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DIRECTOR’S DESK

 

by Terry Nathan

Director, PMA

 

Especially for Midsize
Publishers

 

Today’s tiny publishing
company may be tomorrow’s multimillion-dollar house. At the PMA office, we’ve
seen that sort of progression time and again through the years, and awhile back
we focused on the fact that really small and relatively large publishers often
need different kinds of information and advice.

 

That’s why we started running
programs exclusively for midsize publishers several years ago, and why we’re
offering a new one this spring. It will take place on Thursday, May 31, at Le
Parker Meridien Hotel in New York City, so that qualified PMA members who are
in New York for PMA University and/or BEA can easily attend. If you’re
interested but not sure whether you qualify as a midsize publisher, please
contact the PMA office to find out.

 

Moderated by Don Tubesing, the
founder of two successful publishing houses—Whole Person Associates and
Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers—and a former PMA board president, the May 31
program will run from 9:00 am
until 4:00 pm.

 

It will cover the following
topics, among others:

 

Financing

Steve Piersanti, President and
Publisher, Berrett-Kohler

Marc Allen, President and CEO, New
World Library

 

Building
a Management Team

Alan Giagnocavo, President, Fox
Chapel Publishing

Tim McNeill, President and
Publisher, Wisdom Publications

 

Exit
Strategies

Howard Fisher, Managing Director,
The Fisher Company

Jay Kirsch, Director, AdMedia
Partners

 

Handling
Resources (In-house or Outsource)

Linda Ligon, Founder and Creative
Director, Interweave Press

Pamela Art, President &
Publisher, Storey Publishing

 

Help Reaching Special-Sales
Markets

 

With the goal of complementing the
many PMA programs that members use to reach trade booksellers and libraries,
we’ve been exploring ways to help you reach special-sales markets. Now we’re at
the point where we need to know what kind of help you’d like.

 

Please send suggestions—and
questions if you have them—to me at <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>terry@pma-online.org
so we can aim to
launch the best possible special-sales program within the next year or so.

 

Meanwhile, if you’re not already
selling your books through sales channels other than bookstores, board member
Rod Colvin, publisher of Addicus Books, Inc., has a story that may motivate you
to get started.

 

The year
was 1995. My publishing company was one year old. I had only two or three
titles at the time, and I was attending my first PMA University. I still
remember vividly the lesson I learned from a workshop in which Don Tubesing was
speaking. During his presentation, Don said, “Make sure you have at least one
solid sales channel for your books outside the traditional bookstore.”

 

This was
an interesting concept to me—I thought bookstores were the place to sell
books. And even today the bookstore business model is the one most familiar to
many new publishers. But as I look back over the years, I realize that the
concept of selling into special markets has been crucial in the development of
my publishing company. I’ll tell you why.

 

Being a
bit overly optimistic in my earlier years, I used to think: Everyone wants my
consumer health books—they are full of useful information; they can help
people. But this was before I had a good distribution system; I didn’t have
books in bookstores, and in those days Ingram didn’t take books directly from
small publishers. So I used to lament, “If only I had these books in
bookstores, they would fly off the shelves!” I just knew this would be the
case.

 

Well, a
few years later, I signed up with a master distributor. Finally, I had
distribution into bookstores! And guess what? Much to my chagrin, my books did
not fly off the shelves. For example, when Barnes & Noble did place an
order, it was often for only one copy of the book per store—about 300
units. Probably more than half those came back as returns. I have since read
reports that say only about 2 percent of the books sold through the major chain
stores are health related.

 

Hmmm, I
thought. Bookstores are not always the best place to sell books.

 

Thirteen
years and 80 titles later, traditional bookstores are still a part of our
business. However, we would have been out of business years ago had we depended
only on bookstore sales. The reason our company has grown each year is that we
make special sales—sales to organizations, corporations, and businesses.

 

Like
Addicus Books, many independent publishers find that bookstores are not
responsible for the lion’s share of sales. So I urge you to remember my story
and Don’s advice, especially when you’re filled with passion and excitement
about a new book you’re publishing: Always have at least one solid sales
channel outside the bookstores!

 

To Defend Smaller Publishers’
Rights

 

PMA is now working to create a
Publishers Advocacy Fund to fight for independent publishers’ rights in an
industry increasingly dominated by conglomerates.

 

In the wake of the recent AMS/PGW
bankruptcy, many former PGW clients have moved on to other distributors, but a
small group face financial ruin through no fault of their own. Some of these
publishers have been in business as long as 30 years and have kids in college.
That they are now going to lose their livelihood at the hands of lawyers for a
huge conglomerate is unconscionable.

 

The publishing community as a
whole is not well served when smaller publishers suffer hardship and loss
simply because they lack the resources to defend themselves—hence the
idea for the Publishers Advocacy Fund.

 

As we work to develop
special-sales programs, we’ll continue to welcome your feedback on programs
you’re currently using and your ideas on other new programs you’d like us to
explore. You can always reach me at <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>terry@pma-online.org
, and I’ll look
forward to seeing many of you face to face at PMA University and the May 31
Mid-Size Publishers Program.

 

 

 

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