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From the Board Room

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From the Board Room

by Carlene Sippola

I’m excited about this new column in the Independent called Board Member’s Corner. I’m even more excited about sharing this column with a group of dedicated individuals who work hard on behalf of our IBPA members.

This is how it will work. Every three months you will hear from me. I will report on the news from the latest board meeting. The other eight months of the year you will hear from various board members. Their articles will reflect their particular publishing expertise and their perspective on what’s happening in the publishing world.

Our board is here to serve you, and we want to keep the lines of communication open. I hope this column increases those lines of communication and gives you an opportunity to get to know our board members.

Our board held its November meeting in Redondo Beach, CA, near the IBPA headquarters. Although the fog rolled in along the coast and tried to dampen our spirits, it was unsuccessful. There was nothing foggy about the clear thinking and high energy displayed around the boardroom table. We spent 12 dedicated hours brainstorming ideas and strategies, reviewing current programs and member benefits, and planning exciting changes for IBPA.

Here’s a summary of the focus areas.

Membership Focus Group

Our president, Florrie Binford Kichler, led us through a productive process that entailed looking at our various kinds of members (e.g., small, midsized, foreign, self-publishers, students) and brainstorming ways to serve them. This is always something of a challenge because of the ever-changing needs of our members. We came up with many creative ideas and strategies. The next step is to prioritize and create action plans.

We also spent some time discussing how each board member can actively work at recruiting new members. Florrie asked each of us to “sign on the dotted line” and commit to some new strategies. She got a 100 percent commitment from the board.

Education Focus Group

There are many educational opportunities for IBPA members, from webinars to our annual Publishing University. Terry and his staff are already hard at work planning our next Pub-U, to be held in May 2010, in conjunction with BookExpo America, as usual. We spent some time discussing this event.

The two major challenges we face this year are the timeframe and the expense. BEA, which used to run from the end of the week through the weekend, has now been scheduled for midweek, which is when our event has traditionally taken place, so Publishing University 2010 will be held earlier in the week. To help keep expenses down, Terry is exploring a variety of venues in New York City, as well as negotiating better hotel rates. These are challenges that we are confident we will meet with creative and successful solutions.

Publishing University Online was also on the agenda. Successfully implemented and run by a previous board member, Frank Gromling, and our own Lisa Krebs Magno, this program is a gem. The online workshops are well attended, and we have a treasure of archived programs that are available to our membership at a very low cost.

Communication Focus Group

A huge effort is under way to increase communication, collaboration, and education amid the IBPA community by setting up social networking tools. The goal is to give members and would-be members a forum within which to interact with one another and with the IBPA staff.

Florrie has created a social media plan that will raise awareness of IBPA, enable real-time member dialogue, provide ways for members to network with and learn from one another, and build community. The board unanimously supports her plan, and it is already being implemented. A Facebook page for IBPA and an IBPA blog are being created as I write this (watch for details in the February issue of the Independent); an IBPA LinkedIn group has just been set up (linkedin.com), and you can now follow Florrie on Twitter at twitter.com/ibpa.

Marketing Program Focus Group

This may be the most exciting area of current focus. We have made some significant updates to our marketing programs and are close to launching some brand-new opportunities for our members. Watch the Independent and e-blasts for more information.

Lisa and Florrie had recently returned from the Frankfurt Book Fair when the board met, and they submitted a report on selling rights for members. The good news is that even with the distress many are feeling in the publishing industry, the foreign rights business is alive and well. They reported a high level of interest in our titles.

Over the years, IBPA has nurtured invaluable relationships at Frankfurt with many foreign publishers. Lisa and Florrie had back-to-back 30-minute meetings throughout the book fair. I was personally thrilled to learn that nine separate publishers requested review copies of one of my titles. If only one of those contacts offers me a contract, it will be well worth the investment I made in having IBPA represent books my company publishes.

For the Future

We concluded our meeting this year with a major brainstorming session on how IBPA can become an even stronger organization in the publishing community. How can we generate additional revenue so we can offer even more to our members? What new benefits can we find? How can we be more effective in our advocacy role? How can we provide additional educational opportunities?

The answers were plentiful. So, between now and our next board meeting, we will all be very busy doing our best to support the staff and our members.

Remember, our doors are open. Please feel free to contact any of the board members with your questions, concerns, ideas, and good wishes.

I’ll be waiting to hear from you. You can reach me anytime at carlene@wholeperson.com.



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