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Getting to Know the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee

Thursday, April 23, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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IBPA members in good standing for at least 12 months are invited to apply for a seat on an IBPA committee starting July 1, 2020. Deadline to apply is May 15, 2020. Click here for more information.


IBPA members often say one of their favorite benefits of being a member is the free bi-monthly issue of IBPA Independent magazine. In addition to having an excellent staff to produce the magazine (showcased in this Member Spotlight article), IBPA is proud to have the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee, a group of experts from the independent publishing industry who advise on the direction of the magazine’s content and overall themes.

This week, we’re taking a look behind the scenes of the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee’s work by chatting with three current committee members: Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito (Publisher, Elva Resa Publishing), Rana DiOrio (CEO & Co-founder, Creative Mint), and Leslie Turner (Founder & Publisher, Encourage Publishing).


IBPA: What interested you in joining the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee?

Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito: Before becoming a book publisher, I really enjoyed my career as a magazine editor. I worked on newsstand, subscription-based, and association magazines. Joining the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee (this is my second year) has allowed me to stay connected to the creation of a print magazine and share my experience in that area of publishing, and I think it’s a fun way to serve IBPA members!

Rana DiOrio: I served on the IBPA Board of Directors for four years and on the IBPA Executive Committee for two of those years. At the conclusion of my service, IBPA CEO Angela Bole wanted me to stay involved in a meaningful way and invited me to join the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee. I can never say “no” to Angela, so I accepted the role in July 2016. What interests me most about being a member of this committee is being privy to industry developments and in a unique position to make predictions about what might be coming. The members of the committee represent all parts of the industry, and their perspectives help me shape my viewpoints and run my own business accordingly.

March/April 2020 issue of IBPA Independent magazine

Leslie Turner: Once I finally met the criteria [for IBPA committee service], I submitted an application, along with my willingness to sit on whichever committee the IBPA Board of Directors felt was the best match for my experience and their needs; I was very glad to be selected for this particular committee, based on my work elsewhere in this capacity. IBPA Independent magazine has been an invaluable resource for me—I keep every copy as a reference—so being able to add my voice to the creative process of the publication is just one small way to give back. I count it a privilege, truly.

IBPA: How often does the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee meet?

Rana: The committee “meets” (virtually) on the first Wednesday of every month for an action-packed hour that is deftly run by Alexa Schlosser, our esteemed Managing Editor.

Karen: It is a diverse group with experienced professionals from a variety of backgrounds. When we brainstorm ideas for articles on a theme, there are always so many ideas—more than we could cover in an issue. It is so interesting to hear different perspectives on the same theme. The breadth and depth of experience on the call is impressive. Everyone seems to have a good pulse on the publishing industry, best practices, current events, trends over time, and the challenges and concerns of our membership. I learn something on each call just from the discussion!

IBPA: One of the objectives of the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee is to develop content for the IBPA Independent magazine. How do you decide what the themes and articles should be for upcoming issues?

Karen: IBPA Independent magazine managing editor Alexa Schlosser reminds the committee what themes have been covered in recent issues. She sends the committee a survey of topics and we rank them according to what we think are the top themes members want to read about. In my conversations with other committee members, I’ve learned that some base their rankings on what’s going on in their own publishing companies and what they are hearing from other publishers, some rank based on what they are seeing as current news and trends in publishing that IBPA members should be aware of to stay up on the industry. I’ve also looked at the member survey results to see what our members feel are their main challenges and pain points, so we can offer information and tips in those areas.

Once we’ve all ranked the topics, Alexa fills in the themes for the coming year. On our monthly calls, we brainstorm ideas for articles under those themes as well as timely topics that complement the themes or address current concerns of our members.

IBPA: Speaking of current concerns for IBPA members, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the independent publishing industry. Can you explain how you’ll be addressing the impact of the COVID-19 in the magazine?

Karen: The original theme of the July/August 2020 issue was ‘Design & Packaging.’ While the topic of how we present books (e.g., cover and interior design) will always be important, we can’t ignore the rapidly evolving impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our entire industry. Authors, publishers, distributors, printers, reviewers, booksellers—everyone throughout the book publishing chain—is significantly impacted not only by this temporary situation but also the longer-term implications.

The committee felt it was important to bring readers a hopeful, information-packed issue that bridges the reality of today with both the uncertainty and assuredness of the future. So, the committee adapted the July/August 2020 feature story and several other articles to focus on the many positive ways our fellow publishers are tackling these unprecedented challenges and navigating this uncertain landscape. We’ll look at what’s changed and what remains the same. Every aspect of our book business, from creation to production to marketing to fulfillment, funding, and reader engagement is running on shifting ground. But this indie community has always risen to the call for innovation and has always made a difference in the world by finding new ways to shine a light on the human story.

IBPA: In addition to articles about COVID-19, what are the themes/articles that you would like to see in upcoming issues?

Leslie: I have many things I want to learn more about, but always want to keep in front of my mind our reader demographic and the changing landscape of publishing. A few specific topics I believe our readers would find interesting:

  1. What more can we learn about the library market, from the library market—what’s changing, what are the barriers to entry and the specs they require, what criteria are the decision-makers using to select their books, and what are their honest concerns about indie publishers and authors?

  2. How to expand our reach and grow by identifying and reaching under-served markets, here and abroad. We read where publishers in many African countries are experiencing growing pains. Where else might we reach, what are the risks, and how can we simplify this transaction? Where are the ‘book deserts’ right here in the United States?

  3. On a philosophical note, I’ve listened to debates about what constitutes a book, what it should and should not include, and I wonder—in light of our 21st century culture, now accustomed to technologies that can deliver the written word in formats unimaginable just a few decades ago, what does the consumer say a “book” is? What do their senses demand? Is it time for the publishing industry to rethink this most elemental and stalwart definition, to broaden our perspective, shift our paradigm?

Rana: We just took a survey regarding topics we’d like to see covered during the 2020 editorial calendar, among them I selected (in alphabetical order):

  1. alternative revenue streams
  2. audio publishing
  3. digital publishing
  4. partnerships/collaborations
  5. state of the industry

As well, I’m always interested to learn about new technology and innovation in the publishing industry, so we’ll include the most exciting and pertinent new developments even if we don’t dedicate an entire issue to the topic next year.

IBPA: What has been the general feedback about the IBPA Independent magazine from members?

January/February 2020 issue of IBPA Independent magazine

Rana: I joined IBPA in 2009 as an indie publisher knowing nothing about the industry. The IBPA Independent magazine (and IBPA Publishing University) represented my crash course to the industry. As an IBPA Board member, I had a lot of opportunities to interact with our members, especially at the conference. A universal theme of those interactions was how important the IBPA Independent magazine was to the success of members’ projects and businesses. By sharing best practices and know-how we’ve helped members to not only avoid mistakes but also given them the tools to divine new solutions to old problems. It’s exciting to witness!

IBPA: Thank you very much, Karen, Rana, and Leslie for volunteering your time to serve on the committee! We are lucky to have you as committee members.

Click here to read articles from past issues of IBPA Independent magazine!

If you’re not a member, you can order a subscription to the magazine here.

If you’re interested in pitching an idea for an IBPA Independent article, email Managing Editor Alexa Schlosser at alexa@ibpa-online.org . And if you’re interested in advertising in the magazine, check out details here.


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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