Thank you Alison Coleman for publishing our comments on cross-media marketing in the Guardian
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Great, informative article. Worth a read:
The advent of digital publishing technology and e-books has created opportunities for home-based publishers
The world of publishing was once the preserve of very large organisations, huge publishing houses with massive production infrastructures and costs, that kept smaller niche publishers on the fringes, struggling for a tiny share of the market.
Now, with the advent of digital publishing technology, the growing popularity of e-books, and the flexibility of print on demand that eliminates many of the cost challenges of volume print runs, the publishing business has played nicely into the hands of the small, home-based publisher.
Depending on the type of publishing you are planning to do, previous knowledge of the industry and the marketplace can be a real benefit.
Phillip Dauncey has worked in children’s publishing since 1999, having worked for companies such as Gullane Children’s Books, Ladybird, and Priddy Books, and gained a wealth of experience in all aspects of the business, from production to sales.
When he and his family relocated from London to Bath five years ago, he decided to use his knowledge and expertise to set up his own children’s book publishing business from home, a venture that he saw as having relatively low overheads, and the potential for generating a comparable salary quite quickly.
He launched Really Decent Books in April 2012, publishing two titles in August, while preparing a further 12 titles to take to Frankfurt book fair in October 2012, where he sold the Portuguese, Italian, Afrikaans and Hebrew translation rights to customers he had met in previous roles.
He said: “I am completely home-based; it is just myself, and a network of freelance illustrators, and third party warehouse storage for UK stock. I commission, design, produce and sell the books myself and we now have around 50 titles published and are growing by around 20 to 25 titles every year.
“Because our overheads are so low compared to those of a large organisation, we can offer comparable titles in content and quality, but at a healthy discount. We can also create something that our customers want if the volume is there without the need to take it to committee.”
He does admit, however, that one crucial factor to his home publishing success has been the contacts and the trust that he has built up over the last 15 years in the industry, and the breadth of his experience.
A background in marketing and PR has proved useful to Claire Harrison, founder of children’s book publishing business Peggylicious, which she runs from her home in Cheltenham. Her books are written for the three to seven-year-old age group, with dogs as the central characters, and she published her first in 2011.
She invested in a piece of publishing design software, InDesign, that allows her to create the artwork and page layouts, but uses a local printer to produce the finished books.
For a small home-based book publishing business, some of the biggest challenges include determining the size of the print runs that will be needed and then storing the finished products before they are sold.
“Print runs are based on the success of the last book, and with digital printing you can now print a very small amount to test the water if needed,” explains Harrison.
“However, storing the books is my biggest problem. I don’t have a separate storage facility so I have boxes hidden all over the house, in the downstairs loo, under the beds, in cupboards, everywhere,” she adds.
Competition in the sector is growing, so a strong USP and effective marketing strategy is key to survival for any small publisher. It’s not just about print. Small publishers also need to be online savvy, and ensure their books are available online via Kindle, Amazon and so on, which means keeping up to date with the latest publishing opportunities.
Marketing with little or no budget is another challenge. Harrison uses local and regional press, book signings, and online resources to promote her books.
She says: “You need to be creative and think of different ways to get your name out there. As with any business that is run from by one person from home, the hardest part is juggling everything; it is all down to you, and time management can be difficult.”
Thomas Dodds, managing director of PrintUK.com, an online design and print service says there are plenty of cost effective ways for publishers to promote themselves and their publications.
He says: “Facebook is great for creating a company personality but unlikely to convert much into sales, while Twitter is great for exposure and for finding companies to contact. Linkedin is all business; and I have found that this can be a very important tool in showcasing your products, locally and nationally.
“Focus your time and effort on the people and organisations that you think could make the biggest difference to your business. It’s all about cross-media marketing, using a combination of marketing methods for maximum impact.”
Written by Alison Coleman,