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Spotlight: Janice Schnell Butler, IBPA Board Member

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Linda Carlson writes for IBPA’s Independent magazine from Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at linda@ibpa-online.org.

Janice Schnell ButlerIBPA board member Janice Schnell Butler (photo right) is a content acquisition sales manager for Ingram Content, which means she works with publishers of all sizes and all genres on print-on-demand and e-publishing. Her job includes determining what publishers want, whether that’s as basic as new trim sizes or as complex as global distribution.

Although her academic background is in classical music, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees, Schnell Butler has spent 14 years in sales functions, first at the Dillards department store chain and for the past seven years at Ingram, starting at Lightning Source prior to its 2009 integration into the Ingram Content Group that includes Ingram Digital and Ingram Book Group.

She calls on larger publishers, handles author services companies, and addresses the needs of startups and small presses. Along the way, she strives to plug her clients into whatever other Ingram services make sense, including the company’s well-known book wholesaling operation and its newer distribution program.

Besides that, Schnell Butler occasionally plays consultant, especially at events such as BookExpo and IBPA’s Publishing University. Veteran publishers sometimes still need information on e-publishing and POD, she explains, especially if they are just now converting backlists. “Despite the popularity of e-books, print doesn’t have to die. Some readers still want print, and some want both.”

And people without publishing experience usually need referrals to educational programs and the resources available through IBPA, other publishing associations, and genre-specific publications, says Schnell Butler, who radiates enthusiasm about the wide variety of help available for those getting started. “New publishers can be so passionate about their art, about what they’ve done, but they often need to figure out marketing and discoverability. They don’t realize they have to push for visibility of their titles.”

Many publishers served through Ingram Content need help with such basics as building files, understanding the difference between JPEGs and TIFFs, and creating print-quality PDFs. Even more important, they need to identify their target markets, Schnell Butler points out. For some, bookstore distribution is not the way to reach those prospects. And profit is not always the motive, or the only motive, for self-publishers. Her questions for novices include, “How important is it to you to have your title on a bookstore shelf? How much do you expect to make from publishing?”

As she notes, fledgling publishers often also have to learn the difference between trade and consumer markets, and how to sell to each. And, she adds, understanding discounts and returns is vital for those using the access to online and storefront bookstores that Lightning Source and IngramSpark can provide through Ingram’s usual channels. (The major difference between Lightning Source and IngramSpark is in the flexibility of discounts. IngramSpark, introduced last summer, offers 40 and 55 percent; LSI offers many more options.)

Overall, Schnell Butler says, she sees Ingram becoming more of a service organization. “We want publishers to know that we can handle manufacturing and the logistics of book wholesaling and distribution so publishers can focus on content and marketing.”

About the Author: Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com/p/advertising.html) writes for the Independent from Seattle.

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