following the #booktok subcommunity. Use trending sounds and hashtags or follow people outside your target audience to reach a wider pool of users.
But if you don't want to do this, #booktok in itself is a great place to be. Remember: you don't need to go viral to reach success on #booktok.
2. Elana Johnson and the power of going wide
Elana Johnson (a 3-time USA Today Bestselling and Top 10 Kindle All-Star Author) talked about how authors can have the best of both worlds: Kindle Unlimited and going wide with self-publishing through other platforms (aggregators).
Because KU is subscription based, she suggests it’s a good place to launch your longer books (or even book series). You can test the waters there, then move underperforming books to another platform and go wide. Of course, you can do this after the 90 day exclusivity period with Kindle Unlimited.
You can also do this the other way around. Self-publish wide through an aggregator, and after a while, move into Kindle Unlimited to see how your book performs. With this tactic, make sure the book you're moving into KU is withdrawn from all other stores. Otherwise, you could breach KU terms.
You could test both options for the same book and see what works best for you. Or, you can keep your lengthier and more expensive books in KU. You can go wide with the rest to reach more readers.
3. Anatomy of a bestselling book by Skye Warren
Skye Warren, a bestselling author who has written over 50 novels of dangerous romance, had an excellent presentation on how authors should create a stellar marketing plan when running their gigs.
This means authors shouldn't stick with their usual marketing tactics, such as posting on social media or having a blog. Instead, Skye encouraged trying new tactics to reach more readers.
As Skye presents it, this can start with your book cover. Then you can expand to other actions that increase your book’s visibility: advertising, backmatter, fanbase, and influencers.
By book cover, she means more than just having a great design. You could get compelling blurbs (which is another form of advertising) from reliable sources, i.e., other authors. They can give quotes you can add to the back of your book cover. These will help people decide whether or not to buy your book.
She also talked about the power of ads and book giveaways on social media, which can significantly increase your book's reach and sales.
Also, focusing on short videos on TikTok (as previously mentioned) can make a huge difference in your book sales.
What Was My Talk About?
I was very grateful for the audience who asked questions completely different from any other conferences I’ve attended. The questions I received were engaging and business-oriented.
My talk was on War and Books. I wanted to analyze if and how book trends have changed in 2022 due to the Russian-Ukrainian war. I gathered information from outside sources to see the big picture, but the core of my data came from PublishDrive.
We believe that the data from PublishDrive is very relevant to this matter because:
- We distribute over 150K individual book titles (ebook, print-on-demand, and audio).
- We reach over 100 countries from book sales, including Russia and Ukraine.
- We have a cultural and geographical connection to the war.
Here’s what we found:
That’s right, book sales continue to soar.
There are a few stores we distribute books to that are best for Ukrainian content.
I also looked into data from different stores to see Ukrainian and Russian Book sales from the first half of 2022 and compared them with those from 2021.
As I said, we wanted to see the book sales from other sources too, and it seems that the beginning of 2022 didn't perform quite as well as the same period in 2021.
On the other hand, sales from PublishDrive grew.
- The book industry rose 3.5% in 2021, with a total sales of 9.63 billion euros, according to a report released by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels.
- In the first six months of 2022, the market suffered a loss of 11.1% compared with the same period in 2019.
- SNE considered the sales for 2021 to be excellent, up 9.7% over 2019 and 12.4% from 2020. Sales were down by almost 6% for the first half of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021, according to the Syndicat National de l’Edition (SNE).
- In 2021, the total sales revenue rose 16%, to 1.7 billion euros, compared with the first six months of 2022, when the revenue dropped by 4.2%
PublishDrive grew by almost 200% in 2022. Where does the growth come from?
This year, international book sales increased by 4% compared to last year. Here’s a closer look at the countries with the most book sales.
Besides international stores, we noticed significant growth in other areas:
This growth comes not just from ebooks, which makes every book accessible to anyone, but also from audiobooks and print-on-demand (POD). POD is becoming more and more accessible as fewer and fewer publishers choose to invest in large stocks of books.
Seeing how things have gone so far, we think that in the near future, digital book sales will rise even more and compensate for the decrease in book sales from traditional libraries.
Here’s my last highlight. It’s all about community, isn’t it? Every night there were gatherings at a local bar to further discuss publishing topics (plus other life topics).
Before the conference, we went paddle boarding with James Blatch and Mark Dawson from Self Publishing Formula. That was super fun.
The conference had everything to convince us to go next year too.
Also, NINC had a pretty useful app that helped us be on track for the conference, fantastic for socializing, engaging, and sharing photos.
If you’re an author who wishes to grow their book sales, I definitely recommend participating in this conference next year. You’ll find professionals in their author careers willing to share their successful tips with you.
See you next year!