Build the foundations, reduce the risk: Putting good royalty management at the heart of a publishing business

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What makes a great publishing business? Bestselling books is one obvious answer. But what truly set the best publishers apart are their foundations: the robust infrastructure and smooth workflows that allow great content to be created and sold. Especially at a time when the publishing industry has been significantly disrupted by the coronavirus emergency, efficient systems can make all the difference between success and failure.

Royalties are a key element of these foundations. Efficient and timely royalty management helps to create a professional publishing business that becomes valued by authors, operates in a cost-effective manner, and is able to plan for the future with confidence.

Handled badly, royalties can be a major drain on a business’s profitability and reputation. Manual management absorbs hours of time and creates huge frustrations, pulling staff away from more productive and profitable tasks. It can also leave royalty calculations dangerously open to human error, leading to either overpayment or underpayment of monies that are due to authors.

Both of these consequences carry significant risk for a business. Pay out too much and profit is impaired, but pay too little and reputation among authors will be badly damaged. Either way, correcting errors soaks up more time and effort and creates undue stress. In a worst-case scenario, they might lay a business open to legal action.

Word of mouth spreads fast in this industry. A publisher that is prone to royalty errors risks incurring a poor image in authors’ communities, and leaves them less motivated to create and promote top content. Negative impressions of publishers can stick, which might make it harder to retain or attract the caliber of writers they need.

Another major impact of inefficient royalty management lies in strategic planning. Poor quality royalty data and low visibility of monies that are owed to authors can compromise a publisher’s ability to manage cashflow and forecast accurately. But royalty management systems that generate accurate, timely data can provide publishers with actionable sales insights, and help them make better decisions on commissioning, marketing and much more.

To some extent, publishing is a game of risk: of trying to predict which books will succeed, and of reducing costly errors and wasted resources in order to give them the best chance of success. And in turbulent times like these, risk is magnified.

Suzanne Albert is Director of Business Development at MetaComet. Their solutions are tailored to the unique demands of publishing. Contact their team to learn how they can help you establish the strong foundations that every business needs to remain successful and grow. Email address:

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  1. Thanks for this @salbertmetacomet-com  – it’s a good time to be thinking about the foundations of publishing!

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