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Looking Back on — and Forward from — PMA-U

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Thanks to the officers and members of the Sacramento Publishers and Authors Association who awarded me the 2003 PMA scholarship to Publishing University, I am now in a position to say the following: “Whew!”

I had no idea what a wealth of information I would be offered over a three-

day period through more than 70 seminars on a smorgasbord of topics from the opening day free legal clinic (a must) to the closing day meeting with top

level bookstore executives.

We have all heard, ad nauseam, the mantra that the main principle of real estate is “Location! Location! Location!” After attending the seminars at PMA University, I have concluded that the main principle of book publishing is “Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!”

The second principle is “Contacts! Contacts! Contacts!”

Rethinking Art vs. Business Issues

I am first of all a writer and came to the business end of publishing reluctantly and ill-informed. My frustration with editors and major publishing houses was such that I knew I–or anyone else–could do better. I’m not so sure now.

First, it was difficult for me to see my craft–my “art”–as a business, but, folks, that is what it is. Before PMA University, my main focus was on the creative process and I tended to set myself above the business end of “the business.”

PMA University convinced me that the business end is“the business.” Maybe you cannot be a writer and a publisher as well, although our group has many success stories to refute that notion.

I am thinking this one over.

But I know now that if I am still to wear both hats, I’m going to have to put the pen aside and get the publicity machine going full blast. In this respect, the contacts I made at PMA University will be invaluable.

I have spent most of my time since I returned organizing the boxes of good stuff I brought back. First among these materials are the business cards from major players in the publishing business. I’m sending them personalized e-mails and following up with personalized letters and, in some cases, phone calls. My main emphasis will be on librarians since this is an aspect of “the business” that I have totally neglected.

My Greatest Hits List

The “Getting Through to Libraries” session was invaluable for members

interested in selling to the “Most Profitable Market.” Another don’t-miss seminar was the one dealing with bookstores run by Marcella Smith, Barnes & Noble Director of Small Press and Vendor Relations.

For PMA members who need to know how to put books together, there were good seminars on everything from bookbinding to e-book preparation. In short, there was something for everyone on every aspect of bookmaking. A

first-time author as well as a seasoned publisher could find much to learn.

My only criticism of the event, and it is a minor one, is that too many of the seminars I wanted to attend went on at the same time. In fact, I didn’t see any seminar listed that I did not want to attend. So there were hard choices to be made.

 

For 2004

If you’re planning to go to this “must” event next year, I have some suggestions for you:

1. Talk to someone who has been there.

2. When you get your advance materials, look them over carefully. You will want to attend every session. You can’t. You WILL have to make choices.

3. Attend the first-day free legal clinic.

4. Attend the evening reception; take a pocketful of your business cards and collect a pocketful of business cards from great contacts.

5. Contact these “contacts” immediately on returning.

6. Pick your spots at the luncheons. The tables are labeled by subject matter and I got a wealth of tips during the two-hour lunch “breaks.”

7. Spend your free time talking to the vendors you find interesting. I came away knowing about many money-saving vendors I would have not found anywhere else.

It will take some time to sort out all that I have learned. Meanwhile I’ll be busy applying “the first principle” of publishing–”Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!”–through the great contacts I made at PMA University.

Lew Osteen is a published author as well as a publisher. He writes under the pen name Early Santee and currently has a trilogy, “The Joshua Trail,” in selected bookstores and most major bookseller websites.

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