Free Spirit Soars by Specializing

March 2006
by Jenny McCune

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Some of Free Spirit
Publishing’s competitors and fellow independent publishers were probably
surprised to see the publisher of self-help books for children gracing the
cover of Publishers
Weekly with a five-page advertising spread in mid-December, but,
like all Free Spirit’s marketing and editorial decisions, the decision to take
premier advertising space was reached quickly—although not before founder
Judy Galbraith had done her homework.

PW approached teacher-turned-publisher Galbraith after
another advertiser dropped out at the last minute. Galbraith and her staff
weighed the bargain price of the splashy ad space in light of Free Spirit’s
budget, its ability to produce a high-quality ad in six days, and the ad’s
promotion value. The verdict: Take advantage of the opportunity. A similar
spirit has guided the Minneapolis-based publisher throughout its 22 years in
business.

Free Spirit’s growth has been
fueled by its laserlike focus on its niche, its commitment to keeping overhead
low and controlling debt, and its determination to find the best ways to market
its products to educators, parents, youth workers, and children. Specializing
in books that help children develop socially and emotionally, it has grown to
have annual revenue of nearly $6 million and a staff of 33. Galbraith reports
that it has been profitable in all but 2 of its 2

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