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Dan Poynter, Legendary Publishing Icon, Passes Away

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Yesterday, the IBPA office received the sad news that long-time friend and self-publishing guru Dan Poynter passed away. We will miss him.

Dan was a founding member of IBPA (then known as Publishers Marketing Association), joining in 1983 and participating as an active member ever since. He served on IBPA’s board of directors and participated as a speaker at most of our Publishing Universities. His sessions were often standing room only and what he discussed was always relevant and helpful. To honor his long-standing support of indie publishers, he was awarded IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.

IBPA is planning a full tribute piece to run in the January 2016 issue of the Independent magazine. In the meantime, Karla Olson, director at Patagonia Books and member of IBPA’s board of directors, provides a personal tribute to Dan below. We encourage you to share your remembrances in the comment section, as well.

A memorial service for Dan will be held on Friday, January 15, 2016 from 2:00 – 4:00pm at The Bragg Farm Event Cabana, 199 Winchester Canyon Rd., Goleta, CA 93117. Please RSVP to Becky@ParaPublishing.com or 805-968-7277. Click here for a copy of the invitation.

— Angela Bole, IBPA CEO / Terry Nathan, IBPA COO

Remembering Dan Poynter

By Karla Olson, Director, Patagonia Books

Dan Poynter was a founding member of IBPA and past recipient of IBPA's Benjamin Franklin Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dan Poynter was a founding member of IBPA and past recipient of IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Lifetime Achievement Award.

Like many of us in publishing, I first met Dan Poynter in the mid-nineties, when “self-publishing” was a wild frontier. (Many would say it still is, but that’s for another post.) He was the guru, of course, because by that time he’d been doing it for so long. Applying his brilliant business sense, even then he’d figured out the most efficient way to plan (write your back cover copy first, so you know exactly what you are writing and to whom), write (in page format in Word, so you always know how long your book is), and produce a book all on your own. He acknowledged that self publishing was for those who knew their audience better than any publisher could and had a network of people who would help get word out about the book.

These ideas were pioneering then, and they still are today.

But the thing about Dan is even though he was exploring new territory, it didn’t occur to him to keep it close to his vest. He recognized that his strategy was revolutionary, and he was willing to share, help and counsel anyone who wanted to follow in his oh-so-successful footsteps. His website overflows with articles and references, free for anyone. His newsletters pushes his “go independent” message out to the world and makes it accessible to all. His “I can do it” attitude was infectious and exhilarating. His book, The Self Publishing Manual, was the go-to guide for so many that I wouldn’t be surprised if he is acknowledged in thousands of books.

Publishers and Writers of San Diego had the honor of hosting him just a year ago. Although he had been ill, removing himself from his busy tour schedule for a year, he was robust and energetic when he arrived for his presentation. As we drove from his hotel to the meeting space, he told me that he had a goal to amass over 4 million Frequent Flyer miles, and, in typical Dan Poynter style, he’d figured out how to do it. In fact, he’d flown from San Francisco to Denver, then from Denver to San Diego just for the extra miles.

The point is that Dan never did anything half-way, whether skydiving, publishing, or travel. He lived his life to the fullest, accompanied by a giant dose of joie de vivre. I think the most important lesson I can learn from Dan’s illustrious life is not anything about publishing. It is to make the most of every day.

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