March 2015 MIPA Meeting Notes
Once you have a book in hand, the next step is to find a market for it. Two of the largest markets out there for book publishers are libraries and bookstores, but how do you get them to carry your books?
Mark Lerner, publisher of Oliver Press, www.oliverpress.com, and Jim Nichols, vice president of sales at Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, www.cbsd.com, shared their knowledge with close to 40 attendees at the March 11, 2015, MIPA meeting. Lerner's Oliver Press publishes 8-to-12 books a year that supplement the school curriculum in a variety of areas: history, biography, geography, the arts, and cultural studies. Consortium, which is a division of Perseus Books Group, represents more than 100 independent book publisher clients from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Lerner began the presentation by talking about how he gets Oliver Press books, which are primarily non-fiction children's books, into libraries. "What all libraries have in common is the need to have books reviewed in order for librarians to consider buying the title," he said.
Oliver Press submits books primarily to Book List from the American Library Association and School Library Journal. Lerner also mentioned other reviewers authors and publishers should be aware of: Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Library Media Connection, and Horn Books. When he sends books to the reviewers, Lerner includes a catalog showcasing his company's titles and oftentimes a postcard he asks reviewers to fill out and send back, citing their opinions about the books they have reviewed.
For those titles he is not able to secure a trade review for, he will often submit books directly to librarians at libraries he wants to get into. "The journals aren't the library book buyers' only source for recommendations about what books to bring into their libraries. They trust their staffers' recommendations, too," said Lerner, who concluded his part of the presentation by reminding attendees that "unlike in the bookstore business where there is a strong possibility that books will be returned if they don't sell, a library book stays sold."
Unlike Oliver Press, which focuses on library sales where demand is based on trade reviews, Consortium's clients are more concerned with consumer demand at bookstores. Nichols pointed out some of the key ways his clients drive demand for their books: hiring a publicist who will go out and secure stories about their titles in the news media, doing bookstore events to promote titles, and advertising. Appearing in Consortium's catalog is another advantage. "We have sales reps who go into stores and sell through the catalog," said Nichols.
Consortium works with publishing companies with multiple titles such as Red Leaf Press and Coffee House Press in the Twin Cities. The company does not work with independent authors. All of its clients have at least ten titles on their backlist.
During his presentation, Nichols also talked a bit about the eBook market, which is led byAmazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Apple's iBooks, and Kobo. He said eBooks definitely make up a large share of the market, but he doesn't expect eBooks to replace printed books any time soon. "At one point people were saying eBooks were going to overtake the print market, but that has not happened. Printed books still have a lot of life left in them."
NEXT MEETING: April 8, Let's Talk about Publishing
February 2015 MIPA Meeting Notes
Printing is one of the final steps in the publishing process before bringing a book to market, but it is not something you should just jump into. It is important to understand your options before signing on with a print company.
Nicole Baxter, manager of marketing and book printing services, and Rachel Holscher, manager of design and digital book publisher services, for St. Louis Park, MN-based Bookmobile educated attendees of the February 2015 MIPA meeting on the trends in printing options in today's changing world of publishing.
They began their presentation by explaining the differences between offset and digital printing. Offset printing is a commonly used technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Because plates must be created for each of the pages being printed, the process tends to take longer and be more expensive than digital printing where a digital-based image goes directly onto the paper.
"With the offset printing process, ink soaks into the page more. With digital printing, the ink sits on the paper and does not soak in, making for much richer colors," said Baxter, who pointed out that university presses are one of Bookmobile's largest customers for digitally processed books.
In addition to quicker turnaround time, when you get back a digital proof it will appear exactly like the final product, so you have a true representation of the book you will be bringing to market. That is not the case with offset proofs, where the colors, size, and sometimes type of the final product will differ slightly from the proof.
"When digital printing first came on the scene, quality wasn't as good as offset printing, but it has come a long way," said Baxter, who then passed around examples of the same book published both offset and digitally. The people in the room agreed there was no major noticeable difference between the final products.
Baxter also pointed out that while Bookmobile offers both offset and digital printing, print-on-demand companies like Lightning Source, Ingram Spark ,and Createspace focus on digitally printed books that can be delivered quickly.
Also covered in the Feb. 11 presentation, the history and process of creating non-printed or eBooks. Holscher explained the two most common format types for eBooks are .mobi and .ePub and they are primarily created using XML. Amazon works with .mobi files. Apple, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, and OverDrive, which services libraries, works with .ePUB files.
In conclusion, both presenters pointed out the value of working directly with a company like theirs to print books rather than a print-on-demand company like Createspace or Lightning Source. "My biggest concern with Amazon is I think they are underestimating the value of a quality book and just turning printed materials out as fast as they can," said Baxter.
"Authors pour their heart and soul into their work and you want to have a quality product at the end. It's worth it to work with professionals who will deliver the best quality," said Holscher.
Handout: Baxter and Holscher provided a great handout explaining the various options in printing.
MIPA’s next meeting will be held on March 11. The topic: Distribution: How to Get Your Books in Libraries and Bookstores.
January 2015 Meeting Notes
The details that fall through the cracks in book publishing, but are crucial to creating a top-selling book, were discussed at the MIPA meeting held Jan. 14 at the Carondolet Center in St. Paul. The presenters were Sybil Smith of Smith House Press and Sheyna Galyan of Yotzeret Publishing.
Smith began the presentation by explaining the role a book’s front and back cover play in the sales process. “The front cover is what gets a person’s attention, and consumers will typically spend about 5 seconds looking at it,” she said. “Then they flip the book over and read the back cover. It needs to do a good job selling your book.”
Smith went on to explain the elements of a good back cover for a nonfiction book, the type of titles she publishes. They include a headline or tagline at the top that is short and zippy and summarizes the content well. There should also be a good paragraph or two that summarizes the content in the book and explains its benefits to the reader. “Think of the back cover like a captivating tease written by a movie studio. The copy on the back cover should highlight the key points of the book and make clear who the audience is. It should also include an author biography accompanied by a professional photograph,” said Smith.
In addition, the back cover should include the book’s ISBN number or International Standard Book Number. Smith pointed out the importance of always ordering ISBN numbers from the official source: www.ISBN.org by Bowker. “A book’s ISBN identifies both the title and publisher to be contacted for ordering purposes. If you are intending to self-publish, it is critical that you order your ISBN from the official website. If you don’t, you may find out that your book comes back as having been published by some strange overseas company and not your own,” said Smith, who also noted each version of a book—hardcover, paperback, Kindle version, Nook version, etc.—needs its own ISBN number.
Another element of the back cover discussed was the barcode. Smith explained that if you want to sell your book in a chain store like Target or Wal-mart, it will also need to have a UPC barcode on it, which is completely different from the ISBN. Smith pointed out both Lightning Source and Ingram offer free barcode generators to their customers.
Galyan covered the often over-looked intricacies of the copyright page. She described the elements that need to appear on the page: the copyright year and copyright holder, contact information for the author and/or publisher, your company’s trademark if you have one, photo credits, and permissions for any literary quotes and photographs that may have been used.
“There also needs to be a statement about how all rights are reserved and that no part of the manuscript can be copied without permission,” Galyan said. “If your book is a work of fiction, there should be a statement explaining that the work is made up and any likeness to a real live person is unintended. For nonfiction, there should be a statement asserting that the information included in the book is true and based on the author’s recollection and/or research.”
Other elements that should be included on a copyright page: The book’s ISBN number, Library of Congress (LCCN) number, distribution information, a credit for the cover art, and a mention of where the book was printed—in the United States or some other country.
She particularly stressed the importance of getting permission to use quotes and other copyrighted material. Publishers often spend considerable time tracking down who owns the rights to a quote and if there is a fee involved in using the quote in the book.
For more information about the presentation, download this great handout (pdf 487k), which includes examples of the elements of a fiction back cover and children’s book back cover as well as tips on how to write effective copy and an example of a copyright page.
MIPA’s next meeting will be held on Feb. 11. The topic: Evaluating Your Printing Goals with Nicole Baxter, Manager of Marketing & Book Printing Services, and Rachel Holscher, Manager, Design & Digital Book Publisher Services, of Bookmobile.