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Spotlight: Making It into a Catalog and a Conference

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by Linda Carlson, IBPA Independent staff reporter

Photo of Linda Carlson

Linda Carlson

The Grammie Guide: Activities and Answers for Grandparenting Today was recommended in the spring 2015 Bas Bleu catalog, which describes the book by Jan Eby, Laurie Mobilio, Lynne Noel, and Cindy Summers as “warm and friendly,” and concludes, “What a special—and practical!—gift for the modern grandparent.”

Bas Bleu reports catalog circulation in the millions, based on each print run of nearly 200,000, its digital edition subscribers, and website visitors. Like the Wireless and Signals catalogs, it is among those published by Universal Screen Arts.

Also in the spring, the Grammie Guide authors led a workshop as part of a California Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools conference that drew more than 400 parents and teachers. Tying in with the theme of the conference—“UnPlug and Play!”—they called their workshop “Unplugged? Now What?” and they report that they “described/demonstrated tons of ideas for capturing the imagination of preschoolers without the use of screens,” adding, “It was a blast!!”

For the story behind The Grammie Guide, see “A Handbook Born on a Boat: The Tell-A-Gram Publishing Tale,” via Independent Articles at ibpa-online.org.

Forging Connections

How a second-grader’s Flat Stanley project in late 2011 led to a half-hour television appearance this spring attests to Jeanne Roppolo’s belief that authors and publishers may never know what will lead to what—and on what timeline.

When Roppolo was working at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, she received a Flat Stanley paper doll to photograph for her grandson’s class as proof that Flat Stanley had visited Antarctica. After her return to the US, an author friend suggested Roppolo put her adventures in writing, which led her to establish JR Media Group to publish Grandma Goes to Antarctica in late 2012.

Because of the connection with her grandson’s second-grade teacher, Roppolo volunteered to speak at a young authors’ conference, and began planning ways to get invited back as a presenter at a future conference. “For the next year, ideas for a workshop were on my mind as I continued with speaking engagements and new manuscripts,” she recalls.

One Wednesday last July, when she was on the phone with the receptionist at a senior center that hosts her speeches, Roppolo decided to ask that her contact information be forwarded to the leader of the center’s creative writing group. “My thought was that with an appearance at this group I could practice my workshop and get some feedback,” she says. “Wouldn’t you know it: one of the group leaders was standing there and took my call!”

Come and share your story, he said: “We’re meeting on Friday.”

“Having never attended a creative writers group, I had no idea what to expect,” Roppolo remembers. She had to rush to prepare her workshop outline, and she says her “mind was racing that Friday as members of the group went around the table, sharing their short stories. Most of my workshop content did not apply to this group.”

By the time it was her turn, she had deleted everything but a five-minute anecdote about sharing a draft of her first book with a good friend. “As I acted out the scene where this friend flung my manuscript across a table, I could see the eyes of the group members go wide in shock and their mouths drop open,” Roppolo says. “After I quit talking, the woman directly across from me walked out, telling me to not leave, that she had to get her husband.”

While the group broke for lunch and socializing, Roppolo waited, and the woman did return with her husband—and with a two-page list of good contacts. “She listed places where I could give my talks and said that she and her husband wanted to schedule me for an interview on their cable television program,” Open Yourself to Life’s Possibilities (see youtube.com/watch?v=m42A98rPnp4).

Suggestions from contacts Roppolo made through this creative writing group have led to more speech invitations and to participation in an Irish books, art, and music festival. She delights in detailing how each connection continues to lead to another. A contact at the Irish festival led to a presentation to the Irish Immigrant Support Service, and that led to a speech at a retirement community. “And I continue to make new friends and connections with every appearance,” says the author/publisher.

Selling Rights

The Sedge Group has sold Italian rights for its new release, Death Watch, a novel with an Ebola-terrorist theme by Michael Sedge and Joel Jacobs, to Ciesse Edizioni of Padova, Italy, with publication scheduled for May 2015.

Aquila Polonica Publishing has sold Portuguese-language rights for Brazil to Editoria Valentina, Rio de Janeiro, for The Color of Courage—A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski. Publication of the book in Portuguese is scheduled for later this year.

Media Mentions

Joel Friedlander of the Book Designer was among those quoted in a recent Publishers Weekly article, “Self-Publishing Predictions for 2015.” He focuses on two trends he believes will be common among indie authors in 2015: collaboration, with authors cooperating on publishing and marketing tasks; and the maturation of online bookselling and marketing, including “new services, new products, and new ways to connect with readers that leverage the broad acceptance of mobile platforms.”

Books Photo Another recent PW piece—”North Carolina Indies Build Lists, Community”—described John F. Blair Publishers as “renowned for its nonfiction list focusing on the history, culture, and cuisine of the Southeast, as well as for its travel guides.” It and the two other presses profiled were cited for nurturing partnerships with indie booksellers, and John F. Blair publisher Carolyn Sakowski was quoted about the author tours the press supports. “We have relationships with all these stores,” she said.

A Chicago Review Press title, Pandora’s DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree, by Lizzie Stark, was honored at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting as one of 26 titles on the ALA Notable Books Council’s list of best books for 2015.

“Why I Never Wrote for Money: A Novelist Takes Pride in Being a Blockhead,” by Warren Adler of Stonehouse Productions, appeared in a February issue of PW. Adler’s article discussed why people who see writing as an art often write what they want, rather than what they believe others will be willing to pay for.

STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, coauthored by North Star Books publisher and IBPA board member Brenda Avadian, is among the first IBPA member titles to be reviewed on the PW BookLife website. Unlike PW Select, which charges small publishers $149 to submit a title for a listing and a possible review, BookLife charges no fee for submissions. See booklife.com for details.

Book Cover PhotoA Chicago Review Press title—Think Like a Baby: 33 Simple Research Experiments You Can Do at Home to Better Understand Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Amber Ankowski and Andy Ankowski—and a Sourcebooks title—Teaching Kids to Think: Raising Confident, Independent, and Thoughtful Children in an Age of Instant Gratification, by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg—were among the books listed in PW’s recent report “The Next Generation: Parenting Books 2015.”

Members’ titles recently reviewed in “PW” include:
  • The Santa Fe Writers Project’s My Chinese America, by Allen Gee
  • Poisoned Pen’s False Tongues: A Callie Anson Mystery, by Kate Charles
  • Sourcebooks Casablanca’s Bite at First Sight, by Brooklyn Ann

Members’ titles recently reviewed in Library Journal include:
  • Interweave’s Artfully Embroidered: Motifs and Patterns for Bags and More by Naoko Shimoda
  • Sourcebooks’ My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts and Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Three Chicago Review Press titles:
  • Feral Cities: Adventures with Animals in the Urban Jungle, by Tristan Donovan
  • Klandestine: How a Klan Lawyer and a Checkbook Journalist Helped James Earl Ray Cover Up His Crime, by Pate McMichael
  • Speaking OUT: Photographs by Rachelle Lee Smith

Members’ titles recently reviewed in School Library Journal include:
  • Chelsea Green’s The Nourishing Homestead: One Back-to-the-Land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit, by Ben and Penny Hewitt
  • Trafalgar Square’s Crochet the Perfect Gift: Designs Just Right for Giving and Ideas for Every Occasion, by Kat Goldin

Linda Carlson’s “Getting Blurbs: A Marketer’s Guide to Eliciting Effective Endorsements” appeared in the March/April issue of Southern Writers Magazine. Her Independent articles on the subject are “Endorsements (Part 1): Getting Comments to Spur Sales” and “Endorsements (Part 2): Practical Pointers for Getting and Using Praise”.

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