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Members in the Spotlight: December 2012

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December 2012

Getting Mainstream and Niche Media Coverage

Televenge by Pamela King Cable, from Satya House Publications, has been the subject of several reviews, some from such mainstream publications as Library Journal, which said it’s “an emotional rollercoaster that ends as intensely as it begins,” and “Those who commit to Cable’s tome will find themselves captivated and deeply devoted to Andie. Fans of Fannie Flagg and Janet Evanovich will be hooked on this saga of religion, romance, and crime.”

Televenge’s many other reviews demonstrate the importance of including smaller-circulation newspapers and niche bloggers on a press release dissemination list.

The High Point (NC) Enterprise called it a “wickedly good debut novel” for “anyone who’s ever cast a raised eyebrow at the shiny, lucrative, holier-than-thou world of televangelism.” Secular Perspectives, the niche blog sponsored by the Washington Area Secular Humanists, called it “a real page-turner,” Cypriot Lakis Fourouklas’s blog Fiction & More described it as an “emotionally rich debut novel,” and the Chicklit Club online review commented on “many unexpected twists throughout the novel that gave it new depths and kept it interesting.”


From a Book Business Entrepreneur

Greenleaf Book Group founder Clint Greenleaf, whose focus is small presses and self-publishers, was quoted in a pre-election Wall Street Journal article, “Entrepreneurs Fear a Fiscal Cliff Awaits,” as saying an extension of the Bush era tax cuts would be “the worst thing” for his business, which now employs 35 and has annual revenue of nearly $11 million.


Newspeg Notice

In its “Kids Post” section for young readers that appeared in the issue shortly before September 11 this year, the Washington Post reviewed Callery Press’s The Survivor Tree, explaining to children that the “September 11 story told in ‘The Survivor Tree’ offers hope: . . . Weeks after the attack, workers who were digging through the rubble discovered what was left of a pear tree that had been planted on the spot more than 20 years earlier. Much of the tree had been sheared off; its trunk was badly scarred. But a few green leaves remained, and that gave the workers hope. The Survivor Tree and its beautiful illustrations follow the story of the pear tree being nursed back to health and ultimately returned to its former home.”

The book had earlier been reviewed in Washington Parent and Newport This Week.


Submissions Systems

Poisoned Pen Press has launched a young-adult mystery imprint, Poisoned Pencil Press, which will publish its first titles in late 2013. Editor Ellen Larson has several points to share about the dozens of manuscripts she’s received so far, and about the software Poisoned Pencil is using to accept and track submissions, Submittable (see submittable.com).

One of several similar cloud-based programs, Submittable is free if you receive fewer than 100 submissions a month through it. Firms that charge a reading fee pay 99 cents per submission plus 5 percent of the fee, with all payment processing charges billed to Submittable. Another program, used primarily by magazine publishers, is Hey Publisher by Loudlever. It too is free, unless customized software is necessary. See heypublisher.com/publishers/pif_magazine.)

“I’ve actually developed a chart to track both the positive elements we’re looking for (diversity, dark elements, social relevance, literary writing) and the negative ones, such as YA clichés,” Larson says. “So far I’ve seen a mix of both.”

“As always, however, there are no absolutes. Excellence in writing trumps all,” says Larson, who asks that prospective authors and readers follow her on Facebook, facebook.com/pppress.pencil, “for a seriously open discussion of the publisher-writer dynamic.”

If you’re submitting fiction to any publisher, Larson has advice for you: Understand what a synopsis is. She’s been surprised by the number of submissions that hide key plot details rather than summarize the plot.


What’s Happening to Reading Behavior

Many of us are familiar with IBPA board member John Mutter from Shelf Awareness, where he is editor-in-chief, and from his earlier days at Publishers Weekly. With his permission, we’re sharing his Shelf Awareness report on a presentation at the most recent Publishers Launch conference by Peter Hildick-Smith, founder and president of Codex Group. As you’ll see, it focuses on how fewer bookstores and the rising popularity of tablets over e-reading devices affect the ways people learn about, buy, and read books.

After conducting more than 250,000 interviews about reading behavior since 2004, Codex has found that a major shift has taken place in discovery in the past two years, as digital books have become a significant part of the book world.

Two years ago, 35% of book purchases were made because readers found out about a book in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, the single-largest site of discovery. This year, that figure has dropped to 17%, a reflection both of the closing of Borders and the rise of e-readers. In the same period, personal recommendations grew the most, to 22% from 14%. Some three-quarters of personal recommendations are made in person, while the rest come by e-mail (8%), phone (7%), Facebook (4%) and other social networks (3%).

A problem for publishers and authors of new titles is that the vast majority of personal recommendations are backlist titles. Only 6% of books recommended personally have been published in the past half year—and just 2% were published within three months. Also, personal recommendations are a part of what Hildick-Smith called “random discovery,” a dynamic that does not lend itself to easy influence by publishers, booksellers and authors.

Surprisingly, considering all the attention it’s gotten, digital mass media, including Facebook and Twitter, rose just to 4.5% from 1.9% as a place people learned about the books they have bought. And the online channel represents 9% of discovery, which Hildick-Smith called “way underperforming” in light of the amount of purchases made online. In part, this is because many readers search for books online knowing what they want. (By contrast, readers tend to go into bookstores with an “open mind.”) The result, Hildick-Smith said, is that many books “get lost in the long tail.” Amazon, for example, has 32 million book offerings.

The growth in popularity of tablets, which are now much more prevalent than dedicated e-reading devices, has also changed reading habits. Tablet owners read on average two hours a week on their tablets while e-reader owners read more than four hours a week on their e-readers. Tablet owners buy fewer books than e-reader owners. The tendency is attributable to tablets’ many distractions, particularly surfing the Internet and e-mail, which were the two most popular uses for tablets, following by reading books, gaming and using apps.

This year, some 43% of frequent book buyers now own tablets, up from 17% last year. At the same time, just 33% of frequent book buyers own dedicated e-reading devices, up from 21%.

Despite the growth of tablets and e-readers, as far as book format goes, it’s a “hybrid world,” Hildick-Smith said. In May, 41% of respondents read print only and 2% read digital only while 57% read books in both print and digital form.


Pitches Welcome, Even Wanted

From the Berrett-Koehler newsletter Communique comes a link to NPR radio host Ira Glass’s tips on submitting story ideas to This American Life (thisamericanlife.org/about/submissions). Glass notes, “Email your pitches to storypitch@thislife.org. . . . Every second or third episode of our show has a story we learned of through a ‘storypitch’ email, so these emails are important to us.”


Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com), who welcomes members’ news of unusual special sales, licensing deals, significant media coups in the last month, movie and television options, and other achievements at linda@ibpa-online.org.


The focus of this column is as much on how you accomplish something as on what you accomplish, so specific how-to’s are important.

For her other monthly articles in the Independent, Linda often emails members to ask about their experiences. To ensure you receive these messages, check that you have her email address in your address book.

Please submit your news for Spotlight in the text of your email (no attachments) and remember to include:

● your name and title

● the name of your press as it appears in the IBPA membership directory

● your email address

● URLs for the archived editions of any media stories you’re telling us about

Since information for this column is needed about eight weeks in advance of an issue’s publication date, news you submit by December 10 can be considered for the February 2013 and later issues. News that is time-sensitive should be directed to lisa@ibpa-online.org for consideration for the IBPA e-newsletter.

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