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It Takes a Village to Raise a Publisher

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by Florrie Binford Kichler

It Takes a Village to Raise a Publisher

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.—William Butler Yeats

Almost 20 years ago, a small group of publishers calling themselves PMA thought it would be a great idea to offer a few seminars to teach some of their colleagues something about publishing they didn’t know.

In the years since, a multitude of volunteer publishing-industry veterans have taught thousands of publishers something about publishing they didn’t know.

And they’re still doing it.

Welcome to Publishing University—three days of nonstop learning, held in conjunction with BEA, where we all learn from one another and from the best and brightest in our industry, and where networking is the only rule. Think you’ve been there, done that? Wait till you learn what’s on tap for 2008.

This Is NOT Your Parents’ Publishing University

With more than half the classes brand new, a separate track dedicated to more experienced publishers, enough tech sessions to satisfy even the most dedicated blogger and MySpace-er, and programming expanded to three full days, the 2008 Publishing University promises to be our most ambitious and successful yet. Nowhere else can you find the depth and breadth of publishing education contained in 80-plus sessions taught by 200-plus book-industry professionals. All this, lunch, and keynote speakers guaranteed to inspire and inform, and a grand finale—the Benjamin Franklin Awards and Celebration of 25 Years of PMA—makes Publishing University 2008 a must-attend for all.


But I went last year. What could possibly be there for me again?

How about 44 brand-new sessions—everything from The Top Ten Things You Must Know about Book Publicity, to Catching the Long Tail of Print-on-Demand (POD); and from Short-Run Printing, to Trends in Bookstore Marketing? And you won’t want to miss the all-new Early Bird sessions (see below). Where else can you have a one-on-one with a potential buyer of thousands of your books, or get a consulting session with a publishing professional (included in your Publishing University registration)?

Internet marketing is the hot topic everywhere. Keep up to date on the changes that are occurring at the speed of light. Check out Web Site WOW: Give Your Site a Marketing Makeover; Online Press Room Basics: Virtual Media Rooms . . . the Good, the Bad, and the Functional; and much more.

I’m a morning person—any sessions that start early?

The new Early Bird tracks are meant for early risers. Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, you can Ask the Experts—a special opportunity to meet with speakers and industry veterans for brief, one-on-one private consulting sessions on a wide range of publishing topics.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the secret is to making those large-quantity special sales to big-box retailers and beyond, grab your coffee and Meet and Greet the Special Sales Buyers—your chance to participate in one-on-one meetings with people who can buy your books in large quantities.

I’m just starting my publishing venture. What do you recommend for a first-timer at Publishing University?

Plan ahead. University courses are grouped by subject matter (tracks), and you can find a complete listing at pma-online.org. It’s tempting to want to do it all, and of course you want to get your money’s worth, but spending 15 minutes in each of the more than 80 sessions is definitely not the best use of your time. One solution for doubling your exposure is to use the buddy system—you attend the Publicity Track, your friend attends the Marketing Track, and you share notes. And remember that all the sessions are available after the University in audio format, so it’s easy to pick up any classes you may have missed.

Attend Tuesday’s Welcome classes. An invaluable overview of the Publishing University experience, Maximize Your Time/Attendance at Publishing University provides tips and tricks for getting the most out of the University. Instructor and Publishing University education chair Robin Bartlett is your Mapquest™ for navigating the University efficiently and effectively and will tell you precisely how to get the most bang for your buck. Listen to him.

I thought the University was just for new publishers—what’s changed?

How about an all-new Advanced Track custom designed just for our more experienced attendees? Meet three of the following five criteria, and you’re in:

previous attendance at Publishing University

three or more years in publishing

publishing as your primary business

at least $250K in annual sales

five or more titles published

A keynote speech by Sara Nelson, editor of Publishers Weekly, plus an entire day of programming created especially for the “veteran,” adds up to a unique learning and networking opportunity. A Taste of the Web/Advanced Web 2.0 Tools: Digg, Del.icio.us, Wikis . . . Oh My! and Got Milk? Branding, Licensing and Product Line Extensions are just two of the sessions that we’ve planned with the growth and success of experienced publishers’ business as the ultimate goal.

I need to learn more about . . . [publicity, finances, marketing, sales, legal]. How can Publishing University help me?

With nine tracks and more than 80 courses covering everything from protecting your copyright to revealing the secrets of buzz marketing, it is hard to imagine a facet of publishing not covered. Want sales pointers? Back by popular demand is Speed-Dating Your Distributor. Are editorial woes keeping you awake at night? Come to How to Hire and Work with Editorial Freelancers. Budget shortfalls got you down? Head over to Make More Profitable Financial Choices.

Where can I get details?

Read the upcoming articles in PMA Independent highlighting selected sessions to be offered in Publishing University 2008.

Visit pma-online.org for class descriptions, online registration, and more.

Call the association office for any question not answered online.

P. S.

Direct mail marketers consider the postscript the most critical element, as it is almost always read by the recipient. Here’s mine:

It takes a village to raise a publisher. The following folks have been tireless volunteers, and their efforts on your behalf will help make Publishing University 2008 the most challenging, exciting, and informative educational program on the planet. Led by educational chair Robin Bartlett and PMA director Terry Nathan, they are Bob Baker, Kate Bandos, Marianne Bohr, Sharon Castlen, Rod Colvin, Sharon Goldinger, Brian Jud, and Antoinette Kuritz. Thanks also go to Jennifer Stein and Linda Beattie Inlow, who are assisting with marketing and promotion.

It takes a village to raise a publisher. A huge thank-you to the hundreds of course organizers and instructors—all volunteer—without whom Publishing University would not exist.

It takes a village to raise a publisher. We look forward to seeing you, our publishing family, at the 2008 Publishing University in Los Angeles to learn, laugh, and celebrate 25 years of PMA helping independent publishers achieve and succeed.

My virtual door is always open. Please share your comments, thoughts, and ideas by emailing me at fkichler@patriapress.com.



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