20Books Sevilla 2023
By Emma Regan, Jordan Maxwell Ridgway, Laura Ingate and Frankie Harnett
This year, the 20Books conference was held in Sevilla, jointly organised by the CEO of Lantia, Enrique Parrilla, alongside the CEO of LMBPN publishing, Michael Anderle. Both CEOs also spoke at the event, with Anderle himself being an author of fantasy and sci-fi novels and the founder of the 20Books campaign. Anderle began writing in 2015 and gradually came up with the idea of the 20BooksTo50K conference as a way for self-published writers to network and access information on how to earn a living from writing books outside of garnering traditional publishing deals. Lantia is a self-publishing and print service based in Spain, whilst LMBPN is a Las Vegas-based company. The event was attended by more than one hundred writers and presenters, hailing from all over Europe and North America. Previous conferences have been held in Las Vegas, London and Adelaide.
The conference focused on the professional development of self-published and indie authors, covering topics such as using TikTok for promotion, how AI will change the world of publishing, how to develop characters and write for specific genres and much more. Some of those who spoke at the event are also involved with the Alliance of Independent Authors, such as Joanna Penn and Orna Ross, the founder of the non-profit organisation.
The conference comes at an interesting time as a number of authors have found successful careers publishing their own books. Sean McLachlan, who presented at the conference, was previously published by Osprey Publishing before moving into self-publishing mystery novels set in North Africa.
Companies like Lantia help authors to self-publish. Lantia is an innovative print-on-demand publisher, digital distributor, bookstore marketer and author crowd-funding platform. Their aim is to rewrite the rules of publishing. With offices in Seville, Spain and Houston, Texas, the company manages the catalogues of over 1,000 authors that became self-publishers. Lantia manages cover design, layout and pre-press to print-on-demand and e-distribution, and from sales reporting to royalty management. Central to its operational ethos is flexibility in book production. Enrique Parrilla is the General Manager of Lantia; he states that “it was essential for us to improve the book printing process and considerably shorten the time to market, regardless of the number of books.”
Key Discussions and Helpful Advice
The annual conference acts as an important opportunity for self-published and indie authors to network and share advice they would typically receive from a traditional publishing house. A panel of successful authors shared tips on writing profitable stories. Benedict Brown and Sean McLachlan highlighted character evolution as a central tenant of successful novels, encouraging authors to focus on developing interesting and distinctive characters to set their books apart. Panellists also placed a strong emphasis on writing within an established literary genre. Author of Regency romances, Bianca Blythe, stressed the importance of not blending genres from a marketing perspective, suggesting it confuses potential readers.
The conference also covered key discussions for publishers, such as a move towards direct sales within the industry. Orna Ross, founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, implored indie authors to develop their own direct distribution processes, suggesting a combination of email lists, social media and an individual website. Dan Wood, the Chief Operating Officer of Draft2Digital, commended a move towards direct sales to reduce Amazon’s monopoly on online book sales and allow writers a higher cut of sales.
However, the dominant advice for authors and publishers surrounded the all-consuming rise of AI technology. Best encapsulated by one of the panellists, Joanna Penn, “when we say AI is the future, the future is right now.” Her advice encourages all members of the publishing industry to embrace the transformative technological phenomenon or else be threatened with the disruption of companies that failed to embrace the internet twenty years ago.
If you’re a self-published writer, or looking to start your journey into self-publishing and you want external support and guidance, visiting a self-publishing conference is highly beneficial for the broad range of advice and expertise you will gain through a short yet condensed manner. While 20Books Sevilla has already passed, we recommend researching any future conferences happening in your local area.
The next biggest self-publishing conference outside of the US is The Self Publishing Show Live, which takes place in London, 20–21 June 2023. The event is sponsored by Amazon KDP and is expecting an attendance of 900 indie and self-published authors and industry players. There will also be an evening event, giving you the perfect chance to unwind and network. Tickets will cost £175 for a two-day pass, but if you cannot make those days, there will be a digital version of the conference taking place 3–4 August. For tickets and more information, click here.