The way for an enterprise to build a core list, then, is to latch onto those frontlist titles that have proven themselves, to persistently and consistently work with the retail channel and the existing customer base to make them into classics—useful, reliable products or services that the masses can rely on. This takes discipline and effort—product creators like me find this difficult. But publishers of all stripes, the organizations that exist to bring new ideas and useful technologies to the world, need to dig in and do this work.
- The backlist is the stuff you sell long after you’ve forgotten all the drama that went into making it.
- Book publishers make more than 90% of their profit from books they published more than six months ago. And yet they put 2% of their effort into promoting and selling those books.
- It turns out that time spent on packaging, promoting and spreading the ideas in the core list is almost always a solid investment.
“Successful backlist products have crossed the chasm and are selling to the mass market, the largest chunk of any market.”