by Florrie Binford Kichler
“Ten Ways to Grow Your Business”
“How to Grow Sales in a Down Economy”
“Six Ways to Influence Customers and Grow Sales”
The foregoing are three results from the 179,000,000 that appear in response to a Google search on “grow sales.” A search on “grow your business” turns up 41,000,000 offerings and “grow your publishing company” yields a paltry 31,400,000 opportunities.
An endless supply of resources promise to help us increase our pile of money in the bank, expand our companies, and build our financial assets. As a publisher, you know that growing your list of titles, growing your number of employees, and growing your revenues are the keys to financial prosperity.
But what about growing you?
Growing you means learning—gaining knowledge about your industry and the people with whom you share the present and future of publishing.
Growing you means serving—serving your industry and/or community for the betterment of all, and viewing the challenges faced by others in a way that just might give you a new perspective on your own.
Growing you means taking a step back (or away) from the business that consumes your every waking hour and focusing on the bigger picture—which is necessary for you to see (and embrace) the seismic changes that characterize publishing today and are shaping its future. While that may sound daunting, all it really means is taking the time to expand your own knowledge and sharing what you learn with others.
I offer some suggestions to grow you in 2012 (and beyond):
Learning Through Conferences
The major industry conferences offer the number-one chance to increase your understanding of and insight into the world of publishing. These events do require an investment in time and travel, but they all provide unparalleled opportunities not just to gain knowledge but to meet and network with the best in the business.
IBPA offers member discounts to many conferences, and some stream selected sessions live for people who are unable to attend.
Warning: If you avail yourself of live streaming or prerecorded sessions from these events, kudos to you for investing time and energy in expanding your publishing expertise. Distance education is the next-best thing to being there. However, nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces the networking, knowledge, and new ideas that come from face-to-face conversations with colleagues and brainstorming with a group around a table.
The “Sites for Selected Conferences” list below is by no means complete, and I invite you to do your own research to find more.
Use each event as a starting point, and explore each conference’s Web site to see which events might be good fits for your level of publishing. Don’t be afraid to stretch your boundaries by checking out a program that may be a level or two beyond your current experience—after all, isn’t that where you’re heading?
Learning Through Online Educational Programs
As you know, IBPA’s Publishing University Online provides opportunities to learn from the comfort of your office. Digital Book World offers a program of online education too, as do the Book Industry Study Group, Book Business magazine, and many other organizations.
Your choices here are limited only by your time, and since many programs are archived (including Publishing University Online), you can decide when and where to listen.
Why not promise yourself that, starting now, you will take advantage of at least one Webinar a month in the upcoming year? Finding the time or money to attend an in-person event can be difficult, but it probably won’t be too hard to invest just an hour a month in your professional development.
“It’s all I can do to run my company, spend time with my family and friends, and keep up with my industry. I can’t shoehorn one more commitment into my days.”
Does this sound like you? Me too. At least it used to until I realized that, as publishers, we couldn’t and wouldn’t work as hard as we do if we didn’t love what we do. And if we want to keep doing it, it’s in our best interest to look beyond the computer and step outside the office (and ourselves) to make sure our industry remains viable—and vibrant.
That can mean anything from volunteering to serve on an industry board to tutoring a child or adult once a week through a literacy program, or offering to help your local IBPA publishing affiliate with the monthly newsletter.
The energy and time that you devote to helping colleagues and supporting readers will be returned to you tenfold in ways that you never expected, enriching your personal and professional life, the community in which you live, and the industry you love.
When I was a little girl, calling on my elderly aunt was high on my list of least-favorite activities. I would complain loudly to my mother that I’d rather play, read, or do just about anything else instead of visiting Aunt Emma. Mom would always answer, “I understand you’d rather not go, but you’ll be glad you did.”
And even though I hated to admit it, she was right. At the end of the visit, I was glad. Because it was obvious that Aunt Emma was thrilled to see me, and my small investment of time and effort made a big difference to her.
If you think you don’t have time to grow yourself, why not start small? A regional conference instead of a national conference, a quarterly Webinar instead of a monthly program, volunteering monthly instead of weekly.
You’ll be glad you did.
Follow Florrie and IBPA on Twitter at twitter.com/ibpa, and on IBPA’s blog at ibpablog.wordpress.com. Join Independent Book Publishers Association–IBPA group on Linked In (linkedin.com).
Sites for Selected Conferences
American Library Association Annual Conference (alaannual.org)
BISG Making Information Pay (bisg.org/mip)
Book Expo America (bookexpoamerica.com)
Digital Book World (digitalbookworld.com)
Frankfurt Book Fair (book-fair.com/en)
IBPA Publishing University (ibpapublishinguniversity.com)
PLA 2012, Public Library Association biennial conference (placonference.org)
Tools of Change (toccon.com)