Board Member’s Memo
Celebrate Your Milestones
by Stephanie Stewart
Publishing can be considered a team sport—authors train by writing and rewriting their stories fueled by the drink of gods (coffee) under the watchful eyes of their editors; publishers wrestle with numbers (and the occasional banker) while racing against the clock to find new ideas for their publishing programs; and booksellers navigate through frontlists and backlists with lightning speed to find exactly what a customer is looking for.
The common goal for everyone on the team is to share their love for the written word with the world. In the hustle of the day-to-day activities, milestones are achieved, and recognizing their significance is important. Here are a few milestone scenarios to consider.
● Scenario #1. You’re almost literally buried under a pile of paperwork, and that quick glance at your calendar makes you jump out of your chair. The eighth anniversary of the founding of your company is fast approaching, and with your head down while busily publishing books, the date almost slipped by unnoticed.
● Scenario #2. After attending Book Expo America and meeting people from all over the world, you receive your first speaking invitation.
● Scenario #3. Although e-formats used to be foreign to you, now your list includes not one but five e-books. Plans to increase e-book production are well under way and your e-books are finding their way onto e-readers across the country.
How you define a milestone is up to you, of course. Whether it resembles one of the above or it’s your 25th title, your first foreign rights sale, or a starred review for a new book, take a moment to celebrate your success.
Thank your teammates. The first author you signed a contract with, the printer who moves heaven and earth to make sure books arrive at your distributor on time, and the bookstore buyer who took a chance on stocking your titles are part of the team that has helped you succeed.
In this fast-paced digital age where inboxes are filled in a nanosecond, a handwritten note is a rarity. Take a few moments to craft a personalized message of thanks and, if your budget allows, also send a token of appreciation such as a packet of tea or fresh roasted coffee from a local merchant.
Spread the word. Sing it from the rooftop or, if you’re not vocally inclined, share the news online via your Web site, your blog, or other social media.
Generate buzz for the official announcement by sending out electronic invitations to watch your site for an announcement.
Consider adding a countdown clock to your site to build excitement, and post teasers every few days leading up to the big day.
Develop an electronic media kit to send out with media advisories. Include an organizational history, a list of major accomplishments, meaningful statistics (total number of books published or awards won, for example), relevant photographs, accolades, reviews, and contact information.
Profile your employees on your Web site and in marketing pieces related to the announcement to show the faces behind the company name. If some employees don’t want their photos posted, be creative and use images of their favorite literary characters instead.
Design a commemorative seal to be included in your email signature, your social media pages, and your Web site and blog to mark the milestone. Also, incorporate the seal in your catalogs, ads, and other marketing materials.
Host an event. Partner with a business in your community that is also celebrating a milestone. Pooling resources and invitation lists is a great way to forge new relationships and draw new faces to your network.
Organize an open house or a party with a theme and invite a local celebrity or media personality to be the emcee.
Send a save-the-date postcard or email about two months before your event and follow up with an invitation four weeks before it.
Take photos at the event, and if you have access to a video camera, ask guests to record a congratulatory message for use on your Web site and otherwise.
After the event, email each attendee a few photos of it with a note thanking them for attending.
Identify future milestones such as anniversaries and anticipated achievements on a multiyear calendar with key planning dates so your moments of success don’t go by unnoticed.
Be it the fifth printing of a backlist title, selling the 500th copy of a newly published book, or signing a book with a new author, each milestone in your business is a testament to your success and a building block for success going forward.
IBPA board member Stephanie Stewart is the marketing coordinator at Academy of Learning and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.