Author Archives: Emma Barnes

Emma Barnes

About Emma Barnes

Emma Barnes has spent twelve years and counting at the helm of Snowbooks, the award-winning, innovative independent trade publisher. Now she's using her deep understanding of the realities of modern publishing to make Bibliocloud, a FutureBook award-winning, all-in-one publishing solution. Contact her at emma@bibliocloud.com.

data, metadata, books, sales, bookstores

Who Has the Balance of Power over Data?

Who has access to the data that can best predict how readers will spend their money? Who has data on how people read books—how far they get, how many they buy, how often they buy, whether their purchases cluster around certain dates? Who has the permission to contact readers by post, email or text—to...

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

If you were writing a business plan to set up a new consumer goods business, which of the following two strategies would make most sense? Strategy 1: Identify a market which, while mature, has publicly suffered of late, with a series of high-profile failures, and whose future is uncertain. Agree with these high-risk target...

publishers, sales, retail, genre fiction, apps

The Right Tool for the Job

“What you have to understand about us,” says every publisher ever, “is that we are a little bit different. We’re not like everyone else.” I talk to a wide range of publishers about their workflow and processes, and it’s true that each publisher’s route to market is crafted to suit their particular style, culture,...

Mechanical Sympathy Makes Rights Data Easy

Mechanical Sympathy Makes Rights Data Easy

The way I drive, sometimes, you wouldn’t think I believe in mechanical sympathy. But I can assure you I do. Mechanical sympathy is the ability to have an awareness of and empathy for how a machine works, as well as the capacity to adjust your engagement with that machine to help it perform optimally. If you...

Publishers Must Be Aware of Their Technical Debt

Publishers Must Be Aware of Their Technical Debt

In programming, there’s a concept called “technical debt,” and it’s one that has much to offer as a way of thinking about your publishing business. Technical debt is what you accrue when you write bad code or take some expedient shortcut or just think, “Nah, that’ll never be needed.” At some point, you might...

Your Biggest Weapon: Managing Expectations

Skills development, well-thought-through workflows, decent transactional websites, careful integrations of software using APIs, and thoughtful planning are all valuable strategies. And if you adopt a considered, strategic approach to building a publisher, you increase the likelihood that your company will still be around, relevant and thriving next year, in five years and in 10...

Don’t Outsource Your Publishing Business Away

In the debate over whether to rely on outsourcing or develop skills in-house, I come down firmly on the side of learning skills yourself. A major reason for this is personal satisfaction: competence and capability make you feel good about yourself. And by extension, a happy, motivated workforce makes for better publishing. Another motivation...

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud coding ebook publishers

Publishers Can Learn a Few Things from Programmers

As both a publisher and a programmer, I’m a member of a very select club. It consists of both those who started out as coders and went into publishing and those who did the reverse. I’m in the latter group, having co-founded a little indie press called Snowbooks in 2003. When I needed a system...

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud ebook publishing production editorial workflows IT

No Computer System Can Fix a Broken Publisher

With stability taking hold of the hybrid print-digital market after years of rapid ebook growth, many publishers are turning to evaluate how workflow automation and other IT solutions can streamline their businesses and make them more efficient. That’s undeniably a good thing, but as I’ve written before, the allure of a new digital system...

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud Digital Book World publishing solutions ebook workflows

Why ‘Easy’ Publishing Solutions Hardly Ever Are

Almost every week, a new technological innovation comes to market, promising to save publishers money, streamline workflow, reduce administrative burdens or reach more readers. These innovations are diverse, but they share one thing in common: each promises to make our lives easier. The unique selling propositions vary. Some offer easy enhancement of ebooks (CircularFlo,...

Ruby on Rails ebook publishers websites coding

What Publishers Need to Know about Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails—or just “Rails” for short—is my web development framework of choice. If your job has anything to do with the Internet—which if you’re reading this it does—then you’ve likely used a Rails application already today. Groupon, Airbnb, Shopify, Bloomberg, Indiegogo and hundreds of thousands of other websites are all written in Rails. Since so...

ebook publishers direct-to-consumer strategy

The Real Price of a Strategy Shift

Whatever your strategy, you need to pay a “strategy tax.” That’s the name I give to the cost you’ll end up paying to support your business strategy. Take Amazon. It has a hands-off strategy. Amazon doesn’t want to pay staff to answer phones; it wants publishers to be self-service. We don’t phone them or...

book publishers inbound marketing ebooks

The How and Why of Inbound Book Marketing

Discoverability, SEO, keywords, rich metadata—get these things correct and success is yours, right? Wrong, I’m sorry to say. Discoverability isn’t nearly enough. Discoverability relies on someone actively trying to discover something, which comes only at the end stage of the buying process. You need to catch people much earlier—long before they even know they...

direct-to-consumer ebook publishers

To Go Direct, Publishers Must Mean Business

The arithmetic of publishing is fairly straightforward: Sell plenty of books at as high a margin as you can manage, and don’t spend all that margin on overheads. To make that sum work, there are a number of levers a business can pull in order to improve its fortunes. You can increase the retail...