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Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

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The importance of taking the initiative, responding to interview requests, and following up with the media, especially after relevant events at home or abroad, is well illustrated by a string of events reported by Amelia Frahm, executive director of Nutcracker Publishing in Apex, NC.

A couple of summers ago, when Frahm was visiting Decatur, AL, she walked into the newspaper office and asked for the features reporter. “I showed her Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy and pitched the cancer awareness program I do for schools,” she remembers.

As a result, the Decatur Daily ran an article about the cancer awareness program, which features a costumed character from Frahm’s book. But the story doesn’t stop there. The Associated Press picked up the article, which then caught the attention of the staff of the alumni magazine at the University of Florida where Frahm earned her degree. She was interviewed and photographed for a spread in its summer 2010 issue—which was seen by another UF grad, freelance reporter Marti Maguire.

When Maguire interviewed Frahm about a year ago, the writer/publisher made sure to promote her work in progress, Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! Although Maguire got busy with a new baby and never placed the story about Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy, Frahm held on to the reporter’s contact information. Then, when the earthquake and tsunami in Japan created a nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011, she gritted her teeth and made what she calls the “dreaded” follow-up call to suggest a story focused on the new book.

“Not only was Maguire interested; she thought the larger, regional Raleigh News & Observer would be interested, as nuclear power was in the news and we have a nuclear power plant nearby,” Frahm says. A feature story, which appeared in May in the Raleigh daily and in two community papers, commented on Frahm’s willingness to tackle formerly taboo topics: “But Frahm is not cowed by controversy,” it said. “Her first book spoke frankly to children about cancer, and this one was inspired by another nuclear-related trial by fire—her first job, doing public relations at a nuclear plant, where she began work shortly before the Chernobyl disaster.”

It’s a good thing Frahm is not cowed by controversy. Her press release on the new book was picked up by a Democratic Underground blog post, which used the headline “Nuclear Industry Producing Propaganda for Children,” eliciting thousands of comments, many critical. “Of course,” Frahm tells us, “IBPA has taught me not to take things personally, and that any news or controversy is good when it’s about your book!”

Largely because of the publicity, Frahm has received several invitations to speak this fall, and she will be appearing at a nuclear power plant’s Community Days event and at her local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. She’ll also be featured in the chamber’s annual magazine—all especially valuable publicity because it comes as she is launching the nuclear power book. Prepublication orders are already coming in. Next on her schedule: visits to communities near southeastern nuclear power plants.


Publishers Weekly recently ran a starred review of Columbia University Press’s Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Fay and the Vichy Dilemma by Barbara Will, describing it as “brilliant and fascinating.”

Another wartime title PW reviewed was Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan, published by Chelsea Green. “A sobering assessment,” it’s called, noting that author Edward Girardet has “romanticized Afghanistan because of its harsh beauty and poetic embrace.”

More war titles by members were covered in “From the Front Lines” in an August issue of PW. This feature story also quotes John Wurm, marketing manager at Quayside Publishing Group, who commented, “World War II continues to drive military history in the book trade.” A good story, well told, is the key to success in this market, he adds.

Concurring with Wurm, Casemate Publishers’ managing editor, Steven Smith, was quoted saying there is an “unending fascination” for World War II. His company also publishes books on other conflicts, and its bestselling spring title was a memoir by a young woman Marine in an Iraq mortuary affairs unit.

The article and its sidebar, “The SEAL Test,” cite Osprey Publishing’s success with military titles. John Tintera, sales and marketing director, notes that regional consumer events constitute a growing market for Osprey titles. Because the company’s customer base is segmented into such hobbies as war-gaming, reenacting and living history, and toy soldiers, all of which have their own events, Osprey participates in about 50 shows a year.

Also in PW, a roundup of 9/11 anniversary books included the Columbia University Press title Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses by Charles Strozier.


That’s how Cricket Casey of More Books might summarize her recent experience. Concerned about sales of the second edition of The Portal in the Park, Casey joined IBPA earlier this year and attended Publishing University. She got some great marketing ideas, she reports, but she wasn’t excited about the free pass she got for BEA because she had attended that convention the previous year and found it to be a waste of time.

“I decided to go only to the digital booths,” Casey says, “because I had wanted to do an app but the prices were out of my budget. I pitched my book at every possible app supplier.”

Fast forward two weeks, when Casey received a phone call from one of the suppliers she had pitched at BEA, offering to create an app of The Portal in the Park at no cost to More Books. “It turns out the executives believe interactive animated apps for children’s books are going to be all the rage, and this company needed a sample to send to all its clients,” Casey explains.

By the middle of this month, an app of Casey’s book should be available in the Apple Store for iPads. In print form, The Portal in the Park is a 132-page chapter book oriented to children aged five to nine. By contrast, the app is 30 pages of full color, which Casey says means it’s still longer than most apps of kids’ books, which run five to ten pages because they’re created for preschoolers.

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 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.

Information for Spotlight is needed at least seven weeks in advance of the Independent’s issue date. 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 lisa@ibpa-online.org for possible inclusion in the IBPA e-newsletter Independent Publishing Now.

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