Penguin Random House Revamps Its Author Portal
I have always maintained that authors are the most valuable assets that publishers have. Without talented authors and the valuable content they produce, we wouldn't have a publishing industry. This isn't a controversial statement, but it's amazing how many authors argue that their publishers, particularly in trade publishing, do not value their work. This complaint commonly comes from mid-list authors who witness their bestselling counterparts receiving the majority of marketing dollars and attention.
Even leading trade publishers admit that this is a significant problem. HarperCollins chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi shared this sentiment in an interview with Book Business, "I think the biggest challenge [that publishers face] is really continuing to articulate to authors where we can provide value. I don't think that the industry is good at articulating where that value is being created."
That's why it's encouraging to hear that one of the largest publishers in the world is pooling significant resources to better support its authors. Last week Penguin Random House announced the relaunch of its Author Portal, a platform that provides all its authors (not just bestellers) access to their rights information, sales numbers, and royalty statements. The Portal originally launched in 2012 and the revamp brings mobile access to the platform, a new sales tracking tool, and ways to connect with other authors in the PRH community. As publishers should, PRH is leveraging its scale to provide services and insights authors could not access were they to take the self-publishing route.
I spoke with Nina von Moltke, SVP, director of digital publishing development at PRH about the new portal. She says that the relaunch was motivated by the need to keep authors up-to date on today's fast-changing publishing landscape. "We are always looking for ways to improve upon the tools and services offered to Penguin Random House authors. We regularly ask for feedback from authors and learned they would like quicker access to information as well as mobile access to the Portal," says von Moltke.
According to a brief video PRH has released, the Portal also features original content that provides marketing tips for authors. I think this educational aspect is especially interesting. As Fauzia Burke, founder and president of marketing firm FSB associates, wrote recently, authors want more support in marketing their titles and often turn for help outside of traditional publishing. While I wish that publishers would launch thoughtful marketing campaigns for all of their authors, offering some education around social media and branding is at least a start.
I hope to see more expansive services like this from publishers. After all, if authors abandon the industry because they perceive little value, than there is no industry to begin with.