Publishers love user-generated content

Do you want a good book recommendation?  Try Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.   Publishers thrive on readers making recommendations like that.  So, a major preoccupation for the marketing departments of all publishing houses is to try and provoke conversation amongst the readers   Publishers love user-generated content.

You see, as much as reading is an individual pastime, it also creates communities.  Reading creates discussion; it prompts analysis.  Although people don’t read as a hive mind, there is a certain social aspect to indulging in a good book.

And publishers don’t mind taking advantage of it.  However, free marketing isn’t the only reason that publishing houses love user-generated content.

DIscussion user-generated content

They love it because it is targeted

Authors and publishers are always aware of one very important factor in their sales and marketing.  Their target market or buyer persona.

The thing is, literature is a complicated and diverse field that spans all demographics.  When they are marketed, everything from the books cover to the magazines that have advance copies of the text are chosen to reach specific groups of people.  This might be by age, gender, or simply their specific tastes. 

Unfortunately, not everyone likes all genres.  But, often people are in discussion with fans of the same branch of literature.

If you want to reach readers of Dystopian Science Fiction, then the best way is through other readers with the same taste in literature.

There are discussion groups on Facebook and Goodreads.  Places where all of the bookworms and lit nerds congregate to discuss their most recent literary adventures.  You can’t ask for better targeting than that.

You can see why publishers love user-generated content that is part of a wider conversation.

Publishers love user-generated content

Because people trust people and not companies

We take what a company says with a pinch of salt.  Let’s be fair, there isn’t a publisher on the face of this planet that is going to tell potential readers that their current blockbuster is “actually a bit naff”.  It doesn’t matter what the book is, or the quality of the writing, it is only going to be advertised with a sprinkle of stardust and a million thumbs up.

And every reader knows that.  Right?

You see, a reader doesn’t have to wax lyrical about mediocre literature.  It’s not like that they are on the payroll.  There is no obligation for a reader to say anything on behalf of an author or a publisher.

What they do care about though, is their own credibility.

Publishers love user-generated content for its authenticity.  For its believability.  What other readers say is more compelling than any social media or email marketing campaign.

Just a simple thanks

Because user-generated content allows them to personally speak to readers

For a successful artist, be it music, acting or literature, it is always difficult to speak to everyone that engages with your material.  When was the last time you sent a message to your favourite author, or to their publisher, just to say how big fan you are?  It isn’t an everyday occurrence.  So, what do you do to show your appreciation?

You most likely leave a review.

Or recommend it on social media to your friends?

This gives the publishing house, or the author, the opportunity to respond and engage with the customer directly.

Just a simple thanks might be enough to urge the reader to post again, or to respond in kind.  This generates a relationship with readers, and that is key to cementing brand loyalty.

As a publishing house, if you are not performing thorough social listening and engaging with your readership, then you are missing out on a powerful tool.  By responding, you could create an advocate for your publishing house.  This is another good reason for publishing houses to love user-generated content.

Burning pyre of books

Because they get a little perspective

One of the main problems with all forms of outgoing marketing channels is that you are not sat on the lap of the recipient.  You aren’t there to gauge the twinkles that lights up their little faces at your ad.  For all you know, they have seen your advert and scrolled past in a blinding display of complete indifference.

One of the biggest reasons that publishers love user-generated content is that they can gauge the public perspective of their literature.

Are people thrumming with praise?  Are your readers burning your books in a pyre of rampant disgust?  Reviewing readers are never shy about expressing their opinions.

Particularly, readers expressing opinions on social media.

It is not just readers that express opinions on social media too.  It those people who have not read the books.  It is also useful for those who have not engaged with the franchise.

People who are not interested in the genre.

People who take an elitist stance over popular culture and refuse to read it.

All will comment and will demonstrate how the published work is being received by the public.  A savvy marketer at the publishing house will find them all.

Publisher using content to sell content

Wrapping up

The publishing industry is all about content.  From the bare skin, publishing is about using content to sell content.  Professional writers is not something any publisher is short of.

It is kind of their thing you know.

User-generated content isn’t professional.  Often it will contain crass colloquialisms and horrific spellings.  However, that just adds to the authenticity of the conversation.

If you are trying to spread the word about your publishing house or have new books to generate interest in think of your readers.  Think Instagram competition’s, free copies for review, or any way to prompt your target market to create content.

If there is anything you would like to add, then please comment below.  We are always interested in hearing fresh contributions. Are there any other reasons why publishers love user-generated content?


Due to his MA in English, Adam has taken roost in our very own dictionary corner. His articles are a mixture of brow-furrowing research and the experience he has gained with us here at LeadMetrics.