How Independent Publishers Craft Their Missions

Our Mission

by Cynthia W. Moore

As we studied missions this week, I wondered what my favorite publishing resource had to say about the subject.  Independent Book Publishers Association‘s mission states that it “is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.  IBPA makes it easier for independent book publishers and self-published authors to navigate the sometimes intimidating publishing process.” (https://www.ibpa-online.org/about/).

IBPA published an article in their Independent magazine in July 2015 entitled “Committed: How Independent Publishers Craft and Refine Mission.”  The article’s author, Deb Vanasse, suggests that an independent publisher’s ability to “focus on readers and specialize” positions them “to work from meaningful missions” paving their way to success.  Since independent publishers are not affiliated with large corporations, a personable, more meaningful mission can be crafted.

Independent publishers interviewed for the article had similar personal and meaningful thoughts about their publishing businesses:

  • “Ruby K. Payne, CEO of aha! Process, Inc, a company dedicated to improving the education and lives of people in poverty, notes that mission connotes spiritual purpose, while vision is more futuristic, and niche is more about audience.”
  • “Mark Cunningham, founder and publisher of Atelier26 Books adds that a mission is a very particular and fully conscious understanding of your houses’ place in the culture and its approach to the marketplace.”
  • “For Judy Galbraith, founder of Free Spirit Publishing, mission is grounded in her lifelong goal of helping children and teens navigate life’s challenges. “When I started Free Spirit Publishing, I’d say that I had a strong vision for our niche, but I surely didn’t have an articulated mission,” says Galbraith. “Having a clearly articulated mission, one that everyone in the company is fully committed to, is extremely important on many levels. Internally, it informs and guides acquisitions, development, sales, and marketing.”

For the independent publisher missions evolve as the company grows and sharpens and/or expands its focus.  Some independent publishers find their mission through a passion for local or regional publishing; others through a desire to serve a certain segment of readers.  Usually, for independent publishers, the meaningful mission is what birthed and launched the publishing enterprise; it is rarely simply a just for profit enterprise.

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