Hey Publishers – Authors Are Your Customers!
In what now seems a different era, it was once the author chasing, begging and pleading with the publishing house to be published. While your manuscript would sit on the desk of the publishing house indefinitely, you would sit at home waiting to see if your manuscript was worthy of a response.
Now, the tables have turned and it is the publishers who are chasing and trying to woo new authors. The monopolistic control the big publishers once had has now disappeared thanks to new platforms and self-publishing tools available for writers and authors.
Amazon’s Winning Strategy
Amazon clearly understands that writers and authors are their customers so they treat self-published authors with great respect and provide the required customer service which was once only afforded to well-known traditionally published authors.
This was made clear at the recent London Book Fair. Although, this ‘customer service’ may not always be through personal interaction, they do have the best online platforms and help available. Amazon also provides many platforms and services for free.
I must say it would be unfair to group all publishers together with regards to their outdated attitude towards self-published authors wanting to get published. There are some publishers who have changed their thinking to also now provide great customer service.
Those who haven’t, and who have been slow to acknowledge the generational shift towards digital publishing, are quickly fading away and being replaced by the new innovative publishers. This also applies to many areas covering self-published authors such as nominating these best-selling authors for reputable literary awards.
Amazon is the ‘All-in-one’ store and understands that it must also improve its pathway to connecting with authors through more specific websites and platforms that cater to their target audience of authors.
Yes, Amazon focuses on the ‘buying customer’ who buys eBooks from Amazon. However; they are also focused on their ‘author customers’ who will publish via their publishing business -‘ Amazon Publishing.’
Amazon Publishing is dedicated to ‘finding new audiences’ and making eBooks available to anyone who wants to buy them. They appear to be doing this by creating their own in-house imprints and platforms for niche genres or by buying out existing platforms with a dominant position in the market.
As shown with Goodreads (to connect with writers and authors) and now ComiXology to connect with readers and authors in the digital comic space.
Publishers are Fighting Back – Even if in Small Steps!
Some of the big publishers are fighting back hard to find ways to connect with authors. An example of where a publisher is making a concerted effort to engage writers and authors is Macmillan’s Minotaur imprint. In conjunction with Mystery Writers of America they host the annual ‘First Crime Novel Competition.’
Other publishers have also taken a step down this path with Random House’s Delacorte imprint holding a contest for the publication of a debut young adult novel.
Most of the big publishers also own online ‘Author Communities’ which is another way of engaging writers and authors. With such a long list or reading and author communities now available the battle comes down to which community provides the best return for the author. Goodreads is still winning that battle.
Authors Have Numerous Options Available
Authors are customers and now have the power to walk away and pursue other options if they feel they are getting a bad deal from a publisher. Publishers still have a role to play.
It is just that now, thanks to innovative and visionary companies like Amazon, authors are no longer dependent on publishers to see their eBooks sitting alongside the best-selling authors in online stores.
Authors are also becoming better-educated on the terms in contracts presented to them by some publishers and are speaking up to specific points that they do not agree with.
Self-published authors such as Hugh Howey have chosen to retain the rights for his eBooks while joining with a traditional publisher for the book rights. The big question for publishers is how can they regain control of the digital space? Will they just be seen as a benefit to authors for print books?
Why do we always see Amazon in the news for acquiring dominant niche platforms while we only seem to see the traditional publishers pumping out news about them trying to expand on their own platforms?
Five quick tips for publishers:
1. Acquisition – to control existing dominant audiences, platforms and markets
2. Innovation and vision – to be more ‘proactive’ rather than ‘reactive’
3. Growth – in the right direction which involves a new business strategy
4. Focus on the target audience – rather than becoming the next ‘Everything Store’ for eBooks
5. Authors are your customers in many ways so change your way of thinking and provide the service, communication, platforms and opportunities to win over all authors, including self-published authors.