Getting to Know IBPA Affiliate St. Louis Publishers Association (SLPA)
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|Pictured is the current St. Louis Publishers Association Board of Directors. Membership Chair Peggy Nehmen is center in the front row with the blue shirt, and IngramSpark’s Robin Cutler, who was a speaker at this recent meeting, is second from the right in the front.
IBPA is proud to be affiliated with 20 regional and specialty independent publishing associations across the United States. IBPA members find that networking within these groups benefits their success in the independent publishing industry, and helps them build connections on a more local level. As a nice bonus, when you’re a member of an IBPA Affiliate, you receive $30 off your IBPA annual membership!
Last month, IBPA showcased our IBPA Affiliate Florida Authors & Publishers Association. This month, we’re highlighting the St. Louis Publishers Association (SLPA)! We spoke to SLPA’s Membership Chair Peggy Nehmen to get a more in-depth look at their association:
IBPA: Can you briefly tell us the history of how St. Louis Publishers Association came to be?
Peggy Nehmen (PN): Founded in 1997, the SLPA serves the needs of an expanding and diverse membership. We provide education and networking opportunities that empower authors and publishers to create, market, and sell their books. Some of our members are multi-book publishing pros, while others are aspiring authors wondering what it takes to get a book into print—with many others at various stages in between—and many of our members are publishing professionals like editors, designers, illustrators, and publishers.
IBPA: How long have you been involved with SLPA?
PN: I joined SLPA in 2004. It was a nice group of people and I love books! I then became the membership chair in 2013. I greet members and non-members when they arrive for meetings and keep the membership database up to date. I’m also the co-admin of SLPA’s Meetup Group. Previously, I helped with SLPA’s newsletter (I’m a graphic designer by trade).
IBPA: What are the benefits for independent publishers/author publishers to being a member of SLPA?
PN: Learning, peer support, and encouragement! SLPA is an organization where like-minded people gather to learn and share their successes. SLPA meetings acquaint attendees with the publishing process and introduce them to people who have successfully published their books, and we provide around 15 educational workshops each year.
IBPA: What makes your regional association unique?
PN: One of the tenets of the SLPA is to promote the Saint Louis area as a publishing center of consequence, and we see that happen every time a member publishes an award-winning or best-selling book, but also every time any member finds success because of another member or a guest speaker. While many writing and publishing organizations are centered around facilitating the writing process and encouraging authors to query their books to publishers and agents, SLPA members include many traditionally published authors and author publishers. We love seeing so many writers become the keyholders to their own dreams, so we’re happy to provide empowerment and education that reflects the ever-changing landscape of publishing possibilities!
IBPA: What is the cost of membership?
PN: $60 per year. Non-members may attend one of our meetings for $10, payable at the door, and that $10 goes toward the cost of membership if they join at that meeting.
|Members of St. Louis Publishers Association attend a recent meeting.
For members, meetings are free. Our yearly fee does not include special events or workshops with the St. Louis Community College, but these special events are discounted for members whenever possible, and members of our affiliate organizations, like the St. Louis Writers Guild, also receive discounts.
Meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month, and we have a four-hour workshop, “How to Publish Your Own Book: What You Need to Know,” at St. Louis Community College twice per year and one half-day workshop with an industry expert each summer. Recent guest speakers have included Robin Cutler (Director of IngramSpark), Judith Briles (founder of AuthorYOU), and Amy Collins (President of New Shelves Books).
IBPA: How is it beneficial for an independent publisher/author publisher to be a member of both SLPA and IBPA?
PN: Credibility—belonging to both groups means you’re serious. It gives you the opportunity to dive deep with other professionals within this industry. Stay current by learning new ideas and keeping up with publishing trends. Additionally, IBPA provides a wealth of resources and educational opportunities, like webinars, discounts to events and services, and publicity. And don’t forget the invaluable annual IBPA Publishing University scholarship opportunity!
IBPA: Are there any new initiatives/events/programs in 2019 that you’re particularly proud of that went really well?
PN: Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark and a member of the IBPA Board of Directors, spoke to a sold-out SLPA workshop this past summer. Post-survey feedback was excellent.
IBPA: On Aug. 14, you had your SLPA Vendor Showcase. Can you explain what that is and how it went?
PN: The SLPA Vendor Showcase is an annual event featuring publishing professionals of all specialties (publishers, book coaches, editors, graphic designers, printers, web designers, illustrators, etc.) who answer questions for inquiring authors. This is a FREE event and open to the public, and this year’s event was really well attended! Many new people who were curious about publishing their books came to talk to the vendors—and SLPA had a sign-up sheet so we can let them know about future events and the benefits of becoming a member.
IBPA: Do you have any upcoming events?
- Oct 9 — Book Clubs: What Every Self-Publisher & Author Should Know
- Oct 16 — Happy Hour at Earthbound Brewing
- November 16 — How to Publish Your Own Book: What You Need to Know
IBPA: Can you share some key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
- Do your research—identify your target audience first. (Is your book marketable?)
- Write a marketing plan.
- Have a website and keep it current. Readers are curious about authors… they will seek you out.
- Become an authorpreneur—it’s a business.
- Join organizations such as SLPA and IBPA.
IBPA: Can you share a few tips for other associations about how to retain and grow membership?
- Have an efficient and reliable system to keep track of membership and contact information. We use Wild Apricot for our membership—it’s very helpful (but expensive) for keeping accurate records and sending newsletters and announcements.
- Continuity is important. Having good speakers and workshops keeps people coming back—or new people attending. Members who recommend us to their friends (word of mouth) is golden!
- Find out what your members want to learn about and make those opportunities happen. In the past, our members have guided us to organizing some very unique events, like a field trip to a book printer; a live, narrated book upload on Amazon; and resource-sharing Q&As!
IBPA: If someone visits St. Louis, what are some fun things to do?
PN: The Gateway Arch, City Museum, and the Missouri Botanical Garden are favorites. And for those with time to explore, Forest Park—site of the 1904 World’s Fair and Summer Olympics—covers a beautiful 1,371 acres and contains several institutions that offer completely free attendance, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Science Center, and Muny Opera House. There’s also the annual Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, film screenings on Art Hill, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performances.
IBPA: Now that everyone knows more about SLPA, how can they sign up to be a member? And do they need to be a St. Louis resident?
PN: You can sign up on our website here, and no, you do not have to be a St. Louis resident. Our members and attendees come from all over Missouri and Illinois!
IBPA: Thank you, Peggy, for giving us insight into IBPA Affiliate St. Louis Publishers Association.
Click here to learn more about St. Louis Publishers Association!
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