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Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

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As we settle into 2012, hard at work to make our recent and upcoming releases financially successful and critically acclaimed, several smaller publishers are still basking in the recognition from year-end roundups of “best” books.

The New York Times“notable books” lists for 2011 includes several titles from independent presses, and IBPA members are among them.

Its “100 Notable Books of 2011” cites Other Press’s Seven Years, written by Peter Stamm, whom the Times calls one of Europe’s most exciting writers, and translated by Michael Hofmann. Its “Holiday Books: Visuals” showcases Fox Chapel’s Labeling America: Popular Culture on Cigar Box Labels by John Grossman, who describes the output of a family-owned printing company that was run by four successive generations of men named George Schlegel. And its “Music Chronicle” praises Continuum’s Amazing Grace by Aaron Cohen for its analysis of Aretha Franklin’s methodology.

Library Journal’s “best of 2011” lists also include titles by IBPA members:

Grace Burrowes’s The Soldier from Sourcebooks’ Casablanca imprint was praised for “exceptional storytelling and unforgettable characters.” Another Sourcebooks Casablanca title, Isabel Cooper’s No Proper Lady, is included in the same roundup and described as a “highly charged, sexy, funny, and infinitely refreshing twist on an old-time travel theme.”

LJ called Ian Weir’s Daniel O’Thunder, a Douglas & McIntyre adventure, “a debut novel both outrageously funny and bizarrely creepy.”

Nonfiction titles recognized by Library Journal include The Diabetes Manifesto: Take Charge of Your Life, “a practical, supportive manual” from Demos by Lynn Crowe and Julie Stachowiak, and Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan, an “excellent work” by Edward Girardet from Chelsea Green that “should be of particular interest to historians, foreign policy buffs, political scientists, and military personnel.”

Among the publishers honored on the Kirkus Reviews“Best of 2011” lists are:

Outskirts Press, for No Hope for Gomez by Graham Parke, the “consistently entertaining” blog of a drug trial participant.

Other Press, for Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir by the screenwriter Emma Forrest, described as “an intense story of madness and redemption,” and Galore by Michael Crummey, “a boisterous, one-of-a-kind folk epic about feuding intermarried clans in Newfoundland.”

Pentelicus Press, for The Guardians of Time by Damian Lawrence, for its “morally complex vision of the future.”

Poisoned Pen, for The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham, which received a starred review that concluded, “There’s a lot of good stuff in this unpretentious gem. Don’t miss it.”



Ruth Yaron was in the audience when her Super Baby Food was featured on The Martha Stewart Show in late November as part of a seven-minute segment on making applesauce. Stewart called the book “fabulous,” and briefly interviewed Yaron.

In the first couple of weeks after the show aired, sales increased by about 200 over the usual 1,700 a month, reports John Cicilioni, executive director at publisher F.J. Roberts.


C&T Publishing continues to report enthusiasm among pattern designers and pattern buyers alike for its PatternSpot.com Web site, where freelance designers can make patterns available for sale as downloads with all payments processed through C&T.

As of late 2011, communications manager Lisa Fulmer said the site is attracting as many as 20,000 “registered shoppers” each month, with each viewing between six and ten pages. About 18,000 patterns had been downloaded prior to year’s end, with tote, bag, and quilt patterns on the bestseller list.

In part because C&T charges designers nothing up front to list patterns (the company gets a commission), there are about 400 posting to PatternSpot, with about half of them generating sales. This year the company expects more e-zines, e-books, and e-tutorials to be available for sale, Fulmer says.


What can go wrong when you’re using social media to promote books? Plenty, says Berrett-Koehler publicity manager Cynthia Shannon. One important point to remember, especially if improving social media was among your New Year’s resolutions: Don’t give up after six weeks.

“Social media is a lot of work,” Shannon writes in a recent BK newsletter. “Many people start off with a lot of drive and gusto but then decide after a few weeks that their foray into social media was a failed experiment. It’s hard to understand that everyone starts off with zero followers and no fans, but the more you use it, the faster you’ll get a fan base.”

Shannon’s recommendation: start with a single platform (for example, Facebook or Twitter, not both) and work on it every day for 10 minutes. “Send a tweet with a link, upload a picture, send a friend request . . . ” Once you’re proficient with that platform, move on to the next. “Social media is ever evolving, and you’ll learn as you go,” she says.

Other publishers suggest that you “find” newsworthy information to share via the Web. At Parenting Press, for example, operations manager Homer Henderson now runs a report showing the 10 bestsellers of the month that the press uses for tweets, posts on its Facebook page, and posts on the page of each bestselling author.


Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com has related advice in an online publication. Despite its title, 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing, this has some valuable recommendations about online marketing for publishers of all sizes, whether or not they publish their own work.

To find online discussions and groups that include prospective buyers for a particular book, Friedlander suggests Googling the subject of your book followed by the word forum. What comes up are sites you can consider posting to, and groups you (or the author of the relevant book) might want to join.

Because all of us have limited time, however, he also recommends determining which blogs, groups, and other online communities have the most traffic. “I use a plugin for Google’s Chrome browser called SEO for Chrome that will show the Google page rank and Alexa rank for any website,” he explains, warning that neither Google nor Alexa rankings provide more than good estimates of influence or traffic.

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 include details and specific how-to’s.


Submit your information in the text of your email, not as an attachment.

Include your name, title, and the name of your press as it is listed in the IBPA directory.

Include your email address.

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 several weeks in advance of the Independent’s issue date, news that you submit by March 5 can be considered for the May and later issues. News that is time-sensitive and misses the Spotlight deadline—awards, events, 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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