How Are You Connecting with Your Customers?

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

publishers, books, ebooks, readers, contentFrom a publisher’s point of view, the people who actually buy and read books are still mostly nameless and faceless individuals. This, despite the fact that there are plenty of opportunities for publishers to establish a direct relationship with consumers. I’m not necessarily talking about selling direct; I’m referring instead to the opportunity to build a relationship with the people who open their wallets every day for your products.

This isn’t something that’s limited exclusively to ebooks, by the way. In fact, the publisher-consumer relationship can be built via print books as well.

What’s the first thing consumers see when they open one of your books? Most of the time, it’s the book’s title page. What a waste. If you just bought a book and are about to start reading it, do you really need to be reminded of the title? I’m sure this violates the core of The Chicago Manual of Style and a slew of other publishing references, but what’s wrong with publishers offering a simple “thank you” message on that first page? Something like:

Thanks so much for your purchase. Be sure to register your book at for free membership in our reader club where you’ll get early access to new titles and opportunities to meet your favorite authors.

Step one is to convert that anonymous consumer into a real person. But don’t just make some lame request for them to hand over their email address. You’ve got to give them compelling reasons to connect, or they’ll simply ignore you.

I mentioned “early access to new titles.” What does that mean? I’m suggesting that publishers offer samples of new publications exclusively on their website or via email through free membership programs. Amazon typically doesn’t offer the ebook or e-sample until the print book publishes. So why not take advantage of the period between when the sample is ready and the book is released to encourage consumers to join your membership program or visit your site? And if you do this, be sure to remove all DRM from those samples. After all, the goal is to encourage sharing of that content, not lock it down.

I also mentioned how a reader club could provide ways for consumers to meet authors. Author webinars are one option, and you could make them available exclusively to members. Those tend to be one-way conversations, though, so how about adding a few more intimate virtual events with no more than 10-12 attendees? Lucky winners would be randomly drawn from the membership base and could earn the opportunity to interact with authors via Google Hangout or any of a number of other virtual platforms.

Exclusive content is another way to drive consumer engagement. Would your authors be willing to create short articles, videos, etc. that are shared via the membership program? I realize every author won’t be on board with this, but the ones who will are the authors who understand the importance of connecting with their readers.

This sort of program could be used to drive more sales through all channels. If you’re interested in building a better direct channel, though you could also offer a variety of discounts and other incentives to get consumers to buy from your site.

It’s amazing that in 2016 most publishers still act as if there’s no benefit in establishing a relationship with their readers. The reality is these same publishers are missing out on opportunities to expose more of their content to readers who have already bought from them. And as the saying goes, maintaining an existing customer generally leads to a better economic outcome than trying to find and sell to a new customer.

This article first appeared on Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.

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4 thoughts on “How Are You Connecting with Your Customers?

  1. Robert Gottlieb

    This article is a good one.

    Connecting with the book consumer has always been a blind spot in publishing.

    Historically publishers simply didn’t have the resources to reach out to consumers beyond some ads and for big authors there were tours, radio and tv. Some publishers did nothing beyond relying on reviews and out reach to media asking for support.

    The internet has changed the game in a major manner.

    As I have written previously some publishers are better at out reach to consumers today than others in connection with internet marketing.

    Publishers also make business choices as to which books they will put their resources behind because of return on investment. Fortunately today authors also have resources and knowledge which can be used successfully due to social media and the internet. It is key for authors to work on building out their social media platform.

    Publishers in my opinion have to do a mix of marketing from within and out sourcing of their marketing in order to reach the widest consumer audience possible in a very competitive market place.

    Robert Gottlieb
    Trident Media Group, LLC.
    Literary Agency
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  2. Derek Brandon

    How can you connect with your customers if you sell through Amazon, Audible, iTunes etc.? Is it the case that THEY have access to your customers contact details, not you?



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