I learned a lot at the recent Novelists Inc. conference. But one outstanding thing I learned was that Dan Slater of Amazon is a very smart man.
Faced with a room full of published (traditional, indie, and self) authors eager to discover the secrets behind reaching readers (aka discoverability), he dished facts, provided graphs, listened to suggestions, and explained Amazon’s policies.
And, like a cherry on top of an unusually nutritious sunday, he topped his fact-filled discussion with a friendly smile. Agents and editors may have been surprised to hear how successful so many NINC novelists have become in the indie sphere, but it was quite obvious that Dan already knew (having crunched that data and provided it to so many hungry authors over the course of several days).
We didn’t like all of the answers he gave us (we want that Pre-Order button! … not to mention the lovely red slash through our price tag when we run a sale). But we understood why, because he took the time to show us.
He also took the time to listen to us. Amazingly, this was in stark contrast to some of the other industry guests we had invited in to begin the discussion about the new partnership opportunities that are opening for all of us (foreign markets, audiobooks, print only rights, etc.).
Once again, it was obvious that Amazon’s bottom line is customer satisfaction. For many of us, that focus (currently) dovetails with our desire to give our readers the best storytelling experience possible (and to use data to change course if we don’t get it right the first time…just like Amazon).
I expect next year’s conference (theme: The Author’s World) will see many more industry guests with Dan’s friendly manner, willingness to not only answer but also ask questions, and — most importantly — a willingness to consider brainstorming new kinds of partnerships.
I can’t wait!