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Avoiding Burnout, and Other Aids to Growth

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PMA recently convened
representatives from many of its Affiliate Groups throughout the country to
hear their concerns and to see how we might be able to help affiliates
stabilize or grow. No matter whether a group represented a small geographic
area (e.g., San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, or the Bay Area of
California), a state (e.g., Minnesota, New Mexico, or Florida), or several
states (e.g., New England, the Northwest), the concerns of one were shared by
all. And many of the questions the groups’ representatives posed at the March
4–5 meeting were questions publishers might ask about running their


For instance, avoiding board
burnout emerged as a serious issue, just as avoiding burnout is for publishers
in general. So many times, groups and companies start because of someone’s
passion. The big question is, how to keep that passion alive.


It’s interesting that—since
day one—PMA board members have never experienced board burnout. In fact,
when our board members exit the board, they often stay involved in other
aspects of PMA. The explanation may lie partly in the way PMA was set up. Our
bylaws outline board structure, and we have always followed them to the letter.
A board member is elected for one two-year term and has the right to ask to
serve for an additional two years. But at the end of four years, the board
member must leave the board and make room for another volunteer. I think that this
regular pattern of change allows interest and passion to remain and helps the
organization grow.


No, Wait; Are You Sure
You’d Rather Do It Yourself?


Delegation also surfaced as an
important issue for affiliates. Too many times, one person on a board wants to
do everything, or is forced to do it all. While this person performs, everyone
is happy. But the handwriting is on the wall—burnout is inevitable.


Similarly, delegation is difficult
for publishers to handle, especially when they are entrepreneurs who are
accustomed to doing everything themselves. Yes, if you delegate a task, it may
not be done exactly the way you want it done, but you may find that another
person’s way of doing it is okay even though—yes—you would have
done it better.


As an association or a company
grows, it isn’t feasible for the same person to do all the work. In fact, that
setup and mindset often prevent growth. A key phrase to remember when growing a
group or company is “Manage Rather Than Do.”


Communication Challenges


All the affiliates at our meeting
took note of the challenge of speaking at and presenting programs for startup
publishers and writers while keeping more experienced publishers interested and
active. Brainstorming produced suggestions about having occasional meetings
aimed at more experienced publishers and using their experience in other


Another challenge we discussed
concerned meeting locations—how to make them convenient for all members;
how to set up satellite groups to let meetings in various locations fulfill
needs; how to decide whether and when to use e-learning or telephone rap


Many of our regional groups have
Web sites and heavily utilize electronic communication with their members. Some
no longer print newsletters and meeting notifications, relying instead on
electronic delivery, which helps control costs and lets communication be
efficient and timely.


Find Your Group Here


Membership dollars seem to be the
largest single revenue source for most PMA affiliates, so every publisher can
support a local group simply by joining it. That way, you will help keep your
group alive and able to provide services that you can use in the future.


All PMA affiliates (some 29-plus
of them) are listed on our Web site, where you can also find information about
their meetings and special programs. I encourage you to visit <span
And if you are willing to volunteer even a small bit of your time to ensure
that the book-publishing community in your region remains strong, I urge you to
zero in on the names you will see there with contact information.


PMA’s affiliates are our
lifeblood, providing networking and support throughout the year to publishers
in their areas. The meeting in Los Angeles in March signaled just the beginning
of a long-term commitment that PMA is making to our publisher members
throughout the country, and we want to thank those people who represented our
affiliates at this session. They are: Pete Masterson, Bay Area Independent Book
Publishers Association; Kent Sturgis, PMA president and representative of the
Book Publishers Northwest; Frank Gromling, PMA board member, and Betsy Lampe,
Florida Publishers Association; Mary Ellen Lepionka, Independent Publishers of
New England; Sybil Smith, Midwest Independent Publishers Association; Richard
Harris, New Mexico Book Association; Andrew Chapman, Publishers and Writers of
San Diego; Sharon Goldinger and Suzanne Reyto, Publishers Association of Los
Angeles; Patricia Fry, Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network; and
PMA’s affiliate chairperson, Carlene Sippola, who organized this highly
successful first step in line with PMA’s mission, “helping each other to
achieve and succeed.”



E-Learning Alert


PMA will soon be announcing
its new e-learning program, developed by board member Frank Gromling of Ocean
Publishing, who was a representative from the Florida Publishers Association at
our meeting.



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