if:book’s Kate Eltham is currently blogging for if:book from the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York City.
Going Digital: Launching a Digital-First Business from within a Traditional Publisher
Through case studies detailing the successes and learnings from multiple digital business launches, two Harlequin digital team members will share the challenges met, solutions found and efficiencies utilized in the creation of their digital-first initiatives, as well as practical advice and answers for publishers interested in entering the digital-first market.
Kate's Notes (Part 2)
Starting a digital-first press from within a traditional publisher: A case study of Carina Press (Harlequin)
Things to be aware of...
- Find your allies/advocates
- Build a network of supporters within the larger publishing company. You need help to adjust existing systems and overcome resistance.
- Work within the existing systems
- Develop workarounds
- Develop and use your own systems where needed, while you work to change the company's legacy processes to incorporate digital
- Production database/tracking systems may need to be adjusted for the faster development timeline
- ISBNs (see metadata)
- Metadata (pay attention, it's important)
- Formatting decisions (input formats from authors, page numbers, headers, title page, copyright page, back cover copy?)
- Proofreading, quality control workflow
- Ensure that you are delivering a quality product to the end-consumer - the reader
Have you thought about...?
- Author "copies"
- Will you give your author a DRM-free copy of the digital file?
- Carina Press gives their authors an ePub file to use for promotion, giveaways, reviews etc.
- Author promotional support
- How much and how soon?
- Deliver authors the cover files, give them permission to use digital assets, give them title information sheets with essential data
- Take ownership of processes as soon as possible
- metadata, conversion, warehousing, distribution
- make it manually if necessary
- work directly with partners
- Take ownership of marketing
- Don't cede all of the marketing to the print marketing team, it's different
- Readers: why your product is good
- Authors: why your publishing imprint is good (as opposed to self-publishing)
- Your colleagues: become an in-house evangelist, proactively work to change perceptions, spread your message throughout the company, be grassroots
- "Not real books" / Quality
- Getting to the reader
- Business model - contracts
- Keep business going while constantly looking to the future
- Industry data standards out of date and changing slowly
- Adapting to a constantly changing market
- Time and energy
Advice (Warning: Cliches ahead!)
- Be in it for the long haul
- Stay the course
- But... don't be afraid to admit something's not working
- Adapt, be agile
- Never lose sight of the future! (why did you start this, what's your end goal, what are you doing next?)