Indie Publishing is a path with its own challenges, but that path is easier with advocacy and support. In this week’s SPI, Angela Bole lets us know how The Independent Book Publisher’s Association, the IBPA, supports its members on their journey.
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) makes it easier for independent book publishers and self-published authors to navigate the sometimes intimidating publishing process. IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.
To learn more about IBPA, visit https://www.ibpa-online.org.
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Angela Bole, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:01
Well, hello, everybody, the computer tells me it’s showtime. And I always obey everything the computer tells me. So thank you for tuning in for another week of Self-Publishing Insiders, we always love having you. As always, we’ve got an amazing guest. And if you have questions, please pop them into the comments. We will get to them at some point, we’ve got little Draft2Digital gremlins floating around in there to answer anything you ask. So don’t be afraid to ask anything, and we’ll help you out in any way we can. But the real reason we’re all gathered here today is our guest, Angela Bole, who is the IBPA CEO, as her screen tag will tell you, and I got it right on the first try, Angela?
Angela Bole 00:45
I think you did. I did not hear IPBA in there.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:49
I’m gonna get that wrong at least once in the broadcast. So we’ll make a drinking game of it. It’s, already noon here in the Central Time Zone in Texas. So you’re allowed to drink. That’s what I was raised to. Thank you for being a part of the show. I’m really glad to have you here.
Angela Bole 01:09
Thanks. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:16
And you are, of course, a very busy person in a very busy organization. Butlet’s start there. Because I don’t know if everyone is fully aware of what IBPA is. So you know, drink, you can’t take a drink? I got it right?
Angela Bole 01:32
You don’t know what’s in the cup? You don’t know. Right?
Kevin Tumlinson 01:35
So can you kind of give us a just a quick, you know, overview of what the organization is?
Angela Bole 01:41
Sure, sure. IBPA. So the acronym is the Independent Book Publishers Association. So we’re definitely here for self-published authors. It’s part of our membership, we serve independent publishers across the board, you know, whether you’re the largest size, like a learner or source books, or if you’re a single book, self-published author who’s getting into the industry and trying to figure out how to do so professionally. Our mission is to lead and serve independent publishers through advocacy, education and tools for success. We’ve got just over 4000 members that we lead in that way and serve in that way. And yeah, so we’ve been around since 1983, a trade association really just here to help independent publishers of all stripes, do well.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:25
1983 was a very different landscape from what it is now.
Angela Bole 02:32
I mean, even in the last five years, we have massive changes and a huge urban landscape. But for sure, I mean, imagine publishing with no desktop computer, I always think about that machine in our office until like five years ago. So.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:46
Yeah. Were you still getting faxes?
Angela Bole 02:49
We were getting like advertisements, like somebody in the world was sending faxes through, but it was like advertising for things.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:56
I think it’s time travel. Yeah, that you were basically you were receiving advertisements from 1983 is what was happening. Yeah, that’s it. You know, it’s remarkable. I mean, technology obviously has changed, what are some of the things you have seen changed, you know, in relation to the organization, like, helping authors in 1983 has to have been very different than helping authors today.
Angela Bole 03:23
I mean, we have always served other publishers, but not to the extent that we serve them today, because the technology of the day has really increased the number of, of author publishers, you know, it’s the ability and the technology, the technology available to publish, has lowered the entry, the bar of entry to publishing to lots and lots of different people. That’s one of the biggest changes was, you know, the conversations were more big ticket supply chain type things, you know, back in the day when you’re publishing it offset printing and sending things to your through your distributor. And we still talk a lot about that. But this kind of a different conversation when you’re, you know, you’re working through author, publisher space, and you’re not really working in the distributed with the distributors and kind of trying to work through that. So Right. Yeah, that’s changed. About 33% of our membership are self-published authors at this point in time. So there’s a lot of conversations about that.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:18
Yeah. How did publishing on demand shift things for you guys?
Angela Bole 04:24
Well, in terms of our membership it really raised the number of self-published authors, it caused me not to be too uncomfortable in the space but it lowered the bar it lowered the standard of publishing a lot.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:39
So it removed the barrier to entry.
Angela Bole 04:44
We found the need for us to be to lean into the education aspect of our mission really increased a lot and you know, not for nothing. In terms of like, it’s not like people were maliciously trying to just get around all the different stuff. entered and stuff, it’s just so you know, I don’t know how to fix a car, or you told me how to fix my car, I definitely messed that up too. So it’s just a lot of people that were kind of walking into the end thinking it would be a little bit easier to get it done. And it’s not that easy, really, I mean, it’s pretty easy to kind of put content up, but to be a publisher, and to really make that content sell. And to really reach your reader. That’s not a really easy thing to do. So, definitely, we saw that, you know, we had to pick up the education piece and run with it.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:27
Yeah. So what was what are the, like, basic foundational tips, then? Because you’re right, it’s not easy to be a publisher, right? Almost anyone can publish. So there’s no barrier to entry there. But in order to be successful, what do you think are foundational principles that people should know about?
Angela Bole 05:46
Well, we do publish something called the industry standards checklist for professionally published book, which is a very long title. But with that document, it’s a long title for like a two-page document that essentially just talks to you about what we used to call book in hand concepts. I think the content itself needs to be great, obviously. And that’s something that we can’t really get into too much. In IBPA’s case, we’re not going to read all the different books. But what we can talk about is how do you put a book together so that it’s clearly professionally published? That has to do with a lot of really weird nitpicky things that the publishing industry has agree with itself that they’re important. This, that and the other? Like, what do you put on the spine of a book? How do you include blurbs on the back of the book? Where do you put your author bio? And I think a lot of the tells on a book that’s not going to be fun to read probably, is whether or not it’s well put together and well produced. Because if he, you know, if it looks like it can’t sit on the shelf next to something from Penguin Random House, then it probably doesn’t read like something that you would read from Penguin, it’s got to have both aspects of that together.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:56
Oh, how important I mean, we’re talking in indie publishing, of course, but I mean, how important is the perception that perception like, do we need to fool people into thinking that we’re published by Random House? How important is that?
Angela Bole 07:14
Well, my opinion, everyone’s gonna kind of break through, but …
Kevin Tumlinson 07:18
You’re here for your opinion. That’s fine.
Angela Bole 07:23
And in some conversations that I’ve had in the past 20 years, but I would say, of course, I mean, there’s it’s not, you know, do people judge a book by the cover? Just to say it like people judge a book by its cover? And I assume that in addition to being writers, the audience are, you know, you’re also readers. And when you see something, and if you don’t think it looks professionally done, you probably don’t pick it up, either. Not, you know, it’s not like we’re trying to fool them into thinking we’re Penguin Random House, it’s that we’re trying to show them that we are professional in the work that we do, and that we understand the business that we’re in. They should stock up. Yeah. And they, and a lot of independently published books do like people, people do get this right all the time. So it is something that can,
Kevin Tumlinson 08:07
it seems like it’s getting a lot better. I mean, I remember, you know, I started self-publishing back in like 2006. And there were still a lot of questionable covers, floating around out there. And there still are to this day, let’s just face it seems like it’s gotten much better. Much. Have you seen progression?
Angela Bole 08:26
And we have an award program at IBPA, called the Benjamin Franklin awards, after Benjamin Franklin, obviously, the first printer and publisher. So some say, and absolutely through that program and books that come through, and also that program has been growing year after year. So more and more people are entering into independent book award programs. And then yes, and we’re the judges tell us that all the time that the content is looking better and better. Because they I also think I mean, the internet fixed a lot of that too, because now you know, before it was kind of people on their desktops and just kind of winging it. And now there is a ton of information out there to help people figure out how not to wing it. So if you wanted to pay attention, you could, and I think you can do it. So quality has gotten a lot better, at least at least on the outside of the book. I don’t crack every cover in the book. But yeah, you look pretty good.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:18
I mean, it is a start. If it if it looks good. Inside and out, then at least you know, they took the care to do that. So hopefully, they applied that same care to the writing.
Angela Bole 09:30
Hopefully,that’s why I get a little bit frustrated. People are like, it doesn’t matter. It’s about the content. And I’m like you’re not even getting get there. Right. You can go with it. Of course it’s about the content. I want them to read it but not, they won’t. They won’t take that journey with you.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:44
Right. I mean, if the orange skin is moldy, you’re not going to eat the orange right? So.
Angela Bole 09:51
Very good. Very good. I might steal that one. Yeah, exactly.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:54
Steal away. I’m a writer. I come up with those on an hourly basis. Have you guys, you mentioned lots of resources out there and you guys have some resources on your site? And what sort of what sort of resources do you offer?
Angela Bole 10:11
Well, it’s like you said, IBPA is a pretty big organization. So we have a lot of education in the form of webinars, we have our own podcast, we have a conference that we put on every year magazine that we publish, and then we have all of the articles that go into the online database that you can search. We’ve got resource directories, you can go in and find out where who are all the distributors and wholesalers in the industry? If that’s interesting to you, what are the different bookseller associations that you might want to connect with? We do we have a members discussion forum. So if we don’t have the resources, then you can kind of just talk to other members and ask them what they think about stuff. And, and to be honest, a lot of Amazon questions flow through there because we don’t have who knows I can’t even begin to try to talk through all the different nuances of what makes it really stellar kind of Amazon. So I don’t, it’s beyond me. But there’s a lot of people in membership who are pretty versed at that, and they talk to each other about it. So yeah, and then we also offer member benefits. If you want discounts on things that you’re going to need for your business. We have a bunch of that stuff, too.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:18
Oh, very nice. And I assume there are some like membership dues, that people pay to join or …?
Angela Bole 11:25
There are, right, and things free, but thanks for pointing that out. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:28
I know it’s a touchy thing with some folks. But you know, we should discuss that, because that’s part of the overhead of being an author, you know,
Angela Bole 11:37
Yeah. Author Publishers is $139 a year for membership?
Kevin Tumlinson 11:41
Well, that’s not bad. That’s actually pretty, I think, pretty reasonable. Considering everything you just said, guys, divide by 12.
Angela Bole 11:50
I used to be. So I’ll preface it by saying I lived in New York City for over 15 years. And when I first got this job, and they said, it’s $139. And I said, ah, that’s like dinner.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:09
Yeah, the dollar value shifts from region to region within the United States. So that’s a very good point.
Angela Bole 12:21
I don’t live in New York City now. And that isn’t generally necessarily across the country. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:26
No, that’s true. $139 dinner here in the Austin area, that’s quite a nice dinner, depending on where you are. And I would like, by the way, for Draft2Digital, if you’re all listening, to take me to $139 dinner. So I’m looking at your site and I I’ve spotted the IBPA Publishing University. What’s the story there? It looks kind of like a conference from the screenshot. Is that what it is?
Angela Bole 12:56
100%. Yeah, it is our annual conference. So we posted it, I think we would 20 plus years, we’re going to be 40 years old. So it’s probably IBPA’s at 40 years old. So it’s probably in its 30s At this point, and it’s um, no, I struggled to say like exactly how it what it is or how it’s structured. But oftentimes, people want us to give a theme for the conference. And I always really push against that and say, we don’t have a theme. Our vision of this conference is professional book publishing. And it’s just what does it take to professionally publish a book. So we do all of that. And we talk about it in different levels. But you know, we never really come up with like, this year, we’re going to talk about the supply chain at this conference. So I think that that’s helpful. Because every time you go, you’re gonna be able to really learn about the publishing industry, again, from the beginning to the end, but at a different level, as you kind of come into it. And of course, we’re going to talk about the hot topics of the day, but the hot topics of the day aren’t really going to move your business forward practically at all times. So we need to talk about the practical stuff.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:02
Yeah, that that foundational stuff that doesn’t necessarily change from month to month.
Angela Bole 14:08
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it happens every year. This in 2023. It’ll be Coronado Island, which is a little island outside of San Diego. Okay, so you wanted to go on a vacation.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:20
Oh, okay. This, this next one is? Yeah, okay. Yeah, the last one it says was in Orlando. That seems to be where most author conferences end up at some point is Orlando.
Angela Bole 14:34
Well, I mean, it’s inexpensive.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:39
Plus, it’s a good excuse to take family and do a whole Disney thing afterward or whatever. So when someone comes to the conference, you’re saying it’s like the roots the foundations of, of publishing, you know, what kind of experiences can people expect to have?
Angela Bole 14:59
It is in that practice? To go learning some experiential as well, so you can come with your own projects and have some advancements specifically on the thing that you’re working on. Because we do build into the program, some things that will ask you to workshop stuff experientially. There’s a lot of camaraderie, I think one of the things about independent publishers as they are very, very willing to share with each other, and they share very openly. And that’s a lovely thing, I think, at the conference. So it’s not just the thought leaders that are brought into to kind of, you know, share the space, but the community itself is very collaborative. So you get the you get that kind of rolled into it as well.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:38
Yeah, yeah. You have a lot of industry, spokespeople showing up and doing talks and thing, trying to get we have, we’ve been there. I’m not putting you on the spot. I’m just …
Angela Bole 15:50
Smashwords. Just yeah. So last year was the first year and you came with Smashwords, that Smashwords has been sponsoring the conference for years and years, and has been a really strong partner and Draft2Digital is starting to become one as well. And we’re really happy about that. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of sponsors that are there. So it’s also a great opportunity to talk to vendors be helpful.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:13
Well, I mean, now that Smashwords is part of us. We know, we’re learning more. It’s not that we didn’t know you existed, I think there just was, we were ships passing in the night sometimes.
Angela Bole 16:24
There’s a lot. I mean, there’s so much there’s so much happening. It’s really, how could you.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:32
Yeah, the industry is like that. I mean, just, we talked about the shift from, you know, when you guys started to now, I mean, so many things have changed in just the past two years? Like, how have the past? Just, let’s just not skew negative at all that we know that there was a major event that happened over the past few years. But how have things changed for you guys in that time period?
Angela Bole 16:58
Yeah, on the positive side of things, I think when people kind of got back into their homes that and or, you know, got a little bit more on the personal free time, they must have started publishing themselves, because our membership just blossomed. A lot of people came on board. And I think a lot of people looked around and tried to reassess what are they passionate about? What do they really want to be doing right now? A good many people want to be writing and publishing if they can be. So we did see a spike in the membership and in the number of educational number of people that kind of started to join in on the educational programming, which I think is great. Because, you know, people aren’t going to publish anyway. Hopefully, when they do. So they join an organization or connect with partners, like you guys that will help them publish well.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:46
For free, so you don’t, you know, they’re no dinner. No dinner. Yeah, you have, we know the amount of money you would spend with us is equivalent to the amount of money I was spending on dinner in college.
Angela Bole 18:02
With the windows, you took to the cafeteria?
Kevin Tumlinson 18:05
Exactly, yeah. Yeah. So, I had a question in mind. And this has blown right out on my head. So instead of me trying to flounder and get that I’ve got a couple of people who’ve asked some questions. In the comments. Roderick asked, this was in regard to the book publishing standard, said, “Do you need to be a member of the organization to get that? Or is that a download people can get?”
Angela Bole 18:30
No, you can get to get that for free. If you’re on our website, there’s a tab called resources. And if you go to the resources drop down, you’ll see a couple of things in there. And one of them will be this standards checklist. I think it’s called.
Kevin Tumlinson 18:44
Okay, good deal. I thought I had a I had to set up a banner for that, but I don’t have it yet. So I will, I will get that.
Angela Bole 18:55
There’s a number of things that we, you know, we are a nonprofit trade association, we try to keep the dues low. But we also try to do like a lot of our articles are free. So if you go to something called IBPA Independent, which is what our magazine is called, you can get most of the content that’s it’s about three, three or four months old, but still, you know, a lot of stuff is evergreen. Yeah. So we do a lot that will be free and open. And then of course, some things that are about members and keeping the members in the loop.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:26
Yeah. Yeah. Another question. “IBPA Pub U is great. Many opportunities to learn.” Sorry about that, Jim. “Will the 2023 conference have a virtual option?”
Angela Bole 19:40
So that’s cool. It’s hard. I’m gonna say this in like a really roundabout way that the clear answer is no. The conference itself at this point in time is not planned with a virtual. We’ve done that, last year was virtual first and then a physical conference, and the year before that it was all virtual. We think that what we do with our virtual programming is we have, we have a monthly webinar, we have a monthly member roundtable, and we have a monthly podcast. So every month, there’s three different things you can do virtually with IBPA. That is virtual education. And what we’re hoping is members will kind of pick up on that and roll through that. So we’re going to actually make all of our club you online webinars free, in 2023, to members free to members. It’s kind of like a way to do that. And then I’ll pull the curtain a little bit and talk a little bit. Because I’m very interested in how organizations are going to work the virtual and in person and how that space will be. It’s not the easiest thing.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:44
It’s not, I know everyone rushed to it because of necessity. But I watched so many conferences just go under. Yeah, it just couldn’t replace the in-person stuff.
Angela Bole 20:58
They even have some stuff is so key. And I remember like even way back in the day before, it was just an option for us to do this. And you have to like travel to a room and sit in the meeting. And sometimes you’d have a conference phone on for people who like to dial in. And that was like literally as good as you could get. But there’s a lot of accessibility that comes with the video stuff. But there’s a lot of also good stuff that comes with in person. So we don’t want to lose it. And I again, I’m hopeful that the online programming that we do all year long will be kind of pub you virtual, yeah. Yeah, there won’t be like a co located virtual component for this.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:35
Well, do you record the live conferences and make those available to people after the fact or …?
Angela Bole 21:41
We’ve done in like podcasts? So we don’t do video, but we’ve done audio of the presentations before.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:46
Yeah. Okay. All right.
Angela Bole 21:49
Weird world. We’re in like everything all the time. You know what I mean? Like, I’m not there. But I’m also a little bit like, I guess you could listen to it. But let’s go like, if not everyone can go. But if you can go, let’s go.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:06
Yeah, exactly. There is something I mean, just real talk. I mean, when I go to so I’ve done a ton of both virtual conferences, I’ve spoken at everything you can imagine. And the in-person conferences is just a different energy. You get responses and feedback for one, you know, I hate doing the I’m going to give my presentation to the void. And with no feedback whatsoever, so and you get more out of it, when you’re when you have that kind of two way. Because I can respond. When I see that people in the audience are not, you know, clicking, I can change my tack and maybe take questions or whatever is needed sound. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic. We could do a conference talk some other time. So aside from the conference, in the resources that you guys offer, what would you say is the biggest benefit to people being a member?
Angela Bole 23:09
Well, we do surveys, so they tell me, so I don’t know.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:13
I don’t know, I have to guess you know.
Angela Bole 23:17
So it’s interesting, the very first thing people say they like is the magazine. So everyone’s still got a good reason to be a member of IBPA. And we still do a physical magazine. And we fill it with great content that’s developed by the members. And you know, that still ranks number one. And then number two is always the connection to other independent publishers. So the ability to feel like you have someone to talk to, not just them at the office, you can always call and somebody will answer the phone. We don’t have recorded services, we have people that answer and ask what they can do to help. And I think that’s getting to be more and more unique. Is organization organizations get bigger and bigger.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:57
We have that in common at Draft2Digital. Real Life humans. Yeah.
Angela Bole 24:01
It’s just like this weird thing that you did. I don’t understand why that’s going away. I know it’s a lot easier. But it’s just makes such a difference to call somebody I get so annoyed when I try and make a reservation and wants to help me but I’m also old er than I used to,
Kevin Tumlinson 24:15
Well, same here. And I you know, I’m that guy who yells back at the robot voice on the phone. Like, that’s not what I want.
Angela Bole 24:27
I’ll call to do like my hair appointment or something, and they’ll text me back and I’m thinking … So, you know, to get back on point. It’s the connection to the people, not just the office staff, but the other members too. I think independent publishing can be a very lonely experience. Working alone a lot and time trying to find your network is hard. And hopefully we can help a little bit with that. But that’s what they say the magazine and the networking.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:57
Okay. The magazine that is, I think kind of surprising in this day.
Angela Bole 25:03
Yeah, it does. Yeah. We even just had somebody on Twitter yesterday or something the magazine drops the top of this month. And people are like, they take pictures of the cover. And they’re like, I got my magazine. Oh, wow.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:16
Selfie. And so in your September issue, there’s actually going to be an article from our guy, Jim Azevedo.
Angela Bole 25:26
Kevin Tumlinson 25:27
Angela Bole 25:28
Yeah, he’s here, he can confirm. But yeah, you guys are in there. And that’s the thing I like about the magazine, too, is like it is written by people in the industry, and our partners, like Draft2Digital and Smashwords are contributors to the magazine. It’s not like there’s some think tank that’s pushing all this down. It’s like member-to-member communication. We have a committee that develops the content or thinks through what should be in it. And it didn’t surprise me and I’m happy. And I’m glad that it’s in print. And people are still excited about that.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:01
Yeah. That it takes me back to, like, when I was a kid, or when I was a teenager, you know, when I was first starting to experiment with being a writer, you know, it was those kinds of publications that were the ones that that really got me going, you know.
Angela Bole 26:18
Oh, geeky and like, thick, like, independent publisher. It’s like what other magazine? I mean, there are some other magazines that are out there like that. But there are a few. There’s a few of us kicking magazines around that are just about independent publishing. And that’s great.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:34
What do you think is the, we’re just going to assume that you agree with me that independent publishing is better than other publishing. What do you think it is? Like, why is that though? Because I mean, certainly people have a dream sometimes of I want to be a Random House author or whatever. And they have a particular usually a particular will say, daydream about what that what that looks like. But what makes the whole independent publishing scene, in your mind, better? If you even think it’s better? You can correct me,
Angela Bole 27:09
I think it’s, I mean, it’s hard. So I think one of the jury that did it, and I think you were kind of leaning into that a little bit there, too, that it is a bit of a dream when you like, but you think getting in, in the Big Five, with a big five publisher, things are gonna be easier, because they’re going to take care of everything, and they’re going to take care of a lot of things, but they’re not going to take care of everything. And you’re still gonna have to do your marketing. And it’ll still be difficult. But on the independent publishing side, you’re not just the author, you’re also the publisher, and you have to do all those things really, really well, too. So it’s not, but I still think it’s great and can be better. And I think one of the reasons is just the ways in which it’s taken down those gates. And it’s, I don’t know, sad, sad, seems a simple word for it. But publishers today are drawn a lot to the big money and the big checks and the big advances. And if you are like an entry author who has a great, great, great story, but you don’t have a track record, and you don’t have a lot of social media, and you don’t have huge following, it’s it is difficult to come in through that space, you can definitely find independent publishers to work with in that space a little easier. And I recommend that, of course, because we’re the independent book publishers association with one of those midsize and large independent publishers there. But if you have a great story, the idea that you can still bring it forward, is it I love that idea. And I also love how it creates a lot more diversity in our industry and a lot more voices that we have available to us to listen to. So there’s, you know, there’s no accounting for bad production value. Well, and I think I’ve harped on that a lot lately, in this half hour. But you can definitely be in the game, you can be in it. And that’s amazing.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:55
Yeah. And really, if you’re willing to put in the work and the time and the energy, you can not only be in the game, I mean, you can play with the big players. Yeah. Go ahead. I’m sorry.
Angela Bole 29:08
Well, I was gonna ask like your advice, you’re publishing, writing, publishing, doing all of that? What do you think about the … I always say, you need a lot of books, you need to keep writing, keep writing, and keep publishing a lot of books.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:22
So it’s strategy. Because there’s marketing. But marketing is, in a way, kind of competitive. Meaning, you know, you hear this and when I go to conferences, and I was actually going to ask you about this, but like, you what, what others have been told now is even if you have that traditional contract, expect to do a lot of the marketing yourself. Right? And the thing is, there’s only so many places we can market books, and there’s only so many ways that we can do that. So we had to get really creative. And what I found was kind of the problem, I guess the roadblock in a way was, you know, once you’ve done all the marketing things, that’s as much as you’re going to be able to do. Now it’s time to push a different switch. And that switch for me was write a lot more books. So I think you’re right.
Angela Bole 30:16
Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, I do think you kind of hit the end of that road, and then maybe rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat, right? And think about it that way. But it is scale. It’s not just scale. For other publishers, it’s that’s the reason independent publishers capital, I have a business models, because they’re not relying on a single book to bring in the revenue for them. They’re, you know, and they’re finding readers for different books. Like, obviously, as a single author, your books are gonna be probably similar. You’re probably not writing like dark noir and also soft romance. But maybe you are, I don’t know, could be. Yeah, but you have a lot of content out there. Anyway, a lot of different touch points for readers to find you. So they may never find the marketing for this one book that you did, but they might find this other book or somebody else gave it to them.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:02
Yeah. And that’s the origin. I think of that adage that your best marketing tool is your next book, backlist idea. Like, the deeper your back list, the easier it is for people to discover you when they do discover you, there’s places for them to go. So there’s a there’s this idea in the traditional world that the midlist has disappeared. The midlist authors are, you know, my theory, and it’s not really theory. I know this as fact, actually. But most of those midlist authors went straight to indie publishing and hybrid publishing. Are you seeing a lot of that in your organization?
Angela Bole 31:43
Hybrid publishing has exploded. I mean, there’s no other way to explain it. And maybe I will definitely, hindsight, I should have mentioned that too. Like, what are some changes we’ve seen in the industry recently, hybrid republishing for sure. And also, along with that definitely confusion in the industry related to what is a hybrid publisher versus a service provider and authors that are getting kind of taken advantage of, in some cases, having wonderful experiences. In other cases, it’s an interesting new, newly developing segment of the market not new at all, I mean, authors subsidizing some level of their publication is old as publishing goes wrong in every publisher does it? So to imagine that this is a new business model isn’t true, but it’s certainly emerging in a way that’s really interesting.
Kevin Tumlinson 32:31
It’s just had an evolution.
Angela Bole 32:34
Yeah, it has Yeah. And in the middle of kind of another phase of it, too, because authors are getting more savvy. So they are now understanding when they’re actually not working with a hybrid publisher. Maybe they’re working with a service provider, which is a wonderful thing to be, and we support publishing service providers. And they’re really important to have, but it just got to be really clear about what you are and what you’re not and what you’re doing what you’re not doing. Yeah, doctors are becoming capable of kind of making those distinctions.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:04
When you say, service provider, describe what you mean by that. You’re not talking about like a, like a Draft2Digital or something, you’re talking about, like a vanity press type thing?
Angela Bole 33:18
Well I don’t even use that anymore. I think that term is so outdated.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:23
I agree. It’s just what people know.
Angela Bole 33:28
But kind of like, yeah, that’s what I mean, like, I think these are kind of play, you pay to play. Yeah, there’s no. And also, they’re not going to give you any guff about anything you want to do. So and I think that that little tension and kind of those pain points that come between the author and the publisher, are important, and they should be there. And not like, you know, excruciating pain where you, you know, you can’t get up the next day in the morning, you should have some tension in that relationship, they should be telling you advising you and make almost making you pick the right subject headings for the book, make sure the cover matches the genre title up there, get yourself registered, you know, in the ways that you need to be registered, there’s just some professional publishing kind of boxes that you need to tick providers just kind of gonna let it flow. And those are good too. Those are great in our industry, because there’s a lot of authors that really just want know how to do it and want it to flow. They don’t they want or they don’t want this, they already know and they want to, they want to get it through. And so if they’re working with a service writer, and they are kind of taking on the role of the publisher themselves, yeah, that’s helpful for them.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:42
Yeah. I think the point though, is that there’s a there’s a flavor for everybody like you know, what, how are we? Whatever way you want to go, you can go your own way.
Angela Bole 34:55
Yeah, I hate it because the biggest thing, I think that the biggest hole I think some authors fall into is thinking they have one thing when they have another. And so neither one of them, I would put a stigma on or call either one of them vanity, I wouldn’t go in that space for any of these business models. They’re just options and opportunities. But if you really don’t understand what option or opportunity you’re getting into, you will maybe not enjoy the experience. Yeah. But midlist authors are definitely going there. Yes, that’s the answer to that, 100%. Because big publishers aren’t investing in them.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:34
Right. Why wouldn’t you go that route, especially if you were kind of lucky enough to get your backlist back, which some are. Some of them had to fight for it. But I mean, a lot of them are but I mean, it’s crazy. I don’t know. It’s crazy. I will I’ve watched this I see this a lot with folks who attend NINC, for example. mostly grown Romance Writers make Novelists, Inc, think that conference in Florida, Tampa. And they’re mostly the folks I encountered, there are formerly Romance Writers who got their lists back, you know, or fought to get them back. And now they’re going full on indie, or doing something hybrid, but they’re blowing up because, you know, I have 40 books I wrote for Signet Romance or something. And nowevery time I release a book, I know the 1000 people discover my list, you know?
Angela Bole 36:30
Amazing. I mean, that’s using what you said before, be prolific. Yeah. Like have more books, you’ll get a bigger fan base, through more books.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:42
It’s interesting to hear you recommend that, because I’m gonna be honest with you, when I talk to most people in the industry. That is not their recommendation. But then again, most of the people are kind of coming in from a more traditional standpoint, and you’ve been working with independent publishers says that was influenced your perspective on that.
Angela Bole 37:02
People in the industry don’t recommend that authors write lots of books?
Kevin Tumlinson 37:05
Was that crazy? I mean, to me, that’s crazy. To me, I mean, which they recommend to get series. That’s what I hear the most, series.
Angela Bole 37:15
Sure. I mean, if you have that much of a story, that’s a big long, that’s a long, long, long, that’s a commitment.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:22
And if you’re a traditional publisher, you don’t necessarily want to invest in something that has no completion date, necessarily. So I could see …
Angela Bole 37:31
What is that guy that was who did the Game of Thrones? And then you go, and I can’t say it out loud, but like, not even done yet. I haven’t done yet. What was done and everything’s done.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:43
He’s had not one but two television series. And still hasn’t written the final books.
Angela Bole 37:51
I know. Nobody, okay. I only want theories. I mean, they want to distributors will do that to you to like, they won’t work with you unless you have because they’re betting on the future. And there’s a huge learning curve with getting an author up to speed in a publisher for a publisher and for distributors. So they want to know that you have more. I know they want series, but I’m interested. That’s interesting to me that they don’t care about. I was just mentioning to you before this, that I was reading the Four Winds I just finished this night. Gosh, and I won’t remember this author, either. Kristen. Somebody in the audience might.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:25
Tell us if you’re in the audience, who is it? Yeah.
Angela Bole 38:30
So good, all the way up. But I mean that you look at her page at her and this many novels, like she’s written like 15, 20 novels, and they’re basically the same novel kinda, but they’re, you know …
Kevin Tumlinson 38:42
She’s got a formula. So, you know, people like it.
Angela Bole 38:48
Yeah, right. You want a good cry, the those books will do it. They’re really sad.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:53
I wonder sometimes if I did, not a disservice to myself, I mean, my books have done well, and their series, and I’ve got multiple series. But like, I wonder sometimes if I would have enjoyed, I enjoyed all of it. But would I have done better and enjoyed it more, if every book was just standalone, so yeah.
Angela Bole 39:12
The good thing is you still can do that. We still have this whole writing future ahead of us. So.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:19
We were saying write more books, write more books. I mean, I might as well write a couple standalones and see how they do.
Angela Bole 39:23
It’s just really easy for a reader if they like one to jump to the next. Yeah, I mean, a series so I get the one that’s good. But yeah, whatever, whatever you need to do. Like you don’t need a series and you can just write the next standalone write me. And I was just gonna say, the Booker Prize. Its long list came out a couple of weeks ago or last week, if you have a book on there was 116 pages, the shortest book ever for the Booker and I was like, is that a novel? Like what is that? So 116 pages,
Kevin Tumlinson 39:57
But that’s, you know, Seth Godin says the nature of a book has changed. And, you know, with eBooks, that’s really true. I mean, you can have any book of literally any length and well, maybe there may be an upper limit there. Not that I’m aware of. But, you know, print books. There’s a bottom and there’s a top. And that’s what I had to deal with.
Angela Bole 40:23
We’re dealing with watching cost and the cost of paper nowadays. Absolutely binge on you on your Kindle or whatever reader you have, look at your little, like 17 minutes to go. And you’re just like, you know, if it had like, 572 hours left to go, I might put the book away.
Kevin Tumlinson 40:42
Those books you read, you don’t read that all at once. You know, the books you read, every time you go on vacation for the next five years. Those George RR Martin books, you know, that are 200,000 words plus, yeah. Looking through, and we’re not getting a ton of questions, we’re getting a lot of favorable comments about your organization. Anthony says “I just followed IBPA on Twitter, and most importantly, clicked notifications. Thank you for this webinar.” You’re welcome, Anthony. See, oh, here’s an interesting, this is this can kind of lead to a question. So Burnett asks, or says, “I’ve heard it’s hard to build traction when all the books are different, especially different genres. Do you think that’s true?”
Angela Bole 41:31
I do think it’s true. I think it will be, I’ll use the word harder. So I mean, I think that’s the all this advice comes from the series is very, that’s all traction. Books, like, it’s like Christian Hannah. It’s Kristin Hannah, Gosh darn it to somebody.
Kevin Tumlinson 41:47
As opposed to, I know at least three people in the comments who should have looked that up for us by now. So that you see green.
Angela Bole 41:57
That’s an example of an author who has, like I said, like 15 or 20 novels, but they’re basically the same thing. You know, think like Nicholas Sparks for ladies, if you will, or maybe Nicholas Sparks is for ladies. But that’s easier. But I don’t know, authors who can write cross genre really well, to be honest, and maybe there’s 30, this audience will educate me. And there are a lot that can do it. But I think when you get it’s such a different thing, each thing, it’s such a different thing to understand.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:30
It really depends on how you’re going to divvy up genre, because I think, for example, like I’ve written science fiction and fantasy in my early career, and then I started writing, like thriller novels, right? Well, I still think of the thriller novels is basically science fiction, just, they’re just contemporary. So it’s a little easier to bleed over into those genres. total sense? Yeah. But switching from say, sweet romance to the dark noir. Yeah, something like that might be a little tougher. Not saying it can’t be done.
Angela Bole 43:05
I agree. There are certain tropes that kind of flow through those. So yeah, I mean, I guess you’ll know it if you can do it. And of course, some authors are just amazing. And they can cover all the things but I the attraction question is true, because you get a readership readers kind of flow in genre to so you get a readership in a particular genre, it is hard for them to cross over. So these are all considerations. I know some readers,
Kevin Tumlinson 43:26
The readers follow authors more than genre or more than series.
Angela Bole 43:31
I don’t know. That’s a very particular thing. I want everyone in the audience should come chime in. I follow authors, for sure.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:39
I’m ready to, yeah.
Angela Bole 43:42
I’m interested in what’s new, and,I think readers who are at the level, I think we’re probably all at in terms of our readership, and how much we read. We’re interested in them. They’re we’re fans? Yes. Well, yeah, we follow up. We definitely follow authors, most of John Grisham.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:59
You know, I read all of his legal thrillers, and then he’s written some like, I don’t know what you call them, literary fiction stuff. And I like that. And he wrote the whole Camino Island. There’s just two of them right now. But he’s written those and I’m like, those are fantastic. I mean, so I think the guy could write like, you know, a soup label and I’d probably give it five stars on Amazon. So here’s a question. This is Jim as Vito, he’s my ringer in the audience. He says Hi, Angela, can you talk about the different IBPA committees? I think they help set the organization apart.
Angela Bole 44:36
Well, that’s yeah, so we are a membership organization. So as a trade association, we are in our bylaws, we are built by the members for the members. So we are run by committee. For the most part. The biggest committee we have is the board of directors in terms of their strategic setting. They set all the strategy for the association, but we have a number of member committees that anybody In the organization can join through an application process. I mentioned wine, which is the committee that develops our magazine. So a lot of the things that you know, it our IBPA are IBPA, because the members develop them. So they developed our magazine, they develop our member benefits. So we have a member benefits committee, a big group of people that decide what discounts we should offer on what types of products and programs, we have an advocacy committee that decides what points of advocacy the association take. And we have gosh, one more ODI committee, diversity, equity and inclusion committee, which is really about kind of spreading DEI through the entire Association and make it pretty systemic and the things that we do as opposed to picking up just different in particular issues in the association. So we have four of those, you know, we have other standing committees, but everything is done by committee. So if you like facilitating conversations, then your job is trade association work, then you would be well suited to a job like mine, because most of what we do is just talk to big swaths of people to figure out what the right thing is for the majority of IBPA members, and then put those initiatives into play.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:16
Very good. All right. Well, um, we’re kind of we’re at the end of our time, which caught me by surprise when I looked up and saw that so you’ve been wonderful. I’m really appreciative. Can you hold on a second? Just one second, because we have to run a little spot here toward the end. And I’ll and I promise, I’ll come back to you. And we’ll wrap up. Okay. All right. So here we go. Everybody, take a listen to this, ebooks are great. But there’s just something about having your words in print, something you can hold your hands, put on a shelf, sign for a reader. That’s why we created D2D Print, a print on demand service that was built for you. We have free beautiful templates to give you a book a pro look. And we can even convert your ebook cover into a full wraparound cover for print. So many options for you and your books. And you can get started right now when you sign up at draft2digital.com/printbeta. All right, that guy has such an amazing voice. I love when he comes on. So anyway, so we are at the end. Thank you so much, Angela, for being a part of the show. I think your organization is amazing. And I think it’s very reasonably priced. You know, just one small dinner in Manhattan. We’ll have to send more folks your way. And I’m looking forward to in the future. Now we’re going to start branding some stuff D2D at your conference.
Angela Bole 47:40
Let’s do it.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:41
I want to talk to your folks. This has been really fun. And I appreciate all you guys are doing. Thank you. Thank you so much. All right, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. Make sure that you like and subscribe. Wherever you are, probably YouTube. Most of you seem to be on YouTube. But anywhere you are. Type in that URL /draft2digital, you’ll probably find us and if you do, like and subscribe and make sure you are sharing the show with your fellow authors. And make sure you bookmark D2Dlive.com Because that’s where you get a countdown for every single week’s episode. So again, Angela Bole. Thank you so much for being a part of this show. Everyone else thank you for being a part of show and we’ll see you all next time. Take care.