The 18 Habits of Successful Independent Publishers Press

May 1998
by Curt Matthews, IPG/Chicago Review

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This will be my last “President’s Message”-I have reached the end of my term, and I hope I have been of service to you-so I am going to attempt some generalizations about the way successful independent presses tend to conduct their business. Over the years I have worked with something like 300 different publishing companies, ranging in size from the very small to the quite large. There are, I think, some attitudes, strategies, or mindsets typical of the individuals who have been able to build strong publishing programs. I have made many of these points in previous letters, but as Mr. Kripps, the sadist who taught me fractions, always used to say, “Repetition is the soul of pedagogy.”

Business Strategy

1. Successful publishers spend very little time thinking about how the industry should function or talking to people who do. Instead, they thoroughly learn the business and how to prosper within it. 2. They focus on a niche, but they are always looking for a new one, or a related one, because they know that the half-life of an average niche is about 2.5 years. 3. They attempt to sell their books into many markets rather than relying on only one, be it trade, or library, or gift, or special sales. 4. They develop a business plan, a set of goals, even a mission statement, but they quickly alter any of these (perhaps not the mission statement) when circumstances alter. 5. They keep their fixed overhead as small as they possibly can. They make use of freelancers an…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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