Associations – Worth the Fee?

October 6, 2009 at 8:10 am | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on Associations – Worth the Fee?
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In tough economic times, everyone seems to draw back from spending money. Sounds like a reasonable thing to do. Save what you don’t need to spend because the economy is so challenging and business is getting tighter.

Generally speaking, unless books are required for classes or business purposes, most books are bought with discretionary income. They are impulse buys, not necessities. Well, maybe they are “necessities” for some of us who just can’t live without a book in our hands or on our e-readers. But, for the most part, books get bought with money that is left after the bills get paid.

So, if the book publishing industry is being adversely affected by a down economy, it seems logical that publishers would take a second or third look at all outflow of money to make sure it is being spent wisely. Logical. Very logical. To a point.

I’ve been a member of the Florida Publishers Association and the Independent Book Publishers Association for over six years. Both of these associations have given me untold benefits over the years. I’ve gotten an education about publishing unlike anything possible in grad schools. Real life, hands-on education and experience have been shared generously by members of FPA and IBPA. One cannot get that sitting in a college classroom. Sure, the principles are taught there, but the experience? Not often.

My memberships in these two associations have meant the difference between success and failure for me. Lessons learned from one-on-one talks, networking, seminars, newsletter articles, Publishing University, online courses, conferences, and so much more have proven to me beyond a doubt that my membership fees are worth every cent and much more.

In fact, I think my dues should be higher! That’s right, higher. For what I have gained from membership in FPA and IBPA would have cost me thousands of dollars had I been able to obtain it through college courses or other sources. When most associations are charging members $300, $500 or more for membership, these two associations charge a pittance in comparison.

Now, more than ever, is the time to be a member of an effective publishing association. Now, more than ever, is the right opportunity for publishers to pull together to share, support, educate, and network for our mutual benefit. The best place to do that for maximum results is in an association of like-minded people.

When my memberships in FPA and IBPA come up for renewal, I won’t have a moment’s hesitation about re-upping. For me, it’s simple. I get so much from my memberships that I would be foolish not to renew them. Right now, more than ever, is the right time to get involved, stay involved, and gain as much as possible from them.  And, it is the best time in the world to give back to those associations by being active, helping out where I can with what talents I can share.

Are associations worth the fee? You bet!

www.flbookpub.org

www.ibpa-online.org

Interns Make Sense

September 3, 2009 at 7:02 am | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on Interns Make Sense
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I am a big believer in the value of internship programs. In fact, my fifth intern started his program with Ocean Publishing this Wednesday and I am already impressed with his interest and ambition.

Intern programs benefit both the person doing the internship and the organization providing it. As most intern programs do not offer paid compensation, those willing to intern are clearly motivated beyond the allure of money. They seek learning and experience, and are willing to work for free in exchange for an education in the practical world of their chosen field.

My previous four interns all gained significant knowledge and experience by working in my book publishing house. Each of  them has shared that what they learned, both from daily education sessions and opportunities to use their creativity and brain power, gave them a greater sense of achievement  and confidence than they had imagined possible.

I think the key to a successful internship is to have a daily routine of teaching points for the intern. I spend 30-45 minutes at the start of every day talking about a different subject about publishing. I give the intern a personal notebook on the first day to use for all the materials I hand out and for notes made during the day. By the end of the internship, this very full notebook becomes a permanent reference for whatever direction the intern takes in his or her career.

In return for the daily education, I receive an incredible benefit from the intern. One of the best advantages for me is to have fresh ideas about everything we do. While we run our operation with certain systems in place, it is refreshing to have someone ask, “What if we did this differently, like maybe changing all of our paper to a greater percentage of recycled content?” This is invaluable for any organization which wants to remain vibrant and focused. Plus, interns can handle a wide variety of tasks if they are trained correctly right away.

If you aren’t now offering an internship in your business, do it. Young people will gain great knowledge and experience. And, as important, your organization will benefit in ways you have not yet imagined. All it’s going to cost you is a little time every day to share what you know about what you love — your business.

Mark Coker to Guest on Cover to Cover

August 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Radio Show | Comments Off on Mark Coker to Guest on Cover to Cover
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This Saturday, August 29th, Mark Coker will guest on the “Book Publishing Rocks!” segment of my radio show “Cover to Cover” on wnzf.com at 11:30 AM Eastern.

Mark is the founder and president of Smashwords, Inc. And, in case you’re not familiar with Smashwords, here’s how Mark describes it on his web site:

Smashwords is a publishing platform, online bookstore and ebook distributor for indepedent ebook authors, publishers and readers. We offer multi-format, DRM-free ebooks, ready for immediate sampling and purchase, and readable on any e-reading device.

At Smashwords, our authors and publishers have complete control over the sampling, pricing and marketing of their written works. Smashwords is ideal for personal memoirs, novels, short fiction, non-fiction, essays, screenplays, newsletters, poetry, or other written forms that haven’t even been invented yet. It’s free to publish on Smashwords.

For readers, Smashwords provides an opportunity to discover new voices in all categories and genres of the written word. For registered members, the site offers useful tools for search, discovery and personal library-building, and each week we add new features based on feedback from Smashwords members.

So, I am excited about having Mark on the show this Saturday and look forward to asking him lots of questions of interest to my listeners who are authors, publishers, and others interested in the exciting world of books.

Join us Saturday morning, August 29th, at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT on www.wnzf.com.

Associations and Economic Downturns?

August 6, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on Associations and Economic Downturns?
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Unless you’ve been in a cave for the past two years, you know that our economy, and that of the world at large, is in a very bad place. As the US Government ratchets up its spending and borrowing for a multitude of programs that are supposed to save us from economic disaster, the book industry continues to suffer along, greatly affected by cunsumers’ fears about spending what little discretionary income they may still have.

As an independent book publisher, I know what is happening out there in the economy. I see it every day when I look at sales results and wholesale orders. The numbers are down sharply.

Customers who formerly bought large quantities of books with each order are buying fewer copies and ordering less frequently. Individual orders on our web site are off by 50%. People are afraid to spend. This is a very tough time for everyone, well, maybe not so much for those we read about still getting big bonuses paid for from stimulus money. But, that’s another story for another time.

During this tough economic time I believe it is more imporant than ever to belong to a professional association. It’s not the time to save the little amount possible by not paying the membership dues. It’s time to spend it and get the most out of it you can!

I’m an independent book publisher and I belong to two professional associations, one at the state level and one at the national. I insist on getting as much from both of them that I can in order to maximize my company’s potential for success. Florida Publishers Association has a dynamite monthly newsletter that I devour voraciously. Its tips, leads, hints, contacts, how-to’s and more are worth the price of membership alone.

Then there’s the Independent Book Publishers Association, what I consider to be the penultimate in professional associations. This organization has given me more support, education, direction, friendship, advice, counsel, and yes, love, than any other organization I have ever joined.

So I say again to those of you who think you’re being smart and not renewing your association memberships or not joining a professional association so you can save a few dollars, you are making a major mistake that will cost you thousands of dollars and untold hours of labor. Smarten up. In stormy waters it’s the wise captain who refers to charts, the wisdom of seasoned sailors, and always has time to plan, prepare and execute a proper course. I know. I am both a sailor and a publisher, and I know the value of my association memberships. Every day.

Hand Crafted Books

August 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Radio Show | Comments Off on Hand Crafted Books
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Next Saturday morning, August 8th, radio audiences across America and  around the world will have an oportunity to hear about an old artform that is alive and well in today’s high-tech world of book publishing.

Tom Tolnay, publisher/printer at Birch Brook Press, will join host Frank Gromling on “Cover to Cover” at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT on www.wnzf.com to explain how he is using historical printing teqhniques to make high quality books.  As taken directly from the Internet site for Birch Brook Press, Tom describes it this way:

Our goal is to help sustain the craft of antique bookmaking in the age of the Internet, enabling readers and publishers to have access to books that are beautiful to behold, satisfying to hold, and wonderful to read. Despite the remarkable speed and versatility of computer-generated typesetting and computer-controlled offset printing, when it comes to a work of literary value or a personal treasure, speed is not the most important consideration. More important is close personal care. Letterpress production requires continuous human involvement at every stage, resulting in books that have the look and feel of life, not the flash and noise of hype. Although Letterpress books are much more costly to produce, we keep our prices competitive with much cheaper-to-produce computer-driven books to give readers more value.

So, tune in next Saturday, August 8th, for an entertaining and educational half-hour about book publishing the way it used to be done and, in a small town inupstate New York, it still is.

http://www.birchbrookpress.info/

Lloyd Jassin on “Cover to Cover”

July 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Radio Show | Comments Off on Lloyd Jassin on “Cover to Cover”
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This Saturday morning I am pleased to have Lloyd Jassin as a guest on my radio show “Cover to Cover” at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT and streaming worldwide at www.WNZF.com.

Lloyd is one of the best, brightest, and most experienced lawyers in the challenging world of entertainment and intellectual property law. He and Iwill talk about important steps book publishers must consider when organizing and running their businesses. We’ll talk about the types of legal errors new publishers make and what they should have done.

Lloyd will tell us about the importance of copyright and permissions for using copyrighted material. We’ll look at the changing publishing industry and the emergence of e-books.

So, if you are thinking of starting a book publshing house or already have, tune in for an informative interview with Lloyd Jassin. More information about Lloyd is available at www.copylaw.com.

Radio Show Builds An Audience

July 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Radio Show | Comments Off on Radio Show Builds An Audience
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Now that I’ve finished seven broadcasts of my radio show “Cover to Cover,” I’m hearing from folks across the country who say they have been listening in each Saturday. People as far away as California and Colorado have written in to comment about the show. Folks closer to my home base of Florida have also said they like the combination of information about books and book publishing. Some like the humor I try to blend in and others report the interviews with authors, publishers, marketers, and others have been really informative.

So far, guests on the show have been authors Steve Berry and Victor DiGenti, publishers Rudy Shur and Rod Colvin, book marketer Brian Jud, and social media expert Deltina Hay. My guests for the next four weeks will be intellectual property attorney Lloyd Jassin, publisher Tom Tolnay, media sensation Cynthia Brian, and IBPA’s new leader Carlene Sippola.

Anyone interested in books and book publishing should tune in every Saturday morning on the Net at www.wnzf.com at 11:30 ET/8:30 PT for loads of information, news, and fun. Those who have a guest or subject idea should email me at publisher@ocean-publishing.com.

BookExpo America 2009

June 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on BookExpo America 2009
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Well, once again I proved that I can’t be everywhere and do everything at once. BookExpo America (BEA) proved that, after all, I am human.

I had planned to blog every day at BEA so we would have a running commentary about my activities, but a hundred different interruptions, mostly in the form of human beings, changed all that good intention stuff. Reality was that I had so much to do and so little time that I hardly had a chance to eat and go to the bathroom. In fact, the first two days of BEA I didn’t do either of those things until the show was over for the day!

Here’s my typical day during BEA: out of the hotel room at 6:30, breakfast by 7:00, work on office stuff until 8:00 when associates from IBPA arrive, depart for BEA by shuttle at 8:30, work the IBPA membership booth or members’ book display all day until 5:00 (My role was primarily to enlist new members and assist people to find and consider books in our display.), dinner with associates, work til 11:00, crash.

I had very little time for my own planned activities of seeking out potential sponsors for my radio show about publishing and visiting with distribution types to increase Ocean Publishing’s national exposure. Only on Sunday, the third and final day, did I have the opportunity to move around the floor a little.

Overall, BEA was pretty good for IBPA and me. We took in a bunch of  new members and I met with a distributor with whom I likely will sign on. I visited the Arabian Pavilion and was impressed by the size and sophistication of some of their booths. I met with representatives from the Arab Publishers Association, which I think should be considered as an affiliate candiate of IBPA, and with spokespersons from Sharjah, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. With publishers from around the world wanting access to the US markets, IBPA could be of assistance, and those worldwide interests might help US publishers gain access overseas in new markets. An interesting possibility.

One of the best benefits of being at BEA is the opportunity to visit with friends from around the country. I had a chance to meet up with Rudy Shur (Square One), Victoria Sutherland (ForeWord Magazine), Lloyd Jassin (Copylaw.com), Norman Goldfind (Basic Health) and a plethora of other folks too numerous to name.

One more person I visited with was Kathleen Go, a former intern who now works for a NYC publisher as an editor. She worked with me for over four months two years ago and it was so enjoyable to link up, even for a few minutes.

Now, it’s back to the realities of business: dealines, meetings, telephone calls, emails, yada, yada, yada. There’s always next year, though!

Publishing University Wrap-up

May 29, 2009 at 5:47 am | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on Publishing University Wrap-up
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Yesterday was the third and last day of the 2009 Publishing University presented by IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association. And what a great day it was!

For me, there were two highlights: the luncheon program with industry pros talking about e-books; and the evening dinner and presentaion of the Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Speakers at the luncheon session described their respective company’s activities in the rapidly expanding e-book sector of the book industry. Neelan Choksi, whose company had just been bought by Stanza, Daniel Albohn, of Sony, and Mark Coker, owner of Smashwords, provided a clear picture of the exciting world of e-books. This is obviously a segment of the industry that is undergoing tremendous advances and growth. I am moving all of Ocean Publishing’s books into this format as rapidly as I can in the next few weeks.

The Ben Franklin Awards were great fun for me, especially, and a crowd of several hundred IBPA members and guests who filled the Grand Ballroom of The Roosevelt Hotel. The post-dinner presentation of awards for the best books in 54 categories was my highlight because I love the excitement of the evening. IBPA board members, along with Executive Director Terry Nathan and Assistant Director Lisa Krebs Magno, served as presenters.

Big winner of the night was Palace Press International, which took home five individual awards! Congratulations!

Today I move over to the Jacob Javits Center to attend BookExpo America, the biggest book publishing event of the year. For the next three days I will be working in the IBPA Booth(#2955) to help with IBPA’s membership campaign. If you are attending the show, please stop by and say hello.

More to come…

Day Two of Pub U

May 27, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Book Publishing | Comments Off on Day Two of Pub U
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Well, so much for reporting about Day 1 of Publishing University!  I got in late and missed Rudy Shur’s keynote talk and heard only part of Dominique Raccah’s. From what I heard and have been told, they both delivered outstanding presentations about the future of independent publishing. I’ll write about the details after I’ve listened to the recorded program.

Following their program, I attended a very nice reception for all of the attendees and got to connect with old friends and meet new foks. This was followed by a very fun dinner for the IBPA Affiliate Scholarship Recipeients at a French country restaurant on 2nd Avenue. What enjoyment it was to talk with people who had been recommended by their IBPA Affiliate Associations and selected by IBPA to receive a free tuition to Publishing University and a $500 stipend to help offset expenses.

Today started at 6:30 with preparation of the registration booth and membership table. I then helped out at both until 9:30 when I took a break to get on the internet to do some business for Ocean Publishing and to handle e-mail.  Then, back to the mezzanine for more help with registrations and such, followed by a fine luncheon/IBPA business meeting where Roland Lange, of Google Book Search, talked about that program and what he foresees for independent publishing. I’ll report more on this after I’ve digested my notes.

I was on a panel at 2:00, talking about “Marketing from the Inside Out,” along with Sue Sylvia and Carlene Sipola, the new IBPA president. I spoke on the importance of marketing and business focus, and how authors must have a platform on which to promote their books. This session was followed by Q&A, and then I broke to get back on the Net to write this blog.

Next will be a reception sponsored by Lightning Source, followed by casual dining with some long time friends. Then, its crash in bed so I can do it all over again tomorrow!

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