Connecting in Chicago: Session Notes from the 2019 IBPA Publishing University Conference

by Laura


The 2019 Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University took place April 5-6 in Chicago, IL. The Friday opening keynote presented by Sourcebooks’ founder and CEO, Dominque Raccah, set the tone for the show as she shared her secrets of success which include being mission driven, using data to guide decisions, connecting with readers and knowing the target, and being committed to innovation. Speakers and panelists echoed these points throughout sessions over the next two days.

A different kind of presentation took place Friday evening, the presentation of the 31st annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin AwardsTM. The award program, which includes over fifty categories recognizing excellence in book editorial and design, isregarded as one of the highest national honors for indie publishers and self-published authors. Congratulation to all the finalists and Gold Award winners!

A keynote panel addressing the current and future meaning of “publisher” kicked things off on Saturday and got the audience considering what their publishing models may need to include to prepare them for the future.

IPBA 2019 Program, Keynote Speaker, Ben Franklin Awards, Sheridan Booth
L to R: IBPA program; Keynote speaker Dominique Raccah; gold award book winner; Sheridan’s own Jessica Ansorge and Laura Baker

Here are a few quotables from the sessions I attended. My complete 2019 IBPA Publishing University Session notes are also available for you to download and include tips and insights that you might find helpful as your navigate the indie publishing world.

Download Session Notes

Rethinking Book Publishing

  • You are a publisher when someone is willing to pay for your book
  • Publish authors, not books – work hard to create author success
  • The biggest reason a book fails is not knowing the target

Ten Habits of a Successful Publisher

  • As a publisher, the author is your customer – it is important to learn from them, to share with them, to inspire together…
  • Having a strategy is essential, and update it regularly
  • Be an apprentice…always – you can’t know everything, be persistent

The Many Facets of Educational Publishing

  • Educational publishing goes beyond textbooks and course books – it encompasses many things
  • Look across society and produce products that will help educate
  • Each state or district may have different processes for accepting vendors

Defining the Current and Future Meaning of “Publisher”

  • A book is a series of words (or a collections of things) that convey an idea and a publisher helps get those ideas in front of people
  • Attention spans are getting shorter and digestible series (serialized content) is the future
  • Reader loyalty is to authors, not publishers

Selling Outside the Box

  • Special sales is about finding niche opportunities
  • Go where people go and look at how you can support them
  • Always keep in mind your mission and make sure that is what is driving your decisions

Using Keywords and Metadata to Take Your Digital Marketing to the Next Level

  • Keywords are an augmenter of, not a catalyst for, search visibility
  • Think outside of a publishing mindset to describe your book – consumers use a different language
  • How your audience thinks about your books is how they will search for it

Download Session Notes

Download your copy of my complete 2019 IBPA Publishing University session notes today!