Mike Shatzkin

Posted by Guy Pringle, 18th December 2012

Mr Shatzkin is the visionary behind The Idea Logical Company in the US and is truly a lateral thinker about the publishing industry. His blog today posits his ideas on 

Rethinking book marketing and its organization in the big houses (see http://www.idealog.com/blog/rethinking-book-marketing-and-its-organization-in-the-big-houses/)

 

I have to admit that some of his more abstruse ideas leave me stranded in admiration not only of his brain but his ability to express himself - not always the same thing in my experience. SO if I've got his hypothesis wrong then I apologize in advance but essentially it is that publishers need to move from "a title-driven marketing structure to an audience-driven marketing structure". 

 

He's writing about the situation he sees in the US but it seems to me the same is true here in the UK - publicists we talk to about the books we want to cover and the authors we'd like to include in our pages are obsessed with publication dates. Yes, there are genre efforts but it still feels like a sausage machine where every sausage is unique and has its 15 minutes of fame. If it makes it to the frying pan, great, and if not then there’s another sausage along any minute now.

 

Mr Shatzkin’s main area of interest is in maximizing the data now available from the internet in all its many incarnations – websites, twitter, facebook, blogs. It is also enhanced by the ‘long tail’ availability of books with digital print runs or ebook versions. From this can be refined opportunities to promote a book when it is of most interest to its readership not necessarily because of something the publicity department has orchestrated in that 15 minute slot.

 

Now you may be ahead of me here but it struck me that – in terms of ‘old technology’ – newbooks encapsulates the very idea of ‘an audience-driven marketing structure’.

 

This isn’t something I’m about to put on the front cover of the magazine, you understand, but – in analytical terms – it does describe the community we seem to have created and enjoy engaging with so much.

Example: I’ve just taken a phone order from Sheila Tomkins who ended by mentioning that she belongs to a reading group to which Mandy Jenkinson also belongs. At which point we began talking about how well read Mandy was and coming up with suggestions to challenge to put to her. And then we moved on to our June 2013 conference and how does one apply. One short conversation with someone I’ve never met but hope to do so at which point the words ‘we’re part of an audience-driven marketing structure’ won’t occur to me – I’ll just think there’s someone else who loves reading and it doesn’t matter whether it’s in that 15 minute slot or not!

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