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What is strategic publishing?

Strategic publishing is publishing for strategic reasons, first and foremost. It’s distinct from commercial publishing, where the primary aim is to make money by selling books.

Of course, strategic publishing can include sales, but its success is not measured in revenue. Rather, success means that your book fulfils a key part of your organisation’s broader strategy.

For example, if you want to be recognised as a thought-leader, publishing a book can be a powerful part of your strategy. If you’re trying to change the way people think, your strategy might include publishing a textbook. And because you’re not constrained by having to make money, you can prioritise other things. You might make your book very cheap; make some or all of it free to read online; budget more for marketing than you expect in revenue; experiment with untested features; and so on.

Four common reasons for strategic publishing are:

  • To establish thought-leadership.
  • To disseminate important, complex ideas.
  • To provide a public archive of research and ideas.
  • To grow reputation and brand identity.

While this might apply to any kind of publishing, these advantages are clearest when publishing books. A book is a self-standing package of complex ideas, and remains the simplest, most effective way to achieve these aims.

For more practical detail about strategic publishing, see our post on ‘The scale of the web, the authority of print’.

If you’re interested in talking with others about your strategic publishing, join us at Conversations in Strategic Publishing, Wednesdays in November 2021.

Arthur Attwell last updated 27 October 2021
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