Guest blog post written by SLPA’s 2016 winner of the IBPA Pub U scholarship, Kristina Blank Makansi
IBPA Publishing University 2016
As noted by Chris Kenneally of Copyright Clearance Center, independent publishers (including self-publishers) all share the same desire, or “genome; that is, we all want [and need] one another to share information, seize new opportunities, study the trends, economic issues—even with our “competitive rival[s].”
“Connecting”—whether with authors, suppliers, publishers—as well as learning and staying on top of what is happening in the publishing world is one of the best reasons to be a member of IBPA. And networking with like-minded people and experts to learn from is what IBPA’s Publishing University is about. Coming together as one, we keep independent publishing alive and thriving.
This past May, Donna Essner, one of my Amphorae Publishing Group business partners, and I attended Publishing University in Salt Lake City. I was the happy recipient of the SLPA scholarship which covered registration fees. (I recommend everyone enter to win the scholarship next year!) Upon arrival, we were met with a plethora of information, services, and assistance available in every area of independent publishing, and print and ebook distributors, printers, wholesalers, website developers, retailers, and experts on public relations/promotions were on display and available for consultation—and for making new friends. Even shy writing types are encouraged to network, mix, and mingle, and to learn from one another. One comment from Kwame Alexander, keynote speaker and 2016 Newberry winner, struck me in particular. “Go wherever,” he said. “Be vulnerable. Be prepared.” This advice is not just for authors alone. It’s a mantra even we publishers should remember. And if you’re self-publishing, it goes double! Be bold. Experiment. Put your whole self out there.
Of particular interest to author/publishers are the workshops and panel discussions given by successful marketers, publishers, and authors, who openly and happily share their success stories—and their failures—to help the rest of us succeed. Learning from the mistakes others have made, in particular, helps us achieve our goals and that of our authors. Throughout the conference, we found that everyone we met shared their knowledge willingly, no matter the question. And fellow attendees are just as eager to learn from what we, at Amphorae, have learned. As a writer, traditional publisher, and self-published author, I eagerly devoured all the information—or as much as I could ingest!—I could get my hands on. In fact, I highly recommend you go with a friend or colleague so you can each attend different sessions and then share notes.
One particular bit of advice to keep from being so overwhelmed with everything available to IBPA attendees, is go with a plan. Decide what you want and need to learn and focus first on that.
—Kristina Blank Makansi with Donna Essner, partners, Amphorae Publishing Group
But, to reiterate Kwame Alexander, “Go wherever. Be vulnerable. Be prepared.” Just go. IBPA Publishing University is one destination that I recommend to everyone on the publishing journey.