The Business of Association Books Let’s make some money! Joe Vallina, MSM Publisher, American Nurses Assn.
The golden rule: Just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you can lose money. • Serve the mission! If you cost your organization $$$ you are not serving the mission, you’re hurting it! • Remember that an association publishing house should not be a board member vanity press • Use analysis to make sound business decisions on which books to publish
The Mission Is King! • Every book you publish should directly support your mission. • When you do this, you avail yourself of the best advantage association publishers have: a built in niche! • Never forget that making money in book sales supports other necessary, non-revenue drivers in your organization…and never let others forget this.
You are not there to publish pet projects, you’re there to earn revenue to support the mission. Many times, publishers are pressured to produce books that are never going to make money, because an important donor or board member or CEO has a pet project. RESIST THIS! But how?
The Business Case: Analysis is your friend • The business case should outline • Business concept/executive summary • Environmental trends/competitor analysis • Marketing analysis • Cost/profit analysis • Timing/schedule • Potential obstacles to implementation
The Business Concept/Executive Summary • This component should be your “elevator pitch” for the book • If you can’t describe the book in a couple of paragraphs, you may have a subject that is too broad to appeal to a targeted audience
Environmental trends/competitor analysis • How many books on the subject are out there? Ideally, you want a few, but not too many as to have a saturated market • Search for and list all competing titles, and outline at least the following: • Title • Publisher (could you partner?) • Authors (better known than yours?) • Date published (this tells you where in the book’s life cycle it sits) • Price (this helps you determine the price point for your own book)
Marketing analysis • Outline all of your avenues to market the book here • What unique ways can you use to market? • Book signings • Author speaking engagements • Ads (online/print/other) • Blasts • Social Media
Cost/profit Analysis • This is the most important consideration: Will the book be reasonably expected to make money? • Project your total expenses and determine a break-even point (use excel or another program) • Given the size of your target audience, what is a reasonable penetration target? Does this meet your goal? Be brutally honest here.
Timing • Outline a rough timeline for the project • This doesn’t have to be down to the day, you are just looking for a rough guide at this point
Potential obstacles to implementation • Make a list of all the things you could reasonably expect to go wrong and delay or derail the project • Note that if this list becomes too long it is a red flag that the project might not be ready for prime time
Tailor your recommendations using the business case tool • Explore all the different production options to reduce expenses and make the project work financially • Not all projects will succeed, but you will cover your bases and increase your success rate dramatically if you do critical business analysis for EVERY project • Never forget that publishing, even nonprofit publishing, is a business
The big takeaway Remember: You don’t have to make a lot of money on every project* if you are supporting the mission; but losing money on any project hurts the mission! *You should make a lot of money on every project!
Good luck and thank you! JoeVallina@gmail.com Joseph.Vallina@ana.org @JoeVallina