MEMBERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
MAKING WAVESIN WASHINGTON
How many of us have our efforts recognized by Congress? Leon Cooper, of 90 Day Wonder Publishing, is, at age 90, celebrating authorization of federal funds to restore the South Pacific beach where many Americans remain interred after a significant World War II battle in 1943 that killed nearly 1,700 sailors and Marines.
Cooper, whose efforts to keep Red Beach on Tarawa from being consumed by garbage have been the subject of a documentary on the Discovery Channel, reports that this year’s defense budget includes approval for maintenance of an area that became a graveyard. You can stay up to date on Cooper’s campaign to ensure his comrades are remembered and respected at 90daywonder.net/returntotarawa.
MaryAnn Kohl of Bright Ring Publishing has some advice about avoiding technical problems during personal appearances. Her books are about art and crafts for children. While most programs she presents at schools and teacher conferences come off without a hitch, she says, “no matter how many things I anticipate and prepare for, there is often something new. I just add it to the list of ‘live and learn’ and ‘never again.’”
To handle glitches, Kohl says she always brings a full backup of her presentation on a zip drive, and she asks the host to have an extra laptop available in case her computer fails. “I’ve had a failed mike several times; I simply go on, yelling for three hours straight,” she reports, adding, “I spend a great deal of time working out details and preparing my hosts for the things that could go awry. This pre-work is extensive and time-consuming, but it is worth the trouble. My hosts always comment that I’m the most organized speaker they’ve ever had. For me it’s not about being organized, it’s about preventing problems and making the event enjoyable and trouble free—for everyone.”
When you put this kind of work into preparing and presenting a program, compliments are typical. “My scores on evaluations are always high,” says Kohl, “with comments such as ‘Best presentation I’ve ever attended.’”
Kohl has a warning for fledgling speakers. Sometimes one person (“and never more than that”) will say, in effect, “I can’t believe I came here and spent money to hear you share your dumb ideas.” What can you do about such criticism? If it’s constructive, and accurate, you can learn from it, Kohl says, but sometimes you can’t even understand what the problem is.
Dar Hosta of Brown Dog Books is another author/publisher/presenter who knows that “hyperorganization” translates into happy speech sponsors.
“My e-calendar is color coded for the different contact and due dates for the 25 to 30 separate schools I visit annually,” he says, “and I have ‘form’ replies for the various contacts and confirmations. I keep separate folders in my email program so that I can retrieve and review previous emails easily; I don’t delete them until two years after the visit. In short, I do everything I can to make sure that all a school has to do is to usher in kids and enjoy the show.”
To avoid misunderstandings regarding costs, Hosta builds most expenses into the appearance fee. “So, for example,” he explains, “if you want $1,000 for your day, but you have freight charges that you know are always going to run $100 to $200 from various parts of the country, you just make your day rate $1,200. Then, you give the coordinator at the school a preprinted label for ‘complimentary’ return of unused materials.”
Another recommendation for would-be school speakers from Hosta: “Recognize that schools are complicated places. People who aren’t in education wouldn’t believe how tight a school’s schedule is and how much negotiation it takes for someone hosting you to change a lunch or specialist’s schedule to accommodate your presentations.”
Olive Peart, who founded Demarche Publishing in 2008 and DLite Press in 2009, was honored by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland Counties (NY) at its Juneteenth celebration. Peart was recognized as one of the chamber’s “10 Influential Blacks” in those counties.
LESSONS LEARNEDWITH VIDEO
Heather Preston has a host of practical suggestions for publishers who are considering a video to promote a book or author. Motivated by a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators seminar last summer, the San Anselmo, CA, owner of Sweet Olive Press had a video created with images from its award-winning Tree Spirits: Tales and Encounters and stock music, and she used her own voice for the narration. You can see it at heatherpreston.com.
The two-minute video took more than two months, and Preston reports that it was “intensely demanding.” Based on her experience, she advises publishers to expect “a huge number” of decisions, and to prepare by:
• describing the purpose of your book in writing, to set the stage
• listing all the images and text you want included
• laying out each scene of the video on a separate piece of paper
(use “thumbnails” if necessary)
• arranging these sheets of paper in a loosely sequential order that can be
changed as necessary
• carefully reviewing each page so that you’re comfortable with what this
approximates in terms of your video
“Remember, it’s your creation, but you need to be guided by the expertise of a technically proficient video producer,” Preston concludes.
And check “Testing Book Trailers” in this issue for more tips.
Publicity can promote your books, and it can also generate writing assignments for their authors, which usually helps promote the books. In Fred Flaxman’s case, a press release sent to his alma mater’s alumni publication about Sixty Slices of Life . . . on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster (Story Book Publishers) resulted in a request for an article from Stanford Magazine, whose 175,000 recipients are reading this summer about Flaxman’s grad school experiences in Palo Alto.
Separately, Flaxman reports that an excerpt from his Sixty Slices memoir will be included in the third volume of John Wiley’s This I Believe essays.
Besides encouraging your authors to create pages at Facebook, Classmates, and other social media sites, it’s a good idea to ask each author to submit a profile at Amazon Author Central, authorcentral.amazon.com.
You can check these pages periodically to ensure they are up to date. Because Amazon.com is one of the Web sites that compile a bibliography for each author profiled, it’s important to make sure none of your authors is being confused with somebody who has the same name or—perhaps worse—that no other author is being credited with your author’s titles.
To see an Author Central page as a reader would, navigate to a book’s page, click on the author’s name, and then select “Visit Amazon’s [author’s name] page.”
LOOKINGAT LIBRARY HOLDINGS
Remember that a quick visit to WorldCat, the huge bibliographic database maintained by the library services nonprofit OCLC, will tell you which member libraries have acquired your books—and those of your competition.
For example, High Tide Press’s narrowly focused Doing What Comes Naturally?: Dispelling Myths and Fallacies About Sexuality and People with Developmental Disabilities is in 37 libraries; History Publishing Company’s Custer Survivor: The End of a Myth, the Beginning of a Legend, is in 335.
Because of the time required for libraries to make purchase decisions and process new books for the shelves, it may take six months for results of promotion to libraries to show up.
Members in the Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (twitter.com/Carlsonideas), who welcomes news of unusual special sales, significant media coups, and other achievements at email@example.com. The focus of this column is as much about how you accomplish something as what you accomplish, so details and specific how-to’s are important.
Please submit your information in the text of your email (no attachments), and remember to include your name, title, and the name of your press.
This column does not use images or news about nonmembers.
Since information for Members in the Spotlight is needed at least six weeks in advance of an issue’s publication date, news you submit by August 15 can be considered for the October and later issues. News that is time-sensitive and misses the Spotlight deadline—awards, events, upcoming television and radio appearances, and co-opportunities—should be directed to Lisa Krebs, firstname.lastname@example.org, for inclusion in the IBPA e-newsletter, Independent Publishing Now.