MBPR Information

Recap of March 2022 Event: Webinar: Accessibility in Ebooks and Other Digital Products

For our March 2022 event, the Minnesota Book Publishers Roundtable hosted Laura Brady, an accessibility expert with 25 years of trade publishing experience. Laura covered the basics of accessibility in eBooks and other digital products.

Laura began by saying, “In an era of thinking inclusively, paying close, thoughtful attention to accessibility in how we publish content is a natural extension of work on diverse voices.” But she cautioned that, “Accessibility is like ice cream—the longer you ignore it, the messier it can get.” She discussed the market, the law, and the principles of accessible design, as well as how to incorporate such design into publishing and how to be an advocate. After her presentation, Laura answered questions about off-the-shelf products for making manuscripts accessible, how to involve people early in the process to produce born-accessible content, the costs of both born-accessible content and making existing materials accessible, and raising consumer and industry awareness.

In the resources area of the MBPR website, members can access the event in a variety of ways: listening to the audio, watching the video, reading the script, and/or viewing Laura’s presentation slides.

Recap of January 2022 Event: Hard Work and a Dream: Publisher Startup Success

For our January 2022 event, the Minnesota Book Publishers Roundtable hosted a panel of Midwestern indie publishers. We talked with the founders of  young, thriving organizations about what it takes to start and grow a new publishing business.

The panel included Mary Taris, teacher-turned-publisher and founder of Strive Publishing, a social enterprise that centers, values, and empowers Black narratives in literature for equity and social justice; Jennifer Baum, founder of Scribe Publishing Company, a traditional small press with national distribution by IPG, and also the executive director of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association; and Sam Van Cook, founder of Button Poetry, the premiere online distributor of performance poetry media worldwide. Moderating the discussion was MBPR board member Paul Nylander.

The three panelists spoke about how small publishers need to constantly reinvent themselves to serve writers and readers—being an engine of innovation or a gateway to underrepresented voices instead of just gatekeepers of content. They also voiced the importance of building a strong team that fits a publishing program’s needs. 

When addressing the challenging early road, all of the publishers agreed that the best way to start in publishing is to dive in. By starting with the goal of finding authors that know how to engage with their audience, a new publisher can begin building a list. Then focusing on building a share of the marketing and engaging the right audience helps a new business grow. Other startup tips: start with print-on-demand to help manage cash flow and consider partnering with a nonprofit organization as a fiscal sponsor to have access to grants.

Members can listen to the full panel discussion exploring the ups and downs of building a successful publishing startup on the resources tab of the MBPR webpage.

Recap of September 2021 Event: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Publishing Workplace

Minnesota Book Publishers Roundtable started the 2021–2022 season with a keynote speaker addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As many of us well know, the publishing industry has long struggled to accurately reflect the diversity of the world and failed to provide a welcoming place for all. Keynote speaker Jennifer Baker, senior editor at Amistad Books, provided a frank reflection of her personal experiences in the industry as well as the efforts of DEI practices as a whole.

In addition to providing a response to unsuccessful band-aid “solutions,” Jennifer offered several steps forward as well as a list of valuable resources, included below.

A Brief History of Diversity Trainings (Fast Company)

The Major Built-in Bias of the Publishing World (Zora)

Diversity Baseline Survey 2.0 (Lee & Low)

Pamela Newkirk Diversity Inc. Conversation (Politics & Prose)

Man Enough podcast w/ guest Alok Vaid Menon

Discussing Barriers of Querying & Pitching for Neurodivergent Writers

New Yorker Editor Finds “Passive Racism” in Archives