Buying/building a publishing system – Part One

Just in the midst of writing a short presentation for the American University Press Association meeting next week in Minneapolis. So thought would share some thoughts on buying in or indeed building your own system to manage all your publishing information.

A lot of the things I am going to say are not (with respect) big publisher or small publisher issues they are common to most publishers I meet. I say this as I know that it is commonly expressed by industry bodies and trading partners that small publishers tend to be worse at this kind of stuff. And up to a point that may be true due to lack of resource and so on. But, I can also say that one of the advantages Anko does have is that we speak to literally everyone from literally one/two person man to some of the largest trade publishers such as Workman Publishing and its many imprints. And in our experience ‘crapness’ of information; its organisation and form are not just (contrary to popular belief) exclusive to the smaller publishers it is just the larger publishers tend to have more resource to cover it up.

Anyway, let’s start with some of the advantages of having some sort of system at all:

1) If nothing else putting all your information in one place with commonsense links between that information will make life a hell of a lot easier.

You’ll be amazed at how many copies of the same thing exist in a myriad of forms in even the smallest publishers. Often the integrity of that information may be highly suspect leading to time consuming correcting and confirmation repeated each time someone needs that information. Good examples are blurbs amended by different people and addresses of any description almost never matching. Leading to lots of ‘which email is the correct one?’ conversations that sap the will to live.

2) You should be able to make better informed publishing decisions

All title, cost, royalty, scheduling etc etc information in one place will mean that you should be much better informed about the cost; price; availability and so on. For example, a solution like the Anko Publishing Manager can tell you in real time the affect of any change in any variable. For example, a change in the royalty rate; the discount given or an increase in the numbers being printed cost are reflected immediately in the cost price and consequently your gross and net profits.

So, a good system should enable you properly to allocate your resources in the right areas. This is important when you take into account the typical mix at the average trade publisher between titles that make serious money (a few) and those that don’t (the many).

3) The chance to automate some of the more time consuming (and dull!!!) tasks

How much time do you spend generating your royalty statements? Or getting your title information out to Amazon? Or putting together title information sheets? Anyway, you get the point.

4) Better communication with your trading partners

Providing your trading partners and the bibliographic agencies with accurate; complete and timely title information in the form that they want is the simplest and most cost effective way of seeing a percentage increase in the number of books you sell. Fact! Don’t take my word for it. A little while back at the BISGs Making Information Pay conference. Joe Gonnella of Barnes & Noble gave an example of how adding cover graphics to the data base for 19,222 titles increased their sales by 60%. Yet 63.7% of all titles and 36.4% of active titles in their data base lack title commentary data (including covers). What else is going to give you that kind of increase? A good system should do this for you and in the industry Onix standard. Without, again blowing our own trumpet the Anko Publishing Manager is by some margin the most affordable option for doing this. And all with two clicks. If you doubt me just download the video proof below.

Generate Onix

5) Just entering information once

One of the more common reasons I hear from publishers for not sorting their information out properly is that they don’t have the time. We then spend a little while working out how much time it has taken to re enter the same blurb information each time when it is needed for:

a) The website

b) To send to Amazon/Nielsen/whoever

c) The Title Information sheet

d) Catalogue

There is then generally a silence which we fill with the passing of a simple spreadsheet for them to put all this information in to and we vow never to mention it again.


Filed under: Publishing

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