Happy authors = better publishers
Why close collaboration with authors breeds success—and how MetaComet’s royalty solutions can help
Strong author to publisher relations are the bedrock of any successful publisher’s strategy. Here are just four ways in which good connections make a difference.
1 Better books. Authors who feel properly valued tend to produce better work than those who are neglected—and hit their deadlines too.
2 More sales. Motivated authors are much more likely to take an active role in marketing. In specialist markets in particular, where an author has valuable contacts, that can make a big difference to sales.
3 Long-term planning. Authors who get a positive experience will stay with a publisher rather than seek another partner. This gives certainty to editorial planning.
4 Referrals. Happy authors and illustrators act as ambassadors for publishers, recommending them to other potential contributors.
Making it work
“Authors flourish when they feel valued and supported,” says Art Molinares, President of Henery Press. “When they know we’re behind them, and that our team truly believes in them, every aspect of publishing benefits.”
But how can publishers make those relationships with authors as cordial and productive as possible? It starts by ensuring prospective authors will be a good fit for the culture and values of the business. They should understand exactly what is expected of them—from the moment they agree to a contract through to promotion of their book.
“We go beyond content when acquiring—we only want to work with authors who are passionate about our mission and are interested in being part of the entire process,” says Christopher Robbins, CEO of Familius, who has a personal interview with all his authors before they sign. After a deal is agreed, Familius provides authors with what it calls ‘adoption papers’—a briefing that outlines what both sides can expect from one another and when.
Once a publishing project is underway, communication is key for great publisher/author relations. Frequent liaison throughout the editorial and production process keeps everyone on track. Planning for marketing and publicity usually starts at least a few months before publication, so that authors can schedule what is required of them.
There are no hard and fast rules about frequency of contact, and publishers will prefer varying levels of engagement over things like cover design and publicity work. But the most important thing for authors is to know that channels are open—that they can call or email with any query at any time. As well as personalized timelines setting out exactly what will happen to an author’s manuscript and when, Henery Press offers access to an online help desk and a searchable knowledge base called the Helping Hen, containing answers to common questions and information about the publishing process.
And communication doesn’t shut down after publication. Familius sends bi-weekly emails to all its authors and illustrators, updating them on what’s happening at the company and individual books, and celebrating success together. It helps to make authors feel like they are a part of the publishing family, working together towards the same goals.
Small details like thank you or congratulatory messages, or even a birthday greeting, can give authors a lift, adds Art Molinares. “We do our very best every day to show our appreciation—which ultimately leads to happy authors and even happier readers.”
Putting authors in touch with one another can be productive too. Online forums allow writers to widen their contacts, share ideas and promote one another’s books. Famiius has created a Facebook site called the ‘Familius Backyard’, and Robbins says it has been a very effective tool.
Getting royalties right
A little further down the line comes a crucial aspect of strong author relationships: royalties. This is where publishers can really demonstrate their care and commitment and foster a strong relationship with the author. On royalties, authors value three key qualities:
1 Efficiency. Delivering royalty statements and payouts on time, every time is a sure sign of a professional and responsible publisher.
2 Accuracy. Errors in royalty calculations can cause embarrassment and a breakdown in trust.
3 Ease. Authors value clear royalty statements, presented transparently and on an easily accessible but secure platform.
It sounds simple, but it’s not! Manual royalty management is fine for very small publishers, but with anything more than a handful of books the process can easily become slow and unreliable. Automating statements and payouts via MetaComet’s Royalty Tracker royalty publisher software makes the job much easier, driving down costs and freeing up publishers to concentrate on publishing and selling great content. Authors meanwhile enjoy access to MetaComet’s AuthorPortal, where they can see their statements at a glance.
“Getting their statements accurately and on time is absolutely critical to good author relationships,” says Christopher Robbins. Art Molinares adds: “While I’m sure our authors adore our well-wishes and applaud our communications, when the quarter draws to an end, they need us to show them the money. Royalty management allows us to pay our authors on time and accurately, and it underlines their trust in us.”
Talk to MetaComet to learn more about how we can help keep your authors happy.