As I write this, I’ve just arrived home from the 20Books Conference in Las Vegas. Before I head out the door for a couple of nights of beach camping with kids and grandkids, I thought I’d share a bit about 20Books in this conference roundup.
The conference is the brain-child of authors Michael Anderle and Craig Martelle, creators of the 20BooksTo50K® Facebook Group. Or should I call it a movement? If you’re interested, head on over to the group’s About page. What I love: the group is positive, professional, and business-focused. The only drama comes with huzzahs when members post about their five- and six-figure income months! Can’t wait to join that club!
Favorite Workshops and Presentations
In no particular order…
Alex Newton, K-Lytics
I’ve purchased Alex’s products and receive his newsletters. Though for now I have no plans to write to market, it’s always good to know what’s hot and what’s not.
I’ve followed keynote speaker Mark Dawson’s blogs and podcasts for a long time. It was a pleasure to see him in person. He’s a really dynamic speaker and very candid about mistakes he’s made in the business and how he markets.
Because I’ve read Brian’s book about blurb-writing and watched his webinar, I was going to skip this session. However, the availability of breakfast in the back of the room reeled me in, and then Brian started speaking, and I had to stay.
Plus, like most of the speakers, he stuck around outside for questions, pictures, even hugs.
I got to ask him this burning question: is his blurb-writing strategy the same for romance books? His answer: Yes. The trad industry hasn’t kept pace with our FB-shortened attention spans. The way they’ve always done it is now the wrong way.
Dave is the creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps develop keywords. Though he has great how-to videos, I don’t feel like I’ve optimized my skills with Publisher Rocket. He gave some good tips, so, back to the drawing-board for me!
If you’ve never heard of John Truby, he’s a story guy with a background in story consulting for the film-industry. Shortly before the conference I was reorganizing my bookshelf and stumbled across this:
I had completely forgotten that I had his book! And you know, not every writing book resonates with every writer, but his was a good one for me, as you may be able to tell from all those little post-its.
He talked about the importance of narrative drive. My favorite points: the hero’s journey is too simplistic and bores readers and the three-act structure was developed for stage plays and doesn’t make for exciting novels. I pulled out his book and started re-reading. Highly recommend.
Audio Book Panel
I’ve been debating about taking the plunge into audiobooks. Combined with Alex Newton’s information, this panel presentation was really helpful.
Reps from Tantor, Dreamscape, Podium, and Findaway Voices spoke. The first three are audiobook publishers who license intellectual property like a regular book publisher. Findaway Voices is an Indie service.
Most interesting to me were some stats about Romance. From Alex Newton: something like 90% of romance book purchases are eBooks. Audiobooks are a very, very small segment. And from Findaway Voices: the top 67% of audiobook sales do not include the romance genre. Romance is a huge market in general, but not so much in audiobooks.
Given the high production costs as well as the fact that I don’t much care for getting my stories via audio, I’m holding off. Maybe if I was writing Paranormal Romance, I’d take the leap, but not with historicals, not yet.
I actually came in on the last half of Bryan’s presentation on Blurb-Ad Alignment, and darn, I wish I’d seen the whole thing. I’ve read his book and watched his webinars. As soon as I get a chance to watch the video of this presentation, I’m going to get to work on some of his recommendations.
Writing Fight Scenes
Wow! I like my characters to throw a punch now and then, but getting it right is always hard. This presentation by M.D. Massey was really detailed. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog post soon on this. Good stuff.
More Conference Roundup: Industry Peeps
The usual craft, business, genre, and writer’s life topics had spots in the schedule. As well as industry folks–but not the industry folks you’d see at some of the trad-focused events. No New York houses and no agents (that I know of) attended, and there were no pitch sessions. Missing were AppleBooks and Barnes and Noble, but the other platforms were well-represented, and most of the major services (BookBub, BookFunnel, Draft2Digital, etc.) sent reps.
Author Lyz Kelley arranged for and sponsored an evening get-together for Romance authors. The conference’s Romance contingent was small, and the Historical Romance contingent miniscule, so it was great to find other authors writing happily-ever-afters for their characters. We had a great presentation by Becca Syme.
I first met Becca at an RWA conference in San Antonio when she was president of the Celtic Heart chapter and I was a finalist in the chapter contest. I love her Quitcast podcasts and the SmartyPants book marketing ones she does with her mom, marketing guru, Chris Syme. They both have a consistent message: FAFOMO–Forget about fear of missing out–do what’s right for you. Go listen! You’ll love the information they provide.
A thousand authors, mostly indie, gathered for the conference at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas. My husband and I are not fans of the Strip (over-priced, over-crowded), so our go-to Vegas hotel has been Sam’s Town’s sister hotel, The Orleans. I think we’ll be switching to Sam’s Town, not just because I had better luck on the slots there. The layout and non-conference food options were good, and the staff was great.
Also, the rooms were at least one-third the cost of the conferences I’m used to. For that kind of savings, I can deal with walking through a bit of casino smoke.
Speaking of food
Though there was only one buffet lunch, the conference provided plenty of food every day, from early morning to late afternoon. Not sit-down, gourmet choices, but fresh and filling “chow”, as Craig referred to it. This conference was fully half the cost of the ones I’m used to, but for $150+ in savings, I can do without plated gourmet chow.
Planning is underway for 20Books 2020. You can find out more at the Facebook Group. If you’re an indie, I highly recommend you ditch the high-priced conference options and check out this one. Just don’t take my spot at next year’s conference!
Lots more happened, so if you have questions beyond this brief conference roundup, let me know in the comments.
Image credits: Girl reading, Depositphotos; all others, the author.