With this issue, we’re starting to put the spotlight on individuals within IBPA as well as on companies and their achievements. This month we’ve got spotlights (and footlights) on Florrie Binford Kichler, a longtime member who is wrapping up her tenure as the association’s president/executive director, having represented IBPA at conferences and trade shows around the United States.
Future issues will tell you more about others who’ve made significant contributions to IBPA and to publishing in general.
Closeup: Florrie Kichler
Florrie’s lifelong love of reading began when she was eight, she said, remembering: “I had to stay in bed for three months because of rheumatic fever: I couldn’t go to school or play with my friends. As you can imagine, for an active eight-year-old, that was tough.”
One day, an aunt brought her an orange-covered book entitled Amelia Earhart, Kansas Girl. “For me, that unassuming little book began a lifelong love of reading and of the series it belonged to, Childhood of Famous Americans,” she recalls.
As Florrie explains, “Each book told the story of a famous person in American history when he or she was a child. The appeal to the young reader was that these historical figures were real, not stick figures in a typical history book. Juliette Low grew up to found the Girl Scouts, but she got in big trouble with her parents for climbing trees and had a hard time controlling her temper. Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer, but as a young girl she built a wooden roller coaster with roller skate wheels and used the shed roof as her track, much to the horror of her grandparents. I loved those books because I could identify with the subject of each one—and I also learned some history along the way.”
In the 1970s, Florrie joined the Bobbs-Merrill Co., the original publisher of the Childhood of Famous Americans Series, which eventually had more than 200 titles, most written in the 1940s and 1950s for 8–12-year-olds.
“Almost 30 years later,” she reports, “I started Patria Press to bring back titles from the series that had been out of print since 1976. I renamed them the Young Patriots Series, designed full-color covers and illustrations but kept the same basic text. To date, we have 14 titles in print which have won 10 national awards. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing team of Harold Underdown as editor, Cathy Morrison as illustrator, and Tim Mayer as designer. Without those three, the Young Patriots Series would not exist.”
The Patria Press publisher got involved with IBPA more than 10 years ago when she volunteered to work the IBPA booth at a local trade show; she continued as a member of the board and board chair and then became the association’s president.
“Through the years I’ve spoken with hundreds of new publishers—and whether they are publishing others’ work or their own, there are three responsibilities they have to take seriously if they’re going to succeed in an industry that saw more than 300,000 new titles published in 2011,” she observes.
As she points out:
Getting into publishing is easy—staying in is hard. To stay in, a new publisher has to:
Plan. That means creating a marketing plan and a business plan that provide you with a road map to follow as you produce and sell books. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which road you take. Knowing where you’re going is critical to your publishing success.
Market. “If you build it, they will come” may have worked for dead baseball heroes in the movie Field of Dreams, but I guarantee you that’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to selling books. Publishing a book and waiting for people to buy it will result in zero sales. Growing sales requires consistent and constant promotion and marketing.
Produce a professional product. Every title you release should be professionally designed, edited, and illustrated. Not by your sister or cousin but by a qualified designer, editor, and illustrator. To make your book stand out from the hundreds of thousands of books now being published, you must invest in quality. It will pay you back tenfold.
Jane Austen didn’t qualify for the Childhood of Famous Americans series, but she’s been an inspiration for more than 50 books published by Sourcebooks, which the Wall Street Journal recently described as “the leader in Austenalia.” In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, the Journal devoted almost two pages to “Austen Power” and “Janeites,” which it calls “almost cultlike” followers. Several paragraphs of the article and three photos feature Sourcebooks’ “Austenesque” novels (more than a million copies sold to date) and their authors.
Parenting Press author Eileen Kennedy-Moore was quoted in a U.S. News Super Bowl postmortem, “Harbaugh Brothers: A Healthy Sibling Rivalry? How to Nurture Healthy Sibling Relationships.” A psychologist and mother of four, she is the author of What About Me? 12 Ways to Get Your Parents’ Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister). “Create a climate where the siblings are encouraging each other or congratulating each other or consoling each other if things don’t go well,” she told U.S. News. “If sibling competition happens in that context, then it’s just easier to handle . . . no matter which sibling wins, the family wins.”
IntelligentDesign Publishing authors Tamara Veitch and Rene DeFazio spent an hour earlier this year discussing their novel One Great Year on Vancouver, BC, talk radio station CiTR-FM, run by students at the University of British Columbia. They were asked to return later in the year to update the station’s audience on the movie option for the title, acquired by Universal Grid Productions, a group of American and Canadian investors, including producer Jeanne Stack and Janice and Randy Staub, both associated with Vancouver’s Yaletown Financial Management and its affiliates.
Comments from other IBPA members who have obtained the rights to reprint old favorites, especially titles they were not previously associated with. Besides Florrie and her updated reissues of the Childhood of Famous Americans historical fiction, we know of firms reissuing the Beany Malone and Penny Parrish teen novels of the 1950s and 1960s.
If you’ve been involved in this sort of project, tell us what titles you acquired from whom, what you’ve done with them, and what advice you have for other publishers who need to be prepared for similar projects, including advice about the challenges of securing the rights and of marketing books with plots that are decades old.
Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com), who welcomes members’ news of notable special sales and licensing deals, significant recent media coups, movie and television options, and other achievements at email@example.com.
Please report on how you accomplished something as well as on what you accomplished so others can benefit from your experience as they applaud your achievements.
Note: We must have URLs for accessing any media coverage you’d like us to mention.
Please submit your news for Spotlight in the text of your email (no attachments) and remember to include:
● your name and title
● the name of your publishing company as it appears in the IBPA membership directory
● your email address
● URLs for the archived editions of any media stories you’re telling us about
Since information for this column is needed about eight weeks in advance of an issue’s publication date, news you submit by April 14 can be considered for the June and later issues. News that is time-sensitive should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration for the IBPA e-newsletter, Independent Publishing Now.