Contributed by Sheila Cameron
Wouldn't it be nice if we could pick an industry, jump in with both feet and instantly know all there is to know? Years ago, a friend shared with me that the average person will have ten careers in their lifetime. That was great news -- it meant I would never be bored. What I didn't think about at the time was how each profession would have its own learning curve to overcome before the ride got smooth.
When Mark and I decided to explore publishing, we knew we wanted to learn fast. We chose to throw ourselves into a steep curve. And that's how we found ourselves at IBPA's Publishing University in Salt Lake City last month.
During the drive there, we worked out our strategy. We each had some questions that we would seek answers to over the weekend and, in addition to those specific goals, we would maximize our learning from what else was on offer. I am more introverted, so I enjoy going to education sessions, listening and taking notes. Mark is more extroverted, so it was a natural fit for him to make connections with people during all of the social opportunities -- over meals, through Ask the Experts sessions, in the hallway and elevator -- and by having conversations with all of the sponsoring vendors displaying over the weekend.
Some takeaways from the conference were philosophical or motivational. "You're doing the right thing." "You're in the right place to learn." "Coming here is giving you an advantage." But there were also many practical tidbits that resulted in a compounded increase of knowledge about book publishing. We learned about what makes a good book cover stand out from the rest, how to approach indie bookstores, why to not pay for a book review, and how connecting with readers in person is still a good strategy.
The best thing about the weekend was hearing from like-minded people who want to share important consciousness-raising stories with the world. I had some warm fuzzy moments for sure, and we drove away with our heads full of new knowledge and inspiration.
So, are we there yet? Not even close. It's a long road, but we are a whole lot further along in the journey now that we have thrown ourselves into that steep curve. I highly recommend PubU to anyone serious about getting serious about publishing.
I expect we'll hit a few speed bumps over the next year, but we'll be ready to advance our learning again at Publishing University 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Maybe we'll see you on the ride there!
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