Choosing a yearbook publisher

Matthew LaPorte, Co-President

“Who publishes your book?”

It’s a typical conversation starter year-round amongst yearbook advisers, before either praising their publishing company or listing the awful experience they may be having with a program or representative.

2012-115-366 ... Decision Time.

As a yearbook adviser, old or new, your yearbook publisher can be that additional variable to ensuring a successful publication cycle. Whether brand new to yearbook advising, or a veteran, here are a few idea to consider when selecting for the first time, or changing, a publisher.

1. The Rep

When vetting a yearbook publishing company, it is key to knowing the duties that each publisher expects of it’s representatives. For some programs, that means being available at any time for it’s client, while for others, it may mean only a series of pre-determined appointments.

One of the most important questions to ask for a new adviser is where the rep is located. If your rep covers an entire state and does not live locally, that may limit the amount of face-to-face assistance you will receive, as well as an added stress if you need them right away for an emergency.

2. The Design Program

For those with experience with Adobe InDesign, or at least a preference for the program, this may not be critical. You will still want to know how to ensure compatibility for page submissions, but that should be a simple conversation.

For those that have little or no experience with Adobe InDesign, or don’t have the software at their school location, this is a crucial question.

Almost every yearbook publisher at this time has some sort of online program that can be used to design your book, from start to finish. But, each program also has it’s own bells and whistles, that may or may not be beneficial to your program, or needed by you.

Make sure to ask for a presentation of the program and also an opportunity to work hands-on with that program’s rep. If you find that you are having trouble with the online program, or the program is not doing what you would like it to do, consider this heavily. You would hate to be encountering the same problems in December when you are halfway done with your book.

And if there is a feature that you think should be present in the online program, then ask. If it’s not currently available, ask if it will be available in the near future. It never hurts to ask and you may be the reason that feature is created.

3. The DeadlineAlarm Clock 3

Deadlines can be a deal-breaker. The earlier the deadline is, the less coverage of your year that can be included.

Make sure that you are clear on the deadlines that need to be met throughout the year and the consequences of not making them. Not making a deadline may delay the delivery of your book and could mean a monetary penalty. If spring sports are a major focus of your school’s community, then make sure that your deadline provides enough lead time to include them.

Remember, the deadline schedule for a book delivered in the fall is much different than a book delivered in the spring.

4. The Cost

Horror stories are a dime-a-dozen amongst advisers in regards to the final bill. Unknown add-on charges, unsold book costs, late penalties etc. These are not what you want to be discussing the last day of school.

When prepping to sign the contract, make sure all of the elements are itemized and the prices are to your liking. Pay close attention to the cost of your cover. You may be designing a beautiful book with a cover that is going to hurt your bottom line.

Profit5. The Profit

You and your staff do a great job all year, so it’s only deserving that you are able to make a profit to purchase new equipment, pay for the annual pizza party and help limit costs for national conferences.

But don’t go overboard. Once you identify the base cost of your book, set a price point that your students will not find excessive. If the book costs too much and your sales are underwhelming, you might lose all of your profit, plus have an outstanding balance to makeup the next year.


Hopefully these tips provide you a start before you sit down with a prospective rep. If you have other ideas new/old advisers should consider, please leave a comment!



About Matthew LaPorte

Matthew LaPorte is the current adviser of the Southwest Shadow online news site and The Howl yearbook at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. He is also the co-President of SNSJ. One of his goals as a founding member of SNSJ is to help create a network of students and advisers who can share their expertise and share the benefits of participating in scholastic journalism in Southern Nevada. When he is not working, Matt enjoys heading off to The Pearl or to The Joint to relive his teenage years rocking out.