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Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

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If your New Year’s resolution is to connect your authors with more readers in more parts of the world, here are some tips from Medallion Press, which had author Gregory Lamberson interacting with fans in more than two dozen places last fall—at the very same time, with only a single plane ticket. The method: an online book-signing for the launch of Lamberson’s Personal Demons.

About two weeks in advance, Medallion began promoting the book-signing on its Web site, inviting site visitors to register for the event. Then, as marketing manager Paul Ohlson reports, the company created a “set” in its St. Charles, IL, offices and flew the author in from his Buffalo, NY, home.

“Once they’d logged on, attendees were able to see Greg sign books and speak to him via telephone and VOIP [Voice-over Internet Protocol] or IM him via the chat room to specify the recipients for each signed book and any personal inscription,” Ohlson explains. After signing a book, Lamberson held it up to the camera so attendees could see that he had signed it live. Medallion sales and marketing director Heather Lewis-Eng then tagged each book for shipping the next day.

Attendees were also able to interact with each other before, during, and after the event using a chat feature. Everyone could see and hear the author during the signing, and he could see those who enabled their Webcams. “This allowed Greg’s fans to have meaningful, memorable interaction with one of their favorite authors,” says Ohlson. 

Here are Ohlson’s recommendations for online book signings:

Start event planning four to five months in advance of the preferred date.

Decide exactly how you want your event to look, feel, and flow before you audition vendors.

To find vendors, start with an online search for “web conferencing,” “webinars,” or “online event hosting.”

Describe the details of your event with each vendor you audition to make sure each one can facilitate your grand vision.

Make sure that the event will be extremely easy for attendees to log into and participate in.

When you believe you’ve found a vendor who can create the event you want, ask its staff to show you an example of its work, with video of what both the presenter and the attendees saw and heard.

Schedule training for the signing and practice runs well in advance. Ideally, do the initial run-through two weeks prior, and a second dress rehearsal one week in advance.

Understand that because you’re working with technology, it would be unusual if everything went perfectly.

And, as Ohlson points out, everything did not go perfectly for Medallion throughout the process. Thanks to the “dress rehearsals,” the publisher discovered problems with the first vendor, which made a switch necessary just four days before the event. Then, not all the 53 people who had preregistered for the signing got reregistered with the new vendor, which cut the number of attendees to 25.

But those 25 have provided extremely positive comments—and Medallion has great “behind the scenes” photos and videos showing the studio set and the process. You can take a look at medallionpress.com. Or register for Medallion’s second cyber-signing, which is scheduled for February and will feature Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders, the author/illustrator duo that has created each book in the publisher’s Illustrated Romantic Masterpiece series.

C&T Publishing is one of the 10 “Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For,” according to the list created by Book Business magazine and Best Companies Group.

Honorees are selected on the basis of two surveys, one that evaluates workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics, and a second that measures employee experience. For information about the 2010 program, see BestBookCompanies.com.

C&T, founded in 1983, serves quilting, fiber arts, and papercrafting markets worldwide.

Many of us use ancestral or ethnic ties to promote our books, but few of us have help from ambassadors. Jacqueline Widmar Stewart did. Her Finding Slovenia: A Guide to Old Europe’s New Country has been feted at a Slovenian castle, at the Slovenian national park headquarters, and at the Slovenian embassy in Washington, DC.

Stewart, whose grandparents emigrated from what was then part of Austria before World War I, has also had her guide launched by Slovenian groups in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco, where she has spoken and done signings—and even participated in a demonstration of how to make potica, a traditional Slovenian nut bread.

In addition, she’s had help spreading the word about Finding Slovenia from newsletters issued by the the Slovenian embassy in Washington and consulate in New York City, from a Slovenian government periodical produced for expatriates, and from a publication of the Slovenian Women’s Union. Smaller groups such as San Francisco’s Club Slovenia include announcements about the book in their bulletins.

Stewart and her husband own Lexicus Press in Palo Alto, CA, but Finding Slovenia was published by one of Slovenia’s largest book publishers, Mladinska knjiga, which also owns more than half the country’s bookstores. Stewart is the company’s first nonnative author, and its first to write in English. Distribution in the United States is being handled by Lexicus, which bought 1,000 copies of the initial 3,500 press run. Lexicus is also handling North American publicity, which includes awards programs entries. In the recent USABookNews.com program, Finding Slovenia was a finalist in its category.

Looking for advice about pitching a book or an author’s story to the media? The key words are perserverence, patience—and, adds Amelia Frahm at Nutcracker Publishing, spam. As in, make sure you check the email trapped by your spam filter.

That’s how she found the message from a producer of the hour-long DaytimeTV, which is produced by Tampa FL’s NBC affiliate and syndicated to 11 markets. “In September, I had emailed the address on the show’s Web site,” she says, “offering to share with viewers how cancer helped prepare me for publishing. I had almost forgotten about it when I heard back in early October; the response had been sent to my spam folder.”

After a few more emails back and forth, Frahm was filmed late in October. “My experience is that media people are very busy, but when it gets close to the date that they need you, they will be in touch.”

What can happen when you sell foreign rights was described by Brenda Avadian when she was celebrating the 10th anniversary of her North Star Books and its “Where’s My Shoes?” My Father’s Walk Through Alzheimer’s. Her experiences also offer guidance for any of us hoping to sell rights to our publications.

Within a year of the first edition’s publication, North Star sold audio rights to Recorded Books after Avadian exhibited at a library association conference. “Someone from there took my book cover and promotional materials and presented them at a rights meeting,” she reports. That was all it took, adds the Pearblossom, CA, publisher, who said royalties still “trickle in” from this unabridged audiobook.

Shortly afterward, thanks to her book being seen by an agent at IBPA’s Book Expo booths, German publisher Verlagsgruppe Lubbe bought the rights for a mass market edition.

“In 2001 came a Christmas present in the form of a rights sale to the Madrid-based Ediciones Tempora for an attractive trade paperback,” the publisher adds. She hasn’t been able to acquire the rights to sell this Spanish edition in the United States, and now, as she markets rights to the second edition, Avadian says, “We continue to receive requests from Alzheimer’s Association chapters and other organizations for a Spanish-language edition for the massive Hispanic and Latino audiences here in North America.”

But back to that first edition. Being shown at Frankfurt with IBPA is probably what led to the book coming out in 2003 in Korean from Thoughts of a Tree Publishing Co. “Sad, I can’t read a word of it,” laments Avadian.

Because she isn’t bi- or trilingual, Avadian says she has sent her copies of the finished books to people who can read both the original English and the translations. “Most are done well with few errors,” she reports. “But instead of translating that I grabbed my father’s toothbrush so it wouldn’t drop to the floor, the German edition says that I grabbed my father’s breast!”

Mary T. Ficalora’s patriotism was one of the topics discussed in the Veterans Day edition of the Ventura County (CA) Star, which described the publicity Ficalora and her Avail Press received for Choosing Honor: An American Woman’s Search for God, Family and Country in an Age of Corruption.

The day before this lengthy story was published, Ficalora was interviewed on Ventura’s KKZZ-AM about the book, which she describes as “spiritual self-help.”

Great Potential Press and Dawn Publications are the two IBPA members with books recognized as “greatest” in the 2009 iParenting Awards program. Great Potential was honored for Some of My Best Friends Are Books by Judith Wynn Halsted, and Dawn was honored for For Baby, For Bobbie, which uses a John Denver song as the text. Disney now owns iParenting.com, which runs the program.

Books from two IBPA members are among winners of the 2009 National Outdoor Book Awards, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University, and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. They are, in the History–Biography category, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley from HarperColllins, and, in Children’s, Whistling Wings by Laura Goering and Laura Jacques from Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Members in the Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson, who welcomes your notes at linda@ibpa-online.org. Please use “IBPA Member Spotlight” in the subject line and submit each announcement only once. Information for this column is compiled at least six weeks in advance of an issue’s publication, so news you submit after mid-January can be considered only for the April issue or later issues. Space limits announcements to the most newsworthy.



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