Publishers Help Broaden Author Reach and Revenue Beyond Books

hands o n laptop
Book publishers are helping authors self-promote. Getty Images

In recent years, income from book royalties have shrunk for many authors, even those who have been most established. Out of necessity, authors have had to become entrepreneurs and market themselves and their books in innovative ways. At the same time, to maintain profits, the book publishers (like most businesses) must do more with less.

As more is squarely in the hands of the author, publishers are helping authors to learn more about how to promote themselves in various ways, to everyone's benefit.

Book publishers start initiatives to help authors market themselves

Publishers and authors are realizing that publishing a book and growing the  business (of being an author) are symbiotic endeavors — an author ideally brings a platform to the publications, the book increases the author platform, which increases the demand for the author, which increases books sales and further strengthens the platform.

Some book publishers have fostered the entrepreneurial spirit and offered authors advice on marketing. For example:

  • Penguin Random House has an online portal for its authors, which it updates with useful information pertinent to business. PRH also hosts monthly author webinars to educate and give its stable tactical, actionable advice on topics such as social media, making author videos, or Google analytics.
  • Workman runs a speaker's bureau to help its authors book paid appearances as experts
  • Self-publishing companies such as Book Baby send out regular marketing advice to authors on subjects like doing a blog tour.

Publisher imprint fosters platforms beyond books 

​In that spirit, Simon and Schuster launched two new non-book-centric ventures. According to Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, "For authors today a successful career can often mean full-time engagement in extra-to-publishing activities, and with North Star we aim to help our authors identify outlets for their message, to continually grow their profile and their overall business.”

SimonSays.com is an online portal of revenue-generating video courses "that will give readers and consumers greater access … to the wisdom and expertise of favorite authors, in courses that both expand upon and complement each author’s published work."

North Star Way is an imprint that will, its press release says, "partner with its authors to develop strategies that amplify and increase their reach, providing a singular source for creating and managing the many diverse elements that will grow their careers and maximize their sales in multiple mediums." These mediums include online courses and subscriptions; seminars, workshops and panel discussions; mobile applications; original videos and audio books; sponsorships and business partnerships; podcasts; and, of course, books.

Referring to their target talent, North Star Way Vice President and Publisher Michele Martin is “looking for client-authors — entrepreneurs, experts, inspirational figures, sometimes even well before they have written a book— with whom we can partner to build an audience and generate revenue, whether it be from publishing or other sources.”

There will presumably be content- and client-author overlap between SimonSays.com the new publishing unit and both will focus on nonfiction in the fields of self-improvement and inspiration, mind-body-spirit, motivation, fitness and wellness and finance, business inspiration and leadership.

Inspired by multi-platform author-entrepreneurs?

Simon & Schuster seems to have taken a page from the success of entrepreneurial gurus like Marie Forleo (business inspiration), Danielle LaPorte ("Self-help meets marketing ninja," according to Forbes.com), and Kate Northrup (inspirational finance) who have built businesses around infectious can-do messages and personality-driven blog posts, videos, and webinar or podcast — content strategies. Forleo, especially, has successfully relied on her own platforms rather than on any traditional models — and makes a business of telling others how to do the same.

Evidence of this is that one of the first authors North Star Way acquired was Maya Penn, the 14-year-old TED-talking wunderkind who's already made broad, deep inroads into the entrepreneurial speaker-guru arena (don't look her up — trust me, it will just make you feel like an underachiever… When does the kid have time to do homework?)

Of course, broadening the content developed and managed by publishers is presumably going to take onboarding staff with new skill sets like content strategists, content developers, partnership development salespeople, as well as the technical experts to develop apps and create videos. And it will be exciting to see the developments that will benefit authors' and publishers' bottom line. 

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by