The Author as a Chief Product Officer

Think that others will shepherd your book through the process? Think again.
Mar | 29 | 2023
  Mar | 29 | 2023
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BY Phil Simon
  Phil Simon

The Author as a Chief Product Officer

Think that others will shepherd your book through the process? Think again.
Phil Simon
Mar | 29 | 2023

The Author as a Chief Product Officer

TL;DR: Think that others will shepherd your book through the process? Think again.
Phil Simon
Mar | 29 | 2023

Wikipedia defines a chief product officer as follows:

a corporate title referring to an executive responsible for various product-related activities in an organization. The CPO … focus(es) … on bringing the product strategy to align with the business strategy and to deploy that throughout the organization. They are most common in technology companies or organizations where technology is now a large part of the way they serve customers (such as banks and newspapers).

In a nutshell, the person who occupies this role in a company represents the face of the product to the public. If the sounds challenging, trust your instincts. (Just ask many of the former execs at Twitter.)

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Parallels

The release of a book closely apes the release of a software or a tech product. If you’re working with a traditional publisher, you may believe that your acquisitions editor fulfills this role.

And you’d be spectacularly wrong.

Depending on your publisher, advance, status, and topic, your AE will likely do very little after inking the original deal. Once things are all official, you’ll also probably work with a project editor or project manager and maybe even someone in marketing. Those folks are concurrently juggling many books—sometimes dozens at a time. By the time your book launches, they’re on to the next one.

Make no mistake, though: Under all but the rarest of circumstances, you the author are the de facto product owner.

Know that going in, lest you be disappointed.

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