NEW YORK — One of the closing sequences of publisher-to-publisher communications offered Wednesday from the stage of F+W Media’s Digital Book World Conference & Expo came from Sourcebooks‘ Dominique Raccah. And it had to do with failure.
Raccah jokes with me that the rest of us really just like hearing her talk about her failures. But nobody was laughing last evening when she went into a litany of what failure had come to mean to her, and might mean to the rest of us.
“Fear actually is the promise of getting it right tomorrow.” That woke up everybody.
Raccah’s lines rolled through the cavernous Metropolitan Ballroom, filled with more than 1,000 exhausted conference-goers.
And I’ll have more from the conference tomorrow, Friday, at Writer Unboxed.
Some of our colleagues who heard Raccah speak are going back into offices today to work on failure. Some of them represent imprints, sales initiatives, marketing schemes, book launches, educational programs, design concepts, and whole publishing houses that will, no doubt, meet with hard, resounding, costly failure.
But “a failure-free environment is an innovation-free zone,” Raccah told the hushed assembly. “We have to rethink failure. We need better data, better processes, and more transparency around every step in publishing,” she pressed on. In 2008, when things were particularly tough in her shop, she said, she’d found herself “a constant complainer.” And she changed that.
“Failure,” she said, “can be an opportunity to come together, to create and strive together. Failure can be a moment of inspiration. ”
Last June, I ran an edition of the Ether at Publishing Perspectives headlined How London Beat BEA’s Pants Off. In it, I wrote about the London Book Fair’s (LBF) AuthorLounge initiative curated by Authoright as a place for entrepreneurial writers to gather, network, hold seminars, and even launch books—Orna Ross and her Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) launched its Choosing a Self-Publishing Service for authors there.
By contrast in the States, we had seen six particularly powerful entrepreneurial authors—Bella Andre,Stephanie Bond, Tina Folsom,Barbara Freethy, Hugh Howey, and CJ Lyons—spend thousands of dollars to take a booth of their own together at BEA, where there was no AuthorLounge program.
I wrote about this here in Writing on the Ether in The Indies Are Coming! to BEA.
In comments he wrote for the Ether at Publishing Perspectives, Rosato said:
Not only is BEA embracing and recognizing the entrepreneurial author, but we do an awful lot of great things for them to level the playing field, treating them for what they are: producers of great content that is looking to reach its audience.
And Rosato is proving himself as good as his word.
If some saw a failure in BEA last year to offer entrepreneurial authors a place at the publishing table like that LBF had provided, Rosato and his team saw the experience as an opportunity to rethink, revise, and renew.
“An opportunity to stop doing something else,” Raccah told the crowd in New York at DBW, “and start doing something else.”
That turns out to be a timely way to describe what BEA and Rosato now are committing to do, right on the floor of the huge trade show in New York. Rather than giving entrepreneurial authors no option except to take a booth like anyone else or have no material presence at BEA, the show this year is generating the dedicated author-services locus that’s been missing in the Javits Center until now.
The uPublishU Author Hub at BEA is being established as an operational, fully functioning home base for entrepreneurial authors at the heart of BookExpo America. Rosato has asked me to program the new development. And I want to tell you something about it now.
This is all new, by the way, you’ve missed nothing. Right out of the box. It’s easiest to give it to you in bullet points at this stage. Name of the new offering: uPublishU at BEA Author Hub
Why is “uPublishU” part of the name? Because uPublishU, the one-day (May 31) conference for authors produced by BEA each year, is a part of what every Author Hub member will get as part of his or her participation package. And uPublishU’s author-focused events are closely aligned with the Hub’s concept and intention. “uPublishU” is frequently abbreviated to “uPubU,” so you’ll see that in many places.
When will the Author Hub operate? All three days of BEA 2014: May 29, 30, and 31.
How many authors will be able to participate in the uPubU Author Hub? Only 160. In this first year’s outing, we want to be sure everyone participating gets the richest experience possible, so spots will be quite limited.
What’s in the uPubU Author Hub? The site on the trade show floor is a large space equipped with a presentation area for fast, crisp programs and author readings; comfortable lounge areas for networking conversations; a charging station; seminar tables for meetings with vendors of author services and other professionals; a receptionist’s desk at the entrance to the space, so visitors with whom you have appointments can find you efficiently; and tables and chairs designated for Premium members.
What levels of author membership are available? There’s a Basic membership and a Premium membership in the Hub.
Who should consider Premium membership? As an author, think of your readiness to face the marketplace. Do you have books out now? Are you self-publishing material that you’d like publishers, booksellers, agents, and others in the industry to be aware of? Would it be helpful to have your own high-visibility spot on the floor of BEA in which you could have meetings with industry folks about your work? Then Premium membership may be your best option. It includes a table and two chairs in the Author Hub itself. It also comes with a full-fledged Author Autograph Signing session (exactly the session publishers buy for their authors). Premium membership (limited to 35 authors) is for the most fully engaged career authors, those who are up, running, and fully functioning as the business people and creative workers we’re seeing rise today, the most effective, self-directed writers among us.
Who should consider Basic membership? This is for authors who are ready to connect into that world of the fully vested entrepreneurial careerist. In fact, one of the best advantages of this membership may be the chance to meet and talk with some of the most successful such authors we have today. Maybe you’re still building your own inventory of books. Maybe you’re not yet hitting the sales levels of the Million Kindle Club writers (like the “indie Six”), but you’re ready to network your way closer to that realm. The Basic membership will include all the specialized programming we’re bringing into the Author Hub. Some events will feature those high-sales writers who have come to symbolize the “new author.” Other events will feature leading figures and author-service vendors from the industry (the whole pantheon is at BEA, after all) in presentations, interviews, and close-up exclusive conversational forums in which authors can confer on specific, detailed questions and get the responses they need from the experts.
What sort of access does the Author Hub offer? Both levels of uPubU Author Hub membership come with a full BookExpo America badge for access to the trade show floor and Hub; a uPublishU Conference badge; access for your work to the New Title Showcase; a big round of listings (as a Hub Author, on the BEA Show Planner, in mobile listings, etc.); and all the programming events being put together for it. One of the most interesting effects of the Hub’s presence may be the chance for BEA’s “Power Readers”—book-loving members of the public—to meet Hub authors and learn about their books.
What are the prices? Basic Hub membership is $599 and Premium Hub membership is $1,200
Note that to register for one of the 160 spots in the May 29-31 Author Hub, you’ll need to be in touch with BEA’s Fred Evanko at 203-850-5965 or email@example.com.
If you’d like to simply register for the May 31 uPublishU conference, not the Author Hub, that can be done online here.
And I hope you’ll give this new BEA initiative your serious consideration.
Raccah, at DBW on Wednesday, probably nailed it best when she said, “Sometimes failure signals a much bigger opportunity.”
I’m impressed with the serious, focused attempt that Rosato and his associates at BEA are making to create that “much bigger opportunity” for authors at the country’s biggest and highest-visibility trade show for the industry. “I stopped thinking about it as ‘us-vs.-them,'” Raccah said. “I started thinking of it as, ‘How do we put the company together?'”
There’s a chance at BEA this year to see a step made toward putting the industry together. Our authors—traditionally publishing, self-publishing, or both—for the first time will have a place, a locus, a center of their own fast-widening gravity in the business. This is new, this is valuable, and I want to commend Steve Rosato, Reed, and the BEA staff for going to such admirable lengths to work on being sure that this year, there’s no failure when it comes to including authors in the trade’s main event.
Many writers have been asking me about dates for the popular Writer’s Digest conferences in 2014. During DBW, I was given those dates and the go-ahead to share them with you so you can start planning, should you be interested in joining us there. Details about the conferences are still to come, but for your calendar, both are in August this year:
- Writer’s Digest Conference East in New York will be held August 1-3 at the Roosevelt Hotel.
- Writer’s Digest Conference West in Los Angeles will be two weeks later, August 15-17, at the Hyatt Century Plaza.
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