Among the rows of booths for publishers and digital companies on the BEA show floor, Booth 966 stood out for the camera crew and the lines of attendees, all of whom seemed a bit more excited than the routine showgoer. The reason? The presence of six bestselling indie authors: Stephanie Bond, Tina Folsom, Barbara Freethy, Hugh Howey, CJ Lyons, and Bella Andre.
Wearing buttons that read, “Ask me how I sold over 1 million e-books,” the authors treated BEA much like a traditional publisher would: growing their brand and talking with distributors and foreign publishers. And, much like how they write and sell their books, the move to come to BEA came about organically and independently: the six authors talked through Yahoo!, and then spread the word through blogs and social media (as well as some help from the likes of Porter Anderson and Jane Friedman).
By the first day of the show, the effort had paid off. Under a banner that touted “10 million books sold and counting,” the authors signed physical copies of their books donated by CreateSpace and took names for an iPad giveaway. Talking with the authors, there was one topic that kept coming up: the readers. Folsom, a huge bestseller in Germany, also attends the LoveLetter conference in Berlin, and partially attributes her success in that country to her ability to communicate with fans in German.
“It’s about keeping our readers happy, no matter how they’re reading our books,” said Lyons, who went on to talk about the different formats—as well as movie and TV deals—that the six have in the works. “You feel like you’re running a multimedia business,” said Bond, whose Two Guys Detective Agency has just been optioned for TV. At one point, a reader asked for a digital autograph on an e-book edition and Lyons brightly said, “We can do that!”