Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Publishing houses have long complained about feeling the squeeze as the industry evolves. This is the reason they cite for lower advances, slashed marketing budgets, taking on less manuscripts and an overall drought of available resources. The industry has changed, which is old news, but what hasn’t is the approach to the problem.
We have worked with a variety of publishing houses that still have very large teams. Every member of the team is working hard but could unquestionably be more efficient. This isn’t because they don’t have the necessary skills; it is because they haven’t been equipped with the right technology. To that end, there are many areas where publishing houses could use automation through technology to run much leaner operations.
Marketing and promotion can be very time-consuming. Many authors would even argue that it’s more time-consuming than writing. What everyone can agree on, though, is how essential marketing is to the success of a book. As you have to somehow let people know about your product.
If you look at other industries, especially the technology startups, they are moving toward automated marketing strategies. Many lean companies will have one chief marketing officer who is responsible for PR, social media, email, advertising—the list goes on. As these areas become more automated, the team is left with more time to focus on strategy and optimizing their campaigns. It doesn’t mean that they are over-stretched or doing a poor job. They are instead getting great results and creating a serious return on investment.
You see technology companies advertising their products on a daily basis. They are targeting you on Facebook or the blog you like to read. Advertising campaigns on Facebook are being optimized by software on a daily basis. The social media updates are being rotated and served accordingly. The more data collected, the better the targeting becomes, and so the algorithm continues to improve their ROI.
When you send an inquiry to a company, you are often served by an automated email. You have become part of their funnel. They can then extract information from your email about social profiles it is linked to and retarget you. When you shop online through e-commerce stores, the discounts and products you receive information about are based on your browsing habits. None of this is manual, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be the same for publishing houses and authors.
Publishing houses and authors who adopt marketing automation will have much higher chances of seeing great success. The adoption of these strategies in the industry is moving slowly, yet there are still massive opportunities for those who are willing to invest in these tools. Given the amount available, this can be done relatively inexpensively. It really just comes down to changing the approach and adopting new processes. Authors and publishing houses need to start working with programmers and technical marketers to seize this opportunity—training their current staff and pushing them out of their comfort zone.
Automation is often viewed negatively. People feel the goal is to make workers redundant and save money with less bums on seats. The opposite is true for clever companies, though. Use automation to free up staff and allow them more time to work on the truly important aspects of the publishing process. There is still space for good, old-fashioned PR: calling up that contact at the national broadsheet who is rewarded with a delivery of chocolate cupcakes from time to time. Anything to keep them sweet and ensure you always get featured.
Automation of the boring and repetitive tasks gives you more time to spend on the big projects, as well as better vision for the opportunities where a personal touch can help seal the deal.
This doesn’t just apply to established authors or publishing houses looking to become leaner. New authors and indie houses just getting started can use these methods, as well. If you embrace these techniques, you can become a serious force to be reckoned with. If established publishing houses continue to ignore them, however, it will be at their peril.
To get all the ebook and digital publishing news you need every day in your inbox at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!