The Value of Author Portal Systems
An author portal adds value to both sides of the content creation and payment process. Both authors (or their agents) and the publisher gain visibility, time, and access. Although royalties and rights have long been regarded as somewhat less glamorous than the creative processes, it’s clear today, that publishers are increasingly aware that improving the lot of their authors can contribute to their own bottom line.
This is especially true given the way Covid changed the way we all worked. Remote work increased, meaning publishers, like many industries, were forced into figuring out the digitalization of their processes and which online tools would meet their needs, including royalty management.
Certainly, for the publisher, royalty calculation has become more complex with the birth of a multi-channel environment and the proliferation of titles and content, a by-product of industry consolidation and globalization, and the urgency to get books ‘seen’. In addition, the industry faces a constant stream of new business models for content use that invariably increases the complexity of royalty calculation. Not too long ago, we were limited by the available formats for books – hard and soft cover. Now we have downloaded audio, digital delivery through publisher and/or aggregator platforms, streaming services, and sites with miscellaneous collections of fractional content, all serving up content in new and different ways.
Publishers also have the need to share information with their authors that extends beyond royalties. Enter the author portal. Author portals provide a central hub where publishers can distribute all the relevant information to their authors, reducing manual effort on both sides and keeping the authors informed, paid, engaged, and happy.
Technology is no longer a “Nice-to-Have”
Publishers now realize that the days of managing royalties with spreadsheets have gone the way of the dinosaur. Royalty technology is no longer a “nice-to-have” and can make a significant contribution to both financial well-being, author satisfaction and organizational efficiency.
This is especially so with author communications software and author portals in particular. Publishers and publishing systems today are often focused on relieving their employees of the burden of work that can be automated by technology while simultaneously providing valuable insights into the business. From a publisher’s perspective, the focus has historically been on dealing with the customer and revenue systems. These systems help build a community amongst buyers. This allowed publishers to better understand consumers’ motivations and habits, to build brand loyalty by the use of targeted marketing to address consumer needs, and hopefully, increase sales.
Once the revenue systems were in place, publishers typically turned their attention to the content acquisition side and have begun to deploy author communication systems that not only relieve the work at the publisher, but provide important services to authors and agents, and more importantly, have the potential to build brand loyalty amongst the content creators.
The Birth of the Author Portal
And so, the Author Portal was born, designed to make things more efficient for all concerned with content acquisition, contracts and of course, author payment.
So, what are the essentials of a good author portal system and what are the benefits for each party. Like CRM and Audience Building marketing systems help build a community of customers for a publisher, an Author Management system can deliver some of the same benefits on the acquisition and creation side. It’s clear that the value proposition for the author is not just confined to royalty statements.
It goes without saying that a portal must be secure, must be integrated to the sales and royalty systems that feed it, and is available via a browser on multiple devices, including mobile, tablets, and laptops. There are four main components of any good author portal system.
- Contact Management. This section of the portal provides all parties with an easy self-service access to the people that are engaged in delivering and creating content. For the author, it includes the contacts information at the publisher, and allows easy access for the publisher to all authors, and their projects. It also makes it easy for authors to update their mailing address and communication preferences.
- Content and Project Data. The author should have secured access to the data that describes his or her projects. This may include software for manuscript creation, submission and editing, in addition to specific project details such as the milestones and project status in production. This keeps the author closer to the process so that they always know what’s happening and what tasks they may be responsible for.
- Royalty Statements. One of the key sections for the author, it allows for downloading of approved royalty statements by the author that have been calculated in the core royalty and sales management section of the software. This benefits the publisher in terms of resources, paper, and mailing costs, in addition to no longer spending manpower to manually field questions/requests from authors. To populate the portal, the relevant data (sales, returns, advances, accruals etc.) must be integrated to the royalty accounting software. Portals should additionally provide facilities for history review and reporting capabilities such as provided by Microsoft Power BI. Both parties should also be able to access any contracts within the portal as well.
- Document Management. This section of the portal stores project documents and communications and provides for real-time collaboration between all involved, including authors, editors, and royalty management. This makes it easy for manuscript management through the entire editing process. Other collaborative software such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint can integrate with the portal and allow the teams to work online with the secured shared data. In addition, it is the repository for all messages and communications between the parties, thus providing a single point of contact for the author, rather than needing to deal with several disparate systems from the publisher.
The value of the author portal capability is clear for all sides. For the author, especially foreign authors or those that do not have easy access to their publisher, it provides support at each step of the publishing process, and even guidance, tips, and instruction libraries that provide answers to all the “what, where, when, and how much” questions that come up. For the publisher, the portal provides a secure self-service access to their business partners that can reduce cost, increase productivity, and have a direct positive impact on quality of the process and the resulting content. A win-win for all. Like many advances in technology, the necessity Covid caused to develop better remote tools will benefit authors and publishers alike.
If you’re looking for a future-proof publishing software solution that includes an author portal, contact us today. Our advanced author portal is in development and fully integrates with the entire knkPublishing suite of tools, from accounting to editorial and everything in between. With over 30 years of experience in publishing technology, we’re happy to help you find the solution that fits your needs.