Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 18 April 2017. In this issue:
Sci-Hub hit the headlines for brazenly making copyright content illegally available ‘for the good of the research community’, Glasstree recently launched its self-publishing model for academics. But the launch of Unpaywall may be the most disruptive development of all. It’s simple, useful – and legal.
Unpaywall connects anyone who wants it (not just the research community) to ‘10 million legal open access articles’ posted in repositories, ie Green Access. While availability of this content isn’t new, what Unpaywall cleverly does is flag that a free version of the article is available at the point at which the searcher finds the published version, giving a choice of opting for free access or pay per view (not a tough decision, is it?). Hitting a paywall is a major frustration for researchers who may need a small part of a single article and resent having to pay a relatively high price to read it.
For open access publishers Unpaywall may just be good publicity for the business model, but it’s a very real threat for publishers operating a subscription-based model. And librarians may be feeling nervous too, at this latest development to disconnect the services and the value they provide from the faculties to whom they’re answerable.
All you need to do to access Unpaywall is to install an add-on to Firefox or Google Chrome. It takes about 10 seconds to get to a welcome page and a sample (Nature) article to see how it works for yourself. A green unlocked padlock icon on the right of your screen indicates that a free version is available. You’ll see that same green icon also on your browser.
Open access may have started with scientific journals, but as a model it’s steadily growing, jumping the divide to monograph publishing a while back. The ramifications of Unpaywall will be felt by all academic publishers, not just those publishing scholarly journals.
Read a blog post by Unpaywall’s founders on the LSE website (includes a link to the Unpaywall site).
If we’re to engage with academics and librarians we have to be aware of new developments in their world. Which is why a day spent on our Academic Marketing Workshop is a day well spent.
You’ve copy to write, you’re staring at the screen, the clock’s ticking, but your brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. And this isn’t even a problem unique to copywriting, it can strike at any time and leave you feeling frustrated and ineffectual. You’re especially susceptible when returning to the office after a holiday or a long weekend, when your head’s still full of non-work stuff. But when this mood strikes, what can you do to break it?
If you relate to this you’ll enjoy Oliver Burkeman’s recent article in The Guardian, Is Writer’s Block a Real Thing? Will this make the problem a thing of the past? No. But it will cut it down to size (and put off what you were meant to be doing right now a little longer).
‘I find getting started really difficult’ is a frequent challenge raised by participants on our Copywriting Workshops. Perhaps the best way to address this once and for all is to sign up to attend our next one.
Subscriber Alison Wood, who works at the Met Office in Exeter, forwarded me an email she’d just received from a local marcomms agency about the dangers of contravening the new data protection legislation. It had a suitably attention grabbing subject line: ‘£83,000 in fines for email abuse should raise eyebrows’.
But, said Alison: ‘I have no idea how they got my data, I always tick unsubscribe and I haven’t heard of them before!’
This company potentially made themselves vulnerable to the very penalty they were warning recipients to avoid, but if the writer had stopped to think about the perspective of the reader they would almost certainly have spotted their error. So often that really is all it takes …
Our Email Marketing Workshop is the place to be for more like this.
Fact. Authors are experts in their subjects, not in marketing or in copywriting. That’s where you come in. And you may not feel like an expert, but you can be sure that you’ll have absorbed marketing practicalities that will impress your authors. So get on the phone and explain what you’re doing, and simple things that they could be doing too. Because your company is an expert in publishing. If authors knew how to be publishers they wouldn’t come to you in the first place.
Working with authors is a huge part of our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget workshop. Care to join us on the next one?