Behind the Scenes of IBPA Podcast Inside Independent Publishing
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|Former IBPA board chair and Stone Bridge Press Publisher, Peter Goodman, hosts IBPA's podcast, Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA)
The more you know about how the independent publishing industry works, the better chance you have of succeeding in this industry. IBPA’s podcast, Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA), is an incredible resource for learning about everything from book marketing to distribution to shipping logistics and much more. Host Peter Goodman has been in the independent publishing industry for decades (he’s also been an IBPA member for almost 30 years!), so he brings his level of expertise and inquisitive mind to each episode.
Make sure to subscribe to Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA) wherever you download your podcasts, and right now, take a look behind the scenes with Peter:
IBPA: What inspired you to start the podcast?
Peter Goodman (PG): I enjoy talking and arguing about publishing issues and was looking for new people to talk to who could tell me things I didn’t know and hadn’t thought of. I’m fascinated by other people’s jobs and how intricate and complicated they are to outsiders, so I was eager to hear the ins and outs of their universes. I got a lot of inspiration from Preet Bharara’s podcast. Although his podcast is about legal issues and politics, I liked the way he organized his program and how he asked questions. After listening to a bunch of his shows it dawned on me that maybe I could do a similar thing with indie publishing.
IBPA: Does anyone help you with the production/posting of the podcasts?
PG: Yes, Michael Palmer is a musician and audio engineer (and our part-time publicist). I send him raw files and he edits them, adds music, and erases mistakes. I do the posting and write the podcast notes.
IBPA: How do you decide what topics to cover and who to interview?
PG: I talk about things (1) that are of interest to me or that I’d like to know more about, (2) that are areas of indie publishing I feel are undercovered and that publishers should know more about, like printing, paper, and shipping logistics, (3) that are somewhat topical or controversial. I’ve received suggestions from fellow IBPA-ers and from IBPA CEO Angela Bole, and there is a shared spreadsheet for IBPA Board Members where I ask for topic ideas and interviewees.
IBPA: You’ve spoken to a lot of people on the podcast, what is some of the advice given for independent publishers that really stands out?
PG: I really liked the podcasts featuring Ian Lamont (episodes 23 and 24) talking about the ins and out of advertising on Amazon. One of the points that keeps coming up as a general observation is that indie publishers need to spend a lot more time planning and researching before jumping in—to anything. The podcast is one way of finding out how much you don’t know.
IBPA: Is there anything new you learned during one of the podcasts that surprised you?
PG: Yes, in the interview with author Andy Weiner (episode 27) I learned how useful a marketing tool LinkedIn could be. I’d never thought of it that way before. And Deltina Hay (episode 20) gave me tons of new information on extending content using e-learning modules. Very clever people!
|Peter Goodman interviewed staff from Books Inc. bookstore in Berkeley, California for episode 19
IBPA: If someone hasn’t listened to any of the episodes yet, can you list a few episodes that you recommend people start with?
PG: We’ve got 34 episodes as of this writing, so there’s a lot to choose from. If I had to give three to start with, I’d say #28 on distribution, with Richard T. Williams of Independent Publishers Group (IPG); #19 on working with indie booksellers, with staff from Books Inc. bookstore in Berkeley; and of course #26, my shake-your-fist-at-the-universe rant titled “Publishing is great! Publishing sucks!”
IBPA: Do you have any dream interviews/topics that you’re hoping to do for the podcast?
PG: Yes, a lot. Here is a list of some topics: diversity in publishing; cryptocurrency, bitcoin, and blockchain; what’s up with BookExpo America (BEA)?; print on demand in retail (my very favorite hobby horse); audiobooks; can we bring manufacturing back to the USA?; indie publishing abroad; is Amazon good or evil?; and on and on. I welcome ideas sent to @petergoodman on Twitter!
IBPA: Can you share advice for IBPA members who are interested in creating their own podcast?
PG: Doing it isn’t so hard in terms of production. Get a good mic, practice speaking into it, learn to write scripts. Be interested in what your guests have to say and be prepared (and hope) to be surprised by them. Find a person who can edit the audio. Don’t produce a schlocky product. I think the real challenge is keeping it fresh and finding and keeping an audience. Lots of competition from places that have bigger names and more funding. But as an indie book publisher the indie podcaster should feel right at home trying to crawl their way into public consciousness, and they should relate to the vital confluence of format, content, and marketing.
IBPA: You’ve been an active member with IBPA for almost 30 years. Can you list the various positions you’ve held for IBPA?
PG: I’ve been a member since the early days, sat on the board for four years, and been board chair for two years. And probably a committee or two or three along the way. Until I was on the board I wasn’t so much of an activist, but I did try to get to IBPA Publishing University most years, and that was to me the crown jewel that exemplified IBPA’s goals: quality, value, practical strategies, and supportive community. I’ve been on panels. While I was on the Board I was tasked with writing up the IBPA Code of Ethics, and that made me think a lot about what it meant to be honorable in your practice, and transparent, and honest, and why those things are important to success in business and in life. Doing things like this for IBPA has given me much more in return than I have given to IBPA.
IBPA: Overall, how has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
PG: Too many ways to count. It’s part of the publishing air I breathe, so it’s as vital as oxygen. I know my publishing company, Stone Bridge Press, benefited enormously in being able to network with and learn from others. Lots of ideas for how to improve operations and critical thinking. And especially knowing that I’m not alone.
IBPA: Can you share three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- BE ADMIN SMART. Be organized. Know your costs. Make contracts and honor them. Keep records. Keep your accounting up to date. Don’t fudge. Understand capitalization and sales tax. Count your pennies and don’t hire expensive consultants unless you can afford them and know exactly why you’re hiring them and what you want them to do.
- BE EDITORIAL, DESIGN, AND PRINTING SMART. Learn to recognize and work with talent. Understand the basic tenets of book design and layout. Become competent with your basic book-construction applications, like Word, Photoshop, and InDesign so that you can do the simple stuff yourself. Learn the conventions of editorial and manufacturing excellence. Talk to printers and understand everything you need to know about paper, binding, output, and storage.
- BE VISION SMART. Don’t swim against the current unless you’re a revolutionary. Learn how the book biz operates, what distributors do and don’t do. Have a vision or mission for your company and play to your strengths, but don’t be scared of being an opportunist when you need to be. Believe in what you’re doing and stick with the subject matter you know and like.
IBPA: Does Stone Bridge Press have any new books coming out?
|Stone Bridge Press' title from 2018, Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan
PG: How about these two books, which show why publishing about Japan is so engaging? The first is Forty-Seven Samurai, our forthcoming book on a famous act of revenge that resulted in the seppuku of four dozen people in the early 1700s and since then has become an honored and exploited symbol of Japanese honor. And the second is a book we published last year—Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan—that is all about the role of politeness, courtesy, and form in Japanese culture, and how knowing those basics can improve your experience as a tourist. One could argue that both books represent two aspects of the identical strain in Japan that finds meaning in public displays of formal behavior and attention to “doing what’s right” no matter what the personal cost. For one book, the symbol is a sword that kills; for the other, in this book at least, it is a very cute pair of bossy cats.
IBPA: Thank you very much, Peter, for your years of support to IBPA, and for your insight into podcasting and the independent publishing industry. You’re an exemplary member, and we’re honored to have you as part of our community!
New episodes of Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA) post every two weeks. You can listen to all of the episodes here. You can also go here for links to download the episodes from wherever you normally download your podcasts.
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