IPNE Member Blog

News - Members, feel free to contribute! Please make sure that your posts relate to independent publishing, writing, or other topics of educational interest to IPNE members. If you are unclear about what type of material to post, please contact our biog editor.
  • 02 Oct 2015 9:45 AM | Deleted user

    Congratulations to Charlotte, Pam, Tordis and all who made last Saturday's  conference such a  success. I sat in on some great presentations and the networking opportunities were excellent.

    I have organized many similar events so I understand what goes into pulling one off. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making it happen.

  • 30 Sep 2015 6:25 PM | Deleted user

    If you don't know a lot about podcasting, today is the day you can learn more at International Podcast Day! This one snuck right up on me, even though I just delivered a presentation last Saturday at the Independent Publishers of New England conference on the subject.

    I love podcasting. It's a technology which gives readers a chance to listen to works of interest on their phones, in their cars, while jogging or bicycling - whenever and wherever they want. That's why you'll see my novels podcast right here on Fictional Café.

    Very soon you'll be seeing many other podcasting offerings here from other artists as well. So jump over to learn more about podcasting at International Podcast Day, join the conversation at Blab, and check out our offerings here at the Café, too!


  • 29 Sep 2015 9:41 AM | Deleted user

    Life in a Jar: The Irene Sendler Project, by Jack MayerWe were honored to speak with IPNE member and 2015 Book Award winner Jack Mayer who penned the incredible book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project.

    Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project (2011) is the true story of a Holocaust hero, Irena Sendler, who rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto, and the three Kansas teens who rescued her forgotten story 60 years later. 

    Here’s a peek into his indie journey:

    When did you know you were a writer?


    I've been a closet writer for more than forty years, mostly writing for myself, poetry, short stories, essays about my pediatric practice, and hiking The Long Trail in Vermont. (I loved writing stories in elementary and middle school, then went into literary hibernation until completing my medical education and training.)

    What does your writing process look like?

    My writing process is somewhat random and chaotic… writing when and where I can. I always have index cards and a pencil in my pocket. Notes, maps, reference texts all over the place. Over the six years I spent writing Life in a Jar I spent many hours researching the Warsaw ghetto, immersed myself in diaries, memoirs, first-person accounts, and scholarly writing about Warsaw in WWII. I also had many hours of tape recorded interviews from Kansas and Poland. I wrote when I could, early or late, sometimes between patients in my office, or while on-call waiting for the delivery of a high-risk newborn.

    Why did you choose to self-publish? What roadblocks or obstacles did you face? 

    I self-published (Lightning Source) my non-fiction book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project (2011) after receiving multiple rejections from mainstream publishers. I've had a few agents trying to sell the book to no avail. What drove me past these obstacles was my undying belief in the importance of these two intertwined stories, a forgotten Holocaust hero and a contemporary story of typical American teens "rescued the rescuer" and changed the world. 

    Since then the book has sold almost 50,000 copies, has a 5-star Amazon review rating (400 reviews), and has received 8 book awards, including the 2015 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Non-Fiction Award for debut authors. 

    You've had enormous success promoting Life in a Jar. Could you tell us about some of the ways you've promoted your book? Successes? Failures? 

    I've employed multiple strategies for book promotion. The teacher who initiated this project retired from teaching and established the Life in a Jar Foundation as part of the Lowell Milken Center, Fort Scott, Kansas to work with high school students in every state and more than thirty countries on Unsung Hero Projects that, like the Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project, reflect and promote Irena Sendler's legacy of tolerance, courage, and respect for all people. Fifteen years later, the Center, with new student actors, still presents the play at venues in the U.S., Poland, and Canada, where the book is sold. They also sell the book through their website. I donate 60 percent of my author royalties to the Life in a Jar Foundation as my tribute to this amazing organization and the powerful good they do to repair the world and inspire students to do what they can to repair the world. (I am a child of Holocaust survivors and quite sensitive to the commercialization of the Holocaust. I aspire to cover my costs and only earn enough from the sales of the book to continue speaking about it and spreading the legacy of Irena Sendler and the "girls from Kansas".) 

    As an indie publisher I established my website, Long Trail Press, with information about the book, the project, my author bio, a list of awards and reviews, etc. I created a YouTube trailer with the help of my book designer, Winslow Colwell. Win's book cover art was recognized with the 2011 da Vinci Eye Award (Eric Hoffer Book Award).

    One of the most powerful promotional aids has been as a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Vermont Humanities Council (VHC), which facilitates my talks in various community settings all over Vermont. The VHC pays a small honorarium and the venue can be as few as ten people in a rural library or hundreds in Burlington, our largest city. I have also spoken and done book signings for more than a hundred groups in the U.S., Poland, Canada, and the U.K. including schools, book clubs, book stores, churches, synagogues, libraries, adult education, teacher, and Holocaust conferences, etc. When possible, I accompany the Kansas students to their performances of the play and speak there as well as sign books. I'm still a part-time pediatrician, so that is somewhat of a balancing act as well. 

    I've been fortunate to receive enthusiastic reviews from among others, Jay Parini, a 5-star Foreward Clarion Reivew, Kirkus Reviews, U.S. Review of books, Michele Forman (National Teacher of the Year - 2001), etc. 

    Some failures and frustrations along the way: I was unable to have my book reviewed by mainstream newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. As an unknown, self-publishing author I had no way into these media platforms for an assessment of my book. I was just ignored. Ouch! I am now trying to interest a mainstream educational publisher in a 3rd edition of the book aimed at school audiences. So far, no luck! 

    Your book has been translated into multiple languages. How did this happen? What approach did you use?

    Life in a Jar has been translated into four languages: Polish, Russian, Chinese, and French. I did not seek out these translations, rather I was approached by publishers or agents in each country who came across the story in one way or another. (The Chinese literary agent learned of the story from the Chinese Reader's Digest!) I went to Poland for the release of the Polish translation in 2013 and was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Pomianowski, gave multiple media interviews, and spoke to students at one of thirty-five Irena Sendler schools in Poland, along with one of the children she rescued, Elzbieta Ficowska, a spokesperson for Child Survivors of the Holocaust in Poland. She was rescued by Irena as a five month old infant and, in her later life, Elzbieta helped care for Irena in her old age. Before Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project, Irena was unknown in Poland.

    What impact has Irena Sendler had on your life and writing?

    I accompanied the Kansas students to Poland on one of their many journeys to present the play and meet with Irena Sendler over the last eight years of her life. I met Irena and interviewed her as well as children she rescued and scholars of the Warsaw ghetto. We walked the streets of the ghetto, which I knew by heart because of my intensive research.  

    My encounter with Irena Sendler and the Kansas students has profoundly impacted my life. Liz, Megan, and Sabrina have demonstrated to me and those who read the book, the power of one person, a teenager, to change the world. As a child of Holocaust survivors I feel a mission to document and memorialize the best of humanity that arose at such a challenging time. As a pediatrician, I immunize against microbial disease; as a writer, I invoke memory as our best immunization against the atrocities we inflict upon each other… an ethical immunization that foster respect, love, and justice against the disease of intolerance, hatred, and violence. My fondest wish, my hope, my prayer, is that after reading Life in a Jar, young people another generation removed from the Holocaust will remember the Warsaw ghetto and be inspired by what these Kansas teens accomplished. Hopefully, they will be inspired to do what they can to "repair the world.”  

    What advice do you have for other indie publishers? How can we find your books?

    Life in a Jar is available at local bookstores, through Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and is also in a Nook, Kindle, and iBook electronic format. The audio book is now being produced by Tantor Media and should be available soon. Tantor Media approached me after seeing my book at BookExpo America in New York City. I also continue to advertise with IPNE and IBPA for more visibility and promotion… two invaluable resources that helped me navigate the steep, but rewarding learning curve that is indie publishing.  

    In the end, for me, indie publishing was a matter of do or die. I believe so strongly in this story and my telling of it, that I was not going to be defeated by the obstacles. I suppose it's a matter of faith, and a willingness to fail. I was frightened many times during this process, but as a friend of mine observed, "If you're not scared, it isn't courage." 

  • 25 Sep 2015 8:01 AM | Deleted user

    Join us for an evening to hear genre-busting, adventurous authors X.J. Kennedy, Katie Li, Jack B. Rochester and Peter David Shapiro read from new and recently self-published novels. Each is an accomplished writer who has taken an interest in exploring “indie” publishing, which gives authors many more opportunities to explore their art. 

    Katie Li’s short novel, Somewhere In Between, is a speculative, new adult romance about two unlikely friends who find a portal to another dimension. 

    X.J. “Joe” Kennedy, an award-winning poet and lifelong author, reads from his absurdist tale of post-World War II America. 

    Jack Rochester’s murder-mystery thriller takes the reader on a bicycling adventure from Nashua, New Hampshire to Taiwan. 

    Peter Shapiro paints a dark tale of a rare work of art found in rural Vermont from a century ago to the present day. 

    Don’t miss this rare opportunity to meet and hear four of today’s most interesting authors!

    First Parish Church · 7 Harrington Rd, Lexington

    Monday, September 28, 2015 · 7PM · Contribution $10, Students Free

    Refreshments and Author Q&A about writing and publishing follow the readings

  • 17 Sep 2015 11:19 AM | Deleted user

    Conferences can be lucrative for indie book sales.The term special sales is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can be a profitable source of new revenue.

        The best way to exploit this opportunity is to divide it into two segments and sell to buyers in each according to their traditional ways of purchasing. One is the retail segment where you reach buyers using a network of middlemen. The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retailers that use books as marketing tools to sell more of their products or help their employees, members or students.

    1. Selling to retailers. You are already familiar with this sector. You find distributors or wholesalers to get your books into retail outlets where they are sold off the shelf to consumers. Payments are made in two or three months and unsold books are returned. Retailers display products that 1) will build store traffic, 2) maximize profitability per square foot and 3) generate more inventory turns. Prove that your title can do those things better than competitors’ titles and you can get your books on these retailers’ shelves:


      Discount stores and warehouse clubs. Books are discounted heavily and do not offer the same margins of some larger-ticket products. Therefore, these retailers limit shelf space to the “brand-name” authors and top-selling books. The store buyers purchase through established distribution companies such as Anderson Merchandisers and ReaderLink.


      Airport stores. Books on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health sell well among business travelers. Books for children also tend to do well in these outlets, especially children’s “activity books.” Popular fiction always sells in this environment. Also consider selling to other airport stores, not just bookstores. Wholesalers to this segment include Bookazine, Baker & Taylor, Hudson and Ingram.


      Supermarkets and pharmacies. Cookbooks, travel books and regional titles move in supermarkets, but health-related topics sell better in drugstores. Children’s titles also seem to do well in supermarkets, but fiction remains the mainstay there. Consider Choice Books to distribute your books.


      Museums, zoos and national parks. Most of these have a gift shop, and to get in them you must demonstrate how your books can educate and entertain their guests. Get your books on these shelves using third-party management firms that acquire books for the gift shops. Event Network operates gift shops at zoos, museums, aquariums, science centers and botanical gardens, and Eastern National serves the national park system.


      Gift shops. This category includes large chains such as Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, Pier One and Crate & Barrel, Hallmark Stores and Spencer Gifts. It also includes hotel and hospital gift shops. Reach these outlets through direct marketing, sales-representative groups and by attending trade shows and gift marts.


      Specialty stores. You could sell your books in home-improvement centers, pet shops, auto-supply stores, camera shops, toy stores or business-supply stores – retailers that serve identifiable groups of people with a common interest in your content. Home Design Alternatives is a major wholesaler in this segment.


      2. Non-retail sales. Corporations, associations, foundations, government agencies and the armed services buy books directly from publishers for use as premiums, incentives, sales promotions, for educational purposes, and sometimes for resale. The factor differentiating this segment from the retail sector is that you sell directly to buyers in these organizations. Sales are typically made in large quantities, returns are rare and payment is received more quickly.


    Content is king in this sector. Buyers want to use the information in your books to help them solve a business problem. They use your content as a tool to increase their sales, introduce new products, educate students or motivate members or employees. 

    Businesses. There are two areas of opportunity in the corporate setting. One is Human Resources, whose managers may seek books on retirement-planning programs or how to save money on insurance premiums by showing employees how to improve their health. Employee recognition and motivation is also a growing trend.


    Next, call on product or brand mangers who may use your books to introduce new products, to reward buyers for making a purchase or as a gift to customers. The company may customize your book by placing its logo on them. Contact Guy Achtzehn (guy@msgpromo.com) for a sales force to represent your titles to this segment.


    Associations. There are over 135,000 nonprofit membership organizations worldwide. Consider two major ways to sell to associations. The first is termed “cause marketing” where you donate a percentage of each sale to a charitable, non-profit organization to help finance their cause. The other approach is to sell books directly to the association, to be used as a premium to increase membership, or to re-sell in their bookstores.


    Schools. The academic marketplace is an opportune segment for publishers, one using books as a foundation for its existence. It impacts people of all ages, from pre-school through graduate school and adult education courses. Regardless of the grade, age of student, major in college or choice of home, public or private education, the need for books is ubiquitous.


    Government. How would you like to sell to a customer that needs your content, has virtually unlimited funds, and does not return your books? There is such as customer -- and it is your own federal government. And don’t ignore state and local agencies.


    Military. You can sell books domestically or overseas, to military exchanges and libraries, Department of Defense Dependent Schools, onboard ships, to retired military personnel and to the families of military personnel. Do this online and through commissaries and direct marketing.


        Special-sales marketing is not a separate way of doing business. It is not even a new way of doing business. It is an integral part of overall marketing strategy. Simply divide non-bookstore marketing into its two component parts and you may find hundreds, if not thousands of prospective customers for your titles.  



    Brian Jud is an IPNE Board member and the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org – formerly SPAN) and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore. Contact Brian at brianjud@bookmarketing.com or www.premiumbookcompany.com and twitter @bookmarketing 

  • 08 Sep 2015 9:57 AM | Deleted user

    Joy of the Pen writing competition is now open for entries from year-round Maine residents! Entering is free! Writers are limited to submitting one piece in each category (a total of four pieces - a poetry collection counts as one piece). The categories are: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and Maine-related nonfiction. 

    Winners (and one honorable mention) from each category will have their work published on the Joy of the Pen Literary Journal and in a printed booklet that will be made available at the Joy of the Pen reception. 

    Get all the details here.

  • 07 Sep 2015 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    Our September Barking Planet blog featuring children's literature, movies and therapy dog focuses on  Hayao Miyazaki  and tales of wonder. Here's an excerpt: 

    Depending on where and when you live, the world can be a dangerous place.   Howl's Moving Castle, the award winning fantasy wonder tale, takes place during a time of war. A film for children and adults filled with magic and incredible visuals...it is set in the past,  an anti-war film that features a romance with a flawed wizard, and an incredible moving castle... 

  • 31 Aug 2015 7:58 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    Click here to fill out our volunteer signup form and let us know your experience, skills, and the areas where you'd like to help out - from event management to promotion to office operations and beyond! 

    You'll find that volunteering with IPNE gives you many more opportunities for networking and learning!

  • 29 Aug 2015 3:59 PM | Deleted user

    Amy Ray is a mystery/thriller writer who lives in New Hampshire. Her first novel, Dangerous Denial was published in 2014 by Barking Rain Press. Dangerous Denial has been nominated for a Silver Falchion Award™ in the category of Best First Novel: Mystery/Thriller. She has a short story featured in Love Free Or Die (Plaidswede Publishing, 2015) and will also have a story in Plaidswede’s upcoming anthology, Murder in a New England Newsroom.

    Here's a snapshot of her writing process and life as an indie:

    When did you know you were a writer?

    The thought first occurred to me when I was a freshman in college and my English professor chose an essay to read aloud as an example of good writing. I was shocked to hear the opening lines of my homework assignment, “Stranded in the Marsh,” about the time my father’s boat motor died and we had to row back to the dock as fast as we could because I had to get to work. It was part drama, part comedy! Hearing my essay read aloud and watching the faces of my classmates as they listened planted the idea that I might be a writer. It took several years for that initial seed to take root.

    What does your writing process look like?

    I spend a lot of time before I begin writing a book, thinking about the plot and working it out in my mind. To me, this is the most exciting part—thinking up the twists and turns. Then I write a couple of pages summarizing the story. From there, I break it into scenes and after that, the writing begins. Okay, maybe the most exciting part is when I type the last word in the final chapter. That’s a great feeling! But the process does not end there with several rounds of revising still ahead.

    What roadblocks or obstacles did you face when trying to get published?

    Plenty! I started out querying agents and after two years and hundreds of tries (I have all the rejections alphabetized in a three-ring binder if you don’t believe me), I suddenly had three agents interested in signing me. I was elated! Surely, publication was just around the corner, right? Hmmm, no. The agent got the interest of one of the big five publishers and a midsized publisher, but in the end, they both passed. I shelved the book for several years, not knowing what had held them back. After attending many writing conferences and continuing to work on my craft, I went back to that manuscript and gave it a complete rewrite and the new and improved Dangerous Denial was born.

    Why did you choose to publish with an independent press?

    I decided to try publishers to whom I could submit directly. A writer in my writers group had recently gotten a contract with an indie publisher, Barking Rain Press, so I decided to submit.

    Are you happy with the route you chose?

    Yes. Barking Rain Press put the manuscript through two rounds of edits. I worked with my editor, who was wonderful, and then the manuscript went off for a line edit. I wanted Dangerous Denial to be the best it could be, and was grateful to have professionals to guide me—and it has paid off. Kirkus Reviews wrote, “In Ray’s debut thriller, lives converge at a charity ball, where someone has planned a deadly act of vengeance…Ray takes her time establishing her characters, including the bad guys, and with a rousing, indelible payoff, it’s well worth it.” 

    As an author, you’re also a marketer, accountant, sales person, and many other titles. How do you balance it all?

    This is true of almost all published authors whether they are self-published, published by a small press, or by a large publisher. There’s no such thing as writing the book and being done with it—if you want to find readers. I’m fortunate that I enjoy the business side of being an author, and it probably doesn’t hurt that I ran my own business for several years. (I bought the store that I was working at the day I was “Stranded in the Marsh.”) Balancing it all is still tricky for me and I find that I often run out of time for the most important task of my workday—writing my next book.

    What are some of the ways you market your books?

    I’ve tried a little bit of everything! I did a blog tour which lasted a month. Every day was terrifying and exciting all at once, hoping the reviewer liked Dangerous Denial. Less stressful are events like the Boston Book Festival and the Made in New Hampshire Expo that provide great exposure and allow for interaction with book lovers. I also enjoy going to libraries as part of the Mysteries and Scandals Panel (with Emma Leigh Reed and IPNE member Joyce Shor Johnson.) We do readings and take questions from the audience. It’s a lot of fun! We have upcoming appearances at the Rice Library in Kittery ME on September 9th at 6 pm and at the Kelly Library in Salem NH on October 22nd at 7 pm.

    How did you choose the cover for your debut thriller Dangerous Denial?

    The publisher presented me with pictures of models and let me select the one who best represented the protagonist, BK Hartshaw. BK is a strong young woman, but she is hiding secrets that are putting her in grave danger, so I needed her expression to be right as well as her ‘look.’ Both the publisher and I the same pick, so that made it easy. Then the cover designer took it from there, putting the title in the crosshairs of a gun and adding a special effect evokes movement. It sets the feel for the opening of the book where BK and her ex-boyfriend are being held at gunpoint, hostages at a charity ball gone wrong.

    What advice do you have for other indie publishers?

    Keep learning, network, and continue to hone your craft! A great way to do this is by attending as many writing/publishing conferences as you can. IPNE’s New England Publishing Conference is coming up on September 25-26 in Portsmouth NH. There are workshops on marketing, revision strategies, writing to a niche audience (you’ll see me in the front of the classroom in that one), podcasting, print on demand, metadata, book reviews, distribution, publishing a series, and more. The keynote speakers are from Publishers Weekly, Ingram, and Shelf Awareness.

    How can we find your books?

    Dangerous Denial is carried at my local indie bookstores, The Book Outlet in North Hampton NH and RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth NH, and can be ordered at any bookstore. Or you can buy it online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or on the Barking Rain Press’ website.

  • 10 Aug 2015 12:41 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    There's still time to get in on available exhibit tables, meal sponsorships,  and catalog display advertising (full page free with exhibit table), but you'll need to act soon. 

    Thanks to our Sponsors/Exhibitors to date: 

    • ForeWord Reviews, a customizable online and print magazine providing reviews, editorial and opinion pieces in the interest of bringing greater attention tindependent publishers and their authors;
    • Friesens, a book, yearbook and packaging manufacturer;
    • HFGroup/Acme Bookbinding, providing print-on-demand, fine and edition binding, digitization, thesis and library binding and a full line of preservation services;
    • IBPA, the largest not-for-profit trade association for the independent publishing industry;
    • McNaughton Gunn, offering offset and digital printing as well as ebook conversion.


    The historic seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire is an increasingly popular tourist destination and it will sparkle this fall at the start of "leaf peeper" season in late September. Get your hotel rooms early if you're planning to stay for a few days!

    The area near the conference is eminently walkable, full of quaint buildings, lovely seaport vistas and boat docks, and many shops and restaurants. For those interested in history, Strawberry Bank Museum in Portsmouth features dozens of restored historic homes. The Sheraton Portsmouth, home to the conference, is a sparkling brick facility across the street from the harbor, with water views, a fitness center and indoor pool and complimentary high-speed internet access. 

    The Sheraton site is also perfect for arranging meetings with colleagues outside of scheduled conference time and for rejuvenation.

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