Social media, or word-of-mouth marketing
a must-have for one-person publishing companies
The publishing industry has turned downward as smartphones provide increasingly more means of entertainment, but on the other hand, there are those in the industry who are rejoicing thanks to the boons social media and mobile marketing have brought them. These would be one-person publishing companies, often referred to as the startups of the publishing industry.
According to KPIPA, one-person publishers are small publishing companies that employ four or fewer workers. Usually at these establishments, the head of the company is in charge of planning, reach out efforts to authors, manuscript requests, editing, designing, binding, distribution, circulation and promoting - basically all the steps required to create and sell books. After the 2000s with the decline of reading rates and rise of the internet and smartphones, the growth of the publishing industry was blunted, and now, these small publishing companies are the norm for the industry.
Since 2017, one-person publishers have published many books that have made it onto bestseller lists through high-quality planning, aesthetically pleasing editing and direct communication with readers via social media networks.
Today's one-person publishers are different from previous small establishments in the fact they have targeted niche markets and solidified their positions with high-quality planning, aesthetically pleasing editing and direct communication with readers via social media networks as their competitive edge. After 2017, these one-person publishers are flexing their muscles, showing off their competency with many of their books now bestsellers.
More one-person publishing companies are opening because the market is easy to enter. All one is required to do is register at a regional district or city office. A separate office address isn't mandatory - a home address will suffice. The cost of publishing a single publication may vary by book, but usually, it costs 10 million won to release one book. Due to the rapid increase in these small publishers, it is difficult to keep accurate track of their count, but the consensus is that there are around 6,000 one-person publishers in South Korea as of 2019.
Compared to large publishing houses that have ample funds, one-person publishers aim for maximum effect with minimum spending. This is why they spend much of their effort on word-of-mouth marketing using social media and other mobile channels in addition to conventional means of marketing like the media and displays in mortar-and-brick bookstores.
One leading example of social media marketing would be email marketing and book review marketing. One publishing industry expert says forming relationships with readers through email and social media after analyzing where key readers of one's books are is the basis of all one-person publishers' business.
In the case of reader book review marketing, reviews on popular blogs on portal operators like Naver and Daum used to be the main trend, but those blogs have since lost their trust with the public and are no longer seen as effective as before. Currently, book review marketing is more focused on reviews on other social media. For these, publishers either recruit reviewers on their official social media websites or approach social media influencers first and ask them for a review.
Marketing on YouTube is also popular currently for book reviews. YouTubers already famous for book reviews are approached by publishers to be featured on their channels. Due to cost restraints, one-person publishers usually reach out to budding YouTubers with subscribers between 10,000 and 50,000 as working with YouTubers with more than 100,000 subscribers requires substantial payment.To understand how these marketing efforts on social media are accepted in the industry, we spoke with UU Press' CEO Cho Sang-wook. UU Press is one of the country's more well-known one-person publishers with several bestsellers under its belt, including Is My Sentence That Strange?, Words of Attitude and Words of Writing. Is My Sentence That Strange? was especially popular among readers, selling over 70,000 copies.
Is My Sentence That Strange?, Words of Attitude, Words of Writing
When it was first established in January 2012, UU Press had one CEO and one editor. Now it has four people, with two editors and one marketer. Despite its small size, the publisher has engaged in social media marketing on websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter since its establishment to boost book sales.
Social media marketing is the only marketing strategy that can be used by everyone at a low cost. For a one-person publisher, it's important for them to begin social media marketing and keep at it consistently to inform readers about books.
When prompted as to how much social media marketing has contributed to UU Press' book sales, Cho said it was difficult to know exactly how much although the effects have been visible. "When retweets about a book on Twitter grow, we've seen book sales increase in tandem. When that happens, we think, 'our social media marketing has had an effect," Cho said.
Cho added it's important for one-person publishers to begin social media marketing and keep at it consistently to inform readers about books, when asked why UU Press forges on with social media marketing despite limitations. "One-person publishers should do all they can to boost book sales. In order to sell more books, one has to give as much information as they can to readers. Social media marketing is the only marketing strategy that can be used by everyone at a low cost," Cho said.
As for the key differences between social media marketing and marketing in mortar-and-brick stores, Cho said for one-person publishers, online bookstores are their main marketing channels while social media is a supplemental marketing channel. For now, online bookstore marketing leads to more sales, he said. This is because people who visit online bookstore websites are usually there to buy books and social media marketing should also be carried out targeting specific readers who will actually buy books.
Written by Kang Il-yong (Reporter at Aju Business Daily)