1) Reflecting on your interview last year, do you think much has changed in terms of how social media has evolved?
I think social media has just become more mainstream. Twitter hashtags are routinely shown in the opening credits of TV shows, the line between blogging and journalism is increasingly blurred, and social media is seen as an important part of most marketing campaigns.
While more people are using the tools, I find that using them strategically is often the more important training need. Not just using the tools because everyone else is and they are free; but using them effectively and measuring your results.
Some new tools have gained attention since last year too. The one I’m particularly interested in is Pinterest, which I think could become very big.
2) The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter launched at an opportune moment, just as many publishing folks were getting on the bandwagon. How were you able to predict that Twitter would grow in the way it has?
The growth of Twitter has been astonishing – but it has also grown at a steady rate for some time now, so it was a fairly safe bet that this would continue. The growth in the @publishingtalk Twitter following has been steady too – now at around 220,000 followers.
The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter is really the first in a planned series of guides for authors and publishers. The next one, The Publishing Talk Guide to Blogging, should be out within a couple of months. It made sense to start with Twitter, as this is the way most of the Publishing Talk community engage with us; but also because this is a tool that can cause a lot of confusion to anyone new to it.
3) Your new Publishing Talk magazine includes the tag line ‘write it, publish it, sell it’; are we right in thinking that your shift has moved from training for publishers to helping authors raise their online presence? Or would the same concepts apply?
The readership of the blog has evolved over time, and this is reflected in the way the blog content has changed as well as the focus of the magazine. When I started Publishing Talk, I thought I was writing about social media for publishers – but it turned out that at least as many readers were authors and aspiring authors, and that has influenced the editorial direction.
I am still running workshops and in-house training for publishers through my social media consultancy Reed Media. But I hope that the magazine will be useful for both publishers and authors.
I think one reason why authors turned out to be a large section of the readership is that they have always tended to be the ones doing more with social media than publishers – which is appropriate given that it is a personal medium. Often the job of a publisher is to facilitate their authors’ use of social media.
In addition to social media, the magazine also includes features on self-publishing – something traditional publishers need to be aware of too. I think this is the biggest trend in publishing at the moment, and I was keen to give it space in the magazine. In each issue we interview two successful authors: one traditionally published, and one self-published. We’re also theming issues by genre, so the launch issue has a crime fiction theme, and we have interviews with Val McDermid on where she finds her ideas, and Kerry Wilkinson on how he topped the Kindle charts – and why he’s now signed with Pan Macmillan.
There is also advice on writing, and an ‘Ask an Agent’ feature in each issue. Publishers are still an important part of our constituency though. The marketing advice and social media tutorials are equally applicable to them; and we also have a publishing careers column.
4) Which publisher/author do you think is the best case study of social media success?
Increasingly publishers are doing innovative things to connect with readers using social media. Recent examples include Penguin USA, which is going for Pinterest in a big way at the moment, including using it for thematic promotions such as book club selections or the London Olympics. Pinterest also allows them to delve visually into a world that’s created within a book, such as 1930’s New York as they have done on their board for Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
Ben Hatch, author of Are We Nearly There Yet? (Summersdale, 2011) has a really interesting social media success story from an author’s point of view, which he shares with us in issue 2. After what he describes as a disastrous launch, his book went to #1 in the Kindle non-fiction charts – something he attributes almost entirely to the massive Twitter support he has received.
5) And the big question – why should we subscribe to your new magazine?
The magazine has great tips, advice and content from some excellent contributors. Danuta Kean is doing feature interviews with some big name authors; and well-known self-published authors are also offering their tips for success.
There are illustrated step-by-step social media tutorials, and guidance on other aspects of marketing, such as John Purkiss on building an author brand in issue 2. There are regular advice columns including Suzanne Collier on publishing careers, Tom Evans and Sarah Salway on writing, and literary agents including Kirsty McLachlan and Sarah Such on topics such as how to get an agent or how to write a book proposal.
It is available in multiple formats: print, PDF, iPad and Kindle – and we’re keeping the price as low as possible. The launch issue is just $5 for print (including free digital edition), $2 for digital only (PDF + iPad), or $0.99 / £0.77 for a text-only Kindle edition.
Overall, the magazine focuses on essential advice and information to help people write, publish and sell books. I hope readers enjoy it – we’ve certainly had great feedback so far!
6) Finally, if you could give one top tip to any social media users out there, what would it be?
Join Pinterest. This may be the shiny new social media tool that everyone is talking about at the moment – but I do think it is worth a look. There are interesting ways for publishers and authors to use it, and it is driving a lot of web traffic for many people. If you are a fan of Twitter and Facebook, it also integrates with both. There is a feature on how to use it to promote books in the magazine. If you are already using Pinterest, Publishing Talk can be found at http://pinterest.com/publishingtalk.Issue #01 (Jul-Aug) of Publishing Talk Magazine is out now. Issue #02 (Sep-Oct) goes on sale next month.