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A Publication Strategy for Societies - FGS Wiki

A Publication Strategy for Societies


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[NOTE: this page has not yet been formatted. If you are interested in assisting in the care and maintenance of the FGS Wiki Content, please contact Thomas MacEntee at publicity@fgs.org.]
+
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
   
 +
It was a very big project. Society membership
 +
has worked on indexing that major record group
 +
in your state for years. Now that it is finished,
 +
everyone has ideas on the best way to have it
 +
published. But which way is the best way to meet
 +
the needs of your society now and in the future?
  
[[Category:Strategies for Societies]][[Category:Clifford, Karen]][[Category:Publications]]
+
Major projects trigger conflicting feelings among
 +
society members. Some folks are protective of
 +
the data so laboriously gathered and they oppose
 +
those anxious to "give away" the information. A
 +
few volunteers quietly hope for a "pat on the
 +
back" for a job well done while others are vocal
 +
about project proceeds benefiting this or that
 +
cause. Then a publications committee comes
 +
along and seems to take over the whole project.
 +
Sensitivity to these feelings is a part of project
 +
planning. Other aspects include present and
 +
future society goals, finances, volunteer support
 +
services, and expertise.
 +
 
 +
This entry will provide ideas on how advance
 +
preparation can prevent future problems with
 +
major genealogy projects.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== A PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE ==
 +
 +
'''Considerations.''' Since one of the purposes of
 +
most genealogy societies is to share their findings
 +
with others, setting up a publications committee
 +
in advance of publishing is a good idea. In fact, a
 +
publications committee could help initiate
 +
projects by giving suggestions to the society or
 +
projects committee.
 +
 
 +
The first order of business, however, is to
 +
establish society publication guidelines based on
 +
society goals and objectives. These guidelines
 +
may need to be modified with individual
 +
projects, but would basically include: 1) financial
 +
considerations including reserves for the future;
 +
2) society expertise; 3) traditional or electronic
 +
publication; 4) distribution rights to others; 5)
 +
editing or beta testing; 6) packaging; 7) sales and
 +
marketing; and 8) dealing with proposals and
 +
bids.
 +
 
 +
'''Structure.''' Good people to have on a
 +
publications committee include a member of
 +
your 1) publicity committee; 2) projects
 +
committee; 3) finance committee; 4) volunteer
 +
committee; and 5) executive committee. Also
 +
include those who have expertise in dealing with
 +
publishers, printers, electronic databases, and
 +
marketing.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== REVIEW SOCIETY OBJECTIVES ==
 +
 +
Review society objectives and/or policies
 +
regarding both publishing and profit objectives.
 +
Do you have nonprofit status based on the
 +
premise that one of your objectives is to gather
 +
and share information as a public benefit? If you
 +
do, this does not mean that you cannot make
 +
money on this project. This is particularly true if
 +
your goal is to use that money to start or fund
 +
another project. There will be members in your
 +
society who do not understand the need to put
 +
away capital for future projects. Be prepared to
 +
explain future ideas and the amount of necessary
 +
financial reserves.
 +
 
 +
The profit incentive is just one of several hurdles
 +
to be crossed. Other considerations involve the
 +
information and how it is to be shared:  
 +
Get Information Out Quickly and to the Most
 +
People. If the goal of the society is to get the
 +
information out quickly to the most people
 +
possible in order to raise funds to buy a
 +
computer, how will that be accomplished? Is this
 +
project of value to only your local county? Or
 +
could it be potentially valuable to researchers in
 +
the whole state? Will only one vendor or one
 +
mode of distribution be allowed? For example, is
 +
the idea to limit the distribution of this
 +
publication to mail order only? Or could several
 +
methods be used for marketing the product, i.e., a
 +
society web page on the Internet, booths at
 +
conferences, advertising in national genealogy
 +
magazines? Will only the local society market
 +
the publication or will rights be given to others?
 +
 
 +
'''Distribution Rights to Others.''' If the goal is to
 +
make the data available to the most people
 +
possible, but society funds are low for publishing
 +
the information, a publisher or vendor might be
 +
considered. Should that publisher be a traditional
 +
one who publishes in documentation format or an
 +
electronic publisher? Would the society benefit
 +
by giving a publisher exclusive rights to the
 +
materials? The biggest publisher or vendor today
 +
might have the biggest market, but if they had the
 +
sole distribution rights, it could limit the total
 +
distribution of the product over a long period of
 +
time.
 +
 
 +
Is the society interested in getting their particular
 +
information out to the most people promptly
 +
because the information is time sensitive (such as
 +
member lineage materials which, due to address
 +
changes of contributors, could be outdated
 +
quickly)? This might determine both the mode
 +
and method of publication.
 +
 
 +
'''Transfer of Rights.''' What happens to your data
 +
if the company originally contracted with goes
 +
out of business? Does the contract allow you to
 +
retain the rights? Or is the data transferred to a
 +
company that purchases the previous business? If
 +
transferred, will deadlines in the original contract
 +
be met?
 +
 
 +
What happens in the event of a delay in
 +
publication? For example, if your society has
 +
accepted pre-publication funds and the actual
 +
publication date will now exceed the time in
 +
which you can legally retain the funds without
 +
providing a product, who pays for the postage
 +
and expense of notifying or refunding the
 +
purchasers--the new publisher or the society?
 +
Financial Concerns. Can you raise enough
 +
money from this project to fund the next project?
 +
How quickly do you need those funds? Is there a
 +
chance to reach many more people by going to
 +
an outside publisher versus doing the publishing
 +
in-house? If major publishers turn the society
 +
project down because it does not have enough
 +
appeal for their market, can your society take on
 +
the project by itself? Will a pre-publication effort
 +
be necessary to allow sufficient funding for the
 +
overall printing?
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT ==
 +
 +
Determine the society's ability and desire to
 +
market and sell the product before you commit
 +
them to the marketing role.
 +
 
 +
'''Sales and Marketing Considerations.'''
 +
Marketing and sales include pre-publication
 +
marketing, printing, filling orders, billing
 +
customers, keeping and reporting taxes, storage
 +
and retrieval of materials, packaging, delivery to
 +
the post office, following up on missing orders,
 +
and maintaining an inventory. Do you have
 +
specific individuals who would be willing to
 +
handle the roll of "storekeeper" for the society?
 +
Alternatives. If the society is unable or
 +
unwilling to do any of the above, could these
 +
functions be contracted out? If so, determine the
 +
charge for doing so and add that to the cost of the
 +
product.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== PUBLISHER CONCERNS ==
 +
 +
There are several questions to consider before
 +
contacting a publisher:  
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>Will you use a printer or will you use a print-on-demand service (such as Lulu.com)?
 +
<li>Are all Publishers Welcome? Will the project
 +
go to anyone who wants it, or will certain criteria
 +
be established by the society or by its committee
 +
over such decisions? For example, "We'll give
 +
our data base to anyone who will pay xxxxx
 +
and/or give royalties of xxxxx."
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
'''Electronic Publication Concerns.''' Can the
 +
publishing company's software work with the
 +
society data in its current format? If so, how does
 +
the company want the data delivered to them?
 +
What kind of effort is the electronic publisher
 +
willing to expend to get the data from the
 +
society? Ask the electronic publisher, on a
 +
project-by-project basis, to give the society a
 +
description of the functionality of the product.
 +
Look into the search engine. Are there key word
 +
searches with variable search fields for Boolean
 +
searches (determined by the type of data you
 +
have)? Are you able to search on any field and
 +
any combination of fields?
 +
 
 +
'''Consider management of the project.''' Look at the
 +
longevity of the publishing company and its
 +
commitments to others. What are the projected
 +
delivery dates? Are there clauses which could be
 +
added to encourage the publisher to produce on
 +
time?
 +
 
 +
'''Society Support.''' Those who provided the labor
 +
for the original project should be involved in its
 +
beta testing. They are already familiar with the
 +
data and know how it could benefit others. How
 +
many beta copies can the society have to test?
 +
How much input can the society have on its
 +
overall function?
 +
 
 +
'''Packaging with Other Products.''' Electronic
 +
publishing allows much more information to be
 +
placed on one product than in the past. Your
 +
project may not be big enough to fill the entire
 +
CD. Ask what percentage of the total product
 +
your material will consume and how does that
 +
translate into a price for royalties?
 +
 
 +
'''Packaging.''' Does the society have control over
 +
how the product is packaged and marketed?
 +
Does the society want to review advertising
 +
copy? Could inclusion of the society's logo on
 +
the product package be perceived as endorsement
 +
for the publishing company? Can the society
 +
obtain copies of the product at a wholesale price
 +
in order to market it themselves? Or does the
 +
society receive a certain number of free copies to
 +
market themselves? What will the prices be?
 +
'''Pricing and Royalty Payments.''' Review the Pricing Structure. Review the retail
 +
price, wholesale price, and the society's purchase
 +
price for resale. Will there also be a royalty
 +
provided? How often are royalties paid? Are
 +
there free copies for the people who did all the
 +
data extraction? Will free copies be provided to
 +
major libraries within your county, state, or
 +
nationally? Who pays for those copies?
 +
 
 +
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
 +
What is conflict of interest within a society? We
 +
often try to get people to serve on our nonprofit
 +
boards because they have the talents which can
 +
benefit our society. But, we don't want to give
 +
the impression that someone receiving
 +
professional recognition or providing a good
 +
service at a fair price to our society is in any way
 +
doing something improper. We need to ask
 +
ourselves if any member of the board could profit
 +
from the production of the data and how they
 +
would benefit: financially, career positioning,
 +
etc.
 +
 
 +
A conflict of interest occurs when someone
 +
receives tangible benefits through an unfair
 +
advantage because of their insider status. To
 +
avoid this give everyone in the organization an
 +
equal opportunity to bid. If some do not respond,
 +
then you have an honest reason for not selecting
 +
their proposal. Ask yourself if any of the options
 +
would create a perception of a conflict of
 +
interest? Try to protect your volunteers from
 +
being caught in the middle of perceived conflicts
 +
of interest by anticipating the potential for
 +
problems and establishing a check and balance
 +
system. This is another strong argument for
 +
setting up a publications committee in advance.
 +
Be Sensitive to Problems. Every volunteer and
 +
every member in a society is a valuable member.
 +
By initially avoiding these problems, the society
 +
will not flounder because of internal fighting;
 +
volunteers will not be accidentally hurt by
 +
misjudgments; and good will/shall prevail.
 +
 
 +
A formal request for proposals should be
 +
designed to include many publishers. Members
 +
of the society and board who are publishers
 +
should be allowed to submit bids like everyone
 +
else. Any member of the board who could benefit
 +
from the decision should be excluded from the
 +
discussion, and the decision-making process. In
 +
fact, to insure full and open discussion, the
 +
remaining members of the board could assemble
 +
as a task force or action committee without those
 +
having conflict being present. Excuse them while
 +
discussions are conducted.
 +
 
 +
In any formal request for proposals, all proposals become the property
 +
of the society. Some vendors insist that their bid
 +
be kept confidential so that their competitors do
 +
not learn the amount. So that the society is not
 +
accused of disclosing information erroneously,
 +
vendors should be told that their proposals will
 +
be discussed in an open forum with the decision-
 +
making board, and thus prices cannot be kept
 +
confidential.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== CONCLUSION ==
 +
 +
A publications committee is essential to
 +
developing a publishing strategy for your project.
 +
The committee should establish publication
 +
guidelines, determine society involvement,
 +
address publishing contract concerns, and set
 +
policies to avoid conflict of interest. Dealing with
 +
these issues in advance will save countless hours
 +
and many frustrations.

Latest revision as of 07:45, 30 August 2013

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