< back to full list of articles
Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

or Article Tags

We’re continuing to put the spotlight on individuals within IBPA as well as on member companies and their achievements. This month we’ve got spotlights (and footlights) on Judith Appelbaum, the long-time Independent editor. She’s been involved with IBPA and its predecessors almost since the beginning in the early 1980s, and Independent editor starting with the July 2001 issue. Judith and I have had a bicoastal working relationship since 2006, with her an hour north of New York City and me in Seattle; although we’ve never met, we trade story ideas and your comments almost every week.

Future Spotlight columns will tell you more about others who’ve made significant contributions to the association or to publishing in general.


Closeup: Judith Appelbaum

On a break from college, Judith Appelbaum got into publishing as a “summer floater” for what is now HarperCollins. When she graduated, one of the corporation’s departments—Harper’s Magazine—offered her a permanent job. By the mid-1970s, she’d moved to another company periodical, Harper’s Weekly.

Judith’s enthusiasm for the Weekly’s reader-writers led to an interest in book publishing. “At Harper’s Weekly, I learned a great deal about how people who weren’t writers (or weren’t writers yet) could use the power of print,” she remembers.

The result: How to Get Happily Published, introduced in 1978, the first book to explain the author’s role vis-à-vis publishers, booksellers, the media people, and others involved in the publishing process. Revised five times and available through book clubs as well as bookstores, it has sold some 600,000 copies. Even though it was last updated in 1998, 1,400 libraries—from Brooklyn to Brazil—still circulate it.

In the 1970s, Judith reminds us, “‘getting published’ meant a contract with a great big house and ‘self-publishing’ meant vanity publishing, so the goal with How to Get Happily Published was to explain the spectrum of opportunities, from big houses to independents to the nonvanity kind of self-publishing.”

Next step: Publishers Weekly. “When the first edition of How to Get Happily Published was finished, I had lots of information and ideas I thought publishers should be more aware of,” she says, “and because PW is the trade magazine of the book industry, it provides a great way to get such information and ideas into circulation.” It just so happened that PW was seeking a managing editor. “So I applied,” she says, and in 1978 Judith became #2 in the editorial hierarchy at this leading trade journal.

By 1981, the response to How to Get Happily Published had made it clear to her that writers wanted both a book and the opportunity for individual consultations as they marketed their work. So the editor-author became a consultant and speaker when she left PW to found Sensible Solutions, Inc.

“Obviously, getting a book from writer to readers requires understanding what everybody in between is doing,” she notes. “When you focus on that, you immediately see that the publishing process—like all processes—is loaded with glitches. I believe these glitches can be alleviated, if not eliminated, when people know how the publishing process actually works for its many different participants.”

This is also the belief that has led to involvement in many different industry groups, especially the Book Industry Study Group, which “brings people from different segments of the book world together to tackle problems common to all of us.”

Besides IBPA and BISG (where she serves on the executive committee and board of directors and co-chairs the Rights Committee), Judith belongs to the Women’s Media Group, the Authors Guild, PEN, and Poets & Writers. Besides that, she’s done extensive workshops on independent and self-publishing for the Publishing Institute and university programs across the United States.

Independent publishers, whether doing one book or hundreds, are the group Judith finds the most interesting segment of the publishing business. They’re the fastest growing and most dynamic publishers, she believes, and she tells us she’s excited about what digital technology means for small and midsize houses. “The technology lets smaller players do an even better job of getting the right books to the right readers,” she says. “Electronic communication and distribution options help independent publishers, including self-publishers, as they establish direct relationships with readers and offer them related goods and services along with books.”


Organizing Authors

If you feel as if it’s you and you alone struggling to schedule appearances, get media coverage, and sell books, consider how Shelley Davis of Kids at Heart Publishing has organized a group of 18 authors to provide support for each other—and to ask for support from merchants in their communities. Davis, who came to publishing after almost 20 years in sales and sales management of Tupperware products, says you can’t be afraid to ask businesses for help, especially if you’ve been a long-time patron. “There are always opportunities if you just look.”

For the Authors of Wayne County, as Davis calls her Milton, IN, group, “I’ve had book signings at an antique store, a beauty shop, our local tourist welcome center, a candle store, restaurants, and libraries.”

Another promotional tool: coupons. “If we have an event at a restaurant, I make $1-off coupons for book buyers to use on their restaurant bill. After the event, we pay the restaurant for the coupons it has collected, which works out to $1 off on each book sold. I think of it as advertising for us and our host.”


Other reminders from Davis about what can help attendance at such events: Try for an announcement in your local newspaper. Have authors invite their friends. Send out postcards with books pictured or described. And use authors’ Websites, blogs, and social media sites. (Also, see “How to Entice People to Your Presentations” in this issue.)


Combining Companies

Two IBPA members, wholesaler American West Books and publisher Familius, have merged. Headed by Josh Mettee, the 19-year-old AWB specializes in selling regional and niche titles to such customers as wholesale clubs, bookstore chains, online bookstores, and museum gift shops. Familius, founded by IBPA board member and Gibbs-Smith veteran Christopher Robbins, is a startup issuing 17 titles for the family market this spring. Familius also publishes a blog and posts readers’ pieces about family life on its Website. Robbins moved Familius last month from Utah to AWB’s Sanger, CA, location.
Prufrock Press—which publishes textbooks, instructional material, professional development products for teachers, and books for parents, teachers, and gifted, advanced, and special needs students—has acquired educational publisher Creative Learning Press (based in Mansfield Center, CT). Founded by Joseph Renzulli more than 35 years ago, CLP develops resources for educators and parents of gifted and talented children. Its most successful product is an identification instrument, the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students.

With the acquisition, CLP’s office in Connecticut will close and all its operations will be consolidated with Prufrock, which is headquartered in Waco, TX. Renzulli, a University of Connecticut professor, and his wife, Sally Reis, a vice-provost at the University of Connecticut, will retire from the business. CLP senior editor Rachel Knox is continuing with Prufrock on a freelance basis.

The combination of companies brings Prufrock to a total of 565 active print titles, 107 of which are print-on-demand. In addition, the company has published 267 e-books.


Launching Pattern Products

Making Australian smocking patterns available in books and digital products in the United States and Canada as well as Down Under is a goal of American publisher F+W Media, whose units include Interweave, and Australia’s Country Bumpkin. Publications expected to launch later this year are based on the pattern archives of the quarterly Australian Smocking & Embroidery, which is owned by Country Bumpkin. The partnership will be based in Huntsville, AL, at another F+W unit, the Martha Pullen Company.



A First Foreign Rights Deal

Simon Raymond, publisher at Black Jackal Books, reports the company’s first sales of foreign rights, for Richard Godwin’s 2011 novel Apostle Rising. It will be published in Hungary by Budapest-based Alexandra later this year. Rights have also been sold to the German publisher Bastei Lubbe.


Media Mentions

Parenting was the topic when Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Rudy Shur of Square One, who has a personal connection to his company’s April launch of Reversing Dyslexia: Improving Learning and Behavior Without Drugs. Shur, who was an adult before he realized he suffered from dyslexia, said Square One strives to avoid books on the latest trend in parenting and focuses on books “thoroughly grounded in a safe and solid approach that can legitimately help a child overcome a learning disorder.”

Other IBPA members recently mentioned in PW include Chelsea Green, for What Then Must We Do Next? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution by University of Maryland political economist Gar Alperovitz; Sourcebooks Landmark, for The One-Way Bridge, Cathie Pelletier’s 10th novel; Sourcebooks Casablanca, for A Wedding in Springtime, the first Regency romance by Amanda Forester, who usually writes Highlander romances; and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, a YA title by Nancy J. Cavanaugh.




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

Please report on how you accomplished something as well as on what you accomplished so others can benefit from your experience as they applaud your achievements.

Note: We must have URLs for accessing any media coverage you’d like us to mention.

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 publishing company 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 May 14 can be considered for the July and later issues. News that is time-sensitive should be directed to lisa@ibpa-online.org for consideration for the IBPA e-newsletter, Independent Publishing Now.

Connect With Us

1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 204 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
P: 310-546-1818 F: 310-546-3939 E: info@IBPA-online.org
© Independent Book Publishers Association