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!


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.

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 (, 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!

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!

Off to New York!

May 26, 2009 at 6:33 am | Posted in Book Publishing | Comments Off on Off to New York!
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Today I travel to NYC to attend the start of IBPA’s Publishing University and I am excited about this opportunity to learn more about several topics that will help my publishing house prosper.

As soon as I arrive I’ll listen to Dominique Raccah and Rudy Shur, two highly experienced and successful publishers, give their views about the future of independent publishing. Their publishing houses, Sourcebooks and Square One Publishers, respectively, are the perfect examples of what independent publishers can achieve.

I give two talks on marketing on Wednesday and Thursday, followed Thursday night by IBPA’s fabulous Benjamin Franklin Dinner and Awards, which recognizes the best in indpendent book publishing. In between, I will be attending courses, helping with the IBPA membership outreach, and enjoying the company of many friends, both long time and newly-met.

I’m staying on for all three days of BookExpo America, the largest book publishing event in the country. I have plans to meet with specific distributors, audio and e-book manufacturers, marketing pros, and others in the constant search for that next connection to take Ocean Publishing one step higher toward professional and financial success.

I will also conduct interviews with experts in all phases of book publishing. Each person will be asked questions about their specific jobs and these interviews will be recorded for my upcoming radio show “Cover to Cover” on

Got to go for now. New York is calling!

Publishing University 2009

May 22, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective, Radio Show | Comments Off on Publishing University 2009

With daylight fading fast on the last business day before Publishing University, I am racing around getting last minute things done in the office so I can be reasonably assured that the world (my small press world, at least) won’t fall apart while I am in NYC next week. Easier said than done!

With the added confusion caused by five storm days (see posts below), this week has been full of canceled meetings, interrupted power, drenched and re-drenched clothes, and an overall combination of weirdness that is more unusual than most days in the unusual state of Florida.

I am so excited about this year’s Publishing University that I wish it started today. Of course, I would be farther behind in getting ready than I am now, but that’s OK. This is a challenging time for all businesses, but especially my business of book publishing. People buy my type of books because they want to, not because they have to. This often means they are using discretionary income and, right now, that’s a commodity that is increasingly difficult to find.

This is exactly the time that publishers, especially those like me who own their own publishing houses, should be going to conferences, seminars, workshops and, yes, Publishing University. Conducted by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), comprised of 3500 independent publishers and others serving that part of the industry, Publishing University is the premier educational event historically held annually just prior to BookExpo America.

I am anxious to attend Publishing University this year because there are several courses I must hear, plus I am going to conduct interviews with some “heavy hitters” from the independent publishing world for my radio show. Of course, another reason I’m pumped is I am the membership chair for IBPA and I want to thank members I see and encourage non-members to sign on to the best source of education, networking and support available in the country.

A last, and no less important, reason I’m excited about going to Publishing University is that I will be able to visit with great friends who I have met through IBPA. Former and current board members with whom I have served, fabulous staff who give their all to help our members, and just a lot of other super people who share a love for independent book publishing.

I wish it started today!

Florida Publishers Association Round Table

April 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Book Publishing | Comments Off on Florida Publishers Association Round Table
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Tomorrow I will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Publishers Association (FPA) Round Table event near Tampa. The Round Table is part of FPA’s continuing efforts to provide valuable education and networking for its members. The sessions start at 10:30 in the morning and last until 5:00 p.m.

The concept is to have attendees gather around a variety of tables where they can ask whatever questions they have about book publishing. At each table will be a “resident expert” from the FPA board who will offer their thoughts on each question. Everyone at the table will be asked to add their input, too. So, in a lively discussion, a great deal of information sharing will occur to the benefit of all.

During the lunch hour break, I will talk about the value and importance of  being an active part of FPA, especially during these challenging economic times. This is the exact time that we should “circle our wagons” to help each other through the ups and downs that come with market fluctuations, mortgage failures, changing government focus and all the other challenges facing us.

The second part of my keynote will look at how the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) can provide additonal benefits that result in real dollar savings, enhanced book production and marketing, and a wealth of network oppportunities on a national level. Those firms and individuals who are members of both FPA and IBPA gain increased savings and education by utilizing the combined talents and services offered through a long list of valuable benefits.

I have personally gained from my membership in FPA and IBPA. I would not be where I am today if it were not for what I learned from these associations. And, as importantly, I have gained some incredible friends who are always ready to lend a hand whenever it is needed.

FPA and IBPA, a winning combination!

Independent Publishing Membership Outreach

April 11, 2009 at 11:37 am | Posted in Book Publishing | Comments Off on Independent Publishing Membership Outreach
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On April 3rd I had the distinct pleasure and honor to speak to a group of publishing association executives from around the country. Gathered for a day and half retreat at the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego, publishing representatives met to discuss how to improve their associations’ ability to serve membership during challenging economic times.

Sponsored and organized by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the retreat is an annual event to assist IBPA’s affiliate association members to become more successful in their efforts to enhance the independent book publishing industry. Associations on hand included Arizona Book Publishing, Bay Area (CA) Independent Publishers, Colorida Independent Publishers, Hawaii Book Publishers, Independent Publishers of New England, Midwest Independent Publishers, New Mexico Book, Northern California Publishers & Authors, Northwest Association of Book Publishers, Publishers & Writers of San Diego, Publishers and Authors of Los Angeles, St. Louis Publishers, and Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network.

My talk Friday morning, titled “Now, More than Ever,” introduced the first IBPA membership outreach to the independent publishing industry and, specifically, what I believe our affiliate associations need to focus on to insure that we all are serving our members at the highest levels they need and desire. With the active participation of the group, the talk covered a range of subjects, from the importance of new member acquisition and current member retention, to what potential members really expect from associations. A heavy dose of how to utilize the Internet and social media opportunities to keep ourselves in front of members and potential members was added, with an outpouring of ideas from the audience.

To sum it up, I had the time of my life being with these dedicated and talented publishing professionals. I can’t help but feel that I came away from the meeting with far more ideas and information than I may have left with them!

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