Everything You Might’ve Missed at the 2022 Conference, From Official Events to Connections Made at the Cake Machine

IAM Staff

Five days. Fifty-two vendors. Nearly eighteen hundred in-person attendees, with even more tuning in virtually. By many accounts, the 20Books Vegas 2022 conference that took place November 14–18 at Bally’s Events Center in—you guessed it—Las Vegas, Nevada, was one of the biggest to date. As the largest indie author conference of its kind, the event has drawn throngs of independent authors and others in the publishing industry together for years, giving them a place to connect with one another, grow their businesses, and celebrate the power of storytelling. And perhaps try a slice of vending machine cake.

Last year’s five-day event kicked off Monday, November 14, with the second annual 20BooksTo50K® Vendor Day, bringing together more than fifty companies that serve the indie author community. This event provided authors with an all-day opportunity to meet with representatives and learn more about the services that these companies offer. Some of the notable companies in attendance included Amazon, Blackstone Publishing, Podium Audio, Draft2Digital, and Google, each of which offers a wide range of services for indie authors, from publishing and distribution to marketing and promotion. 

And the energy only ramped up from there. As with every year, the 2022 conference offered event-goers plenty of memorable moments. A group of students from Tennessee were able to explore the conference alongside the authors and other industry professionals in attendance. GameLit authors hosted Dungeons & Dragons sessions that took place over the course of the week. Authors took advantage of Tuesday’s cosplay theme to dress up as favorite characters from popular franchises, as well as their own works. Attendees of Thursday’s afternoon sessions saw some excitement when fire alarms—false alarms, it was determined—went off during a set of panels that included those for the Thriller and Post-Apocalyptic genres. And the Readers & Authors Vegas Event, or RAVE, brought readers into the mix Friday for the second year in a row. Event organizer Craig Martelle might’ve summed it up best in a Facebook post in the 20BooksTo50K® Facebook group following the event. “There was power in that audience,” he wrote. “In one place and with positive attitudes that lifted the spirits of all.”

Anyone who’s attended a 20Books conference in years past will understand that even for those who made it to the 2022 event, it’s impossible to have seen it all. That’s why IAM has rounded up the most memorable parts and important lessons from every corner of 20Books Vegas 2022, from the sessions and events that were part of the official schedule to the networking opportunities authors found between the lines.

20Books Vegas, Twenty Thousand Lessons to Learn

Whether you’re seeking to master the ever-elusive perfect launch or looking to up your marketing game, there may be no better place to spend your educational dollars than the 20Books Vegas annual conference—and this year’s event made it clear.

Do you need help with your newsletter? The presentations on newsletter list hygiene and keeping people signed up to your newsletter were just a couple of sessions that offered help in that field. Are you ready to dive into audio? “New Author Tips for Getting into Audio” was a worthwhile panel presentation, as was the session on Spotify & Findaway Voices. If you were looking to improve your series read-through, “Better Readthrough, Higher Royalties” was the presentation for you. 

This conference not only brings a vast indie presence, but it also has drawn the attention of publishers as well. The Fantasy Pitch hosted by LMBPN this year was a popular pitch fest for four publishers looking to expand their author groups. The small room ended up packed wall to wall with people eager to see the process.  

The newest trends in writing, beats, tropes, and reader expectation are available in concentrated form at the 20Books Vegas show. Having access to personnel from Kobo, Google Play, Amazon Vella, and many more is such a rare opportunity these days, and most of us struggle with platforms and algorithms where no human being is available. Not so at the conference, where authors could find real honest-to-goodness people who helped work out issues and advised them how to move forward, both at Vendor Day on Monday and during platform-specific sessions. 

The entire effort of the show and theme is also leveling up from year to year. Most who attend the annual 20Books conference make a list of things that they would like to accomplish the following year before they return. In truth, we are very lucky if we find ourselves halfway through the list before it’s time to attend again in November. From the newly added young author presence to the uplifting and motivational opening speech by conference organizer Craig Martelle, the high-powered six-figure author panel, and the keynote address from 20BooksTo50K® co-founder Micheal Anderle, this year’s conference contained all the tools an author might need to grow their business, plus many more that they didn’t realize were crucial to authoring success. 

But, as even the show leaders will attest, the true golden nuggets are always found in the hallways, standing in line for the cake machine, or at a little table outside of the grand event hall. Impromptu gatherings like this year’s early morning sprints, genre dinners, and trips to the Thunder from Down Under show for the Romance authors are just a small fraction of the activities that lend themselves to finding your new best friend and that piece of missing information that changes everything.

Every effort was made to meet the needs of the aspiring author and provide information to help them move forward. The leaders set the tone, but the nearly two thousand members who attended were the force that kept the spirit of generosity and volunteerism alive throughout this year’s conference.

Terry Wells-Brown

The Magic of Conference Connections

I’ve never been to afternoon tea before, and you probably wouldn’t think of Las Vegas as the place to try it for the first time. But I tell you, there was magic in that teapot.

On the Sunday before the 20Books Vegas 2022 conference started, my writing sisters and I met at the most delightful café for tea and tiny sandwiches. One member of our group, a teacher, asked what we wanted to get out of the conference. As we went around the table and answered, it struck me how each of us wanted to connect with different people. My goal was to meet other authors in my niche genre. One wanted to talk to those in the know about creating audiobooks. Another was keen to learn all they could about marketing and had a long list of questions to ask the presenters.

As if the teapot heard those wishes and determined to make them come true, the conference was full of those magic connections. I overheard people making an audiobook deal in the Grand Salon between sessions. Authors solved website snafus over lunch. While munching on tacos and fajitas, I was invited to join a small group of authors in a narrow niche in my genre full of voracious readers. One author found some collaborating opportunities which have the potential to really change the arc of his authoring business.

A struggling thriller author received encouragement from renowned thriller author Marc Cameron. 20BooksTo50K® co-founder Craig Martelle was joined at the conference by his dad, who livened up the event as authors competed for the best selfie in the conference’s Facebook group. Romance and Women’s Fiction author Elana Johnson signed autographs for her fans. And on Thursday, the Tiara Club drew over fifty authors together to celebrate their sparkly headwear.

Everywhere I looked, I saw authors making new friends, taking risks, and talking to their idols. From breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi to zip-lining and karaoke to dinner at Ping Pang Pong, authors packed their days full of opportunities to make those connections. And as if the magic from the teapot was still guiding us, the people we met at 20Books Vegas this year reminded each of us of the most important reward author conferences have to offer.

Robyn Sarty

Something to RAVE About

Psst! Did you go to that massive RAVE in November?

The Readers & Authors Vegas Event (RAVE) takes place on the Friday following the end of the 20Books Vegas conference. This second year of the event was an even bigger hit than it was in 2021, with a greater number of attending authors and a larger influx of readers. 

The Attendees

More than 300 eager, smiling authors and several vendors attended this event with their books, and the day was, as expected, filled with buzz, excitement, and high energy. The attending authors brought their A game, with tables neatly decorated with books, treats, goodies, and giveaways. Many authors also dressed the part. Event-goers encountered dragons and fairy-tale princesses. A few narrators could be spotted in the wild as well. A couple of authors in the Horror section also had bodysuits cleverly printed with book covers. 

Over 150 tables were jam-packed with books, and many were shared between two authors. These genre-based pairings allowed new and emerging authors to rub elbows—and create new friendships—with established authors in their genres.

The Variety

RAVE saw nearly every genre represented at its booths, with authors from Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Thrillers, and nonfiction greeting readers. The Romance aisles especially overflowed with authors specializing in a vast array of subgenres, offering a little something for every book lover brave enough to dare such walks of true temptation.

The Atmosphere

Readers and authors alike shined with joy as they indulged in their mutual love of literature. Strained arms cradled book hauls, and those who brought book bags filled them to the brink. Many of us who flew home did so with luggage bursting at the seams or on luggage belts because of all the delicious titles so expertly displayed to win our hearts and minds.

Overall, RAVE was the perfect cherry on top of the sundae that is 20Books Vegas and a delightful way to wrap up the conference. Many of us are already looking forward to next year’s RAVE with book-shaped stars glittering in our eyes. 

Audrey Hughey

Audrey Hughey

Audrey Hughey designs planners, writes fiction, and works diligently to help her fellow authors. Although she currently writes horror and thrillers, she’s as eclectic in her writing tastes as in her reading. When she’s not submerged in the worlds of fiction and nonfiction, she’s caring for her family, enjoying nature, or finding more ways to bring a little more light into the world.

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