“The self-publishing of authors is already affecting the marketplace. But the introduction of self-publishing by entities will be much more disruptive,” forecasts Mike Shatzkin, an insightful and seasoned book industry observer. Indeed, Shatzkin believes that book publishing won’t even be an industry before long, but an organizational function across many industries.
“Soon—in the next 5 or 10 years,” he predicts, “every university (perhaps most departments within a university), every law firm and accounting firm and consulting firm, certainly every content creator in other media, as well as most manufacturers and retailers will become book publishers too.”
The Age of Content
About a year and a half ago, I asked a younger adult family member what he mostly did with his new iPad. “Consume content,” he replied without skipping a beat. I was bemused by this at the time, but his reply is telling about what people expect in the information age: content, and lots of it. What’s more, “consume” implies an insatiability. The content-hungry public needs to be fed. And fed. And fed.
Content marketing has advanced dramatically in the business world in recognition of this constant demand for fresh content. The concept is not new; a great video from the Content Marketing Institute shows that John Deere kicked off the idea of connecting with customers through stories and other content of interest with its Furrow magazine in 1895. But the idea has exploded with the Internet, especially when social media took off with Web 2.0.
“Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media,” says CMI. “It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”
Book Self-Publishing as Part of a Content Marketing Strategy
That’s where self-publishing a book comes in for organizations like the ones Shatzkin identifies above. Books—whether print or digital—can be a powerful component of a content marketing strategy that might also include print and digital articles and whitepapers, a dynamic and engaging website, blogs, tweets, and other forms of brand-driven publishing.
Unlike tweets, blog postings, and whitepapers, though, a book requires a fairly significant investment of time and money. It also requires skills and expertise that not all organizations (or marketing departments) have. But when treated like a project that involves a blended team of in-house and external experts, self-publishing a book successfully—and then another, and then another—can be a very achievable goal.
As an editor and writer, I have worked on numerous non-fiction books that were self-published by businesses of various sizes, from sole proprietors to multinationals. In coming blog posts, I’ll talk about a few of these projects—how the individuals or organizations approached the book publishing process, who was involved, how much time was required, and so on. Only a few of these projects were taken on as part of a larger content marketing strategy, but I’ll talk about how those that didn’t would have benefitted from that perspective—and how other forms of content would have benefitted from the books—if they had.