Interview with a Publisher, Freelancer
By Margaret Hansen
I recently caught up with one of our writers, independent publisher and freelance writer Jim Baumer. His love of small town America, technology and connecting with others are just a few of the keys to his successful and busy career. Jim shared the ins and outs of his businesses and how he got to where he is today.
How did you get started as an independent publisher?
Jim Baumer: Back in 2004, I began working on my first book, When Towns Had Teams, which captured the history of town teams and semi-pro baseball in small town Maine. I knew the book was different enough that it would be hard to convince most of the larger regional presses to take it on, so given my sales and marketing background, Looking back, given the success of that first book and subsequent books, it turned out to be a great decision.
What have you loved most about your career thus far?
JB: Being a publisher, you wear many hats. One day, you're calling or visiting book stores, or other places - gift shops, country stores - convincing them to carry your titles. Other times, it's marketing the book, writing press releases, and then of course, you have to follow-up with vendors and make sure you get paid for inventory. The variety and multiple skills required for success keeps me sharp.
Why did you choose this field?
JB: I've always had a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) streak and independently publishing my books seemed like the thing to do for me. It allows me creative control, as well as the ability to succeed or fail based upon my own level of effort and capabilities.
How did you get to where you are today?
JB: While I don't make my living entirely from publishing, I'm proud of the success I had with my first book. In 2006, I was awarded an IPPY, by Independent Publisher. My second book, Moxietown, really took off. I've sold out two publishing runs, and last year, was offered a contract to do a book about Moxie, by Down East Books.
What's great about being dogged and persistent at independent, micro-publishing, is that I am now being sought out by others who want to know how to bring their own books to market on their own. Recently, I've begun offering half-day workshops for aspiring publishers who want to do what I set out to do eight years ago. Amazing how making your own mistakes and then teaching others what not to do puts you in demand!
What advice do you have for today's job seekers, generally speaking?
JB: I think that today's job market has shifted dramatically. The same old ways of landing a job have changed. You need to be so much savvier, particularly with technology, than ever before. Be clear about your skills. Figure out what skills are transferable. Be honest about the areas of weakness and work to strengthen those. Network, network, network. Oh, and did I say, network?
What are your job market predictions?
JB: The days of large employers moving in and hiring hundreds of people with similar skills are gone. Today's workers need an increasingly sophisticated set of skills. I also think that entrepreneurship is important, especially thinking like an entrepreneur. You will continue to see people creating smaller, locally-focused businesses. I think we are shifting back locally, after having a global focus for the past 20 years.
You recently launched a new business. Tell us about that.
JB: I guess it's not enough to have just one entrepreneurial venture, right? I launched The Jim Baumer Experience back in March when I had my hours cut at my day job. I've been looking at ways to become totally independent and no longer at the mercy of someone else. The JBE is a way for me to move towards that. It's definitely provocative, but provocative by design.
I'm focused on helping businesses and nonprofits develop strategies to leverage social media and integrate these tools and platforms into their existing marketing strategy. I'm also offering the knowledge I bring from my workforce development background of nearly 10 years. I'm looking to work with people that are interested in moving beyond the same old way of doing things.