John Bond, CEO and co-founder of whitefox, has been involved in publishing for nearly thirty years. He held senior positions at Penguin and at HarperCollins, where he was on the main board for nine years, running sales, marketing and publishing divisions including the 4th Estate imprint and their stable of award-winning authors such as Hilary Mantel and Jonathan Franzen. He co-founded whitefox in 2012 on the principle that the future of successful publishing would be based upon external, managed services and creative collaboration with the very best freelancers. Nothing that has happened since has dissuaded him of this view.
Books. Not very 21st-century are they? Not very digital or relevant for the smartphone-obsessed, low-attention-span distracted consumer.
Surely better to have some content on your YouTube channel or an animation you hope will go viral. Or perhaps a lovingly researched and elegantly designed PDF emailed to your leads list.
And yet, and yet… somehow, books still equate to authority, don’t they?
In a crowded, noisy world of ephemeral content marketing, nothing says longevity, gravitas and value as much as a book. Your words on something you know better than any one else. Your organisation associated with how things really work. The tips and tricks and lessons that have got you and your business where they are today. And if not your words, then your voice and thoughts captured by one of any number of specialist ghost writers out in the market.
Books help businesses grow. They enhance and amplify the idea of a brand better than a hundred deletable emails. Whether as a free leave-behind at a speaking engagement or a saleable additional revenue stream, books nowadays help spread the word in a multitude of bespoke formats: glossy colourful illustrated hardbacks, pocket sized paperbacks, print-on-demand (POD), e-books or audio files for a digital download. So for the entrepreneurial author, you can quickly work out what version you need to best fulfil your marketing strategy and also what the return on investment (ROI) looks like after making the book available via different channels.
That’s why CEOs and Managing Directors like to tell their story. That’s why restaurants share their most successful recipes rather than keep them from their competitors. It is why down through the ages, beautiful books mark milestones such as anniversaries and high-profile events so brilliantly.
And now, more than ever, books don’t have to be 100,000-word tomes, heavy on academic research and light on readability. The rise of e-books and POD means books can evolve with new editions in different formats, with the author and brand in creative and financial control of the schedule, the cover, title and pricing strategy.
In almost seven years, whitefox has helped produce a myriad of business books, some for bespoke events, some for distribution via Amazon and traditional retailers. These have ranged from memoir, life style, health and fitness, to tech start-ups, self-help and cookery. These are books that tell the story of an individual or a brand and keep selling long after any launch party or initial PR opportunity. Books don’t preclude the creation of other marketing assets. They are just a hugely relevant part of any meaningful quality portfolio of content.
There’s never been a more exciting time to imagine how a book can help you sell your name and your expertise, whatever your specialist targeted market.