I recently attended the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) annual conference, PubU, in Portland. IBPA serves the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. With over 3,100 members, IBPA is the largest publishing association in the U.S. and their annual conference has become one of my must-attend events of the year.
IBPA has long been a champion of independent publishers, both big and small. Changes in the publishing industry in recent years have created enormous opportunities, but that’s come at the cost of a deepening divide between how traditionally published and self-published authors are treated.
“Too often, IBPA has noticed a bias against self-published authors, independent publishers, and hybrid presses when it comes to choosing titles or authors for review consideration, book award contests, association memberships, and inclusion on independent bookstore shelves,” said Angela Bole, CEO of IBPA.
IBPA’s Advocacy Committee is working to establish a level of professionalism that will help level that playing field so that books are judged on merit and quality rather than on the business model used to produce them or the size of the publisher. To give both authors and book industry professionals an at-a-glance method by which to gauge the professional presentation of a book, the IBPA has released a 2-page Industry Standards Checklist for a Professionally Published Book.
“Just as publishers, self or otherwise, are responsible for producing books that adhere to industry standards, the book industry as a whole is responsible for creating an environment that allows for equal evaluation of all published works,” said Brooke Warner, chairperson of IBPA’s Advocacy Committee. “Today’s independent publishers represent a diverse array of voices and backgrounds, often speaking about specialized issues that are marginalized by larger presses, often because their books are being judged on how the book looks, or its business model, and not on what matters—which is the content of the book.”
The checklist is housed on IBPA’s website at ibpa-online.org/page/standardschecklist, and is available for any author or industry professional to download. Along with the list itself, there are links to resources articles and examples of covers, interiors, title pages and copyright pages.
This checklist is a major step in helping authors who “don’t know what they don’t know” assure that their book is published in a professional manner whether they form their own publishing company, use a publishing services company or work with a hybrid publisher. Professional Author Assistants are trained in the skills needed to help an author produce a book that meets the IBPA Industry Standards. Membership in IBPA is valuable in many ways, not the least of which is being part of an association that promotes professional standards and professional reception of independent publishing.