Getting to Know the IBPA Member Benefits Committee
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|Below, three members of the IBPA Member Benefits Committee share insight into how the committee picks the best benefits for the IBPA membership.
Whenever IBPA conducts a survey about what members appreciate the most about membership, our discounts on products and services related to independent publishing are always near the top. That’s why IBPA takes great care curating a helpful list of member benefits with esteemed companies and products that will aid our members on their publishing journeys.
In fact, IBPA has an entire volunteer committee, the IBPA Member Benefits Committee, that carefully reviews submissions for products and services to ensure that they are the best fit for our members.
This week, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the IBPA Member Benefits Committee, so you know how benefits are chosen, how you can suggest new benefits, and more. We spoke with three current committee members: Committee Chair Kelly Peterson (Director of Digital Strategy, Independent Publishers Group), At-Large member Abbe Rolnick (Founder, Sedro Publishing), and Board Liaison member Rob Broder (Publisher, Ripple Grove Press).
IBPA: What interested you in joining the IBPA Member Benefits Committee?
KELLY PETERSON: I think there are a lot of important roles in IBPA, but member benefits is one that can keep members engaged, active, and enthusiastic every day. After all, if our members use the benefits, they can save their entire cost of a year of IBPA membership. I couldn’t help but be excited about that! I’ve been on the committee for a little over a year, and I’ve been very proud to be a part.
ROB BRODER: IBPA helped me when I was starting my press, and they continue to help me now. I love the community of IBPA, so I just wanted to be part of it and help structure their continued path.
IBPA: What is the mission of the IBPA Member Benefits Committee?
ABBE ROLNICK: The basis of IBPA is to give our members a set of standards, best practices, and to provide partners that are trustworthy, insightful, and proven in their field of expertise. The IBPA Member Benefits Committee is tasked with researching companies, always looking for these characteristics.
I’ve been on the committee for three years; the diverse group represents each aspect of publishing—small timers like myself, hybrid publishers, midsized publishers, public relations professionals, marketers, distribution executives, and others. Each committee member comes with a variety of talents and ways to analyze prospective benefit candidates. Some search the internet for depth of infiltration or bad reports, others compare the candidates to services they presently use. The most important aspect of the analysis is the committee’s diversity and coming together to put a seal of approval. The group is concerned with offering the best infrastructure for the members. They care about members' profits, their ability to compete, and to thrive.
KELLY: There’s a great amount of work that goes into approving a benefit. We all research the company before making a decision. I find that members are often researching the following:
- Testimonials and User Experience Reviews
- Cost and Value to our membership
- Business Sustainability—number of people served, number of employees, length of time as a company, ease of finding the company
- Reviews of the business itself: does it pay its bills, etc.
- Has a member used the service and contacted us? Has the company had disputes with customers?
While a business might not be strong in all those areas, too many red flags or lack of information can make it difficult for a company to get approved. One of the best ways to get approved is to have a member recommend your services; their experience can be a major differentiator. And if you know one of your clients is an IBPA member, let us know when you apply. We’ll reach out and get their feedback.
IBPA: What is the process for officially approving/not approving a new member benefit?
KELLY: Once we get a request to consider a benefit, the fantastic IBPA Member Benefits Jury [an at-large group of IBPA members not on the IBPA Member Benefits Committee] provides feedback about the benefit via an online survey. After Jury feedback is received, committee members review and discuss it, along with their personal opinions, during a video conference call. The various committee members make their cases, and then we vote on whether or not we'd like to recommend the member benefit to the IBPA Board of Directors. Once that is done, I, as Committee Chair, bring the considered benefit to the Board for the final stamp of approval. This means there is always a lag of a few months between submission and notification, which I know is hard for service providers. Thanks to all the companies who work with us: I know it takes awhile, but we all want to feel proud of the endorsement.
IBPA: Does it have to be unanimous for the committee to approve a new benefit?
KELLY: It doesn’t have to be unanimous, but to take a vote, we need a quorum of committee members attending, and a majority of "yes" votes. Usually, the committee leans strongly one way or another, and we find that almost all approved benefits are either unanimous or close to it by the time we finish the discussion.
|Members can see a full list of benefits in the IBPA Membership Benefits Handbook.
IBPA: As an IBPA member yourself, are there any benefits that you’ve used that you’ve found to be especially helpful?
ROB: We used our discount for certain book promotions and Bowker ISBN purchases. We also found our lawyer through IBPA.
KELLY: I’m a service provider (I work for Independent Publishers Group in my day job,) so no–but that doesn’t mean I don’t know which ones work! Our clients often tell me about the benefits they like best. For example, lots of our members use the Bowker discount on ISBN numbers, NPD PubTrack Digital, Publishers Weekly, and editorial and printing services.
ABBE: Throughout my years as a member, I’ve used Bowker’s discounts on ISBN and barcodes, IngramSpark’s special IBPA discounts for uploads and printing, NetGalley’s review services, special advertising opportunities in the various IBPA Independent magazines, shelf-space at the Frankfurt Book Fair, entered the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards contest, and compared editing and marketing services to my own local sources. Over time my work as a publisher improved, and I landed a distributor, Independent Publishers Group (IPG) who is also a member of IBPA.
For those of you who want to challenge yourself, understand the inner workings of the industry, and share your expertise, next year there will be openings on the committee. Each term ends in July. I’ll be gone after four years. This year we are proposing new benefits that might be lacking in the process of publishing. We welcome your ideas. Be part of the foundation that helps us all move forward (details on how to volunteer with the IBPA Member Benefits Committee are below).
IBPA: Thank you, Kelly, Abbe, and Rob for your insight into how the IBPA Member Benefits Committee works, and for your volunteer efforts to bring our members the best fit for their publishing needs.
If you would like to join the IBPA Member Benefits Committee, IBPA emails members in the first few months of every year with an application to apply, so keep an eye out for the survey. If you'd like to be considered for the IBPA Member Benefits Jury, send an email with that request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re an IBPA member who is hoping IBPA can add a particular benefit to the mix, please send your suggestion through our Idea Box, and our Member Benefits Committee will do its best to add it (you’ll need to be signed into your IBPA account to access the Idea Box).
If you’re a service provider interested in offering an IBPA member benefit, you can start the process here.
Also, if you’re a current member, click here to download the most up-to-date version of the IBPA Membership Benefits Handbook, which includes the full list of membership benefits and the discount codes for those products and services.
Share your own publishing news with the IBPA community! Send news about events or accomplishments to email@example.com. For more details about the types of stories we're seeking, click here.
Keep in mind that we reserve Spotlights for major news (such as, you published a book about space exploration and now it's being read in a live video feed by astronauts from the International Space Station), unique news (such as, you published a book about cycling and now the author is riding a bike across the U.S. for their book tour), or human interest stories (such as, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the launch date, your book cover, your book title, your book's genre, 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!