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How shall I publish thee? Let me count the ways…

Just two months ago, I left a career in traditional publishing to set up a new company working with business owners as a coach and publisher, clarifying business strategy, then creating a content-rich marketing plan to support that strategy, including books in print and digital formats. The starting point for the books I publish is the author’s business activities.

My clients don’t see themselves primarily as authors, and their primary aim is increased visibility and business growth. For them, publishing is a marketing investment, with the bonus of a supplementary revenue stream at the end (and because they pay the costs of publication, those revenues belong to them). They want control, speed, flexibility, the right to reuse the book content - in blogs, to create elearning material, any damn way they like - the ability to update in real time following customer feedback, or to link to a new promotion: they don’t currently get any of these from traditional deals.

Here are a few of the ways in which I’ve seen publishing services like mine described:

  • independent publishing (Good, but sadly already colonised by independent traditional publishers.)
  • vanity publishing (Oh please. SO last century.)
  • self-publishing (But you’re not doing it by yourself. That’s the whole point.)
  • assisted publishing (Makes me think of assisted suicide, which is absolutely not the right note to be striking.)
  • assisted self-publishing (More accurate, but a mouthful.)
  • empowered publishing (I like this, but I’m not sure I could say it with a straight face.)
  • hybrid publishing (Usually two streams in one company: author-pays and publisher-pays. Or author pays for some bits. Fine, but complicated.)
  • curated publishing (Either: author pays but publisher decides whether or not to publish, OR: self-published content shared on a platform such as LinkedIn.)
  • PAAS – publishing-as-a-service (I love this, but sadly it doesn’t mean anything to anyone unfamiliar with tech terminology.)
  • content marketing (OK – I’m lying. I’ve never heard it called this, except by me.)

This is blatantly nuts. It’s also probably inevitable: we tried out steam buggy, gasoline buggy, horseless carriage, and motorwagen before we settled on an uncomfortable trans-Atlantic coexistence of car and automobile, and who knows what new terminology will evolve as self-driving cars take to the road?

So until the language catches up with this fabulous, confusing era of publishing history I’ll carry on calling myself a publisher, and enjoy the freedom of creating new ways of publishing that push our lexicon to its limits.

Tags: publishing | self-publishing


This entry was posted on 17 June 2014 at 17:17 and is filed under publishing. You can leave a response here.

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