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The Magic of IBPA Publishing University

Thursday, January 24, 2019   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Brooke Warner, Publisher, She Writes Press
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IBPA Board Chairperson Brooke Warner of She Writes Press discusses the magic and opportunity awaiting independent publishers at IBPA Publishing University 2019, scheduled for April 4-6, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
Brooke Warner

IBPA Publishing University (PubU) 2019 will be in Chicago, Illinois this year, with regular programming on April 5 and 6 and a preconference on April 4. PubU is a special event for independent publishers navigating today’s publishing landscape. There are few other educational conferences that give as much access to industry players — from industry experts to distributors, printers, and designers — as PubU does, and that matters in an era when indie publishers are being sidelined at other major conferences or where the cost of entry is prohibitive.

The thing I most value about PubU is the true spirit of community and the desire to share resources and to teach best practices. Book publishing is a complicated industry. Producing a good book, to professional standards, requires that publishers know a lot about editorial standards, design, production, printing, etc. And all of this before we even get to marketing and publicity, distribution and sales. The way to rise to the top is to produce consistently good books, and yet what makes a good book is often subjective. IBPA is the only organization I know of committed day-in-and-day-out to making sure publishers produce consistently good books, giving them everything they need by way of resources on the website, extraordinary benefits for members, and educational tools including webinars, IBPA Independent articles, and of course culminating with PubU.

Attendees at IBPA Publishing University 2018 in Austin, Texas listen to the keynote address.

PubU is magical because these kinds of events — where like-minded publishers get together to talk shop, share experiences, and compare notes — are important to our collective success. I’m now serving my fifth year on the IBPA Board of Directors, having extended beyond my original four-year term to take on the role of Board Chairperson for 2018-2019. I’ve seen during my time on the Board just how much IBPA’s staff and Board cares about the success of its member publishers. IBPA’s publishers’ success is their success, and so IBPA pulls out all the stops at PubU.

Some of the most memorable moments for me from PubU’s past include the power of a click moment. As much as I understood distribution, I didn’t fully understand all the ins and outs of traditional versus active distribution, or distribution versus fulfillment, until I attended my first PubU in San Francisco in 2014. I have met people at PubU who’ve gone on to become colleagues, trusted confidants, and friends. I have discovered printers and designers and audiobook experts who’ve propelled my business forward. I have made connections with marketing folks, website designers, and other industry experts who’ve offered to host free webinars for my authors, giving me an incredible value-add to my publishing company’s own services and making my authors feel like we’re looking out for them. And finally, there’s been some pretty good entertainment over the years, too, from funny moderators to original songs to last year’s Ignite sessions.

Sponsors and attendees show-off their books at IBPA Publishing University 2018 in Austin, Texas.

If you’re coming to PubU this year, do yourself a favor and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. I have five ideas for you, and you can certainly add to this list any of your own:

IBPA Chairperson Brooke Warner (left) presents an award to IBPA Immediate Past Chairperson Rob Price at IBPA Publishing University 2018 in Austin, Texas.
  • Talk to a Board member. Pull anyone aside. Talk to us about your business and what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve. Make that connection.
  • Connect with the service providers who are exhibiting. They’re at PubU not only because they want your business, but because they have offers and opportunities for publishers, as well. You need most of the services on offer, even if it’s in the distant future, so make the rounds, collect cards, and organize them into the kinds of services they are for future access.
  • Attend a session that’s out of your comfort zone. Choose one thing that feels like something you’re not ready for yet. If you feel overwhelmed, just take it in. Buy the CD of the session so you can listen to it again later, once you’ve absorbed everything.
  • Sign up for a special event—like a breakfast or Literature and Libations, or better yet, the offsite jazz show or Sunday's IngramSpark 1/2 Day Boot Camp. Immerse yourself in this space with your fellow publishers by doing something fun and more intimate, and see if you might make a new friend for life.
  • Give a compliment—or a few. If you liked someone’s session, or something they shared, let them know. Make use of social media and live tweet while you’re at PubU and see if you can round up some online followers and connections (use #PubU2019). There are many ways to connect, and for me a lot of the magic happens through generosity, though an openness and desire to connect and be connected. A compliment is a nice way to open the door to make a connection to someone who’s at the event that you admire, want to connect with, or who you simply feel drawn to.

Many publishers come back year after year after year to PubU, and there’s good reason. The content is stellar and fresh, the people are warm and generous, and the opportunities for networking are so vast that new inroads for your business abound each time you come. PubU is an exciting event, and if you’re coming, remember that you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

A panel discussion at IBPA Publishing University 2018 featuring (left to right): Karla Olson (Patagonia Books), Robin Cutler (IngramSpark), Seth Dellon (Publishers Weekly), Kathy Strahs (Burnt Cheese Press), and Brooke Warner (She Writes Press).

If you’re not able to attend in 2019, or if you missed the registration window, make sure to get it on your calendar for next year, April 3-4, 2020 in Redondo Beach, California. This is the premier event in independent publishing, and IBPA is leading the way with its innovation and education, and also with its deep support and care for indie publishers.


Julie Schoerke, JKS Communications says...
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019
What a great intro to #PubU2019! Excited to be there and meet lots of great bibliophiles!

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