While Business Development is not necessarily one of the first departments that comes to mind when thinking of careers in the publishing industry, it is an area of increasing importance in light of the many startups and platforms that are now part of the digital landscape. The term “Business Development” or, more commonly, “biz dev” is broad but encompasses many things: creating and maintaining relationships with vendors and potential partners, finding new revenue streams, and pitching business to new clients, in addition to sometimes maintaining marketing/sales channels.
So what exactly does a business development position and department look like? How does the biz dev professional interact with publishing colleagues on the one hand, and new vendors on the other, and what metrics do they use to gauge success? We talked to people who work in several different publishing business development capacities to explore these questions.
Though definitions and workflows vary, everyone agrees that business development revolves around relationships and connections with other companies. “The definition for business development used by some is ‘the creation of long-term value for an organization,’ so this generally means working with people with whom you don’t currently have a business relationship,” explains Ted Hill, President of THA Consulting. “Any time I meet people I’m thinking about how I can work with them even if it’s not the reason we were introduced,” says Steve Sandonato, VP of Business Development & Strategy at Time Home Entertainment Inc. “You need to always think outside the traditional business models to create a spark of a new idea. If the spark of the idea is thought of without a specific partner in mind you need to identify and contact companies that can help you realize that idea.”
When asked how they view biz dev in publishing, almost everyone agreed that the definition has to be tweaked. “Positions in biz dev didn’t exist until the mid-90s. It’s a digital, new economy term,” says HarperCollins’ Director of Digital Business Development, Adam Silverman. “At HarperCollins, biz dev is a combination of strategy, business analysis, and legal—finding new channels and new partners to sell ebooks. Biz dev then stays involved to oversee any new terms or territories with new channels.” If this sounds familiar, it might be because “business development is often just a fancy way of saying ‘sales,’” explains Doug Stambaugh, VP, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy at Simon & Schuster Digital. For Kate Travers, Director of Digital Business Development at Workman, digital means direct sales, but also marketing: “creating verticals around a brand and closer relationships to consumers,” she explains.
As for whom publishers are building relationships with, companies range from startups to known industry resources. “The role of business development for me is about creating new relationships and partnerships as well as expanding and leveraging existing ones,” says Peter Balis, Director of Digital Business Development at Wiley. “New partners include companies like Inkling and Bookshout and we have expanded our partnerships recently with Apple and O’Reilly.” Adam Silverman also mentioned Inkling in particular, talking about how they offer “an evolving model on the fly” that has been changing with the market. Many of the industry professionals we talked to also spoke about the importance of the library and elearning community in discovering new frontiers and business opportunities. Read More