Title Makes TV
“Noted social work book became clue on game show Jeopardy!” is the headline on the Social Workers Speak blog post about what it calls its “Hollywood connection.” Showcasing a title by White Hat Communications that’s now in its fourth edition, the post continues, “Days in the Lives of Social Workers: 58 Professionals Tell ‘Real-Life’ Stories from Social Work Practice, a book by National Association of Social Workers member Linda Grobman, was part of a clue on an episode of Jeopardy! that aired Feb. 27.” Author/publisher Grobman learned about the exposure when a colleague posted a comment on Facebook.
The clue, in the “social studies” category, was: “‘days in the lives of social’ these professionals follows them as they deal with prisoners, youths & the elderly.”
What Do You Do for Students with Disabilities?
Separately, Linda Grobman, of both White Hat Communications and The New Social Worker magazine, has a question for IBPA members: “What policies do you have about requests for books in alternate formats for students with print disabilities?” She’d like to know whether you make text available in PDF or Word format or grant permission for text to be scanned.
If you have comments about format and about whether you require a statement from a disability office (at a college, for example), you can contact Grobman directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Publisher Romances the Web” is how the Wall Street Journal headlined its prominent April story about Sourcebooks launching an online “store” for its romances. The site, discoveranewlove.com, offers “a curated selection of its digital romance novels” for $9.95 for six months and will allow purchasers to talk to authors via live chat, and to other purchasers/readers. Publisher Dominique Raccah chose to create a store for romance because it is fiction’s most-read genre and, as the Journal noted, “Romance readers also have been quick to adopt digital books—a format that is more easily kept private than a paperback with a bodice-ripper cover.”
Books by Kids Get Ink
KidPub Press and some of its youthful authors were featured in a recent New York Times story, “Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad)” (nytimes.com/2012/04/01/us/young-writers-find-a-devoted-publisher-thanks-mom-and-dad.html). The front-page story was accompanied by photos of a 14-year-old author published by KidPub Press, which founder Perry Donham believes is the world’s largest publisher of books written by kids. Donham, one of two self-publishing executives quoted in the story, said KidPub had published 140 books in 2011.
Weighing in on TV with a Price Tag
Tabby House senior editor Linda Salisbury struck a chord with IBPA members through her article “My Brush with ‘Branded Entertainment” (April).
Responses started coming in even before she got her own copy of the April issue. Among those who thanked Salisbury for sharing her reactions to a pitch about paying to be on TV was Patricia Turner Custard of Black Plume Books, who got a similar pitch more than a year ago and appreciated the article’s “sound and balanced advice.” “Hopefully,” she noted, it “will be helpful for those deciding whether or not to leap into the world of branded entertainment.”
The article also resonated for other members, including Patricia Weenolsen at Ruby Throat Press, who wrote, “You’re probably inundated with emails from people who had a similar experience—and this is one of them.” The similar pitch she had gotten “sounded perfectly okay to me,” she recalled, especially since she had been on the Today show and others for a book published by St. Martin’s Press. “Then I looked at their previous speakers and all of them seemed to be from very small presses like my own. . . . To me that was suspicious.” When her St. Martin’s title was featured on television shows, Weenolsen points out, nobody paid the programs.
WSJ on SF to DC
The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast—about a 12-year-old “ambivalent cyclist” who decided to pedal a bicycle from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., with his dad to avoid learning Hebrew and having a bar mitzvah—got a lengthy review in a recent Wall Street Journal weekend edition. “Entertaining and occasionally poignant memoir” is how the Mountaineers Books title is described in the piece, archived at online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303299604577328171864502112.html (tinyurl.com/7updhfr).
Backlist Front and Center
A fourth-grader’s interest in the author of the book her class was turning into a play led to a newspaper story and the sale of almost 100 copies of A Horse’s Tale and Under Whose Influence by Judith Laik from Parenting Press. Even more impressive, only three weeks went by from the time the student contacted the author until she attended the play performance and was interviewed by the Daily Olympian in Washington State’s capital. And that coverage created an opportunity to publicize the 23-year-old A Horse’s Tale to elementary school librarians and teachers across the state (Laik’s story about President Franklin Roosevelt’s visit to the Grand Coulee Dam construction site is part of the historical fiction the press published for Washington’s centennial in 1989).
Civil War West via Multimedia
Historical fiction, Queen of the Northern Mines: a Novel of the Civil War in California, is getting publicity partly through museums, co-author and Bear River Books publisher Richard Hurley reports. The Folsom, CA, History Museum requested last fall that the company guest curate an exhibit based on the novel and the related multimedia presentation, “California and the Civil War,” which Hurley and co-author TJ Meekins offer to museums and historical societies. As part of the exhibit opening, the authors were interviewed on Capital Public Radio (Sacramento); visit capradio.org and the events page at bearriverbooks.com for more on that.
From a Personal Angle
Square One publisher Rudy Shur’s personal interest in noninvasive cancer treatments was highlighted in a lengthy feature in Shelf Awareness. It described how his passion for a new book on his company’s list of health titles—Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail—was driven by his wife’s 2007 diagnosis of a rare and aggressive thyroid cancer. Treated with a cocktail as well as surgery and radiation, Erica Shur has now been cancer-free for almost four years.
P.S.: Shelf Awareness announcements of store openings, closures, and moves are very useful to publishers like Square One that maintain their own lists of bookstores. Parenting Press sends hand-signed congratulatory notes to new booksellers using cards made with artwork from one of its children’s books.
Color Them Selling
At Really Big Coloring Books, publisher Wayne Bell is watching results of the soft launch for his second 36-page Tea Party book, Tea Party II: Why America Loves You! A Social-Activist Coloring Book for Kids. Introduced in August 2010, the initial edition grabbed attention in all sorts of media here and abroad. Within a month of publication, it had sold more than 100,000 copies, Bell says, adding that last fall’s publication of Occupy: A Grown-Up Coloring Book Novel kept the company in headlines in some 150 countries.
RBCB sold 1,700 copies of the Occupy coloring book from its Web site on publication date, Bell reports, “and it continued to do well until the movement turned negative. When people started getting violent, our sales fell through the floor.” Although sales have not returned to the peak level, they continue, the publisher says, and the book continues in print.
As an aside, RBCB has been marketing through school and youth group fundraisers since 1988, and Bell says they now account for more than 20 percent of the company’s business.
Trying Free for Starters
Peak City Publishing recently used Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing’s Select giveaway program to introduce When Farts Had Colors and to promote Storm Surge: A Jonie Waters Mystery. Publisher Shiloh Burnam says that when Storm Surge was offered free for five days, it had 43,573 downloads. Following the promotion, enough Kindle editions (at $2.99 each) were sold within two weeks to generate royalties (net of electronic file delivery charges of pennies per copy) that she estimates will total almost $5,000. In a short later promotion, more than 13,000 free copies of When Farts Had Colors were downloaded, and the promotion resulted in 493 sales and estimated net royalties of $361 as of March 31.
For her start-up, Burnam is enthusiastic about the results of the program, which requires giving Amazon a 90-day exclusive on the e-books (but not on the books in print format). “We did not spend any real money” on promoting the books, Burnham says, and “we received reviews, exposure to new readers, and thousands of dollars in real sales.” This type of promotion for paperbacks “would have been cost-prohibitive,” she notes, adding that she is “now using the success of the e-book promotion—‘Amazon Bestseller’—to promote the paperback editions.”
For more information about this Amazon program, see kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin.
Victoria Hopewell, who wrote Grade A Baby Eggs: An Infertility Memoir (Epigraph), was interviewed by Mindy Todd on Boston’s NPR affiliate, WBUR, in mid-May.
The Swan River Publishing children’s book Searching for the You We Adore by Valerie Westfall has garnered glowing reviews, including “destined to become a classic, especially among adoptive families” from the Washington Times, which accompanied its review with one of the “vibrant, bold” illustrations by Richard Cowdrey, who also illustrated the New York Times bestseller Bad Dog Marley. Cowdry also got the book reviewed in his college alumni publication.
Epicenter Press author Mary Albanese, whose Midnight Sun, Arctic Moon was launched April 1, was featured twice in one week in a recent Shelf Awareness, once for the book trailer she had created, and later as the subject of Book Brahmin, the e-newsletter’s regular profile of an author. Publisher Kent Sturgis was pleasantly surprised by both features, which resulted from publicity by Albanese’s publicist.
John Paul Godges’ Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century reached the #3 position on Amazon.com’s U.S. genealogy paperbacks list, and was #5 on the company’s Kindle bestseller list for genealogy this spring. Godges credits the continuing popularity of the book to genealogy blogs that publicize it as a good example of how to bring a family story to life.
Ocean Publishing’s Frank Gromling presented Protect Oceans, Protect Life at the recent 15th Annual Gandhi-King Season for Nonviolence in Daytona Beach FL. Ocean donated half the proceeds from sales at the conference to nonviolence programs.
For Sales at the Back of the Room
The value of personal appearances, especially when you’re already heading to a city, is important to David FitzSimmons, who publishes Curious Critters at Wild Iris Publishing (and who wrote “From Idea to Animal Planet: The Curious Critters Formula for Success” for our April issue). His primary business is photography, and thanks to a camera and lens manufacturer that sponsors his photography workshops, FitzSimmons is on the road a lot. He arranges visits to schools, libraries, bookstores, conferences, and other venues himself, often describing his programs to event coordinators by telephone while he uses the Internet to electronically “flip” through the pages for them.
When he’s handling book sales in schools and libraries, FitzSimmons uses Square card-reader technology, so he can accept credit cards and debit cards along with cash and checks. “This doubles our sales in some locations,” he reports. He also encourages direct sales by charging $20, including sales tax, for a book list priced at $19.95: “Most people have a $20 bill and are willing to spend it after a meaningful experience, especially if the book will be personalized and autographed.” Although FitzSimmons believes $20 may be the maximum most people will spend on a single book at an event, he says that when he offers two books for a total of $35, his sales increase 25 to 35 percent.
Want more tips from FitzSimmons? Catch one of his appearances. His schedule’s at fitzsimmonsphotography.com.
Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com), who welcomes members’ news of unusual special sales, licensing deals, significant media coups in the last month, movie and television options, and other achievements at email@example.com.
The focus of this column is as much about how you accomplish something as what you accomplish, so specific how-to’s are important.
For her other monthly articles in the Independent, Linda often emails members to ask about their experiences. To ensure you receive these messages, check that you have her email address in your address book.
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 press 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 June 10 can be considered for the August 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.