Monday, November 9, 2009

Why I boycotted Self-Publishing Book Expo

The first "Self-Publishing Book Expo" (SPBE) was held Saturday in Manhattan.

As a self-publisher who lives just 90 minutes away from the expo site, I originally was sure I would go, and assumed there would be much for me to learn.

SPBE presented 55 exhibitors touting their products and services, and (according to Epoch Times), there was "a small  but quality crowd of about 200 people" who paid $15 or $30 each for admission to the exhibits, panels, lectures and discussions.

$15 paid for the exhibit area only, where folks could schmooze, pick up brochures and perhaps buy books.

Self-publishers who wanted to exhibit their books paid $325 each for display space.  Bigger publishers, distributors and other suppliers apparently paid more.

The expo was promoted as providing the following:

"Sales - The SPBE will be open to the public, offering authors a unique opportunity to sell their books to the broadest possible audience.

Meet the Media - Producers of TV and radio programs, and editors of newspapers, magazines, and online media outlets, will attend the event, all looking for great stories that may otherwise be under their radar.

An Opportunity to Learn – Attendees will get to hear about the products and services offered by self-publishing companies from across the country.

Interact – Authors will have the opportunity to discuss their path to self-publishing, and share their unique ideas for marketing, publicizing, and selling their books."

At this point I can't say if the event was considered a success or a fialure. The self-publishers who paid $325 each to sell their books to the public, could not have sold many copies. As of this morning, Google shows exactly ONE news item about SPBE. When Google notices this blog post, that number should double.

So why didn't I go?

It wasn't the money. $30 plus about $25 for train fair wouldn't kill me. I don't mind spending $30 on a book if I get one good idea from it, and an expo about an important topic with knowledgable participants could possibly provide dozens of good ideas that would be worth much more than than the price of admission and transportation.

I boycotted Self-Publishing Book Expo because it was fundamentally fraudulent and flawed.

In an effort to fill up the space that had to be rented from the Sheraton hotel, and to fill up the "expert" panels, the Expo managers invited notorious vanity publishers which masquerade as "self-publishing companies" and exist to extract money from ignorant, inept, and naive writers -- not to sell books to readers.

I was not going to invest my time and money to be exposed to dishonest sales pitches from companies like

I was not going to pay money to listen to advice from dangerously ignorant fools such as Brent Sampson (the boss of Outskirts Press who didn't know who wrote Roget's Thesaurus or the difference between a foreword and a preface), Bob Young (boss of, who boasted that “We publish a huge number of really bad books,” misspelled “misspell” and confused “less” and “fewer”), and Penny Sansevieri (an alleged expert on book marketing  and the Internet who wrote in her mis-titled book that a typical website should cost between $2,000 and $6,000 to build and needs both a designer and a “coder” to put the website together).

I found a better way to spend my time and my money. It was a beautiful day, and I took the ferry from Connecticut to Long Island.

If there is a second SPBE next year, I'll consider going. Even if there's nothing for me to learn, maybe I can sell some copies of my book about REAL self-publishing.



  1. You didn't miss anything important.

  2. I did go & felt it was worth every penny of my $30! The panels were extremely informative & I came away with a lot of important information I haven't been able to garner anywhere else. It's the first year & the first time anyone has even attempted something like this for self-published authors so I think we should be more supportive of the effort.