2011 BAIPA Get Published! Institute Roundup

by | Mar 14, 2011

The 2011 edition of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) all-day workshop, the Get Published! Institute, found a new home in downtown Oakland this year amidst the beautifully preserved Victorians of Preservation Park.

A good sized crowd of about 80 filled Niles Hall for a day full of talk on writing, publishing and selling books. These type of events are great for an immersion in the world of indie publishing, and people who come to learn from the experts here can go home with a huge amount of information, much of it practical and ready to implement.

The day was kicked off by a keynote from Jim Horan, author and proprietor of the One Page Business Plan empire. Jim, who got a big help in his beginning as a publisher from BAIPA made a point of handing out many copies of his books, and explained that this was a basic form of marketing.

Brian Jud on Special Sales

BAIPA Get Published! Workshop 2011 Brian JudSoon the main speaker for the day, Brian Jud, took the stage to give his presentation on special sales. Jud is probably the leading authority in indie publishing on special sales. This encompasses all sales made outside the book distribution system.

Jud has been presenting this valuable material for some time, and has many sales he has either made or facilitated for clients that illustrate his points. Examples of sales to corporations, government agencies, the armed forces, sales to non-bookstore retailers and more helped show how he finds channels in which to sell books.

Jud also pointed out several times that terms are much more favorable in these sales than they are in normal book distribution. Typical arrangements for a special sale are 50% discount, cash with the order and no returns. Often these sales can be used by publishers to reduce the print cost of their own copies of a book by creating a longer print run.

Special sales also account for large orders from corporations or others for books to be used as premiums or incentives, and instances where the books can be branded with the customer’s identity to enhance the usefulness of the books in promotion.

Jud’s book, How to Make Real Money Selling Books is a thorough treatment of this subject that any self-publisher could profit from.

Subsidiary Rights Presentation

The other main presentation at the Institute was by Jon Tandler and Lloyd Rich, (shown below), publishing attorneys. Their talks was called “Subsidiary Rights—Maximizing Your Bottom Line,” and dealt with sales of rights outside the normal print book publishing agreement.

BAIPA Get Published! Institute Lloyd RichThey had a sophisticated set of slides (the only presenters to use them) covering many areas of subsidiary rights and how they should be managed, leveraged and monetized. Lloyd Rich, a publisher who left the world of books to “follow his bliss” as a lawyer, made the point that although publishers have sold subsidiary rights for many years, lately some of this activity occurs under the name “content monetization.”

They explained some of the complications of working with rights agents, who handle different rights licenses, intricacies of the publishing contract, which is basically a rights license, premiums, special sales, sponsorship publishing, co-publishing and other topics.

Although Tandler and Rich are obviously experts in their field with wide experience, it was difficult at times to see quite how their subject applied to the self-publishers who made up the vast majority of attendees. Much of it seemed aimed squarely at corporate publishers with staff, agents, and the accouterments of a much larger business than a sole self-publisher.

Breaking for Breakouts

After lunch there were two separate sessions of breakouts covering editing, book design, promotion, digital printing and children’s publishing. I sat in on two of the presentations, and really enjoyed Lin Lacombe‘s talk on publicity and promotion for self-publishers. Lin had lots of examples and encouraged authors to make publicity an integral part of their book marketing plan.

All of the handouts I saw were quite useful. Pete Masterson, president of BAIPA, had excellent handouts for his Book Design and Digital Publishing sessions, and Vicki Weiland, who did the session on Editing, gave out so much great information it was like a mini-course on book editing.

BAIPA Get Published! Institute Brian JudAfter the breakout sessions, Brian Jud came back for his second session and made good use of his big pad of paper. He asked a volunteer with a book project to take part (Beth Barany) and used that project to show just how many different markets we could come up with to sell her book to. It was a terrific example of making the information he presented during the morning practical, as we could see exactly how he generates so many sales possibilities from one book.

There were a lot of show specials, and I ended up selling a good number of pre-release copies of A Self-Publisher’s Companion, the first time it’s been on sale.

I also met a number of blog readers, which is always fun.

Wrapping It Up for Another Year

Because the BAIPA institute two years ago marked something of a return for me to retail publishing, it make a convenient milestone for marking the time since, what has changed and what has not.

Although I enjoyed the institute and it was certainly valuable for attendees, it was also a bit of an anomoly.

For one thing, you might have noticed the similarity between the subjects presented by Brian Jud and the lawyers Tandler and Rich. In effect, they were very similar subjects dealing with sales of printed book outside bookstore channels.

BAIPA Get Published! Institute Lin Lacombe and Lloyd RichThinking about it, that seemed like a pretty narrow focus for such a large-scale event. But as the day wore on, I had an even odder feeling.

It was the feeling of being in a time warp. There we were, learning valuable lessons from Brian Jud, who has been teaching his valuable lessons for some time. We were trying to make sense of the subsidiary rights situation, something most self-publishers know nothing about. After all, they haven’t signed a contract with anyone, have they?

We had no internet access at the Institute, and we spent the entire day talking about print books. The whole thing could have easily taken place 15 years ago—or more—with little change.

Throughout the day, there were no sessions or mentions or even really that much talk about ebooks, ebook conversions, dealing with aggregators, publishing to Kindle, social media marketing, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, virtual blog tours, and I didn’t hear one person mention the word “Konrath.” There was almost nothing in the entire day relating to the forces that have most profoundly influenced publishing in the last 5 years, and which will shape the future of book publishing.

This is in stark contrast to last year’s main speaker, Dave Matheson, whose spirited call to action roused the indie passion of the attendees, or Kemble Scott’s tale of breaking barriers in e-publishing.

I’m not sure what to make of this, except that it left me with a surreal feeling. Amidst the restored Victorians of Preservation Park, it seemed that the conference was in a similar state of preservation. Perhaps next year it will break out of the past and embrace the onrush of events which we find ourselves confronting.

Or maybe it’s just my own prejudices showing up: the golden age of self-publishing that we’re experiencing is, to me, largely an online, networked and social media-connected phenomenon. The old days weren’t nearly as good as the new ones are turning out to be.

journal
marketing

13 Comments

  1. Christopher Wills

    Hi Joel,
    Great article and fascinating discussion. I know I’m being pedantic here but I wonder of Margaret understands the meaning of ‘sales grew exponentially’. If sales jumped from 1.5% to 5% in one quarter at an exponential rate, it means the next quarter they will jump by an even greater % than 3.5%, and the following quarter by an even greater % again. It’s hard to understand in words but I suggest typing ‘exponential curve’ into a well known search engine and looking at one of the images shown. If growth is exponential then a lot of people’s predictions are going to be far too conservative.
    There is also the effect of critical mass to consider. When a company sees a new growing market and starts to invest in it, there will come a critical mass when they are comfortable with the new market and realise they can survive and make money in the new market. At this time they will want to find new money to invest in the new market. It will not surprise me if some major publishers at some stage drop all printed matter to allow them to invest more in epublishing – in marketing getting an early share is much easier than trying to force your way in later. This suggests the printed book market may not peter out slowly over many years but may stutter to a quick and inglorious end. Think VHS and Betamax as an example and bear in mind the Betamax tape was the far superior product in quality. I think printed books will survive but they will only be hardbacks, they will be self financing and so priced at $50 – $100 and more like some academic books or books of photographs by people like Ansell Adams et al.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey Chris, thanks for your input. With large publishers looking a bit frantic as they try to incorporate digital publishing into their business model, brick-and-mortar bookstores closing, and the tremendous energy behind furthering development of both ebooks and ebook readers, there is absolutely no doubt that indie publisher ought to be pursuing this market aggressively. Not only that, but ebooks represent the best option for many self-publisher since they level the playing field between small publishers and large ones more effectively than anything, including print on demand, has done.

      Publishers who are holding back at this point are in serious jeopardy of ceding the buying space to people who see the opportunity in front of them and take action to move on it. Every indie publisher I’ve talked to or read about who has print and ebook versions of the same title has reported ebook sales far outstripping print. This is a time to act, not to argue about statistics. At least that’s my take on it.

      Reply
  2. Margaret Speaker Yuan

    From the most recent Bowker study – which admittedly is from the first quarter of 2010:
    “E-book sales grew exponentially in the first quarter of 2010, jumping from just 1.5% of total US book sales in 2009 to 5% of the market in the first quarter of 2010, said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at R.R. Bowker, who presented the findings of Book Industry Study Group (BISG) research Wednesday during BookExpo America.”

    Even if the trend to ebooks continues, say, to 25%, that still means 75% of sales are for books in print. not ebooks.
    Best, Margaret Speaker Yuan

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Hi Margaret, thanks for your comment. I noticed that Forrester Research is predicting that half of all books sold will be ebooks by 2014. Will it happen? I don’t know. Print books will be with us for some time, I think we all agree on that. But every publisher I’ve heard of is moving into ebooks aggressively, and many of the questions I’ve been getting this year from self-publishers have to do with getting their books ready for ebook production. I think that’s prudent of them, and I’m doing the same.

      How about social media marketing? Do you think that has a part to play with indie publishers these days?

      Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Margaret, just read this today, you may have to revise your figures:

      E-book sales in the US comprised 23.5% of all trade book sales for the month of January, according to statistics published by the Association of American Publishers.—FutureBook

      Reply
  3. Jennifer Robin

    Joel, good for you for raising important issues about the content of the Institute. As much as i enjoy sharing with my indie colleagues, when I read about the agenda it didn’t seem relevant or useful enough for me to attend. I represent a different section of the publishing world, and am probably a fast growing minority. For the past 6 months I have been working with a traditional publicist, and her efforts have proven that being independently published is irrelevant. In all the interviews I have done I haven’t been asked about it once. It is all about my content. There are many different ways to be an indie, and I appreciate your daily blogs and find your book journey fascinating. Let’s try to make room for everyone!

    Reply
  4. Kelley Way

    Marcus’ comment about the age of the attendees at the conference is interesting. I had come to assume this was typical of self-publishers generally, as this has been typical of all the BAIPA meetings I have attended, as well as my one visit to the Northern California Publishers and Authors, and the people I interviewed for a school paper on book publishing last year. If that’s not typical, as Marcus suggests, it does raise an interesting question as to why.

    Reply
  5. Mchael N. Marcus

    [sub rights and special sales]

    It sounds like the BAIPA may be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Reply
  6. Pete Masterson

    Joel,

    We appreciate your comments about this year’s BAIPA institute. As you know, BAIPA is an all volunteer organization and the BAIPA institute, like all BAIPA activities, is organized and staffed by volunteer members.

    You are more than welcome to join the BAIPA board and offer your input and assistance as we begin working on creating next year’s BAIPA Institute. A great deal of effort goes into developing the program and choice of speaker is often limited by budget and availability of the most desired individuals.

    I also note that we have Mark Coker of Smashwords lined up for a regular meeting in the near future, where he will discuss ebooks for small/self-publishers.

    Thanks.

    Pete Masterson
    President, BAIPA

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for your comment, Pete. As I pointed out in my write up, there was a large amount of useful information during the day, and it was well worth attending.

      However, huge movements going on in the book publishing world from the way books are marketed and sold to the shifting of the whole industry to accommodate ebooks, are vitally important for indie publishers to understand, so it was very apparent to an observer that none of that was even mentioned at BAIPA’s biggest and most important event of the year.

      I am most appreciative of the volunteers who make these events possible, but my comments were directed more at the thought processes that go into planning these events, not the people whose work makes them a reality.

      It seems to me that organizations like BAIPA can play a leading role in educating authors new to the independent publishing field about the changes going on in publishing. That’s what I look for from trade groups like this one; being at the forefront of what’s happening, not devoting a whole day to stuff that hasn’t basically changed in the last 15 years.

      The way things are now, and no matter how useful they are as subjects, sub rights and special sales occupy a very small part of the challenges most self-publishers face today. The sub rights discussion in particular seemed to be aimed at some other group of people, and honestly didn’t seem to have very much relevance to the audience.

      Thanks for your continued work to make BAIPA useful to its members. I know that you have worked long and hard to make BAIPA a success, and the organization is quite lucky to have you at the helm.

      Reply
  7. Michael N. Marcus

    [[it seemed that the conference was in a similar state of preservation.]]

    Even before I reached your closing comments, I noticed the preponderance of gray hair, white hair and missing hair in your photos.

    I’m 3,000 miles east of you and don’t know how typical the BAIPA is of self-publishing in general, but I have to wonder: where were the 20-somethings and 30-somethings who line up early to buy each new Apple product or video game?

    Are today’s creative “kids” concentrating on developing apps and games, while writing — like shuffleboard and bingo — is for senior citizens?

    I wonder if there is an east/west differentiation.

    I checked my report on last year’s Self Publishing Book Expo in New York. (http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/impressions-of-self-publishing-book.html). I wrote, “Most of the attendees seemed to be sub-45. Many looked to be aged 25-35. A couple of visitors seemed to be teenagers . . .”

    Were there any teens at the BAIPA workshop? Should there be an outreach program? Who will write books in 30 years? Other than graffiti, texting, tweeting, blogging and song lyrics, is writing dying? Do young people on the west coast lack the attention span to write 100,000 words?

    But maybe I’m just making much out of nothing.

    Maybe the perspective of looking back on five decades of experiences is a vital ingredient in writing. I know I have much more to say now than I did 40 years ago. Back then I wrote magazine articles. Now I write books.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.Self-Pub.info
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      No, I don’t think you’re making much out of nothing, this is an urgent issue for groups like BAIPA, and understanding why the young self-publishers of today are not coming to meetings like this is crucial for event planners. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blogs for Self-Publishers for March 13 – 19, 2011 — The Book Designer - [...] about amazing ebook formatting, tips on how to write a press release, or the discussion about indie publisher education.…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.