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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2018

BookMachine: Your Guide to the World of Publishing

Operating out of London, BookMachine.org describe themselves as a community for the people who make publishing happen. But what exactly does that mean? What can they do for us? Well, it turns out, a lot of things.

Events

For those living in London or nearby in Oxford, BookMachine hosts a variety of events ranging from instructional courses on developing e-books to developmental classes centered around increasing diversity in a prospective manuscript, or shopping your work to editors and publishers. These courses are developed by leaders in the industry, and they are designed to equip attendees with skills which will be assets in the publishing community. In addition, BookMachine partners with the London Book Fair each year. Members of BookMachine get 50% off of their tickets, and they gain access to networking events during the fair. All of these opportunities make a BookMachine membership an excellent opportunity if you live in or near London, but what about those of us who don't?

Channels

Channels are the most immediately helpful tools on the BookMachine website. Each "channel" is a compilation of free resources intended to support a certain field related to the publishing community. These channels provide everything from news and business articles, to interviews with authors and publishers, to speaking events with literary agents, to job postings in the industry. There are six of these channels, each affiliated with a BookMachine partner and tailored to that partner's customers. The resources that each offers are extensive and free, so let's take a quick flip through them.

The Business of Publishing Channel helps readers to keep an ear to the ground and to be up to date on developments in the publishing industry. It offers articles which address subjects such as the piracy of e-books and the effect this has on the industry, and the value of literary prizes and how these effect sales. This channel provides links to a host of video resources including interviews with employees inside Apple iBooks, and with booksellers and publishers who are well-known in the industry.

The Design Channel offers some of the articles we've come to expect: 5 Author tips for briefing your designer and A guide on book title punctuation. The real meat of the channel though is in the frequent job postings and event notes. Positions for job titles such as "junior designer" and "art director" were available during my quick perusal, scattered about the page alongside a very helpful summary of the talking points at the recent Why we all need a good brief design conference. For those of us who can't attend these events in person, insight into the advice given at such conferences and access to job positions in the industry can be invaluable.

The Tech Channel is hard-hitting for those of us who are savvy (or are seeking savviness) on the internet side of the publishing industry. Right off the bat, the first article is for a software developer – but if that doesn't sound like you, don't be concerned. There are plenty of resources for anyone who is seeking to expand his or her tech aptitude. Alongside the articles one might expect are some really interesting pieces on how VPAs (Virtual Personal Assistants like Alexa or Siri) and AI (Artificial Intelligence, such as the Google algorithms which find your website) can have a large effect on the marketing of a book. These articles explain how to optimize your advertisements based on the tools your potential readers are using to find your book. On top of all of these, there are links to several podcasts – great for listening to in the car, and delivering new information each week, for the low, low price of free.

The Marketing and Publicity Channel provides a host of resources for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and authors on how to create a stir around their product. Like the other channels, job postings for "Junior Marketing Executive" and "Online Marketing and Social Media Executive" are scattered in alongside interviews, advice columns describing how to make your books stand out from the crowd, and reviews of changing standards in the industry. One such article addresses the very interesting and recently emerging ONIX meta-data management procedures which are meant to make books searchable by content in online stores and libraries. Adding simple meta-data to e-books can make them vastly more likely to be discovered.

The Production Channel talks print production in articles such as smart, scalable and responsible print production, but it also examines work flow and new creative approaches to designing media in ways that couldn't be done in the past. One interesting article details the creation of an interactive animated storybook called Galdo's Gift and the work that goes into pushing the boundaries of the publishing process, rather than placing the emphasis on the creation process. This section asks What can be done? with the technology available. The answer seems to be – quite a bit, and more as technology continues to advance.

The Audio Channel may be my favorite of the six. Here is a collection of all the podcasts mentioned in the other sections, put into one place for easy access. It is also the place where authors or publishers can find advice about creating their own audio books and the markets related to those mediums. Articles here deal with early common misconceptions all the way to advanced techniques for remastering and eventually selling audio books in all formats.

In addition to the channels, there is one extra little gem hidden away on the BookMachine website. Under the "More" tab on their main site, there are extra options. The first is the Water Cooler. For the job hunters out there, this section of the site functions as a networking platform and job board, and includes most of the jobs which are posted in the other channels, putting them all in one place.

Professional resources

Once I finished browsing through the channels where BookMachine puts together their free articles, I clicked into their shop to see what a few wisely invested dollars might earn me. I was surprised to see that each of the e-books in their online store was also free. All I had to do was sign up for a free account. After I did so, I had access to four professionally written and developed digital articles which address editorial managers, business models in the digital age, the design process in publishing, and a report on the children's and young adult literature consumer base. These are well-written and dense resources, but short enough that they can be read through quickly.

Membership

BookMachine runs on a membership model and designs PR and marketing campaigns on a standard fee model. The average individual pays about £5.00 a month for membership (about $7.00 USD), and promoted memberships cost around £12.00 each month (about $16.00 USD). Both options offer a discount for a yearly membership, but purchasing a single month of membership to "try before you buy" is quite affordable when sampling BookMachine's services to see if they are right for you.

Each membership includes discounts with BookMachine partners (these include several design and marketing firms, as well as quite a few reputable publishing houses) and on BookMachine training courses, and it adds you to their members-only email competitions. The promoted membership gives you all of that, some additional tickets to BookMachine events, and a BookMachine profile meant to boost your visibility on social media and to act as a professional resource (like a LinkedIn® profile) which you can use to represent your brand.

Hiring BookMachine

If you are a company or an individual who is interested in having BookMachine create a PR campaign for your product, then they undertake every aspect from content creation, to PR campaigns, to social media management and Google AdWords placements. They have a number of user testimonials, and the costs of their services are based on the type of campaign you want to design, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Their recent events speak to their abilities. They organized an event for Emerald Publishing which included speakers and authors discussing the future of academic publishing.

The takeaway

For anyone working in a field related to publishing, the basic membership is a no-brainer. For small businesses or individuals who are looking to get their profile noticed in the publishing world, a membership can offer a useful tool for representing their interests professionally. For PR campaigns and marketing assistance, BookMachine seems like a trustworthy and reliable choice, and one that has already been successfully utilized by several companies in the industry. The success of events run by the BookMachine team should speak to their ability to provide the services needed to promote your product or brand.

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