Capturing your audience: the theatre of online publishing

In the age of the online wordsmith, writing and publishing is no longer restricted to lofty armchair philosophers and pipe-smoking literary prudes. The option of self-publishing and online publishing, once seen as a failing writer’s last resort, has become the new trend in online distribution.E-book publishers have had to learn the new rules of the game fast, with rising global competitors, rising manuscript submissions and a rising age of new-age content creators. As increasingly new releases are finding their footing in the online sphere – with the success of e-book giants such as The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey – e-book publishing has become a lucrative niche of its own. Digital Book World created an e-book publisher power ranking tool to track how well each publisher is doing at sales. Forbes then released the top three publishing powerhouses of 2013 -Hachette, Random House and Penguin.Hachette is this year’s publishing wunderkind – with the success of series like Beautiful Creatures, 27% of all books on the list so far this year have been titles fromthem.Random House and Penguin follow closely with 87 titles and 42 titles, respectively. Combined, Penguin Random House (who are in the middle of a merger) has published roughly 40% of all e-book best-sellers this year.

How have they done this?

Online publishing, be it eBooks, e-magazines or large scale blogging, is all a game of vigilance and focused marketing. However, there are a few mistakes online publishers make which could tip the scale from global competitor to virtual plebeian:

  1. An excessively broad scope of topics – one of the misplaced conceits of online publishing is the idea that a niche is restricting. This is not the case; it is imperative to build on an area of expertise or a voice of authority on a specific subject matter. Otherwise your site will look like the online equivalent of a flea market – confusing, unfocused and poorly directed.
  2. Lack of audience interaction – the online world is teeming with readers who are full of knowledge and opinions, and are accustomed to Web interactivity. Inviting knowledgeable readers and customers to be part of the process exposes your content and builds loyalty and consistency in your target market. Social media and forums are the key to this door.
  3. Drowning in net filth – Nobody is immune to data-overload. Protect your site and your content by installing filtering software.
  4. Passion – Advertisers know that the new online publishing niche is the proverbial golden egg-laying goose, but readers have the ability to differentiate between a publisher who places genuine value on the type and quality of their content, and those who are simply content-producing conveyer belts. The difference is your own level of passion and interest for the outcome you are creating.
  5. Inadequate marketing campaigns – Visibility is the name of the game. Unless you are a marketing guru who knows the secrets to wooing Google, your first and most important step is to invest enough time and resources into a campaign that will launch you to a visible height. Publishing good content means nothing if your online presence is that of a wall flowers.
  6. New platforms: Internet content trends change at an incredible rate and it is important to know what is currently drawing readers – changing a 2500 word blog post, into a 300 word infographic, can resurrect a dead page into something that could actually generate valuable traffic.

Publisher managed solutions are crucial in generating and retaining traffic. Paying attention to the type and quality of your content, its presentation and its level of authority are all factors that attract readers. Audience loyalty is not just a keyword game, but a practice of consistently understanding and interacting with your audience – much like an ongoing theatrical show.

Steven has been writing articles on online puplishing for the past 5 years

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