Amid the excitement of BookCon, self-publishing took center stage at the Javits Center in New York City on Saturday, as uPublishU offered up a day packed with programming targeted to indie authors.

The opening panel—titled “Congratulations, Author: You’re Promoted to CEO”— aimed to empower and provide guidance to today’s indie authors, who are responsible for managing all aspects of their publishing process.

“If you’re successful today in this program…you’ll come out not a boss, but a leader,” said Chris Kenneally, the panel’s moderator and director of business development and author relations at Copyright Clearance Center, highlighting the new opportunities available to today’s indie authors.

Panelists Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency; Jon Fine, director of author and publishing relations at Amazon; and Peter McCarthy, co-founder of the Logical Marketing Agency, echoed Kenneally’s sentiments about the shifting nature of the publishing industry.

“Our authors and our clients actually have more power today then they ever had in the past,” said Nelson, noting that her job—connecting writers to readers—has also changed due to self-publishing.

According to Fine, control in the publishing industry is passing to the author. “This is the year of optimistic authors,” he said, reminding authors that, despite their new-found power—the quality of writing is still key. “All of these tricks and tools are useless if the book is not good.”

This year’s uPublishU offered an expanded set of sessions and panels—based on survey results from last year’s conference attendees—geared to authors with various levels of publishing expertise and experience.

The conference offered attendees three distinct tracks: “Bringing Your First Book to Market,” “Publishing at the Next Level,” and “Tools and Marketing Mania.” Among the highlights from the first track were sessions on engaging readers and building an author platform, while the second track featured panels on marketing to libraries, marketing a series, and expanding sales; the third track focused on topics like metadata, social media, and bestseller lists.

This year’s keynote—“Brand YOU: Creating A Rock Star Personal Brand for You and Your Books"—was delivered by Cindy Ratzlaff, president of Brand New, Brand You, and sought to help authors engage readers and build a following via branding strategies.

The conference also offered attendees a chance to network with more than 25 providers of self-publishing services. Among the exhibitors at this year’s uPublishU were companies such as Bowker, IngramSpark, BookBaby, FastPencil, BiblioCruch, Library Journal, Smashwords, ForeWord Reviews, Smashwords, Nook Press, Vook, and KOBO.