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News & Press: IBPA Member News

IBPA Members Share Tips to Weather the Effects of the Coronavirus

Thursday, March 19, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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IBPA deeply cares that our members are feeling the effects of the coronavirus on their businesses and personal lives and that there will be repercussions for months to come. It’s during difficult times like these that we’re most proud to be part of the independent publishing community where we can lean in and help one another.

In this spirit, we reached out to IBPA members to see how they’re persevering through this experience in the hopes that it will provide guidance to other independent publishers. We were pleased (and not surprised!) that so many members wrote back with their words of wisdom:


Click here to visit IBPA's COVID-19 Resource Center, updated daily.


Paul Nylander

I think the key is to remember that we will get through this. So much of what we do in publishing is already virtual—sharing documents for copyedits, pdfs for proofreading and layout—that doesn’t really change. But as screen time was already a concern, we cannot ignore the human interactions. As much as possible, we need to keep operating—using video conferencing (Skype, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) more, to be sure. Make an effort to connect online. Illustrada Design has started using Slack to keep regular ‘chats’ about projects (and other things) going.

“As for the traditionally ‘face-to-face’ interactions (acquisitions, networking, signings, and readings), make the effort to go virtual. Learn to love video. Even if you hate it. Actively reach out to people online, old friends and new, and interact.

“But also remember that our service providers—the freelancers out there, especially—are going to be in dire straits. Keep creating, and keep including them in your creative processes!”

— Paul Nylander, Founder, illustrada design and Vice President, IBPA Affiliate Midwest Independent Publishers Association


Candysse Miller

“Spring and summer book tours, conventions and festivals were at the forefront of Interlude Press and Duet Book’s marketing strategy for its 2020 titles. The entire season is essentially erased, which forced us to rapidly refocus our marketing efforts to creative online opportunities. Our goal is to try to recreate the face-to-face interaction that makes book festivals so effective in raising awareness of our books and authors, as well as doing what we can to help support the brick-and-mortar indie booksellers who have been so supportive of our brand and are so deeply impacted by this evolving crisis.

“We have scheduled a video-based ‘Tiny Book Fest’ that will feature author chats, panels, giveaways and special guests, as well as promotions to support indie bookstores. This may become a series, and we’re even looking at hosting ‘IP Movie Nights,’ with authors ‘hosting’ online view-alongs of movies via streaming services on Twitter. In these times, it’s all about engagement in readers’ homes, and being creative of how to reach them. To date, we do not anticipate postponing book launches. At a time when people must stay home, we believe that the demand for new titles can remain healthy.”

— Candysse Miller, Co-Publisher and Director of Marketing & Communications, Interlude Press


David and Stephanie Miles

“With so much anxiety and fear sweeping the country, we felt it was important that, more than anything, we find a way to help. It occurred to us that with so many schools closed, parents (us included!) are pulling their hair out trying to keep their kids occupied for weeks. Well, we're a children's publisher, and we have a whole catalog of content that we know kids would love to read. We decided to temporarily make nearly all of our children's books available online for free. We also offered free PDFs of doodle and coloring books (that we normally sell on Amazon) for people to print off. It just seemed like the right thing to do. We believe that building a strong relationship with our readers—one based on genuine concern, love, and a sincere desire to help kids and families—is the best investment we could ever make.”

— David and Stephanie Miles, Founders, Bushel & Peck Books


One of the first things business owners need to do is make sure their own workers are safe, as well as the suppliers and contractors they interact with. Review working arrangements and protocols to make sure that potential points of contact are reduced and shipments can be safely handled. For instance, normally I deal face-to-face with one of my suppliers for payments and receiving shipments. Starting this week, we've switched to online payments and I have them leave boxes on the loading dock for me to pick up myself. I use disinfectant to wipe down boxes and packages before bringing them inside.

Ian Lamont

“Also try to help with people's emotional health. People are isolated and need more human contact, even if it's just a voice on the phone. For colleagues and partners, give them a call instead of sending an email, text, or Slack message. Set up a pleasant home office—a small investment in a small desk, a comfortable office chair, an external monitor, and even a plant can make a difference.

“I've taken a number of steps in the past week to prepare for a prolonged downturn. I started by reviewing last year's P&L to get a better understanding of costs, expenses, and revenue this year. When I met with my accountant about a month ago, before the pandemic, I thought a 15% increase in revenue was likely. Now I am planning for at least a 30% decrease based on preliminary sales data from Amazon as well as news that libraries and bookstores are closing and won't reopen for some time. I am assuming revenue related to events and consulting will drop by more than half in 2020.

“There will need to be some cuts. Payroll is frozen for myself and my single employee, and I have told some of my suppliers that orders will be smaller or more spread out for the next 3-6 months. I have also taken steps to reduce advertising and promotional expenses. For instance, I went into Amazon Advertising and immediately cut the daily budgets and bid levels for several campaigns.

“However, I am not shutting down campaigns completely. There are still people out there searching for books, and advertising can help give my titles more visibility. Moreover, as other publishers including large New York publishing houses pull back their own marketing budgets, I predict bid levels on auction-based advertising platforms like Amazon Advertising, Google Ads, and Facebook Advertising will drop sharply. This will make certain types of campaigns more cost-effective and better able to generate a return on investment.

“There are other opportunities. I have several publishing brands, and one of them, IN 30 MINUTES guides, has lots of titles related to software, including Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes and cheat sheets for Microsoft Office. The crisis has made it clear that technology is needed more than ever to manage remote work, distance learning, and personal collaboration, and these guides and references help meet that need. I have launched several new online advertising campaigns targeting people who may find themselves working from home and need to quickly get up to speed with G Suite, Microsoft Office, and Dropbox.

“Other people will be looking to escape the depressing news cycle about disease and layoffs. This could be an opportunity for fiction publishers.

“These changes are not the final word on 2020 planning. But these steps will help my business weather the storm over the next few months.”

— Ian Lamont, Founder, i30 Media Corporation


Jo Meserve Mach

As an educational children's book publisher, my goal during this difficult time is to develop ways to build relationships with educators who are now working online rather than in classrooms. I currently have downloadable lessons linked to each of our books available on teacherspayteachers.com. Now I'm creating new virtual lessons. I explored and found products offered on this website providing me both examples of this type of lesson and tips on writing them. I'm supporting my ebook distributors who are reaching out to educators with free ebook offerings during this time. Our books focus on social-emotional learning so I will be adding virtual resources to our website with social-emotional learning activities to help children and families handle stress created by this crisis.

“Through all these activities my hope is to expand my engagement with educators and help them realize that Finding My Way Books are a supportive resource for them now and in the future.”

— Jo Meserve Mach, Co-Founder and Publisher, Finding My Way Books


Kristina Radke

“For us at NetGalley, working from home is a regular occurrence—we recently shared our tips for working remotely. But in these unprecedented times we've upped our internal communication and documentation to make sure that we know project status if someone needs to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one, and have emergency contacts in case anyone is unresponsive on Slack or by email.

“We've heard from our customers that they are finding our service increasingly important right now—as employees work from home, and their contacts (media, reviewers, librarians, booksellers, and educators) also shift to remote work, digital review copies are the fastest and easiest way to make sure campaigns can continue uninterrupted. It feels really good to be a trusted partner to our clients during these uncertain times.

It's our goal to be a solid source of support for our customers and the industry at large. You may have already seen our email to publishers and authors we work with, and you're welcome to share any of the resources we've linked there.”

— Kristina Radke, VP of Business Growth & Engagement, NetGalley


Dr. De’Andrea Matthews

Claire Aldin Publications is committed to servicing the needs of our authors, so with regards to safeguards around COVID-19, we have switched to virtual meetings in lieu of in-person consultations. We are maximizing technology through the use of various platforms to maintain communication and the personalized experience our clients have come to enjoy.

“We unfortunately have had to postpone a couple of book launch events, but have provided additional resources to authors for them to continue to build their author platform virtually. One resource in particular that was provided free of charge to our authors was Not Your Average Author, which outlines specific ways that authors can host live-streams, seek podcast interviews, and other exposure opportunities. It is important that marketing efforts continue and we are happy to offer some additional support to our thriving author community.”

— Dr. De’Andrea Matthews, President and Founder, Claire Aldin Publications


Lisa Cole

“Vestra Lingua utilizes multiple small teams collaborating together digitally. And fortunately, our next cycle of books doesn’t come out until fall. We only have one full-time employee and other team members are time-bound 1099 contractors. There are no issues in paying our contractors since we have cash on hand prior to each project beginning. Our work has always been virtual / remote, but we hold in-person team meetings at our local library to finalize contracts, set project phases, manage art creation, and review goals. However, all public spaces here in South Carolina have closed. This week we’ve been in touch with multiple team members to let them know meetings will be virtual for the time-being and all upcoming contracts will be handled through Adobe E-sign. The only real hit comes with the loss of local vendor events this Spring.”

— Lisa Cole, Owner Operator, Vestra Lingua Publishing


Cynthia Brian

“As of today, six counties in Northern California are on mandated lock-down, shelter-in-place directives to keep us safe. I don’t have employees, but every in-person commitment has been canceled or postponed. Yesterday, the Moraga Faire was postponed where we do book signings.

My advice is to be compliant with all government mandates, do promotions on line, and most of all, hunker down and enjoy the time. Turn the isolation into a staycation of a sort, making health a priority. Stay home, celebrate being alive, and be creative. Read books, write books, listen, rest, paint, play, plant, learn, and dance through the darkness.

“This pandemic is worse than we all believe. I just listened to a webinar hosted by UCLA researchers and medical professionals which was incredibly informative to help employers and executives make informed decisions. Anyone can find this information for free at www.covid19experts.com.

“I also recently posted about the issues we’re facing in my newsletter here. This too shall pass, but we have to be diligent and work together.”

— Cynthia Brian, author publisher and Founder of non-profit Be the Star You Are!


Dr. Kurt Brackob

“We came to London for the book fair which was canceled only days before it was scheduled to begin because of the COVID-19 concerns. We had also planned a book launch and signing at Waterstone's in London for the hardcover edition of our new title, Simply Verona, to be held around the time of the fair. We ultimately decided to cancel the event in light of health concerns. We plan to reschedule the event for when the paperback edition of the book will be released around the time of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, assuming the COVID-19 situation is under control and it is safe to do so at that time.

“Our return from the U.K. has been delayed due to flight cancellations. Our employees have all been instructed to work from home. As a result, we have not yet experienced any disruption to our publishing schedule.”

— Dr. Kurt Brackob, Director, Histria Books


Katie Miller

“The larger company of BiggerPockets is an all-encompassing resource for real estate investors during any stage of their investment. That said, a recession (whether or not we're there yet is for you to decide) is a great time to purchase investment properties for long-term investment growth, so the publishing arm will be promoting a newer book Recession-Proof Real Estate Investing to our members on BiggerPockets.com. We're also likely fast-tracking another book launch that would help investors in times of a recession. BiggerPockets employees have started working from home on March 16 until further notice and our company has a very relaxed sick leave policy already in place, and we will continue to honor that throughout this period. Our team leads have also been sharing remote management tips and strategies to help everyone feel connected and productive throughout the next few weeks!"

— Katie Miller, Director of Publishing, BiggerPockets


Lee Foster

“I have created a blog/website post that will be a long-term record of the crisis. As a travel journalist, I have been to Wuhan, some time ago. I wrote a post nine days ago, not thinking it would become a major matter. Then the explosion of this past week occurred. So I decided to begin adding, at the top, a daily report on how I, as a citizen in Berkeley, CA and as a travel journalist, am experiencing the crisis.

Each day I am reporting briefly on my local and the national/worldwide situation. This will become a record of how a citizen/author with major interest in travel experienced the crisis.

“Soon I will get back to my regular travel and my regular how-to publishing content in my weekly posts at www.fostertravel.com. But I will also create each day a legacy report on how a citizen experienced this crisis from March 9 on.

“I have about 500 worldwide articles on my website, and my trip to a Chinese Three Gorges cruise through Wuhan was a joyous experience. I am so happy that China developed enough prosperity to have the resources to deal with this outbreak. This latest trip was about 2010. The China I first experienced in 1990 or so would not have been able to muster the resources to manage this medical tragedy.”

— Lee Foster, author publisher


Lindy Ryan

"At Black Spot Books, we are actively taking measures to accommodate the various needs, demands, and challenges faced by our staff, authors, and partners during this uncertain time, while simultaneously preserving our state of business and looking to the future. We recognize that we are a business held together by passion for the written word, and taking care of our Black Spot Books Family is a core business imperative. All of our staff work from home with reduced workloads, and we are taking care to be aware and supportive of our team’s individual needs by shifting schedules as needed and leaning on our robust communication infrastructure to stay connected as changes happen in a 'live' environment. We believe this is one of our greatest strengths: as a small press, while we are greatly impacted by economic shifts, we also have the ability to be agile to adapt to new changes that impact the success of our forthcoming titles. We have shifted some book launches to fall, postponed in-person events, and prioritized marketing efforts that rely on digital copies.

"Likewise, we recognize that books—and, with them, the ability to escape into brighter moments—are more critical now than ever. To that end, Black Spot Books is finding ways to get our stories into the hands of readers, specifically through ebooks and other digital products that do not cause strain on booksellers. We are running price promotions on ebooks and our forthcoming audiobooks, and ensuring our titles are available via subscription services for readers to enjoy. We’re also spending more time engaging with the reading community online and helping our authors to reach out into social media to host online book clubs, read-alongs, and other interactive conversations with readers online."

— Lindy Ryan, President, Black Spot Books (an imprint of Vesuvian Media Group)


We at IBPA hope you found these stories from IBPA members helpful as you navigate these unprecedented times. Feel free to share your own advice for other independent publishers in the comments below.

From everyone at IBPA, we wish you good health!


Share your publishing news with the IBPA community! Send news about events or accomplishments to christopher@ibpa-online.org. 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 christopher@ibpa-online.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!


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