Self-publishing at BEA

Indie writers expand their presence at BookExpo America

(l-r) Award-winning indie writers Page McBrier, Melissa Foster, and Selene Castrovilla at BookExpo America 2015.

At last month’s BookExpo America, the largest publishing event in North America, self-publishing continued to expand its presence.

My first stop was the eighth annual Next Generation Indie Book Awards, which were held at the swanky Harvard Club (for the uninitiated, a taxidermied wild boar overlooks the elevator). The awards, which always occur the night before BEA, honored dozens of authors, including CB Anderson, whose River Talk also won a Kirkus Star. Marilyn Allen, co-founder of the awards, said she’s seen a 20 percent increase in author entries.

The Indie Reader Discovery Awards were also announced; several winners, including Page McBrier, Melissa Foster, and Selene Castrovilla (pictured) signed their books at CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing’s booth on the trade-show floor. Amazon.com spokesperson Brittany Turner said, “We’re excited about what we’re hearing from our KDP and CreateSpace authors at BEA this year—they’re energized that the indie publishing space is continuing to grow and evolve. We’re seeing more authors branching out into different genres and becoming increasingly savvy and successful at marketing themselves and their books.”

Susan Ruszala, president of NetGalley, which makes digital galleys available to book reviewers, booksellers, librarians, etc., was excited by the innovations she’s seen among indie writers. At NetGalley, traditional publishers pay using a subscription model and make multiple books available to the media; self-publishers typically buy a single listing. Several writers’ co-ops—groups of indie writers who share ideas and best practices—split the cost of a multititle subscription, a more economical option. “They ask interesting questions, and they have a different approach from traditional publishers,” said Ruszala. She had a tip for self-pubbed authors interested in using NetGalley: “It works best when the author has a marketing plan. It hasn’t been successful for the hobbyist.” —K.S.

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.

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