IBPA Member Spotlight: Jennifer Butenas
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
Author Publisher Jennifer Butenas Shares Secrets to Success of Her Children’s Picture Book
|Author Publisher Jennifer Butenas poses with her children's book, A Moment in Time, at Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore in Chatham, Massachusetts.
When IBPA discovered that author publisher Jennifer Butenas had sold over 11,000 copies of her debut children’s picture book, A Moment in Time, we decided to get insights into how she achieved that success so that other indie publishers could learn from her achievement.
“My heart immediately filled with joy at the thought of A Moment in Time being in the hands of that many children,” says Jennifer. “I began my career as a teacher. My focus was teaching and only teaching. And then my focus became Mom. Writing was a hobby that slowly developed into this wonderful platform to promote a message that I find very important and significant to parenting.
“I had no expectations for sales when I published the book. My only hope was to spread and promote mindful family moments in this busy world. Whether it is 1 child or 11,000, or more, I am happy that children are reading my book.”
Jennifer went on to explain the marketing techniques that led to these stellar sales. “I look at the life of A Moment in Time in two phases. The first phase was the 2,000 hard covers I published with Worzalla Publishing. My second phase was publishing on demand with KDP in soft cover. My goal in both phases was visibility but my marketing was different.
“For phase one, my marketing techniques were: book award contests, advertisements on bookseller newsletters and blogs, physically sending letters to booksellers, asking if they’d shelf my books, and getting contracts with various distributors. Once I sold out of my 2,000 hard copies, I was onto phase two.
“Phase two is where I have made the majority of sales. My marketing techniques for phase two have been social media ads and IBPA opportunities. Most of my sales are online-driven by two IBPA programs that I particularly love:
“The first is the American Library Association Annual Conference program. It’s a wonderful opportunity to physically allow my book to be in front of thousands of librarians. I email information to IBPA for their show catalog which includes book title, ISBN, price, distributors/wholesalers, company name, and website. Then I send my book to IBPA. Over 10,000 librarians attend the ALA Annual Conference each year. It is the premier event for libraries in the United States.
“The other program I love is the Library Market eblasts program. In cooperation with LibraryWorks, IBPA sends eblasts containing only a small number of member titles to a select group of 5,000 librarians. Eblasts happen quarterly. There are six categories:
|Author Publisher Jennifer Butenas' second children's book, A Family Walk.
- elementary libraries
- middle/high school libraries
- college libraries
- public library children’s & YA libraries
- public library adult: nonfiction
- public library adult: fiction
"It’s fabulous and provides valuable visibility.
“After the Library eblasts and the ALA Conference programs run, I receive a spreadsheet of those librarians who showed interest in my book and I create a marketing email in response.”
Jennifer had such success with her first book that she has now published the sequel, A Family Walk, on March 8, 2019, which celebrates similar themes of mindfulness.
Three Questions with Author Publisher Jennifer Butenas
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
Jennifer Butenas (JB):
- Make a list. For each book, I use the same list and check off as I go. There are many steps to publishing, but if you have an organized list it makes things manageable and easy.
- Show your book to the world through newspaper articles, book signings, social media ads, library story times, school visits and book award contests.
- Keep your book visible using marketing opportunities through IBPA year-round.
IBPA: Can you briefly describe the history of how The Perfect Moment, LLC came to be?
JB: I’ve always loved creating whether it has been lesson plans, crafts, painting, coloring, writing a story, etc. I started making my own cards back in 2011. I’d make birthday cards and thank-you cards for family and friends. I enjoyed finding materials and supplies making each card unique. One day I was in a children’s boutique in Exeter and showed the owner my cards. I asked if she would ever consider selling them in her store. She loved the cards and loved that they were made locally by a stay-at-home mom. With that start, I approached a few more stores. Currently, I make cards for a handful of children’s shops in New Hampshire and one in Delaware. As my business grew, I decided to create The Perfect Moment, LLC. I went from a stay-at-home mom with a hobby to a woman with a business. It occurred to me that having my own business meant I could be the publisher of my stories. So, while I made cards, I researched, read, and explored how to publish a children’s book and hence The Perfect Moment includes cards and books.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
JB: I love IBPA! The marketing programs are so valuable and provide such amazing opportunities. I attribute the majority of my sales to the opportunities IBPA provided me with helping to make my book visible. Also noteworthy is that the people who work at IBPA are personable and reachable. Everybody is helpful, professional, and very kind. They are there to help.
IBPA: Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your insight with the IBPA community! We wish you continued success with your books!
Click here to learn more about Jennifer Butenas’ The Perfect Moment!
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