Publishing and the Paradox of Promotion

DBW conf header

A few days ago, intrepid publicist Kat Engh reported back to San Francisco’s Book Promotion Forum (formerly NCBPMA) on Digital Book World’s recent conference in New York.  Two central themes emerged which, at first glance, appear contradictory.

On the one hand, publishers are recognizing that the twin core of their business is books and authors.  Readers don’t buy a book because of who published it, but who wrote it.  Forget the table at Locke-Ober, cocktails at the Algonquin, the gilt-edged expense account.  Publishers are service providers.  Their top priority is to reinforce the link between reader and author–i.e., help authors build a strong connection with readers–because that link, not the one between reader and publisher, springs the mousetrap.

36_258698_unbekannt_galley-slaves-of-the-barbary-corsairsOne is tempted to observe that we on the galley-slave end of publishing have known this for . . . what? about 500 years?  Still: better late than never.

On the other hand, how does this shape the way publishers approach their customers, AKA readers?  Are we talking warm and fuzzy?  Shared interests?  Being a good listener?

Not exactly.  Here are the marketing presentations.

Agile Marketing: How Data, Research and Analysis Can Help You Build Lasting Relationships with Readers – Peter McCarthy, Founder, McCarthy Digital

Making Meaningful Reader Connections: Defining, Building, and Using Your Known Customer Databases – Suzie Sisoler, Senior Director of Consumer Engagement, Penguin Group (USA), A division of Penguin Random House

Data-Driven Marketing and the Delicate Balance Between People and Machines – David Boyle, SVP of Consumer Insight, Harper Collins Publishers

Rinse and Repeat: Measure, Analyze, and Optimize – an Interactive Approach to Realizing Your Marketing ROI – Erica Curtis, Director, Marketing Analytics, Penguin Random House

How does an intense focus on data mesh with supporting authors as they nurture their personal connection with readers? Intriguing clues appear in the presentations. Whether those clues will solve the mystery of successful publishing, only time–and data?–will tell.