Industry Viewpoint

Getting it right

By John Pettigrew, CEO and Founder of We Are Futureproofs Ltd

Successful publishing has always been a case of getting the right content to the right customer at the right time. The challenge of the past 20 years, though, has been that “right” has changed its meaning for each of those three key aspects.

So, readers used to accept monthly or even quarterly journal publishing schedules, and annual updates to professional books. But the rise of the web means that they want access to content “right now”, as their need arises. Even the “right” customer has changed radically with changes in library funding, consolidation, open-access policies and more.

In some ways, though, the question of the “right” content remains more important than ever. There’s more competition than ever and one of the best ways to differentiate your business is with a reputation for having the content your readers need. This means understanding clearly what it means for your readers to have the “right” content – and how you will create it.

This means a continued focus on our editorial teams, and not just in the relatively glamorous commissioning team but also the desk editors, project managers and production staff. They don’t just ensure that you accept the right manuscripts but also improve that content, helping the author publish the best content they can – which makes both them and you look good! Maintaining and improving operating margins means creating efficiency, but also balancing this with effectiveness. Finding the right tools to deliver the right content means understanding the core value you bring to the content.

For example, an STM publisher could integrate their systems with the Overleaf collaborative writing platform ( and encourage their authors to use it, to improve the consistency of their delivery into the publishing process. This might mean providing training and support to authors. Or they might guarantee faster publication, because this would help create a more consistent input into the workflow, reducing the required work, eliminating the need to tag Word files and improving the consistency of the output as a result.

A publisher of professional or HSS books, by contrast, may be more concerned about the presentation of their content, or doubt the ability of their authors to deal with structured LaTeX or XML. For these teams, something like the Futureproofs platform may be more appropriate ( This gives editors, proofreaders, authors and designers the tools they need to deliver on time by simplifying and shortening the review process. By enabling effective communication and collaboration, this saves time and automatically builds audit trails. And by using real-time data, it improves project management and reduces risk.

Whatever tools you choose, though, it’s vital to consider the value you are trying to provide to authors and readers, and to pick a solution that supports that value. Picking the wrong tool doesn’t just mean wasted licence fees! If we don’t support our key values with the right tools, we waste our efforts and fail our authors and readers.

John Pettigrew is CEO and Founder of We Are Futureproofs Ltd ( Get in touch by email to find out more (

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