LESSONSRE SCHOOL MARKETS
Getting books into schools can mean A+ sales for publishers. Just look at the “report cards” from two members:
Harvey House Publishing, which recently won a Catholic Press Association award for its Olivia’s Gift, sequel to the similarly honored Olivia and the Little Way, has gotten both books into Catholic school and religious education curricula in schools and parishes in the United States and abroad. In the United States alone today, there are more than 2 million students in Catholic schools.
Scarletta Press author Pendred (Penny) Noyce is introducing her Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers through Lexicon Village Events. Working with schools, libraries, and after-school clubs, Noyce comes on-site to set up nine stations (villages), each representing such word or number problems from her book as combining Greek and Latin word roots, measuring pi or the length of a child’s stride, and doing mazes in a mirror.
Noyce got started by offering the events to schools in her area as fundraisers. Today she also builds her audience through her public speaking on math and science education and promotion in her blog and on her Web site. Host schools cover Noyce’s travel costs, and because her primary purpose is promotion, she does not charge for appearances. With the help of a volunteer, she usually sells as many as 40 books at an event, discounting the price from retail ($12.95) to $10.
For others who want to reach the school and young adult library market, Noyce has these recommendations:
Write up to the kids. Don’t be afraid to challenge them.
Supplement the book with activities and events that bring features of the text to life.
Offer your book events to schools, libraries, and museums. Until you build your reputation, you may need to sweeten your offer with a revenue-sharing proposal. And school personnel, even when interested, require some nagging.
In this time of tight standards, it helps to indicate how your book meets the Common Core State Standards.
Desiree Bussiere, Scarletta publicity director, says promotion of Noyce’s books has been facilitated by press president Nancy Tuminelly’s experience working with K–12 books. “She understands the directives language teachers and reading specialists are expected to support,” Bussiere says. “Since educational funding is shrinking, budgets for books and materials are being cut, so teachers are expected to meet standards across curricula.”
The Lexicon Village events offer educators another benefit, Bussiere adds; the interactive nature of the puzzles the kids work on satisfies “the requirement to address different learning styles and levels.”
Noyce and the Scarletta Press staff also strongly recommend that book- promotion information for the school market include mention of the Lexile measure. “A Lexile represents both difficulty and reading ability,” Noyce explains. “The Lexile is a developmental scale ranging from below 200L for beginning readers and beginning-reader materials to above 1700L for advanced readers and materials. Lexile measures help educators, librarians, and families select books, articles, and other materials that provide the right level of challenge for the reader’s skills and goals, and monitor growth in reading ability.”
Scarletta Press uses the Lexile® measure in all marketing and promotion of Lost in Lexicon geared toward educators. The emphasis on Lexile measures could eventually lead to more promotional avenues, such as the Scholastic Reading Counts!® program, a competitor of the popular Accelerated Reader program in schools.
HOWTO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING
Blogs, newsletters, Twitter, and Facebook: you need them to compete today, say many industry sources. But how do you measure the results—even in terms of readers—of these time-consuming promotional efforts? A quick survey of IBPA members provided some tips.
Like many independent publishers, Carole L. Carson at Hound Press has integrated her blog and her Web site. She uses Go Daddy (godaddy.com, a URL registry and Web site–hosting vendor) and the free Google Analytics (google.com/analytics) to track readers of the blog and Web page views and the time spent on each.
Carol White at RLI Press uses AWStats, which her Web host provides. “I love AWStats: it gives you more information than you can possibly use,” she reports. “I no longer do a newsletter, and the service I had did provide some basic stats, but did not report how many people opened the email messages.” (At awstats.sourceforce.net, the company says it can provide such details as number of visits to a site; number of unique visitors; visit duration; pages, hits, and kilobytes for each hour and day of the week; entry and exit pages; number of visits by robots; which search engines, key phrases, and keywords were used to find a site; and number of times a site is added to a visitor’s “favorites.”)
Mark Sisson at Primal Nutrition, where he says he gets as many as 670,000 unique visitors each month, also uses AWStats—for such traffic reports as visitors by the hour—and he uses Google Analytics as well.
With Google Alerts (google.com/alerts), which functions as an electronic clipping service, you can see how often a title is mentioned on other Web sites. Erica-Lynn Huberty, author of Dog Boy and Other Harrowing Tales, notes, “This is great, because how often a book is blogged about or how many links are connected to reviews of the book determines how popular it is. This is a better way for me to see how things are going overall, rather than nitpicking about exact numbers of Web visits.”
The challenges of obtaining and interpreting Web visitor data are perhaps best summarized by Thad McIlroy at The Future of Publishing, who tells us he uses both Google Analytics and VisiStat (visistat.com) because:
He believes VisiStat information is more comprehensive and easier to understand than what Google provides.
Google is free and VisiStat inexpensive.
Web analytics are “a mysterious science” to the laity.
Thinking of bringing a student on board as an intern? Formal internship programs often have long lead times, and finding a faculty member to initiate one can also be a lengthy process, so if you’d like an intern for spring semester or summer 2012, you might want to start now.
Some tips from Tyler Rice, Ocean Publishing’s summer 2011 intern, may help when you’re considering what tasks to assign to an intern and how much time mentoring one may take.
Take advantage of the intern’s skills with some hands-on projects, Rice advises, noting: “Publisher Frank Gromling assigned me to create e-invitations for an art show at Ocean. I didn’t have to stick to the template that he had used. Also, I have done a couple of blog posts for Ocean, including one on electronic books (the pros and cons) that allowed me to use my creative writing studies to provide an interesting perspective on the inevitable e-book era.”
Rice praised Gromling for spending as much as an hour a day talking with him about starting and running a publishing business. “I learned something new every day,” he says, and he believes that the guidance from Gromling allowed him to handle tasks such as writing newsletters and press releases more easily, thus freeing the publisher for important other work.
For more suggestions, see “Using Interns” by Stephanie Stewart and “Internships Are a Win–Win for Publishers and Students,” co-authored by Gromling, in the Independent archives at ibpa-online.org.
When you’re considering a book that needs photos to be marketable, budget both time and dollars carefully, advises Deb Weinkauff, publisher at Bar225 Media Ltd. Its Northedge & Sons unit is receiving accolades for its recently published Arizona’s Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona’s Forgotten Film History 1923–1973, a 692-page book with 175 photos that Joe McNeill took seven years to complete.
“Invest the time to do it right,” Weinkauff recommends, “and set a healthy up-front budget that you can afford to overrun, because it is impossible to predict how much a book like this will end up costing.”
The publisher calls its costs for reproduction rights to images for Arizona’s Little Hollywood “astronomical.” Moreover, costs varied significantly from one source to another. “One studio granted a blanket license to run as many shots from their films as we wanted for $2,500,” Weinkauff explains, “but another demanded $1,000 per image. So we had to decide which shots were absolutely essential.”
The negotiation process with Hollywood studios can be “long and torturous,” she reports, advising, “Do what we did: Entrust the securing of image rights to an experienced photo researcher who has connections within studio licensing divisions and knowledge of copyright law.”
Photos were located through international film and historical archives, memorabilia dealers, private collectors, libraries, and online auctions. “The saving grace,” Weinkauff notes, “was that most were purchased for first use in our flagship magazine, Sedona Monthly, which published abridged versions of each chapter of the book as they were written. We were also able to save a few dollars by doing all our scanning in-house.”
To ensure accuracy in the stories he revealed about such films as a 1935 Nazi propaganda Western and a never-finished production with John Wayne and Rex the Wonder Horse, McNeill ignored fan material and magazine puff pieces and used his interviews with dozens of elderly actors and technicians who worked on Sedona-area movies primarily for the colorful anecdotes these sources provided. He relied primarily on contemporary newspaper reports, diaries, letters, legal documents, contracts, and studio records housed in archives around the world.
The publisher reports that his most important source was the Coconino Sun, a weekly newspaper that covered movie production in the Flagstaff area starting in the 1920s and continuing into the late 1950s, when it became the Arizona Daily Sun.
MOVING FARTHERWITHA FORMAT
Griffyn Ink, which recently won Ben Franklin and other awards in audiobook categories, is marketing its productions as “audio movies,” which publisher Eli Jackson calls the next evolution of audiobooks. “Although audio movies are like the old radio dramas, they aren’t written for radio,” he explains. “They are complete, unabridged performances of a book.”
Griffyn Ink audio movies usually are 15 to 16 hours long, and they are more expensive to produce than standard audiobooks because of extra casting, coordination, music, and sound effects. “But the investment has proven to be worth it,” Jackson says, adding, “We were able to keep the price of the final product in line with standard in-store pricing for audiobooks.”
Not every book that will work as an audio presentation can be formatted as an audio movie. “Several key elements of writing are necessary,” Jackson explains. For instance, “The writer must maintain a strict point of view, and there must be clear section breaks when the point of view does change.”
One impetus for audio movies was Griffyn Ink’s awareness of how many different ways people now enjoy fiction. “While we will always have books for those who want to hold the print copy in their hands, we want to accommodate the other ways readers are being reached,” Jackson declares. “We offer the audio movies in standard venues (CDs in bookstores and Digital Download via iTunes, Audible, and others), and we also jumped ahead and released the audio movies on USB. Personal MP3 players are so common now that CDs aren’t the right format for many listeners. Our USBs are already MP3 formatted, come in regular and special edition versions, and can be plugged into any computer or easily transferred to the player of choice.”
What Publicity Spurred Sales Best?
What has been the single most effective publicity effort for selling a title of yours? For example, was it getting a book mentioned on a librarians’ blog? Was it an author’s appearance at a conference? A feature story in the newspaper that circulates in the town where a book’s action takes place? For a future Spotlight column, Linda Carlson (email@example.com) is interested in your success stories about publicity coups only (and not, at this point, in responses about advertising, direct mail, or other paid promotion).
Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com). She welcomes members’ news of unusual special sales, licensing deals, significant media coups, and other achievements at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to submit news items promptly. The focus of this column is as much about how you accomplish something as what you accomplish, so details and specific how-to’s are important. Please submit your information in the text of your email, and remember to include your name, title, and the name of your press as it is listed in the IBPA directory. To ensure that you receive Linda’s emails, please check that her address has been added to the approved sender list in your email program—and that you have an updated email address on file with the IBPA office, ibpa-online.org.
Since information for Spotlight is needed at least six weeks in advance of the Independent’s issue date, news that you submit by September 15 can be considered for the November and later issues. News that is time-sensitive and misses the Spotlight deadline—awards, events, upcoming television and radio appearances, and co-opportunities—should be directed to Lisa Krebs in the IBPA office at email@example.com for inclusion in the IBPA e-newsletter Independent Publishing Now.