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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 18 February 2020. In this issue:

Strong ‘non-fiction’ sales are good news for all publishers

‘Playing field wide-open for non-fiction hits, say editors’ ran a recent headline in The Bookseller following encouraging print book sales in 2019 despite few big-hitting fiction titles.

‘Non-fiction’ comes in many shapes and sizes, and the focus of this article is on lifestyle titles (eco-living, wellness, veganism etc), but it’s a trend that extends well beyond trade publishing. Canny academic publishers are doing well with short introductions on a wide range of topics, bite-sized reads with eye-catching designs. Written by academic experts, but with minimal jargon, they are the perfect antidote to the plethora of online sources of questionable provenance.

Many (if not all) of the success stories have two things in common:

  1. A benefit which meets a need (real or perceived) in the reader. Whether that’s de-cluttering a home, or being better-informed on a topical issue, the motivation of the potential customer is essentially the same. We just need to articulate it well both in the product copy and in the call to action.
  2. An author who’s passionate, informed, and already has a following. Typically, but not exclusively, that means on one or more social media platform.

How well does your current marketing deliver on the potential of titles like this? If you’d like an injection of fresh ideas, take a look at our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget workshop.

Read ‘Playing field wide-open for non-fiction hits, say editors’ in The Bookseller.


Academic monographs and open access: UKRI proposals, Plan S, and REDUX

Funding body UK Research and Innovation published new proposals on 13 February for monographs based on publicly-funded research to be made fully open access by January 2024. A consultation is open until 17 April.

And if the working deadline of January 2021 for Plan S comes to pass, by this time next year open access of scientific publications will be mandatory. cOAlition’s commitment is that:

“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”

If you publish academic monographs this is an unstoppable force to which you must respond, but it requires a fundamental shift across the business. If you (or your colleagues) need to get up to speed fast there are a couple of excellent ways to do so:

  1. Next month’s REDUX conference in Cambridge (17-18 March), organized by ALPSP and Cambridge University Press, brings together 300 delegates and speakers to discuss challenges, ideas and initiatives. If you plan to attend and would like to meet, email me at
  2. Our own Academic Marketing Workshop exists to look at the realities of the academic marketplace, at what the challenges mean for us on a practical level, and how to market our products effectively.

Read about the UKRI proposal in The Bookseller.

More about REDUX 2020


If journals marketing feels a bit intimidating, this is for you

Even if you already work with academic books, taking on journals can feel like an entirely different business. Most marketing now is focused on persuading researchers to submit articles, ‘usage’ is the hottest topic on the block, there are scores of acronyms to learn just to understand the conversations ... and the list goes on.

The good news is that the audience is still (primarily) academics and librarians, and the information channels are essentially the same. But when marketing journals, if you don’t understand the needs, preferences, and challenges of your audiences your campaigns will fall on deaf ears.

If you relate to these challenges, do take a look at the ALPSP Introduction to Journals Marketing course taking place in London on 22 May, tutored by me. It’s designed for anyone relatively new to a journals marketing role, or for anyone wanting an overview of the current marketplace and sensible (realistic) tactics for reaching it.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Great slogans can be found in the most unlikely of places. Which is why this post features the National Lobster Hatchery in Cornwall.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook.
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

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Tip of the week: To help hone copywriting skills, look to journalism every time

Thanks to Ben Knight at Cambridge University Press for pointing out that when the BBC runs a new article on an existing story it always starts by saying something new. In this way it grabs attention all over again, before summarising the rest of the story for the benefit of readers coming to it fresh or needing context. Something to remember next time you’re writing for a new edition?

This discussion happened on an in-house Copywriting Workshop in Cambridge last week. Get in touch to find out more about bringing a tailored version of this course to you.





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