APSS - Association of Publishers for Special Sales

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Professional Independent Publisher (PIP) Certification - PIP


Professional Independent Publisher (PIP) Certification - PIP

This is the development group for the PIP certification which will be awarded to publishers who meet certain objective criteria, which is open public comment, here.

Members: 82
Latest Activity: Feb 11, 2015

About PIP

PIP - Statement of Purpose V.2

The goal of the Professional Independent Publisher (PIP) program is to help overcome the mainstream stigma of self-publishing by providing a certification process that will qualitatively evaluate applicants for their knowledge, understanding, and implementation of the professional book publishing process.

The PIP program will utilize a benchmark standard and should function to produce authors who understand the industry and how to do business in it to achieve their respective publishing goals and satisfy the needs of their respective target markets.

We intend for it to achieve these means by helping to educate a Publisher on how to better market and position themselves for book sales, and then once they are PIP certified, the certification itself would indicate to more prominent reviewers, larger distributors, and other institutional entities, that this Publisher is worth their time.

The program will have to have a method for measuring qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the publishing company as well as a process for allowing analysis of the publishers' books.

From an institutional standpoint the certification program and resulting certification award should be meaningless as a marketing tool to the general public. To begin with, its entire function should be to inform the industry “gatekeepers”, who currently limit their involvement with independently produced book titles due to increased risk of investment, that the book in question has met their standard of quality.

To make this a reality, we will need feedback from the key players within the publishing industry. In that regard, we would like to see an advisory board composed of big names within the industry as well as pragmatic voices from the small press community. While this advisory board is still in preliminary stages, we have begun the process of establishing the PIP criteria by creating Best Practices discussion threads.

To view the index of criteria topics visit here:




If a certification program can differentiate between a mediocre product and a great product then the industry gatekeepers can use such a certification program to expand the flow of independent books into their systems in way that is profitable for the gate-keepers, publishers, and authors.


Likewise, the certification program can help make Independent Publishers more self aware of their place within the industry, helping them to best utilize their resources in selling books and/or achieving their goals.


Discussion Forum

PIP - Statement of Purpose V.2

Started by Bradley Flora. Last reply by Catrina Taylor Rudd Sep 6, 2013. 25 Replies

The goal of the Professional Independent Publisher (PIP) program is to help overcome the mainstream stigma of self-publishing by providing a certification process that will qualitatively evaluate…Continue

Tags: Professional, self, publishers, independent, PIP

PIP Certificate

Started by Sandra Adell. Last reply by Tambra Kendall Feb 23, 2012. 12 Replies

Hi, Scott:The biggest problem we face as self-publishers is the stigma of producing very badly written and manufactured books. That's not to say that the big publishing houses don't also put out bad…Continue

Tags: Chicago, Book, Clinic, publishers, self

PIP Evaluation Process

Started by Bradley Flora. Last reply by Bradley Flora Apr 22, 2011. 1 Reply

With the depth of information that we are collecting through the PIP Criteria Input process, I decided to create one more discussion thread that would be a specific place to catalog the actual PIP…Continue

Tags: Criteria, Evalutation, Qualitative, Professional, self

Researching Certification for Similar Industries

Started by Scott Flora. Last reply by Tambra Kendall Mar 22, 2011. 4 Replies

Hello Everyone, Membership in the Authors Guild and the American…Continue

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Professional Independent Publisher (PIP) Certification - PIP to add comments!

Comment by Kathleen Guler on May 12, 2011 at 10:14am



You are correct in your assumption, at least regarding RMFW. It is a blanket policy intended to keep out, in their words, poor quality self-published books. They also require a copy of the author's publishing contract as verification that any books in the conference sale are not self-pubbed, or pubbed by a vanity press or a press "too small," as I was told. My attorney says a contract is none of their business, especially for something like a conference sale. I agree.


Frankly, I think these organizations are shooting themselves in the foot when they blanket exclude small presses and self-pubbers and don't even remotely consider the author or the book. It's a missed opportunity for all, so I'm glad for this effort to overcome the problem.




Comment by Lynda Deniger on May 12, 2011 at 10:01am

I missed the comment about problems with SCBWI. I was interested in that since I went to a local group and felt judged because I was a self-publisher. Once I mentioned that I had sold 3,000 books they changed their tune a little bit, but I haven't gone back. So what did I miss?


Comment by Janice Hermsen on May 12, 2011 at 9:22am
Thanks for your comments. I hope that the organizations you contact will be forthcoming. For small publishers like us, we could use the input so we can be certain our authors know what they need to do to be competitive and we, as publishers, know what we have to do to meet their criteria.
Comment by Bradley Flora on May 12, 2011 at 5:46am

Kathleen, Tambra, and Janice,


I’ve been following all of your posts on this wall over the last week, but this is the first chance I’ve had to respond, so my apologies for the delay and for the necessity of this blanket comment.

To begin, I really appreciate all the anecdotal information about the Romance Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference as the more information and the more perspective that are shared, the better this program can become! Thank you!


Right now, we are gearing up for the next round of development of the PIP program, and that means that we (collectively) have the chance to establish exactly what it would mean to be PIP certified.


We’re currently considering how the program could have different types of value for 1-title publishers, and publishers with a backlist. Specifically, 1-title publishers are the ones who deal with the stigma the most, and who could most benefit from a program like this that could highlight their worth.


The program will only be as valuable as the doors that it opens, and I think that it is fair to say that there would be a great benefit to many publishers if associations like the RWA and MWA had a way to better work with small publishers.


We are also evaluating the PIP certifications place within the changing landscape of the publishing industry. I’m taking a very critical look in this regard, and I would love to hear some thoughts on it. What I am specifically asking is, how does the digital revolution in publishing impact a PIP program’s place within the industry?


I think the first thing to acknowledge is that all that talk on the blogosphere about ebooks and digital revolution allowing publishers to sell books and circumvent the “Gatekeepers” of the publishing industry is from a very mainstream perspective. The “Gatekeepers” as far as I can tell in those cases, are the big publishing companies that have had control over the traditional publishing industry for quite some time.


            In our world, the world of independent publishing, we have our own “Gatekeepers”, the RWA for example. And while the digital revolution has allowed independent publishers to reach their demographic through Amazon and the Internet, I know that there is more to selling a book then just providing a place to buy it.


And obviously, the RWA is conscious of these changes and I’m sure that one of their points of concern in regard to small publishers, as they move forward, concerns everyone's credibility.


            I believe that the PIP program could be a good fit for the RWA and other writers associations because it would allow them open their doors to small publishers while still vetting them as members.


These policies of discrimination based on publisher size and depth of published titles, are shotgun policies designed to keep the more amateur publishers from joining the association.


A certification that could help establish a Publisher’s worth and professionalism could be used, in place of these policies, to allow the small press community to receive the support that it needs, while not limiting the activities of these associations.


And I admit, I am making some serious assumptions about the motivations behind the RWA, MWA, and RMFW policies. Maybe it has nothing to do with credibility. Maybe it’s overhead or cost or whatever. I don’t know because I have not yet spoken with any representative from those organizations. While I believe my assumptions are sound, I plan to contact these, and other, associations directly to begin a true dialogue with them.


Thank you all for helping to lay the groundwork in that regard, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts and stories.




Bradley flora

p.s. In regard to pricing, it has not yet been determined, but our goal in this regard is for the program to be self sustaining, while also still being affordable for the publisher involved.
Comment by Kathleen Guler on May 7, 2011 at 7:26am

For book awards, check the submission requirements of the award you would like to submit to. Some only accept from publishers, some don't care one way or the other. Colorado Book Award will accept nominations from the author, pub, or anyone else. They do not take ebooks (yet). I nominated my last book, A Land Beyond Ravens, myself, just on a lark, and lo and behold it won its category!


I said in my last post about RMFW that self-pubbing didn't come up in the issue, but if it had, that would also have prevented the books from being sold at their conference.




Comment by Janice Hermsen on May 6, 2011 at 4:24pm
One of our authors was published by Publish America. She later submitted her second book to us and we published it. However, Mystery Writers of America refused to recognize her while she was with Publish America and would not allow her to submit for an award. What a shame that so many good books are being denied the opportunity for review and awards.
Comment by Kathleen Guler on May 6, 2011 at 12:13pm

I had an issue with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' conference a couple of years ago, regarding being with a small publisher. As part of preparing for the conference, I had contacted the bookseller they use for selling members' books at the conference. No problem with the bookseller. Then I was told by the organization: no, your publisher is too small. Self-pubbing didn't come up, it was the size of the pub. No amount of wheedling or explaining impressed them.  To defray the cost of any conferences I go to, I need to be able to sell books. Miffed, to say the least, I canceled my reservation for attendance and did not renew my membership. If a writer's organization is supposed to be helping writers, then they should have looked at the books, reviews, awards (nine all together so far) of the writer, not the size of the publisher. Since then, I won the 2010 Colorado Book Award, the same year they had their own publication up for the anthology category (and did not win and it is a POD book...!). Have not tried to go back. Some kind of liaison to help with organizations like this or with RWA that Tambra mentioned could be very helpful. Thanks for letting me rant.:-)



Kathleen Guler


Kathleen Cunningham Guler
The Macsen's Treasure Series
Multi-award winning novels
of 5th Century Britain
Including:  A Land Beyond Ravens
 2010 Colorado Book Award for
  historical fiction


Comment by Janice Hermsen on April 22, 2011 at 5:58pm

I think this is a good idea.  However, when I first saw this, I immediately thought of PIP Printing. Probably because we bought a PIP shop but not the franchise.


We are a traditional publisher but do have a print shop that provides services to self-published authors/publishers. We find that most authors do their homework before they come to us but often are misguided by some internet sites.


A program like this one would be a great tool.

Comment by Pamela Joy Licatino on December 27, 2010 at 8:05am
Hello.  I am a new small independent publisher and I know it is more difficult for new publishers to be recognized in producing a quality service.  I love this concept of a certification program for publishers and wish to be included.  Please submit information needed to get started.  Thanks.
Comment by Scott Flora on August 17, 2010 at 5:15pm
Hello Everyone,

Earlier in August, Herb Schultz asked of the Certification Program, "Where is it?"

After a flury of activity before Book Expo in May and the rush of comments in June on SPANnet and the Self Publishing Yahoo Group, our work on Certification has slowed down a bit.

Our goal has always been to roll certification out before the end of the year, so we are not late yet.

Because certification is dependent on quality education, this summer we have been putting time into the SPANpro Education Program and the way we deliver information. As you may have seen in the e-mailed blog, we are developing monthly themes covering different publishing topics. Read blog here.

I have posted a new description of the Certification Program in the Publisher Certification - PIP Group and it does a better job of explaining where we are headed.

We will continue planning the Certification Program. Keep your eye on SPANnet and your e-mail for the next steps.

As always, I am interested in hearing your comments.



Scott Flora
SPAN Executive Director

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