“I have a book that I want to get published.”
As Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I hear this statement multiple times each month from potential authors who are looking to get a manuscript published. Since CSPA has the word “publishers” in our name, these authors assume that we are a publishing company.
After I tell these authors that CSPA does not publish books, nor do we assist authors in getting their books published, I direct them to the “Author Seeking Publisher” page of CSPA’s website where CSPA member publishers who are actively seeking manuscripts are listed. Once I have done that, most of these aspiring authors ask:
“If you don’t publish, what is it that you do?”
I answer, “We are an association for publishers.”
“Yes, but what do you actually do?” they ask again.
My reply is generally, “We assist publishers in marketing their books.”
Inevitably the author will then ask, “Can you help me market my book?”
To which I say, “Yes, once you publish the book.”
What I believe these potential authors are really asking is: What exactly does belonging to a publishing association do for publishers? That answer is too long and complicated for a short phone call, so I thought I would answer it here.
1. First and foremost, belonging to a publishing association brings you credibility. It says we are a legitimate publishing house, serious about our business. Associations are known in the book industry, so when different entities within the trade business see that you are a member of an association, they take notice. For example, Midwest Book Review puts requests for book reviews by publishers who belong to an association ahead of those from publishers who do not.
2. Belonging to a publishing association keeps you informed. One of the main responsibilities of an association is to keep their members informed and up-to-date on standards and requirements within the industry. That way, you won’t be using a 10-digit ISBN when a 13-digit ISBN is required.
3. Every association offers their members cost saving benefits. At Christian Small Publishers Association, our focus is helping our member publishers with marketing. Therefore, we offer a number of affordable programs that help publishers get the information about their books out to the Christian marketplace.
4. Being part of an association provides you networking opportunities. Two are better than one and three are even stronger. In other words, finding other people who are doing similar things allows you to make alliances and create greater opportunities for spreading the word about your books. In addition, networking allows you to learn from other publishers who have gone before and can keep you from making costly mistakes.
I always encourage publishes and potential publishers to not limit themselves to help from just one association. Join as many as you find you can benefit from. Each organization specializes in different areas of publishing and marketing. Here is a list of the national publishers associations for small publishers and independently published authors: