HarperCollins Named Publishing Innovator of the Year
Pittis notes that, collectively, the e-newsletters have a subscriber base of somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 globally. “We are looking to greatly enhance all these programs, as well as build out new programs. We’ve been investing in new digital ways to connect authors with book readers over several years now,” she says.
In fall 2007, the company also launched an AuthorAssistant tool (HarperCollinsAuthors.com), which Pittis talked extensively about during a session at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo. AuthorAssistant is an online application that enables authors to post information, images and links to the company’s author Web site network—a central location for fans to find exclusive information on their favorite authors. Forty authors from HarperCollins’ Avon imprint participated in the pilot program, and the company is now “aggressively rolling out” the AuthorAssistant, says Pittis. “We’re adding authors all the time. There’s a tremendous opportunity to now use this new content that we’re getting through Author Assistant and through Browse Inside in some of these older and bigger membership programs. So, for example,” she continues, “putting more content in the Author Tracker emails; putting more links in the Author Tracker e-mails; making sure that there is a lot more automation and frequency of communication that’s customizable to consumers. So they can say, ‘I want to know right away when an author’s blog is updated,’ or something like that. … These are the kinds of things we’re talking about integrating.”
Connecting consumers frequently with information about authors and providing them with access to book content is already paying off. “We’re seeing great results in increased page views and in viral pass along—25 percent of visitors are telling friends, and 20 percent of our inbound traffic to Browse Inside is coming from viral marketing,” Pittis explains. “If ever there was an age of the superfan in the book business, this is it. Their value is now directly measurable!”