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Back to front publishing

How you go about planning our publishing activities could make all the difference to your long term success.

By James Evelegh

Back to front publishing
Jackie Scully presenting at last week's PPA Independent Publisher Conference.

How’s the planning going for 2022?

How are you going about deciding what publishing activities to do? Is your start point something along the lines of, what did we do last year and, of those things, what do we want to do more or less of this year?

If it is, then there is good and bad news. The good news is that you are not alone in your approach. The bad news is that you are approaching your planning the wrong way around.

Deciding on your outputs should be the last step in the process not the first.

That’s the lesson I took away from Jackie Scully’s presentation at the recent PPA Independent Publisher Conference, which this year had a mix of virtual and in-person elements.

The session was titled, ‘Creating a successful digital content strategy’, although Jackie was quick to point out that the word ‘digital’ was a bit superfluous, because her advice related to all content.

Paraphrasing Jackie slightly (attendees can access her full presentation on demand), a better approach would be:

  1. Identify your audience’s needs.
  2. Establish what resources you have available (skills, knowledge, expertise etc) to meet those needs.
  3. Work out the best way to deliver the content your audience needs.
  4. Decide on your outputs (ie your channel plan)

Only once you have systematically worked through the first three stages can you begin to sketch out your channel plan, and it’s perfectly possible that, having gone through this process, that you realise that the optimum channel plan looks quite different to your current one.

It’s all too easy to base next year’s activity on last year’s, but each time you do it, you miss out on a golden opportunity to ask the questions that really matter.

If these fundamental questions are imaginatively and honestly addressed, then it could transform your publishing business, for the better.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.