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Director’s Desk: Why, What, and How: Members Talk About the Publishing They Do

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At IBPA, we love to know about our members. We’re curious about what you publish and what means success to you. Our motto, “Helping Each Other Achieve and Succeed,” means that we’re also interested in connecting you to each other so you can grow and learn from the success of your peers.

To this end, this month’s Director’s Desk is devoted to you, our members.

As some of you know, IBPA has a Featured Members section on our Website. We ask every new member to fill out the Featured Member survey, and we post most of the responses at ibpa-online.org/about/featured-members. The point of the Featured Member survey is to highlight the various reasons different members of IBPA decided to become publishers, the books members publish and/or plan to publish, and the ways readers, booksellers, and media people have responded to the books.

You can learn a lot from the people who fill out this survey. To give you a sense of their diversity, here’s what a few members who recently joined IBPA said about how they are moving and shaking things up.

Company name: R. E. Yates & Associates 

Year founded: 2010

Member name: Ronald E. Yates

Q: Why did you become a book publisher?

A: To have more control over my own work.

Q: What do you enjoy most about publishing?

A: Getting books into the public’s hands and encouraging more reading.

Q: What do you publish?

A: Historical fiction, fiction, biography, nonfiction.

Q: What is the most effective form of marketing for your press?

A: Social media.

Q: How do you define a successful title?

A: A book that people talk about.

Q: Tell us about one title you are especially proud of.

A: Finding Billy Battles. It is my first indie-published book. I call it “Faction.” It is historical fiction that is based on several factual events, people, and places.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success?

A: Marketing and getting my work noticed.

Q: What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing?

A: You have to have a comprehensive marketing plan that heavily incorporates social media—book blogs, book sites, and electronic media.

Company name: Just Imagine . . .

Year founded: 2013

Member name: Jesikah Sundin

Q: Why did you become a book publisher?

A: I enjoy both the creative aspects of writing and the business art of publishing my title.

Q: What do you enjoy most about publishing?

A: Self-publishing has granted me control on all areas of my project, and I enjoy that I have complete say in what happens with my novel.

Q: What do you publish?

A: Science fiction, fantasy, young adult literature.

Q: What is the most effective form of marketing for your press?

A: I am new in the marketing arena, but so far Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest have proven very effective tools.

Q: How do you define a successful title?

A: The title should invoke intrigue, mystery, or some immediate emotional reaction. I prefer simple but clever titles, easy ones that readers will remember so they can pass them along with more success to their friends.

Q: Tell us about one title you are especially proud of.

A: I am publishing my debut novel, Legacy, book one in The Biodome Chronicles, on January 20, 2014. There are several areas that invoke inner pride, but I am most proud of the complex storyline featuring parallel plotlines.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success?

A: Finding time to write, publish, and market my book while being a wife and a mother of three.

Q: What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing?

A: Breathe deep, breathe slow; all will be well. The fruit of one’s labor does not happen overnight; it is savored over a period of time. So, put your best into publishing and then sit back and enjoy the accomplishment.

Company name: ASD Publishing

Year founded: 2011

Member name: Greg Goldston

Q: Why did you become a book publisher?

A: I have always loved books. I actually worked in a library through most of my high school years. Creating my own publishing company was a way to assist indie authors in one of the greatest experiences that I know: seeing their work make it into the hands of readers.

Q: What do you like best about publishing?

A: I love the process of working with new authors and helping them navigate in uncharted territory. It was unknown to all of us at some point and living the excitement over and over with different authors is completely rewarding.

Q: What do you publish?

A: We publish thought-provoking literary fiction, memoirs, self-help, and personal growth nonfiction.

Q: What is the most effective form of marketing for your press?

A: I think when an author comes to us and they are set on building a platform and can utilize social media in the best possibly way, they are ahead of the curve. Blog tours, reviews, press releases, finding the audience that can identify with the themes and topics in their books (either fiction or nonfiction) is vital to the success of a book.

We work with each author to help them discover what may work best for them. For some it may be connecting with schools and organizations that could benefit from their book. For others it could be tying into something that is happening in the news and showing how their book relates to that event.

Each book is different, and we are a very small organization, so we don’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing.

Q: How do you define a successful title?

A: This may sound completely crazy to people reading this, but I don’t simply think in terms of sales. I’ve even told authors who sign with us not to assume indie authors get rich from their books. For me, it’s the emails we get from an elementary school that had one of our authors discussing his book on autism. It’s the magazine spread an author receives for her memoir on raising two special-needs children and what she then hears from other parents who can relate to her story because they saw the article. It’s the university that reaches out to us because they want to use one of our books in a disabilities class because the author is a quadriplegic wheelchair user.

Selling books doesn’t hurt either.

Q: Tell us about one title you are especially proud of.

A: I am very proud of all of our books and that we are an all-encompassing publishing house that has a very diverse group of authors and subjects. In March 2012, we published a book written by a therapist entitled Premarital Counseling for Gays and Lesbians, as there were not many books on this subject. What amazes me is how quickly the landscape of marriage equality has shifted since then and how timely this book really was. What is even more impressive is how the book could be for same-sex couples or heterosexual couples, as so much of what loving couples experience is the same.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success?

A: We wanted to make sure we took it slowly so that our mistakes were minimal, and that when we did make them, we didn’t telegraph them to the world—staying under the radar. Finding that balance of publishing enough each year with not overloading ourselves has proven to be a challenge.

Q: What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing?

A: Give yourself time to grow and learn. You won’t become an overnight success. You’ll be upset with yourself at first when you are “competing” with traditional publishers and you attempt to run your indie company as much like theirs as possible, only to realize getting into bookstores is next to impossible (and you’ve offered the max discount to attempt to make that happen). But with each publication you learn something, and it gets a little easier; especially if you don’t spend time beating yourself up for not being one of those top publishers in NYC. Allow yourself to celebrate being an indie—there is much good to be found in that!

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