SXSW is a nearly two-week-long conference that features cutting-edge innovations and innovators in technology, film, and music. The conference originated in 1987 and has steadily grown in size and influence over the years, showcasing people and ideas that are revolutionizing everything from entertainment to sustainability to Legos.
Although the conference isn’t explicitly geared toward the book industry, there are several valuable programs and speakers for authors, publishers, and other book industry professionals to check out. Below, we’ve created a list of events that we think will be great learning and collaboration sessions for authors. If nothing else, attending SXSW gives you the chance to network with a group of change makers from around the world.
Every year SXSW features the SX Bookstore, a space in the convention center where SXSW authors have book signings and meet with fans. This year, SXSW is featuring a long list of notable authors, including Al Gore, Tim Ferriss, and Guy Kawaski. One of our favorite featured experts is Greenleaf author Byron Reese, who will be signing copies of his new book, Infinite Progress.
Did you know Shaquille O’Neal was an author? Although this is a fact, we’re actually not recommending this presentation just because of Shaq’s writing prowess. It’s his social media success that has drawn our interest. To date, Shaq has almost seven million followers on Twitter and over three million “likes” on Facebook. And not only does he have an extremely large following, but he also uses social media to engage with followers and offer an authentic representation of his personality and brand. Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter, has been quoted as saying, “Twitter wouldn't be what it is today without Shaquille O'Neal.”
In addition to his stellar social media following, Shaq also boasts an iPhone app and a YouTube channel with over 6.5 million views, and he is involved in launching a new social media platform called Tout. If you get a chance, go see this master of brand development.
Google is a company that has maintained consistent branding and a steady public identity while staying at the forefront of innovation and technology. What better company to put together a session that will explore brand storytelling through modern technology?
Aman Govil, a Google product marketing manager, will “show [the] latest experiments in ads, apps, social and mobile” with influential brands. If you’re looking to launch or build an author platform that tells a cohesive, compelling story and utilizes both new and traditional methods of getting the public’s attention, this is the program for you.
This session will offer attendees the chance to discuss and brainstorm on the importance of libraries, archives, and museums; the goal is for attendees to make lasting connections and implement their ideas outside the conference. If you are a member of the library community—or simply want to help spread awareness of the importance of libraries—join in on the conversation!
This session is sure to touch on intriguing ideas for writers and publishers, even if they don’t write graphic novels or use Kickstarter. As an author, you’ll benefit from beginning to think about “a lively new landscape of publishing and distribution.” Topics such as fundraising, production, and audience outreach will also be discussed.
This networking session will help attendees take their “publishing ventures to the next level.” Authors, publishers, distributors, and publicists are invited to build ideas, brainstorm, and discuss the pros, cons, and opportunities of the ebook market.
Three words: social media strategy. With more people flocking to social media sites, there has been an increased value placed on how many ‘likes’ and follows users can get. While it’s important to have a large number of people paying attention to your content on social media sites (see Shaq), that’s only part of the process of encouraging your audience to buy your book, hire you as a speaker, bring you on as a consultant—or whatever it is you’re trying to do.
While this session will focus on the music industry and converting an artist’s following into album and ticket sales, the principles to be discussed will also apply to building an author platform. The description of the program puts it best: “Being awesome is not enough[;] you have to have a digital strategy that supports converting fans to consumers.”
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The SXSW PubCamp conference and party took place on Friday, and if you'd like to see what you missed, you can watch the recorded version of the event. The conference was aimed at examining the intersection between readers, writers and technology, and some of the sessions included a Publisher's Weekly panel and speakers from Condé Nast.
At SXSW you can usually expect out-of-the-box talks about new technology, industry changes, and innovative solutions. PubCamp’s content was mostly business-as-usual, though there were some great nuggets of wisdom to be had--it's always good to hear what people are buzzing about. Check out the video yourself and let us know what you think!
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Q: What’s the newest and fastest growing microblogging phenomenon to hit the Internet in the past year?
Simple in concept and design, Twitter allows you to send twitters, or messages, to all of the twitterers following your account. It’s an online global community that asks its users to answer one question—“What are you doing?”—in 140 characters or less. But it can also be a great asset when launching your book media tour.
Twitter combines blogging, text messaging, and instant messaging on a platform that allows you to send real-time messages to thousands of people worldwide.
Why not send messages about your upcoming TV or radio interviews? You can twitter about the release of your book, your website, or what you had for lunch. Twitters are not necessarily sent to elicit response, but to let the world know what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it.
After winning the top award at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March, Twitter saw an increase of 50,000 users in one day. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter is steadily growing at a rate of 20 percent a week.
2008 presidential candidate John Edwards twitters about his campaign travels, and according to the New York Times, may have been the first major candidate to make a policy clarification on a social medium. Presidential campaign managers have realized the impact and reach of social media; take their lead and make it work for you and your book.
Give Twitter a test drive and check out TwitterVision. TwitterVision shows your up-to-the-minute twitters from around the world and pinpoints their origins. Be one of the first authors to twitter about your book tour by signing up for a free account at Twitter.com.
In the next social media guide: It’s time to hop on the bandwagon and join the millions of people who have taken advantage of two little social phenomena know as MySpace and Facebook. You may have heard of them.