Oct 11, 201209:00 AMIn Her Business
Krista Lyons of Seal Press and the Importance of Listening
Krista Lyons has been in book publishing for 15 years. She is currently the VP, Publisher of Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group and has been working with Seal since late 2003. In her work with authors, Krista’s focus is on non-fiction written by women for women. She specializes in memoir, both serious and humorous, and working with authors developmentally to voice the most difficult experiences honestly and simply in a way that informs readers’ lives.
“Uncluttered honesty, speaking your truth—that’s what’s going to matter to a reader. That’s what has the potential to change someone’s life.”
Seal publishes non-fiction books by women for women, in a variety of categories from sexuality to parenting. Our criteria is that the project needs to inform or have the potential to transform a woman’s life in some way.
What drives your passion for your business?
At the heart of my passion is the feeling that publishing books for women—many of them truth-telling books that women need to read—is an honor. We publish in a wide range of categories from sexual abuse and domestic violence to memoir, parenting, and health—and everything in between. Acquiring books written by women experts aimed at informing an audience of women readers, and making sure they’re published well and widely distributed is a job I take seriously—not to mention one I find to be enjoyable.
What is one significant challenge that you have faced in growing the business?
There are a lot of things competing for our potential readers’ attention. Fewer and fewer people are investing in time spent reading, and that means it’s more and more difficult to sell books. The kind of books we publish are not “nuggetizable”. We can’t parse them into pieces and send them as tweets.
What are some ways you have effectively addressed this challenge:
We do sell all of the books we publish as ebooks as well. And we’re lucky that a large portion of our target demographic also happened to be early adopters of ereaders, primarily the Kindle. Now our readers can take Seal titles with them anywhere.
We do tweet. We’re on FB, and our publicists and marketing team are very savvy about making sure we’re reminding our readers that we’re here, that we care about important things, and that we’re thinking of them and publishing to them.
We acquire books across a broad range of categories every season, so that there’s something to appeal to a wide variety of women readers.
What advice do you have for other women business?
That’s a difficult question. I certainly don’t want to pretend that I have the answers. I do know that for us, finding the community of women who are interested in and support the work we do is essential. It sparks ideas for new books, and it reminds us why we do what we do. We can’t do what we do in a vacuum; we need to hear from women about the books that they go to the bookstore to find only to come up emptyhanded. We need to listen, and I think that’s always a good business strategy: listening closely to your audience, no matter what the conversation is about.
Seal Press was founded in Seattle in 1976 by Barbara Sjoholm (then Wilson) and Rachel da Silva. To learn more, please visit their site: www.sealpress.com