Random House Explains What Publishers Do

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Random House has put out a video that explains just what it takes to produce, distribute and sell a book and who does it.

The video, hosted on YouTube and embedded below, reminds me of a document leaked to Digital Book World from Hachette in December, which explained why publishers were relevant in a world where one could easily self-publish.

Until we published it, the document had only been circulated by Hachette internally and to authors and agents. It spoke of the four major areas in which the company felt it added value: content curation; investment in ideas; sales, marketing and brand-building; and legal, including copyright protection. The idea of the document was to brand publishers as powerful partners for authors. Hachette leaked it to us, I think, to make a statement within the publishing industry.

While directed at authors and developed as part of the Random House Author Portal, a Random House spokesperson told me, the Random House video has a distinctly consumer-facing feel and polish. It has nearly 6,000 views on YouTube and, judging by the comments, not all of the views were from people in the publishing industry. The video exposes all the people and processes necessary for a traditionally published book to go from concept to store shelves — something we’ve talked about as being potentially beneficial to publishing companies as they increasingly speak more directly with consumers and compete with each other for author talent.

In addition to this video, Random House also recently produced another video about what it takes to produce an audio book.

Random House seems to be embarking on a consumer-facing branding campaign for itself and a source familiar with the matter at the company told me that there were conversations about that underway internally. A spokesperson for the company said that the branding campaign was exclusively aimed at authors.

“It’s a fresh continuation of our priority for communications with and about our authors — who are the primary brand(ing)s for RH,” wrote Random House executive vice president for communication Stuart Applebaum in an email. He added in a later email that Random House would be creating more videos giving viewers an inside look at how the publishing company operates.

If it’s not already, Random House and other publishers may soon find it very advantageous to develop strong consumer brands. In May, at the PaidContent conference in New York, Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne told an audience of media executives and investors that other book publishers could do what Pottermore did — set the terms of its engagement with the major e-booksellers and sell directly to consumers to great benefit — but only if they had a strong, consumer facing brand. Not to mention other potential advantages.

Judge for yourself:


The audio studio video:

Related posts:

Leaked: Hachette Document Explains Why Publishers Are Relevant

J.A. Konrath Responds to Hachette Document: Advice to Publishers

Hachette Digital’s Maja Thomas on Digital Revenue, Bookish and the Leaked Manifesto

Should Editors Get Credited in Books?

How Agent Rachelle Gardner and Her Clients Choose the Best Publishers (rachellegardner.com)

4 thoughts on “Random House Explains What Publishers Do

  1. China

    Nice little soft ad/employee training vid, though I found it peculiar that they completely side-stepped the agenting process despite the fact that Random House only deals with an exclusive network of lit agents and does not accept unsolicited submissions. Any opinion about that, Jeremy?

    1. Jeremy Greenfield

      The video does discuss the acquisition process but not to that level of detail. I suppose as a piece of marketing directed at authors, it wouldn’t make sense to discuss exclusivity. Or perhaps it would? Maybe if you’re an RH author, you would like to know that it’s difficult for others to become one (like getting into Harvard).

      Either way, it’s hard to fault RH for its selection of manuscripts, regardless of how it’s done. One reason: yesterday, Amazon announced its top picks for best books of 2012 so far, and seven of the top ten were RH books: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/amazon-best-books-all-big-six-all-agency-priced/

  2. Tom Evans

    I think publishers from the 20th century who did some marketing in the 21st century have to morph into marketing companies who know lots about publishing. And authors without a platform should get one before they write their books.



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