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Independent Publishers Share the Biggest Publishing Lessons They Learned in 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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As 2018 wraps up, it’s the perfect time for independent publishers and author publishers to look back and review what did and did not work for their businesses. A thorough assessment is the best way to set yourself up for success in the future.

At Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), we believe that our community of indie publishers is at its strongest when we help and learn from one another, so we asked our community:

Please describe the biggest publishing lesson you learned in 2018.

We were impressed with the feedback from our members, and we hope that you, too, will find valuable insight from their experiences.

“Best lesson of 2018: Social reach works! Liz Clark, author of Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening, has over 100,000 followers on Instagram. She told them about the book, about her events, and her fans showed up! We held 24 events and almost every one was sold out, with the biggest in San Diego with 450 attendees. Similar crowds across the country.

"We’ve developed a social marketing handbook for our authors to encourage widespread and effective platform development pre, during, and post launch.” – Karla Olson, Director, Patagonia Books

“One, dogged determination pays off. Keeping careful notes, doing follow ups, sending reminders (without nagging). People have too many distractions so you need to work to capture and recapture their attention.

“Two, but sometimes, luck makes all the difference.” – Peter Goodman, Founder and Publisher, Stone Bridge Press

“The biggest lesson we learned in 2018 is not to shortchange the development schedule of a project. To create quality products, you need to give the project its full time. You pay later when you shortchange your schedule.” – Richard A. Lena, Founder, Brattle Publishing Group

“I learned some important lessons about pricing. The Walmarts and Amazons of the world encourage suppliers to compete on price, even if it is detrimental to their business. If you are publishing good books or book-related products, don't assume you have to price below what a comp title may be priced at. That comp may be cheap because of lower-quality materials, different editorial processes, an earlier release date, or other factors. It doesn't have to be a race to the bottom!” – Ian Lamont, Founder and President, i30 Media Corp

“In our first year of operation--2018--we learned so much! Of the many lessons we learned, perhaps the "biggest" was the need for partnerships and relationships with others in the industry, from the trades to publicity partners, printers and distributors who share your vision. We learned that book people are passionate people, and this industry is crawling with so much talent waiting in surprising places! We also learned the importance of having a clear vision and planning far, far ahead.” – Lindy Ryan, Owner and Publisher, Black Spot Books

“Finally accepting that no one is going to market my book but me. I approached my book’s release as I once expected my publisher to, nervously but persistently contacting bookstores to organize readings, providing books on consignment where necessary, sending thank-you’s. I created the book’s Facebook page; established Twitter and Instagram accounts; severely updated my homepage; earnestly wrote my blog; submitted the book for reviews/contests (~$600); made its promo video; mailed press releases for readings/awards (~$50 each); and attended festivals, schools, libraries, and museums. My 2018 self-published book’s sales are 2x my last traditionally published book.” – Melissa B. Rooney, Author Publisher, The Fate of the Frog

IBPA thanks all of our members for sharing their experiences from 2018 with the IBPA community! We hope that 2018 was a fruitful year for you, and that 2019 holds even more enriching experiences ahead.

If you have a 2018 publishing lessons learned, we would love to hear from you as well. Please leave your lessons learned in the comments below!

Click here to see IBPA members' independent publishing strategies for 2019!

Share your own publishing news with the IBPA community! Send news about events or accomplishments to Keep in mind that we reserve Spotlights for major news (you’re a cookbook author who won a national cooking competition), unique news (you wrote a book about cycling and now you’re riding a bike across the U.S. for your book tour), or human interest stories (you visit shelters every weekend to read books to the dogs and cats there).

Though launching a new book isn’t the focus of our Spotlights articles, IBPA is happy to share that exciting news on social media. Please contact with the launch date, your book cover, your book title, a link to where readers can learn more about your book, and your Twitter handle.

For good news in general about your publishing company (your book received a wonderful editorial review, you have an upcoming speaking engagement, etc.), use the hashtag #IBPAmemberGoodNews on Twitter and IBPA will amplify your good news!

Whether you have news or not, all of us at IBPA are cheering you on!


Sean Buvala, The Small Tooth Dog Publishing Group says...
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Never ever promise an exact release date to an author.

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