Ink for Three Titles
“Right books, right time,” is how Emily White, publicist for The Mountaineers Books and its imprints Braided River and Skipstone, describes significant regional media coverage. Late this spring photographs from a Braided River title, To the Arctic, were used on the cover of a 20-page issue of Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Times Sunday magazine, which also ran a six-page excerpt from the book. Photos and recipes from the Mountaineers Books title The Urban Farm Handbook were the subject of a full-page feature in the same issue of the magazine.
“The Times was looking for something to feature for Earth Day, and their editors liked the look and mission of To the Arctic, released in November,” White explains. “The Urban Farm Handbook feature was a separate process, started in October in conversations with freelance reviewer Greg Atkinson [a local chef]. That review was initially scheduled for early 2012, and I gently checked in a few times to ensure that the piece would run.”
Another Mountaineers title, The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast: One Family’s Cross-Country Ride of Passage by Bike, has been featured in several publications, including the Wall Street Journal’s weekend Reviews section, since its launch in the spring. It also has a tie-in to Earth Day. As the San Francisco Book Review explained, “Some kids get off too lightly in rites of passage. The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast is the story of a family that biked across America for an environmental petition, so that one boy could become a man.”
Trade Media Notice First Novel
“With so many new crime novels published each year, it’s tough to get noticed,” says Christian Alighieri, publisher at Ransom Note Press. But The Cop with the Pink Pistol, a debut novel by Gray Basnight, got starred reviews in both Kirkus and Library Journal and was singled out as LJ’s Mystery Debut of the Month for January. And large-print rights have been sold to Thorndike Press.
Alighieri adds a point important to IBPA members: “What these reviews tell me as a publisher is that the key review journals are open to reading and reviewing well-published books from small and independent presses.”
Marketing from Several Strengths
When brainstorming how to market a new book, look at all of your strengths, suggests Maria Vezzetti Matson, the Polenta Publishing author/publisher of Gelsomina’s Story of Caesar Lucchesi, a biography of her grandparents.
To take advantage of her 30 years as an elementary school teacher and her ties to a region and to create awareness of the book in the community in which it’s set, Matson and co-author Lou Ellyn Helman recently visited South Range, MI, to tell third- and fourth-graders the story of Gelsomina Andreini and Caesar Lucchesi, who immigrated to Michigan from Italy in the early 1900s.
“Knowing how difficult it is to interest young children in history—even history about their own town—we created fill-in-the-blanks workbooks to help the children learn by doing,” Matson says. “As we guided them through the pages of the workbooks, they translated events in Gelsomina and Caesar’s lives to those of their own immigrant great-grandparents.”
The authors also related the mining and logging industry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in that era to the development of transportation in the United States, Matson adds, noting, “Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Caesar Lucchesi all were entrepreneurs and innovators who made history here.”
She was especially pleased about one fourth-grade teacher’s evaluation, which said, “It was wonderful to meet real authors . . . and to learn that hard work and imagination can make stories about people come alive and teach us life lessons.”
Matson and Helman also talked with both teachers and students about the craft of researching, writing, and publishing a book.
Adding an Autobiography
Penfield Books publisher Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret reports on another history that’s getting good press. Now 83, and “having too much fun to retire,” she has drawn from her 60 years as a photographer for an autobiography, Pictures and People: A Search for Visual Truth and Social Justice.
The book includes about 100 images, and the Iowa City Gazette writeup noted that “her photographs of Cecil Reed led to his becoming the first black representative elected to the Iowa legislature. Additional photographs led to open housing in Cedar Rapids following a black doctor’s search for a home for his family in the early 1960s.”
For presentations about the book, Liffring-Zug Bourret “ad libs” about PowerPoint collections of her photos, which include Dr. Martin Luther King in 1962 and Barack Obama campaigning in 2007. “These talks are one of the keys to finding new audiences for a book,” she reports, adding that another PowerPoint presentation, this one about Nan Wood Graham, one of the models for the painting “American Gothic,” has revitalized Penfield’s marketing campaign for an earlier title, Grant Wood and Little Sister Nan.
For the June launch of Mostly My Heart Sings from Turas Publishing, a reading by author and cancer survivor Vicki L. Flaherty was part of the June 15 American Cancer Society Johnson County (Iowa) Relay for Life Caregiver Ceremony.
Behind World Book Night
Edwards Brothers Malloy, formed earlier this year by the merger of IBPA members Edwards Brothers and Malloy Inc., supported World Book Night 2012 in April with the production of 35,000 copies of Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissingser from Da Capo Press, one of the titles chosen by the World Book Night committee of librarians and booksellers. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2011, the U.S. World Book Night distributed 500,000 free books.
Members in the Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com), who welcomes members’ news of unusual special sales, licensing deals, significant media coups in the last month, movie and television options, and other achievements at firstname.lastname@example.org. The focus of this column is as much about how you accomplish something as what you accomplish, so specific how-to’s are important. For her other monthly articles in the Independent, Linda often emails members to ask about their experiences. To ensure you receive these messages, check that you have her email address in your address book.
Please submit your news for Spotlight in the text of your email (no attachments) and remember to include:
● your name and title
● the name of your press as it appears in the IBPA membership directory
● your email address
● URLs for the archived editions of any media stories you’re telling us about
Since information for this column is needed about eight weeks in advance of an issue’s publication date, news you submit by July 10 can be considered for the September and later issues. News that is time-sensitive should be directed to email@example.com for consideration for the IBPA e-newsletter, Independent Publishing Now.