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Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

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Go to barnesandnoble.com, select “Kids” from the menu on the left, and the pop-up list shows “Expert Circle” on the far right. One more click and you’ll see 16 early childhood professionals introduced with, “Want to encourage your child’s love of reading? Need help potty training? Want parenting tips on starting school? We’ve assembled today’s leading experts in child development, literacy, teaching, and behavior to answer all your questions!”

And one of those experts is long-time IBPA member Maryann Kohl, founder of Bright Ring Publishing. As I write, one of her articles for the retailer is front and center under “New this month.” Better yet, Barnes & Noble decided that, starting in September, each of its stores will be required to have an Expert Circle display outside the B&N Junior section.

This display is intended to showcase books for kids on the theme of the month and provide flyers with the Expert Circle URL that list articles online by the experts. Kohl, who has been writing articles on creativity and parenting for BN.com for several months, reports she is delighted: “Free positioning for my books in all B&N stores!” She had accepted Barnes & Noble’s invitation to join the Expert Circle without knowing what the payoff for all the writing might be.


C & T Publishing and its new pattern sales affiliate were among the craft publishers featured in a recent issue of Publishers Weekly. In “Crafting the Future: Weaving Print and Digital,” C & T publisher Amy Marson was quoted as saying that the company’s e-book sales have increased 175 percent over last year.

The story devoted several more inches to the company’s new pattern site, noting: “C & T’s biggest digital move this year was the May beta launch of PatternSpot.com, a new site aimed at becoming the destination site for online sewing pattern sales.” PW reported that PatternSpot.com had 700 patterns for sale by 100 designers, with 2,000 shoppers registered. By the time the story appeared, however, the numbers for all three had soared.

“We are thrilled with both the content and the traffic so far—they have exceeded all our expectations,” publicist Megan Scott says. “We currently have about 1,200 different e-patterns for sale from nearly 200 designers . We had over 1,000 ePattern downloads (freebies and purchases combined) from more than 14,000 visitors during June—great numbers for the site’s very first month of operation.”

The same PW story quoted Gibbs-Smith marketing director Dan Moench on the value of retail outlets such as craft stores. Significant sales have resulted from getting craft books into chains like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, he pointed out. “The right placement can be almost as important as the product.”


Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, was among several people quoted in another recent Publishers Weekly story, “Selling After Borders.” Although she said Sourcebooks had restructured its operations prior to the Borders liquidation, she pointed out that the chain’s closure will “have some impact on our publishing strategy and on some of the opportunities we have to break out a new title or author.”


In mid-August, a Judson Press title, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta by Janet Perez Eckles, was ranked first in Amazon.com’s Spirituality—Religious Warfare category and fourth in Biographies & Memoirs—Family & Childhood. This is reportedly the first time a Judson title has reached the top in any Amazon category. Ten days after publication, the book placed 372th in books overall. At that same time, a Google search for the title turned up 10 pages of listings for interviews with the author, reviews, and blog posts.

Eckles has been quoted in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Hispanic Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, El Nuevo Dia, and Orlando Sentinel. She has written for Guideposts and is the author of numerous titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. In March she received the Latina Women Who Make a Difference Award from La Prensa, the largest Spanish newspaper in Central Florida.

Judson Press, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist Churches, also reports several appearances on Christian and homeschooling media by the author of another new release, Where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents.

Author Anita Mellott was interviewed about homeschooling on Christian Devotions Speak UP! (christiandevotions.us) in August. Last month she was featured on Full Circle, a television program that airs on Canada’s CTS and online (see crossroads.ca/fullcircle), and taped for a future episode of the Canadian talk show 100 Huntley Street (100huntley.com). She was also interviewed on two online radio shows, The Sociable Homeschooler (toginet.com/shows/thesociablehomeschooler) and on Motherhood Talk Radio (motherhoodtalkradio.wordpress.com).

If you’d like to reach the homeschooling market, consider checking Home School Enrichment (homeschoolenrichment.com), a magazine and Web site that Mellott contributes to. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, the Web site of a company that describes itself as “a for-profit religious corporation,” and for the Cypress Times (thecypresstimes.com), described as a “Christian, conservative, online daily newspaper.”


Would you like to convey a message on screen in just 60 seconds? Here’s advice from Josh Livingston of Crimson Oak Publishing, who recently completed a video for a book launch:

• Determine who your target audience is. In Crimson Oak’s case with Ladybird Ladybird, it is


females aged 14–45.

• Be specific so that your message reaches your demographic. For Ladybird Ladybird, the message is

mystery, hope, and love.

• Don’t tell the entire story in your trailer; leave the consumer wanting more.

• Captivate with clear images and lure with moving music.

• Finally, include a call to action, sending the viewer to (in Crimson Oak’s case) ladybirdbook.com.


Several IBPA members have had books reviewed in recent issues of Publishers Weekly.

Candlemark & Gleam is celebrating a starred review for Erekos, described by the reviewer as a “poetical craft” of a tale of war and love. Debut author A.M. Tuomala is praised for a “deft creation” and for “beautiful language that sweeps the reader along on an adventure full of unexpected endings and consequences.”

Tempted, a Sourcebooks/Casablanca release, also earned a starred review for its “naturalistic, snappy dialogue, endlessly twisting plots within plots, a cast of complex and eminently likeable characters, and a romance as hot as it is complicated.” “An entertaining and smoldering read,” summarized the reviewer.

Lady of the English, a Sourcebooks/Landmark title, was cited for the author’s “sure and subtle” depiction of life in the Middle Ages, and the review concluded, “The pace of the story and [author] Chadwick’s solid research will engage fans of heavy historical fiction.”

The same issue includes a review of Poisoned Pen’s Murder in the 11th House, calling it a “winning debut” for this first in a new series, and crediting the novel with “just the right amount of technical exposition.”

PW’s review of the picture book Limelight Larry, published by Tiger Tales, says that it offers “a continuous string of laughs” and that “splashy color, overlapping textures, and a roaring variety of typefaces make each page a three-ring circus worthy of the limelight.”


Nancy Carabio Belanger, who founded Harvey House Publishing in 2008 because she perceived a need for quality Catholic fiction for preteens, has been pleased with her first two books’ acceptance by Catholic schools and homeschoolers as well as religious bookstores.

Among her tactics: submitting both books to the Catholic Writers’ Guild for its review. The Guild’s Seal of Approval helped bookstores trust the books’ faithfulness to church teaching, she reports, and awards from the Catholic Press Association have made it easier to promote the books to parents and educators in Catholic schools and parishes.

Sales increased significantly when schools began adding the titles to their required summer reading lists. Belanger adds that she attends Catholic conferences, especially the annual meeting of the Catholic Marketing Network, to “meet personally with bookstore owners and other publishers.”

For publishers marketing similar titles, Belanger also recommends writing study guides that can be used by teachers and students in the classroom, by parents and by book groups. She uses a blog to comment both on the books and on topics of current interest to Catholics. “This helps search engines steer people to my titles as they search for current topics,” she reports.


In conjunction with the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans in June, Poisoned Pen Press offered four librarian attendees the chance to win a donation of $500 in Poisoned Pen titles to a favorite library.

The four winners, selected at random, had their donations sent to the St. Charles Parish Library in Destrehan, LA; the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville, NY; the Chazy (NY) Public Library, and the Bristol Library in New Harbor, ME. The prize for Poisoned Pen: besides goodwill, extensive publicity to librarians, and stories in local and trade media.

Interested in doing something similar for the 2012 conference, which attracts thousands and is publicized to 65,000 ALA members? It’s set for June in Anaheim, CA.


If you publish books in Spanish, you’ll probably want to see the 2010 census data about cities with a high percentage of Hispanic/Latino residents in “List of U.S. communities with Hispanic majority populations,” wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._communities_with_Hispanic_majority_populations.

These data are about communities where more than half the residents consider themselves Hispanic, which are not necessarily the places with the highest counts of Hispanic residents. San Antonio is the largest city with a Hispanic majority. The major city with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents (82 percent) is El Paso. (Some smaller communities are almost 100 percent Hispanic.)

This list is being used by publishers such as Parenting Press to identify schools and libraries that should receive information about Spanish-language children’s books.

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 linda@ibpa-online.org. Remember to submit news items promptly. The focus of this column is as much on how you accomplish something as on 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 up-to-date email address on file with the IBPA office (you can look it up at 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 October 15 can be considered for the December 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 (lisa@ibpa-online.org) for inclusion in the IBPA e-newsletter Independent Publishing Now.

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