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Five Courses You Will Meet at PMA University (with apologies to Mitch Albom)

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When I interviewed speakers for five of the courses at this year’s PMA University, I was pleased to discover that, without coaching, they all sounded the theme of this year’s program: “Inventive Publishers Reinventing Publishing.” If you’re still on the fence about whether to attend the 2005 PMA University, read on to get a taste of what’s in store.

Make Your First Book a Winner! (We Did),to be presented by Kymberli Brady-Kymzinn, Inc., and Peter Bowerman on Tuesday, May 31, at 1:30 p.m. (for first-time attendees, who can attend the first day of PMA University at no charge).

Peter Bowerman is a writer, self-publisher and writing coach whose first book, The Well-Fed Writer, aims to help people write commercially at a healthy hourly rate. Peter started out in sales, but in the back of his mind he always meant to be a writer. While he was driving one day, the title of his first book struck him, and he says there was no turning back from his dream.

Peter will talk about the importance of having a good title and cover. “Frankly,” he says, “the cover and title are more important than the content of the book, because that’s the snapshot that is going to reach out to people and influence them to decide whether to look further or pass on by.”

In the same course, Kymberli Brady, author of The Sleepy Little Star, will tell you how to start selling locally and branch out in ever-widening circles. “Nobody will sell your book better than you,” she says. “No one will be as passionate as you. Don’t think you can’t do it because you don’t have a big budget. You don’t need one. You just have to use your ingenuity and creativity.” Many authors make the mistake of trying to reach for a national audience right off the bat, when books aren’t in the stores and promotional and publicity efforts will be wasted. “If you stay local,” Kymberli notes, “you can always throw a box of books in your car and drive them to the event, and you end up putting the money in your pocket!”

If I Could Do It All Over Again: Ten Mistakes to Avoid in Marketing, to be presented by Jay Lipe of Chammerson Press and Judy Geary of High Country Publishers on Thursday, June 2, at 10:15 a.m.

Jay and Judy will address some of the goofs, gaffes, and horror shows they’ve experienced in marketing their books and explain how to maximize the use of the prepub period for building and promoting your book. Jay, the author of The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses, will tell you how to contact and network with a wide range of people before pub date, gathering testimonials and stimulating supporters who will become strong sales agents when the book is released. “You should use these people to get blurbs, ask them for feedback on your manuscript, and network with them to line up personal appearances as soon as your title is published and has reached the stores,” Jay says.

One-Book Wonders: How You Can Get National Publicity, to be presented by Marisa D’Vari of Career Press, Kimberly and Kaleigh Komatsu of Thomas George Books, and Carl Sams of Sams Photography on Thursday, June 2, at 8:30 a.m.

Carl Sams and his wife/partner, Jean Stoick, are internationally known wildlife photographers who have designed, packaged, and laid out many wildlife titles for leading publishers and published a very successful children’s book, Stranger in the Woods, themselves. Back when they were designing a book about whitetail deer for a major publisher, Jean and Carl realized that they had thousands of images of fawns that an adult audience wouldn’t appreciate but children would. But when they suggested using the images in a book for children, the publisher said it would never sell. Undaunted, Carl and Jean used their own money to produce and publish the book.

Now, 1.1 million copies later, Carl and Jean are promoting their full product line, which includes a book, a plush toy, a board book, and a soon-to-be-released video. Carl’s success story underlines the importance of doing things right and the way you know they should be done. “Don’t rush the production,” he says. “Devote your most important resource, time, to making sure that you’ve put the best quality into the book that you can.”

Providing Editors with the Marketing Edge, to be presented by Michael Larsen of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, Rick Frishman of Planned Television Arts, and Judith Appelbaum of Sensible Solutions on Wednesday, June 1, at 2:00 p.m.

Judith Appelbaum is not only the editor at large of the PMA Independent and the managing director of her own book-marketing firm, but also the author of one of the most successful books about publishing, How to Get Happily Published, which is now in its fifth edition with more than half a million copies sold. When I spoke with her recently, she said that that she plans to offer PMA-U attendees a crash course in target marketing–why to do it, how to do it, and what the payoffs are likely to be.

The focus for Rick Frishman–the high-octane president of Planned Television Arts and co-author of Networking Magic, Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, and Guerrilla Publicity–is on getting radio and television bookings. His main message: “The author must be the primary cheerleader for the life of any book. No matter how successful you become, the marketing never stops.”

When, How, and Why You Should Redesign Your Web Site, to be presented by Willie Ripple of Oakbrook Publishing House, Larry Bram of Teaching Strategies, and me on Wednesday, June 1, at 3:45 p.m.

We’ll take you step by step through the process of designing or redesigning a Web site, with Willie zeroing in on topics such as the image, the message, ways to stay ahead of the competition, search engine placement, navigation, and order taking. Larry will present a strategic model for planning and building a site. And I’ll discuss choosing a designer and using basic rules of thumb for controlling costs and generating sales.

65 More Courses to Meet

Of course, I’ve touched on only a fraction of the 70 courses that you can take at this year’s PMA University, all featuring knowledgeable speakers delivering practical advice that you can put to use immediately to save money, make more money, and achieve success. Come join us. This will be the best educational event about publishing that you’ve ever attended. That’s the PMA University guarantee!

Robin Bartlett is the director of sales and business development for the American College of Physicians in Philadelphia and president of the American Medical Publishers Association. A frequent contributor to the PMA Independent, he has been on PMA’s board of directors and is chair of the PMA University program. To contact him, e-mail robin@robinbartlett.com; or visit www.robinbartlett.com.

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