I’ve been to a lot of PMA Universities over the years, and they’ve all been stimulating and educational. The most recent one, in New York City at the end of April, had a quality I hadn’t experienced to such a great degree before.
In previous years, the sessions tended to be panels of “experts” educating the inexperienced. At least that’s how they often felt to me. This year, they were overwhelmingly groups of peers–big groups, in many cases–sharing knowledge and experience and opinions and contacts. It was a free-for-all, and it was exciting!
Many of the savviest publishers sitting in the audience at these sessions were one- or two-book houses, or small regional houses. But they’re doing things right, and they were willing to share. These publishers are finding special markets, garnering publicity, setting up author tours, writing dynamic marketing copy, producing handsome, well-made books. So much of what I learned this time around was from attendees rather than from panelists (although the panelists were great).
Then there were the Benjamin Franklin awards. The presentation reception was festive and well attended, and the winning books came overwhelmingly from smaller publishers. Incredible books. Important books. Significant content, stunning design. Seeing these entries certainly raised the bar for me–I feel a whole new sense of what I can strive for, and the confidence that it’s within reach.
Plenty to Be Proud Of
Shall I go on? Book Expo America. A huge show, thousands of publishers exhibiting, tens of thousands of booksellers and book buyers and rights agents and media types jamming the halls. The second-largest publishing event in the world. And PMA was in the middle of it all with great visibility and presence. How great? Imagine 56 booths populated with 55 member-publishing houses and their titles, plus 450 individual book titles from other members displayed cooperatively. And the PMA banner flying high over this array. If you were there, you must surely be proud, and if you weren’t present, I hope you enjoy the experience vicariously.
PMA is 18 years old. It’s grown from one booth at BEA to those 56, and from a handful of California publishers to an international alliance of more than 3,500. During my tenure on the board, which is now coming to an end as I finish my term as PMA President, I’ve seen more dynamic and strategic growth–both in numbers and in influence–than I would have believed possible, always driven by the core value of “Helping each other to achieve and succeed.” Boards and board Presidents come and go, but that core value, that founding vision, endures.