Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, August 11, 2006

Book Publishing New Ways Of Marketing and Making Money Online

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Book publishers are working hard to improve their online marketing channels for their titles, but ironically they receive the least help in many instances from the authors of those books.

Most book author Web sites are weak marketing tools that are designed to do little to help build a reading community or book sales.


Compare this with webloggers such as David Meerman Scott, who has leveraged his personal weblog into a marketing vehicle for an e-book - and now for a print title from Wiley.

Book publishers need to consider how to make money on marketing capable authors as they develop their skills in an online environment rather than limiting revenues to those harvested for print.


When you look at some of the recent research on content habits amongst young audiences, you have to wonder what the future of the book industry is going to look like. Book-selling megaportal Amazon is sinking like a stone in site rankings even as social publishing portals become the centers of many young people's lives. Where are tomorrow's book readers going to come from? This is a question that's becoming far less rhetorical for many book publishers as the rapid shift in reading and leisure habits focuses on online services.

For HarperCollins the answers include downloadable podcasts and adopting a book-browsing feature for their own Web site and the Web sites of their authors. For others such as Random House, Workman Publishing and Scholastic it's about developing catchy videos that can attract younger audiences via portals such as YouTube and Yahoo!. It all adds up to book publishers becoming more aggressive in learning how to touch audiences the way that they want to be touched.

These promising marketing techniques allow publishers to develop niche campaigns for special interest books that would have been cost-prohibitive in many instances via traditional mass media outlets. Yet the promise of all of these marketing efforts seems to fall short when you look how book companies develop authors' presences online. While hundreds of authors listed on HarperCollins' Web site have Web sites of their own, only a few of those have anything but crude brochure-ware and very few have any outlet resembling a weblog or other outlet to communicate with potential audiences on a more personal level. Those blogs that do exist tend to be of the "Well, the book is coming along nicely" variety, with little to compel someone to come back to the site with any regularity. Where author Web sites are in fact more sophisticated they tend to be in the hands of authors who were savvy about marketing themselves in the first place, with little value-add from book publishers evident.

Compare and contrast this to a small but growing number of authors who are willing to use Web sites as a central component of developing their work.


Many people may be familiar with weblogs by Robert Scoble and Chris Anderson that served as platforms for their successful books, but you may not be aware yet of David Meerman Scott's new book under development on "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" that is taking shape via his popular WebInk Now weblog. David's publishing deal with John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is interesting not only because of his weblog but also because the viability of the new title under development is building on the online success of his e-book (PDF) on "The New Rules of PR," a title that people have been able to download for free. Egads, from free weblogs to free e-books to premium books? How can this be the platform for successful book marketing?

We'll have the answer in some part when David is finished with his book, but the evidence suggests that David's model is going to serve as a standard template for success for many authors in the future.

Classic book marketing has been largely a model for failure: lots of money thrown at major titles in the hope that temporary buzz can ignite some sales, with other titles wasting on the wayside in relative obscurity until a search engine reveals them to small audiences.


Chris Anderson's book on The Long Tail is charging up the bestsellers lists certainly in large part on its own merit and through his weblog and online channels but also through a powerful media blitz that is classic in every manner - somewhat ironic given Chris' focus on the marketing of content that's ignored by many major publishers.

David's model of a professional writer starts with his own topic-oriented audience that's built into a trusting community base strong enough to convert e-book interest into mainstream publishing interest.

This is more likely to yield a revenue curve that can build gradually over time rather than pushing towards a one-shot publishing event that may or may not find a buying audience.

The key to the future of book marketing therefore revolves around a simple concept: become experts at developing audiences for authors, not titles.

Book audiences build over time: why wait for the book to start that process?

A decade of book authors going out on their own to promote their writings has left book publishers with a long-term legacy of mostly poor marketing efforts in the hands of authors not used to managing relationships with a community effectively.

Book publishers need to get out in front of their authors and leverage infrastructure that can help authors to build audiences into communities consuming online book properties that can in turn be converted into traditional and on-demand print products.

Weblogs are a simple way to go about this but more sophisticated infrastructure from portals such as Gather point towards an era in which book publishers become harvesters of online author "farm systems" that yield goof-proof major titles.


In some instances it may pay for book publishers to own infrastructure that can help authors progress from weblogs to e-books to print publishing, but oftentimes it will be more about spotting talent and opportunities early on and figuring out how best to market them via the best technology platforms.

Ad-based efforts such as John Battelle's FM Publishing provide a basis for monetizing developing authors and publishing properties that may seem foreign to book publishers today, but they are probably closer to resembling the profitable foothills of tomorrow's book publishing empires than today's hoary homemade author Web sites.

It's time for book publishers to expand their marketing craft and to become multi-tier marketers that know how to make money from authors at many levels of their career development - not just on the chancy and slow-developing print circuit that represents the culmination of their current craft. Failing to do so is more likely to lead to book publishing becoming a value-add function for electronic publishers who have been able to build authors on their own into bankable online properties - with or without today's book publishers.

John Blossom -
Reference: Shore [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2007-08-09 00:23:15


I agree that marketing is important. I searched the internet for

2006-08-11 15:15:55


i thik that a book is an aplication to setup a content, and very obsolet today. we habe to create usefull aplications enabled to "call" content and not to create new versions of books. ebook not need to be a translation of books.
in the beganin of occidental culture Plato creat a new format of comunication, the "dia-logo". the etimological strategy was find a way to go-throw the "logos". today we have so much posibilities to do de same. "to call" content by intresting ways on-own-demands. i thik that we dont need to thik in book any more and start thinking in writting-scriptia, if we think in that way for example a RSS is a new-no-book perfectly enabled to call for data - set-up-able and more intresting than readmarks, marginalia or others way to mark the information.
the only rpoblem that i saw is the "context" cose a book is a context too. but... who need it in a "personalisable world"

posted by Robin Good on Friday, August 11 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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