by Linda Carlson
Closeup: Deltina Hay
Who’s who on the IBPA board? To help you get to know the people behind the names you often see at IBPA events and in its publications, Spotlight continues its brief profiles of board members and officers. This month, we feature Deltina Hay, recently elected chair of the board of directors.
Hay is the “new media/social media” expert on the board, with good reason. Type her name into Google and page after page after page (at least the first 10) comes up with descriptions such as “social marketing extraordinaire” and “new media pioneer.”
Consult Hay, and she’s quick to say that new media is far more than social media. “There are many opportunities for marketing and publishing on innovative sites like the e-learning platform Udemy, and for using up-and-coming ‘knowledge bases’ like Quora,” she emphasizes. “Not to mention all the mobile publishing and marketing tools that are surfacing, many now found on our Website as IBPA member benefits.”
Sound intimidating? Hay wouldn’t be surprised. “I realize some members haven’t even taken the leap onto Facebook or Twitter, and that ‘mobile technologies,’ ‘Web apps,’ and ‘knowledge base’ mean little to some at this point,” she told me, adding that the amount of advice available now on social media marketing is “overwhelming.” Her advice: “Stop reading every article you see and reach out to authors and publishers in the IBPA community to learn what works for them. Seek advice from authors or publishers with the same target audience you serve.”
Like many others who can be described as being in the second half of their work life, Hay started out a long way from social media. She grew up working in a family-owned restaurant and motel in Haines, AK, earned a degree in management information systems at the University of Alaska in Juneau, and eventually made her way to Oregon State University for an M.S. in applied mathematics and computer science.
“While in grad school I discovered the Internet, still mostly a research tool at the time, but most of us students saw the potential,” Hay says. “I had a CompuServe account and an AOL account within months of their existence. So it didn’t take me long to start building Websites once the real World Wide Web came around.”
In 2000, weary of rain, the entrepreneur packed her bags for Austin, TX, a new job, and, eventually, a literary start-up of her own, Dalton Publishing. “Honestly, I am not sure how it all came about,” Hay says. “One day I was making a chapbook for a local celebrity poet, and the next day I was publishing a poetry magazine. And what seems like the day after that (but was really two years), I was publishing poetry and literary fiction for 16 Austin authors.”
She also issued a how-to book of her own, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization: Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web, and by the middle of the decade, she was building blogs for each of her authors using WordPress. “Some of them took right to it,” she says; “others just gave me blank stares.”
Despite her business experience and Internet savvy, Hay couldn’t live on Dalton’s profits, and she continued to freelance as a Web developer and database manager for such clients as Real Simple, Nestle, Victoria’s Secret, and American Greetings. “So when the recession hit, I had hard decisions to make,” she says. She put Dalton on hiatus, but she has continued to publish.
Her predecessor as board chair, Steve Mettee of Quill Driver Books, was interested in a new edition of her social media book, and when he sold Quill Driver to Linden Publishing, its publisher, Kent Sorsky, was also interested. Together he and Hay are doing a Bootstrapper’s Guide series.
“He came on board with the ‘QR Code Enhanced’ model for the first book, The Bootstrapper’s Guide to the Mobile Web, and will soon release the second, The Bootstrapper’s Guide to the New Search Optimization, as an app,” Hay reports, adding: “This model allows me to update the book with changes and new technologies, add interactive features, and get feedback from readers on a platform that can be accessed from any device.”
This opportunity with a new format has Hay brimming with enthusiasm. “This is why I love independent publishers!” she says. “They’re the ultimate innovators—they see the possibilities of new technology and new media concepts and they run with them!”
Fueling Start-up Success
A while ago, I used IBPA’s LinkedIn group to ask members what they had learned through their publishing start-ups. Among the many valuable comments was one from Davis Scott of Davis Scott & Associates, who wrote: “I’m not a publisher, but I represented a book printer for 29 years, and printed over 15,000 titles, including many for the first time.”
In following up with customers, Scott saw how many good titles failed to sell because of the publishers’ lack of commitment. Some publishers, he said, told him “the process was much harder than they anticipated, and they just didn’t have the time to devote to it. Others didn’t know they had to actually promote their books.” By contrast, those who did promote their titles, even first titles, sometimes built profitable publishing businesses, often because they were speakers who sold books at presentations.
“Many mistakes start well upstream from the actual printing,” Scott points out—“would-be publishers not knowing their market, not having a business plan, not having adequate working capital, not using a professional editor anddesigner, not doing premarketing, not knowing how the books would be sold, not understanding returns, even not knowing how many to print.”
Echoing his comments are Dianne Maroney of The Imagine Project and Aaron Elson of Chi Chi Press. Maroney says that she had too little information about self-publishing prior to getting started, and that she wishes she had “created a presence on social media sites” long before her book came out. “Be sure to get on the different venues that match you and your book,” she advises. “Start talking about it.”
Elson, who first published almost 20 years ago, agrees with her on the importance of social media, but says with a chuckle, “Wait a second, there was no social media in 1994.”
The Oprah Effects
America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book, published by W.W. West, is among the titles Oprah Winfrey’s staff describes as the “new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com can’t stop reading” (see oprah.com/book/Americas-National-Parks-A-Pop-Up-Book). The review includes praise such as “Unforgettable, drop-your-jaw twist on reality” and “A must-read—and must-flip,” with tips about how much both kids and adults can learn from the book.
Publisher Don Compton says he was told the announcement that the book is featured in Oprah’s “summer reading” was sent to 1.3 million Oprah Book Club members. Oprah.com allowed national park associations to display “Recommended by Oprah.com” with the books, and the parks have placed rush orders for more copies. The title’s Amazon.com sales increased by 15 percent in the first week after the publicity, and its bestseller rank reached the top 15,000. The Oprah recommendation also resulted in a significant increase in the number of storefront booksellers carrying the title, Compton reports.
Before the Oprah pick, America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly as well as praise in the Denver Post (“It’s tough not to feel like a kid again when you first open ‘America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book,’ which features six magnificent double-page pop-up illustrations by Dave Ember, done in the 1930s WPA style”), the Chicago Sun-Times (“A high-end pop-up book” aimed at adults, but great for the kiddies too), and the Portland Oregonian (“A national park ecosystem is pretty complex. Now there’s a book to match”) as well as many other publications.
A Roadtrip Rights Deal
Linda Hawkins, publisher at Heart to Heart Publishing, Morgantown, KY, joined Kentucky governor Steve Beshear and several businesspeople on the Kentucky Export Initiative’s recent trip to Montreal and Toronto—and came home to report on her own export: a foreign rights sale of The Heart, a novel Heart to Heart issued in early 2012. Diffusion Vie of the Montreal area bought French-language rights and Canadian distribution rights.
In June, an ABC-TV 20/20 episode, “Out of Prison: Real-Life Thomas Crown Looks Back on Almost-Perfect Heist,” showcased Anthony Curcio, whose story of addiction, bank robbery, and prison led to Nish Publishing’s Heist and High.
Among the recent articles on the decline of book sales and increase in sideline sales at Barnes & Noble, one in the Wall Street Journal quoted Berrett-Koehler’s Kristen Frantz, vice president of sales andmarketing. Although the chain is buying more of BK’s titles “and increasing sales of them through better merchandising,” it has reduced the size of its business section, Frantz noted. “Much of the sales of business books has gone online,” she told the Journal.
A summer NPR Marketplace Morning Report featured Gar Alperovitz, author of Chelsea Green’s What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution. Another Chelsea Green title was publicized on NPR’s Talk of the Nation in an interview with Judith Schwartz, author of Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth.
An interview with Jack Mayer of Long Trail Press on Vermont’s NPR affiliate, vpr.net, about his recent trip to Poland and the Long Trail title Life in a Jar helped him publicize the book’s new Polish edition.
The San Antonio ABC-TV affiliate and the San Diego CBS-TV affiliate were among the media that recently took note of Being Gay Is Okay, a March release from Really Big Coloring Books. Pediatric specialists the San Diego station quoted included psychologist Deb Pontillo, whose comments on the book included: “We’re not talking about what that means to be in love. We’re just talking about different kinds of families, and everyone’s family is different and here’s what my family looks like, and let’s color it.”
“No season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders,” Publishers Weekly wrote about NBM Publishing’s Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White, which PW listed as one of the “Top 10: Comics” for fall, as selected by PW editors.
In “Top 10: Romance & Erotica,” PW included two Sourcebooks Cascablanca titles, What the Bride Wore, the first in a series that “goes behind the scenes of spectacular weddings”; and Against the Ropes, described as “blurring the line between romance and erotica.”
In PW’s “Top 10: Travel,” a University of Wisconsin Press title, Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, is described as questioning “how we travel and [providing] insight as to how we should.”
Linda Carlson writes for the Independent from Seattle, where she is also writing Advertising with Small Budgets for Big Results: How to Find and Buy Print, Broadcast, Outdoor, Online, Direct Response and Offbeat Media.
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