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Director’s Desk:
Surveys, White Papers & Other Reports

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Over the past few years, PMA has begun publishing a series of reports to help publishers develop their companies. The latest report–by Tom Woll, author of Publishing for Profit–deals with marketing. Prior reports have addressed returns, salaries, and other topics of interest to the small to mid-sized publisher. All of them are available in print, as well as online, via www.pma-online,org.

The next in the series, being planned right now, will be an update of the benchmark study The Rest of Us, jointly produced by the Book Industry Study Group and the Publishers Marketing Association. When this was first released in 1999, it provided facts and figures about our portion of the book industry that were eye-opening.

I’m sure that this year’s survey will provide important new data about our portion of the industry, which has never been adequately represented in statistics about book publishing.

If you would like to receive an e-mailed version of this short and simple survey, please send your e-mail address to jan@pma-online.org, and we’ll add you to our database. If you’d prefer to receive the survey by mail, send us your address and we’ll mail you a copy.

Your participation is important, whether or not you are a member of PMA. We are surveying a vital and growing segment of an industry, not a membership organization.


Marketing Survey Preview

Marketing is one of the primary concerns of all publishers, but especially important for members of the Publishers Marketing Association. In an effort to determine how and where publishers use their marketing dollars, and the amount and percentage allocated to marketing, PMA has sponsored a survey of its members.

Highlights of the survey are:

• The average amount of time survey respondents have been in business is:

8 years for those with budgets under $25,000

20 years for those with budgets over $25,000.

• The average number of full-time marketing staff people (or their equivalents) is:

1 for those with budgets under $25,000

2 for those with budgets over $25,000.


• The average percentage of net sales that marketing budgets constitute is:

68% for those with budgets under $25,000

18% for those with budgets over $25,000.

• The average dollar amount spent on marketing in 2001 is:

$5,828 for those with budgets under $25,000

$213,436 for those with budgets over $25,000.

• The percentage of respondents who set formal marketing budgets is:

39% of those with budgets under $25,000

83% of those with budgets over $25,000.

• The percentage of respondents who differentiate marketing efforts between frontlist and backlist books is:


22% of those with budgets under $25,000

40% of those with budgets over $25,000.

• The percentage of respondents who analyze the conferences/exhibits they attend to determine revenue vs. cost is:

52% of those with budgets under $25,000 do this analysis; this group looks for a multiple of revenue to cost of 1.94.

52% of those with budgets over $25,000 also do this analysis; they look for a multiple of 2.36.

• Virtually all respondents–97%–use the Internet for marketing. The top three ways are:

1. Having a Web site for the entire publisher’s list

2. Having links to other sites

3. Sending e-mails to reviewers.

• Few respondents advertise in consumer newspapers:

Only 15% of those with budgets under $25,000 do

Only 17% of those with budgets over $25,000 do.


• A minority of respondents use co-op marketing services:

42% of those with budgets under $25,000 do

33% of those with budgets over $25,000 do.

• Respondents use a broad range of marketing techniques to help sell their books. The top three for those with budgets under $25,000 are:

1. Conventions/exhibits: 14%; Median $ spent: $1,000

2. Trade magazine advertising: 9%; Median $ spent: $1,000

3. Direct mail: 9%; Median $ spent: $1,000.


The top three for those with budgets over $25,000 are:


1. Publisher’s own catalog: 26%; Median $ spent: $24,000

2. Conventions/exhibits: 15%; Median $ spent: $15,500

3. Direct Mail: 13%; Median $ spent: $6,000.

For more information on this and other surveys, visit the PMA Web site at www.pma-online.org. We hope you find this–and all the other information on the Web site–helpful in developing your publishing program. All of the surveys done by PMA are free to members and are available at a slight cost to nonmembers.


A Pitch for the Business Plan

Start the year off right!

Sit down this week and develop your business plan for 2003 (even if you’ve never had one before… even if it’s begun on the back of scrap paper).

So often we get calls from our members who are desperate for advice on how to make the best use of their limited time and dollars to produce the greatest profits. When we ask them to explain to us what’s been working well in their business plan so far, too many reply that they’ve never written a business plan. So they don’t know what’s working and what’s not.

It’s really difficult for us to help and for you, the publisher, to understand your own business without some type of plan. I like to look at publishing as an upside-down pyramid. Ask yourself who’s the primary target for purchasing your title or titles (see Eric Gelb’s article in this issue for specific help here). After you’ve exhausted this market, ask where the secondary target is or what other markets your book can grow into. As you start at a very small bottom and work slowly but methodically upward, who knows, you may even end up with a best-seller on your backlist!

Just ask PMA member Kent Sturgis (Epicenter Press, Seattle, Washington). He sent me a copy of their latest book, Raising Ourselves: A Gwich’in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River by Velma Wallis. Epicenter helped Velma quietly become Alaska’s most popular living writer.

Initially Epicenter published Wallis’s award-winning recreation of a Gwich’in survival legend, Two Old Women, in hardcover. Epicenter sold 58,000 hardcover copies through 13 printings. Then HarperCollins in New York sold an additional 172,000 softcover copies while the U.S. Book Club sold 28,000 more. This book has been translated into 17 languages and has recently passed the million-copy mark.

When Kent first published Two Old Women, he didn’t set out to sell the world on this book. He was following his business plan of bringing works from good Northwest voices into print. I hope this Epicenter tale inspires many of you to sit down today and develop that plan!

Happy New Year all!


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