What are the biggest stumbling blocks for marketeers at publishing houses?

Peter Desmyttere
April 10, 2017
⏱ 3 min. read

Find out what the biggest stumbling blocks are for marketeers at publishing houses and what marketing workflow management can do for them.

A long time ago – when I was a marketeer in the publishing sector – the basic principle behind a book launch was: "Give the book a prominent place in the bookstore and try to get as much attention from the press as possible". In this digitized era, in which bookstores are becoming ever scarcer and media more and more fragmented, this is a far from satisfactory way to successfully launch a book. Additionally, the lifespan of a book has become much shorter and the number of books being thrown on the market is bigger than ever before.

Challenging times indeed for marketeers in the book business!

These are challenging times for marketeers who work at publishing houses. But what has not changed is the pressure applied by management and the authors, both of whom want to sell as many books as possible.

Marketing departments at publishing houses have undergone an extensive transformation in the past decade. This staffing has been expanded by specialized positions, such as event marketing and digital marketing. However, the marketing department has often grown artificially through mergers and acquisitions, driven by the consolidation wave that has rocked the industry. Often has this resulted in differing visions, jointly driven by the diversity of the cultures within the publishing houses.

The biggest stumbling blocks in book marketing

Based on our experience as consultants for marketing departments at publishing houses, we have noticed that the biggest problems that marketeers are currently facing are these:

  • An insufficient overview of the numerous book-related projects and marketing campaigns for each book;
  • Inadequate internal communication between the various marketeers, particularly if they are working on the same book-related project;
  • A lack of professional reporting to the management and the authors, in which the latter want to know how and where their book is being promoted; and
  • A lack of clear and scalable processes to approach book launches

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Book marketeers could be better organized

Experience has taught us that book marketeers are usually quite well informed about the techniques that can be used to launch or promote a book. They have customer-friendly websites, achieve high scores in Google, communicate in a fun and varied manner on social media, organize interesting and well-attended book events, often get attention from the press and know how to bring their book to the attention of prospective buyers via online and offline advertisements.

However… a great deal of time is lost in internal organization or workflow. Marketing workflow management is, therefore, more of an exception than the rule at marketing departments and publishing houses.

By marketing workflow management I mean the following:

  • Joint project management in which everyone knows which book-related projects run within which book funds and which overarching marketing projects are managed by whom;
  • Shared task management which is managed from a single centralized digital system, so that every marketeer knows what his or her colleagues are doing, and which also ensures better self-organization;
  • A joint campaign plan that displays the various phases of the book launch and promotion on a single, clearly-organized screen, on which adjustments to the schedule and the plan can be made easily and quickly;
  • A shared library of notes for each book, so that all agreements with regard to the marketing around a specific book can easily be retrieved;
  • A shared budget, in which all the costs related to the launch or promotion of a book are maintained in one central location by the various marketeers; and
  • A shared results overview that functions as a dashboard for the management and the authors.

At most publishing houses, all of these activities are managed using a diversity of tools, with Excel in the lead. Some publishing houses have already found their way to project management tools (like BaseCamp, Asana or Trello), but are still often grappling with a lack of specific marketing features within these generic systems.

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The best solution is to use a specific, A specialized project management tool like Husky that bundles all the elementary and crucial processes within the marketing department into a single, centralized system. The result: a more complete overview of the whole picture, more internal communication, better reporting and scalable processes. The last item in this list is particularly important, because book launches should and can be a marketing machine.

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