Erika Heilman on Bibliomotion, a worthwhile partner for authors
Bibliomotion is more than a publisher, it’s a partner for authors. They focus on building your business around your book.
If you’re looking for a publishing partner that focuses on the challenges of authors rather than the size of the advance, Boston-based Bibliomotion is worth a look. Here’s my interview with Erika Heilman, Bibliomotion’s cofounder and publisher.
What’s the mission of Bibliomotion?
Our mission is to produce high-quality books and work closely with authors to bring them to market. We do this by working with our authors early and often along the way—understanding their business models, how the book fits in, how their networks can help amplify the message—and then coaching and advising on how best to bring all of those pieces together. At Bibliomotion, we consider ourselves a traditional publisher (in that we do not fall into the self-publishing space), but perhaps with a somewhat less traditional financial model and relationship with authors.
What drove you to create a different kind of publishing company?
Two things largely: 1) the set up in publishing struck as too much of an us vs. them (publishers against authors) and 2) that many authors we spoke with were feeling unimportant and unheard in the publishing process, with their ideas not valued or acted upon.
Who should work with Bibliomotion?
As a non-fiction house we do best with authors who view their book as integral to their professional and/or business goals. We like to work with authors to develop many markets for a book vs. some houses that rely more so on the consumer market.
When somebody is considering writing a book, what questions should they ask themselves?
Well, we ask authors lots of questions! But a key one would be to delve into why an author is writing a book. Typically, we like to hear that it is for mission reasons (belief in the message) but also for strategic reasons, that the book is important for driving business and professional goals.
What determines success or failure for a book?
When the content is strong, we, in partnership with the author, create a launch plan early. If the plan is executed well, it is an insurance policy of sorts. Does it mean the book will take off in the marketplace? Not necessarily. There is an element of luck, the news cycle, the zeitgeist for any book to stand out as a best-seller. But a book can be a strong seller over time if the pieces are put in place early.
How important is social media for an author?
We see it as an important way to amplify the message but we don’t get too caught up in metrics there nor particular platforms. We like authors to be active in social media but also leave them in freedom to work the platform that comes most naturally to them (Twitter, LinkedIn, FB, blogging); it’s the consistency of effort and building of a loyal following that is key. We focus largely on having a strong digital presence and helping authors develop a singular message around their work.
You have some pretty good ideas about how authors can help promote books, and themselves, after publishing. Can you share some of them?
In our world of non-fiction business and parenting titles, we see several things as key to success. Speaking, particularly in large venues, helps to promote books. Having a consistent presence in the media, as a regular contributor on a well-known site, is also helpful. Embedding the book in all that an author does—and having patience around a book’s success—are things we encourage.
Tell us something positive that will give us all hope about the future of books.
Just five years ago, the worry was the print book was dead. We now know this is not the case and that people continue to love to read, hold, collect, and admire print books. More reading forms and choices will come but the “form” of the book still captures many, many people.
Two biggest questions for non-fiction authors: Who’s going to buy the book and what are they going to do with that information?