As a publisher, you are responsible for producing a quality product at all levels: writing, editing, design, printing, customer service and marketing (pricing, promotion and distribution). Poor quality – whether in product and service – can destroy a publishing venture over time. Negative word-of-mouth communication whether in person, in blogs, on discussion groups and forums, or through social media spreads quickly and is difficult to overcome. While you cannot control what others say about you on these media, you can control the source of their pleasure or discontent by maintaining high levels of product and service quality. Here are Ten Aspects of Product and Service Quality.
The metrics that publishing companies use most often to track performance include financial measures such as changes in sales and revenue. But viewed in isolation, these may have little connection to your long-term commercial success.
The question most publishers periodically ask themselves is, “Did I achieve the goals that I set?” The numbers are easy to measure and compare -- you either reached your sales objectives or you did not.
Due to this perceived simplicity, publishers stop there and recalculate their objectives for the next period. The problem with this process is it measures something you cannot control -- sales and revenue. If you could control them, then reaching goals would be a given. But you can only influence the attainment of those metrics by the actions you take.
In a recent discussion, I was asked, “How many authors are up to the task of selling 1000 books?” My immediate (unpublished) response was, “If you can’t sell 1000 books, why bother publishing?” But upon more thought, that flip response would have been a great disservice to those who really want to sell 1000 books, but do not know how. The word “TASK” struck me as a perfect acronym representing four areas that I believe need attention in order to be successful as an author. Each requires much greater description than below, but this may give foundering authors food for thought. Two of these characteristics are internal (TA), while two can be acquired (SK). Attend to each and I believe your ability to sell 1000 or more books will be greatly enhanced.
Some habits are good, some not so good. How can you tell if a habit is good or bad? Good habits are hard to make and easy to break. Bad habits are easy to make and hard to break. Many publishers are in the easy-to-make habit of selling only through bookstores. They market each new title in the same way they did all previous books. While that habit is not inherently bad, it could limit your sales, revenue and profits. Evaluate your habits and seek a different way to increase your sales. Here are Ten Tips For Making Good Marketing Habits.
Your business model is the result of the decisions you have made to generate sales, earn revenue and manage risks. The business model of choice for most authors and publishers is to sell books through book retailers (bricks and clicks) and perhaps to libraries. This choice is usually made because “it’s the way we’ve always done business,” rather than a calculated decision based business, competitive and market analysis.
However, according to BookScan, 93% of all new books do not sell more than 100 copies. Perhaps thinking about different ways of selling your books might be necessary, or at least considered.
Growing your business depends in large part on your ability to innovate – both content and marketing. Moving from your core business (trade sales) into special (non-bookstore) markets is an example. Creating a mastermind group can help you access the combined knowledge of others to help you make the move. To do this, build an environment in which people feel comfortable, willing and able to innovate. Here are the Top Ten Principles For Developing a Successful Mastermind Team.