The NINC Conference—Interesting Points

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigdownload

The Novelists, Inc. or NINC, conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, was chock-full of interesting speakers and takeaways.  Looking around the conference rooms, nearly everyone was jotting down notes on paper or their laptops.  And…the weather was wonderful there. I was happy to escape the dismal weather North Carolina has had lately.

A few takeaways I wanted to share (these are from sessions I attended, but you can hear from others if you go to @Porter_Anderson or @JaneFriedman’s #NINC15 tweets on Twitter:

International markets: 

In the interesting First Word session of the conference (a day-long session of industry thinkers), I was interested to hear that Germany is the third largest ebook market after the US and the UK (this from Matthias Matting, who is a German author and publisher).

However, interesting point, Amazon can’t compete on price in Germany because price-fixing laws. Books must cost the same whether they’re for sale in a store or online.

But Amazon is still popular there.  Amazon and the German Tolino dominate the market there. If you go solely through Amazon, though, you will miss 40% of the market.

Scott Beatty and Jim Bryant, co-founders of Trajectory, spoke on their work in the Chinese market.  Self-publishing there is called “online literature” and is driven, similarly to Wattpad here, by mobilization and story serialization. Writers there have their work licensed as video games, film, and television.

There are 294 million readers there and  1.4 billion consumers.  It’s the second largest publishing market with a 16 billion dollar valuation.

And…according to Scott, the size of the English-speaking market in China is the same as the US population.

Unfortunately, the books Trajectory submits to the Chinese book market has to be approved by government censors.  This includes each format of every book, even if one format (print) has already been approved by censors. They’re particularly looking for what Scott called “the three Ts”: Tibet, Tiananmen, Taiwan.

Digital publishing analyst Thad McIlroy emphasized the size of the English market…enormous. It’s not just the native speakers or second-language speakers, it’s also those learning English. One in five people, worldwide, speak English as a native, second, or foreign language.

Pricing and Selling tips: 

Gareth Cuddy, CEO of Vearsa recommended averaging together the top 20 or top 100 titles in your genre/subgenre and then check in on and change prices frequently.

He also recommends selling ebooks directly  using Gumroad, Aerbook, and Payhip.

Draft2Digital‘s Dan Wood and Joshua Unruh provided data indicating that series with the first book free generated over three times the revenue of those that didn’t.

Draft2Digital can set-up pre-orders (even without a manuscript) for books at retailers Tolino, Nook, Apple, and Kobo.  They recommend Apple as having the most profitable results from pre-orders.  You can set them up there even a year in advance and they will boost a book’s ranking during both the pre-order and the release day.


The audience also heard about Trajectory’s work in mapping books.  Book recommendations are getting smarter. Trajectory’s Scott Beatty and Jim Bryant use algorithms that map books to show patterns of intensity and sentiment .  Where Also-boughts are social-driven, Trajectory recommends books by content.

Draft2Digital uses a tool that will generate back-matter buy links for our ebooks and  automatically changes them when we have new releases.


I am geeky enough to have really gotten into this informative session from Lori Bennett who is the digital liaison for Nelson Literary Agency.  Her tips:

Make sure your book description includes elements from your bio (“bestselling author” is a good one) as well as a quote from a blurb.

Consistency is very important, especially with series metadata. We want readers to be able to find the other books in our series.  The title of our series needs to be exactly the same from book to book and retailer to retailer. (Is it The My YA Series, or is it just My YA Series?)

If a retailer or distributor doesn’t give us a tags or keywords field, we can fake it by adding these keywords into our book descriptions.

Another best practice Lori mentioned is to use the most specific BISAC codes we can.  We should avoid the throwaway category of Fiction/our genre/general.  Enter as many codes as possible:  three is good, five is better.

I’m a member of ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors) and am sometimes asked if it makes sense for US writers to join or if it’s more UK centric.  Founder Orna Ross stressed that they’re committed to being an international organization and are now working toward offering MeetUps for members.


Since publishing news changes rapidly, Porter Anderson and Jane Friedman have developed The Hot Sheet: a subscription newsletter to keep writers and industry observers informed.

Those are the notes that I took. As I mentioned, it was a great conference and full of very useful information.  Any questions on anything here (if I can’t answer them, I can always try to find the answers)?

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40 thoughts on “The NINC Conference—Interesting Points

  1. Gosh, Elizabeth, this all looks really interesting. The conference itself must have been great. I think it all shows how much the profession of writing has changed over the years. No longer can the writer just sit and, well, write. That’s the heart of what we do, but it’s certainly not all that we need to be thinking about these days.

  2. Best-selling author. Check! Will see if I can have that added. If it’s not. I think one book already has that. But since sales have slacked lately, anything to boost them would be great.
    Interesting about China. I’d heard India was the next big market.

  3. Thanks so much for this recap–there’s tons of actionable info, and I’m blown away by the fact that the English-speaking market in China is the same as in the U.S. Wow!

  4. Great recap. I also loved your cozy mystery workshop. You provided great information applicable to all writers. Also, I enjoyed meeting you in person. (We chatted briefly after your workshop.) Now it’s time to get to work. Happy Monday!

  5. Thanks for all the information! The international market information is especially thought-provoking.

    What do you (and others) think about the “bestselling author” title? If I’ve been a bestseller in one Amazon category (a not-very-big one), is this “bestselling,” or should I be #1 on all of Amazon to write this on my bio? What are other authors doing?

    1. Rebecca–I think you should consider yourself a bestselling author based on what you’re saying. And that seems to be the standard practice from what I’ve been able to observe. I know this label seems it may lose some of its power if it’s overused, but in terms of metadata, that’s what was recommended.

  6. Hi Elizabeth – some really useful succinct information here … it is great speaking, reading and writing English and being dominant in the internet market – at some stage no doubt it’ll be overtaken but not for a long while … Fascinating snippets – and wonderful to read your cozy mystery workshop was much appreciated … cheers Hilary

  7. I don’t understand this sentence: There are 294 million readers there: that’s 1.4 billion consumers. Is each reader equal to 4.76 consumers? Or are you saying there are that many readers out of that much population?

    ALLi: what benefits have you found?

    1. Joel–Difficult to understand because there is a typo! Sorry about that. Amend to “there are 1.4 billion consumers.” And the fact that there are that many consumers is interesting from the standpoint that merchandising in China is big business with top writers getting lots of deals in gaming, film, etc. Will fix my typo.

      ALLi: a vetted services directory, free legal advice on contracts (Author Services, Self-Publishing Providers, Trade Publishers and Literary Agents), discounts on self-publishing services for some providers. They also help with translation and film rights (although I’m not pursuing either right now). I’d say to at least sign up for their blog, which is very informative…they have a nice watchdog service…and industry news updates through their email subscription.

  8. Thanks so much for this recap Elizabeth, you just made my to do list shorter since now I can just tell people to go read this post!

    It was lovely to meet you in person at NINC, and I know everyone here won’t be surprised to learn that you are just as sweet and friendly in person as you are on this blog!

    Mary Louisa

    1. Mary Louisa–And thanks so much to you for being such a wonderful moderator for my Wattpad panel! You were lovely to do it and it was so good to finally meet you. Thanks for rescuing me when the a/v issues popped up!

  9. Thanks for the summary. Saw that several friends went to the conference and posted about it. Categories are always tricky. I write historical fiction and that seems to be an orphan, so you have to pick literature/fiction. Any suggestions? sometimes I’m suggested to put in romantic suspense, even though romance is not the focal point of the story.

  10. Lots of good marketing info. So, it looks like my book would do best in China or Germany, if I can get past the gate keepers. Hmm, sounds familiar :)

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