by Terry Nathan
Education, in my opinion, is the most important part of your publishing program, especially in this day and age. The business of book publishing is changing so rapidly that you need to jump on board the school bus, or be run over by it. September always brings to mind going back to school, so why not continue the tradition and take this opportunity to sharpen your skills? IBPA offers some excellent opportunities for you to reinforce what you already know and add to your store of valuable knowledge.
When our association began in 1983, offering low-cost, useful marketing programs was our top priority. It took us exactly one year to realize that offering educational opportunities was equally important, if not more important.
Publishing University. In 1984 we presented the first of our annual Publishing University programs. What began as a few simple sessions at a restaurant in southern California quickly gathered steam and has now become a premier educational event for independent publishers.
Our flagship educational event takes place over two or three days, usually in the same place as our industry’s largest trade show, BookExpo America. At the University we bring in more than 150 experts who educate our members on all aspects of the publishing business. Attendees receive a course book of outlines and handouts from the 75-plus sessions, and every attendee I have ever asked has left this event invigorated and ready to take their publishing business to the next level.
We always audiotape the sessions, and recordings from past years are available through our Web site anytime.
Save the date: On May 27–28, 2009, Publishing University will be back in New York City, at the Roosevelt Hotel. We are putting the finishing touches on the list of speakers and seminars now, and our 2009 conference is shaping up to be our best ever. I hope to see you there.
In addition to the annual Publishing University, we offer several great opportunities for you to learn about the business of publishing.
IBPA Independent. Every time we poll our members, our monthly publication, the IBPA Independent, receives top honors on the list of favorite member benefits. Flip through the pages of this issue and you will see why. And don’t forget that we have 12 years of excellent articles on publishing—including coverage of trends in the industry and ideas to help you sell books—available at our Web site and searchable by keyword. Whenever you are faced with a publishing challenge, remember to click on Independent Articles on the home page of our site. And the best part about this archive is, it is free.
Publishing University Online. In September 2006, under the direction of board member Frank Gromling, we launched our first Web seminar. Jonathan Kirsch, who is an incredible speaker, led a session on Building a Better Book Contract. Approximately 60 of our members attended, and it was a huge success. Since then we have offered all kinds of different sessions, covering the latest trends in Web marketing, special sales, budgeting, publicity, and more. We are now offering one Webinar per month, on the third Wednesday of the month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time (11 a.m. to noon Pacific time), and we are exploring options for adding more.
All the past sessions have been recorded and are available for you to view whenever you have the time. If you decide to attend one of the live sessions, you will be able to ask questions of the speaker or moderator via a text chat. Either way, we now have a terrific collection of topics for you to choose from. Whenever you are faced with a new challenge in the publishing world, chances are there is a session available to help you. If you have not yet tried one of these Webinars, I encourage you to give it a whirl. It could not be simpler. All you need is a phone line (for the live sessions) and an Internet connection. Oh, yeah, a comfortable office chair won’t hurt either.
One-Day Universities. At least once a year, the IBPA board of directors visits a regional publishing group to conduct a one-day seminar. Our board of directors is made up of some of the most brilliant people in the industry, and I am always amazed at how much we can cover in one day. Last year we were in Arizona, the year before that it was St. Louis, and the year before that Florida. This year we are planning to visit the Northeast on the weekend of November 7. If you are able to attend, I recommend you put it on your calendar now. We will have more details about this conference soon, so please call the IBPA office or visit our Web site for more information.
White Paper Reports. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, we paid a publishing consultant to conduct in-depth studies of aspects of the publishing industry. The end result was a collection of some very valuable reports. Topics covered include distribution, returns, marketing, and salaries. While some of these reports are now a little dated, much of the information is still very useful. Watch our Web site for news of new versions; many of these reports are being updated as we speak.
The IBPA Web Site. Our site is full of great information. I’ve mentioned some of it above, but there are all sorts of items you are sure to find useful: lists of booksellers, distributors, regional publishing groups, discounts on business services, a suppliers directory, and more. Go to ibpa-online.org and check it out.
The IBPA Office. Members call the IBPA office all day long with questions about the industry. Some we are able to answer right away, and others we are not. But we will always listen, and we will always do our best to direct you to someone who can help. Try us by calling 310/372-2732.
Fall Trade Shows. The fall also makes me think of book shows. For the past 22 years, we have taken our members’ books to the Frankfurt International Book Fair, held in October. Frankfurt is a gigantic show, with 15 buildings, multiple levels, and just about every country on earth represented. We have established an extensive network of foreign contacts, including foreign publishers, agents, distributors, and more. We sit and meet with these individuals and do our best to generate interest in foreign rights to our members’ books. Many times rights deals provide “found money” for our members. There may still be time for you to register, so if you are interested, please contact the IBPA office right away.
When we saw a large drop-off in bookseller attendance at BEA 10 years ago, we decided to branch out and offer display opportunities for our members at several of the larger and better-attended regional bookseller fairs as well. Since then we have worked cooperatively with our regional publishing groups to staff the tables and help push our members’ books in their areas. This year we are attending six of these shows, starting in early September and going into October. Check with the office to see if there is still time to get your book displayed at the later ones.
Happy New Year!
So go ahead—buy yourself some new clothes, sharpen your pencils, and prepare to put some time into educating yourself to take your publishing program to the next level. As the new school year starts, I feel like borrowing the Nike slogan and saying, “Just do it!”