Macmillan Blogs…And The Heavy Lifting Begins

by Ami Greko

Wow, cool. Macmillan started a blog! (Incredibly well-designed, too. Wonder who did that…)

First of all, I think I speak for a lot of people by saying, good on you, John Sargent. This is absolutely a move in the right direction, and I can’t think of an executive better suited that Sargent for speaking plainly and honestly. It really suits him.

And now? Now is when the heavy lifting begins—making Macmillan Speaks a success.

The pitfalls of executives blogging are well known. It’s hard for anyone to blog regularly, let alone someone as busy as Sargent must be. I suspect crafting posts takes even longer once you add in the additional challenge of needing to make sure nothing you say inadvertently, you know, makes the lawyers angry.

There’s also what I’ll call the SXSWbp problem. Remember last year at SXSW, when the audience went a little berserker over a panel of the publishing executives who were “there to learn” what readers wanted? As Kassia from Booksquare smartly described it:

At the after-party, one panelist told me that “this is all new to us.” Give. Me. A. Break. It’s only new for those of you who’ve been pretending change is something you get from a dollar bill. Now you’re wondering how to interact with blogs? Now you’re learning that there’s an entire conference devoted to change in the industry?

Obviously there are differences between Macmillan’s blog and the panel. But I believe the underpinnings to be the same: the smart comments on Sargent’s post are questions and thoughts that have been kicking around in discussions on digital publishing for a while.

At this point, for the most part, discourse seems respectful, and even civil. Readers are willing to give him some breathing room because hey, he’s new at this! But how will they respond in two weeks? In a month? In half a year? The key to social media is right in the name: it’s social. As in, to be successful, you need to both speak…and listen.

Getting Sargent on the blog is a great first step. His responding directly to comments on his post is an incredible second step. We’re all excited to see what’s next.