Sam Missingham is Head of Events at HarperCollins. She organised the Romance Festival, which was the first publisher-agnostic virtual event organised by a publisher. She is kindly presenting it as a case study at BookMachine London on 22nd July. We wanted to find out a little bit more before the event.1) What initially sparked the idea to host the Romance Festival as a virtual event?
Talking to the editorial team from HarperImpulse and Avon – they told me that romance authors and readers were very digitally engaged – which got me thinking as to how we could connect with them and add value to the conversation.
2) Do you think we’ll be seeing many more virtual events over the next few years?
Certainly from HarperCollins, I’m hoping to run similar publisher-agnostic events in crime, fantasy, teen and possibly some other areas too. The Romance Festival showed that if you focus on what readers and authors would like out of an event, delivering a virtual festival with these elements is a fairly easy way to connect, engage and add value.
3) How could the book industry and rights networks adapt to, use and benefit from virtual events?
I’m sure more of our interactions and deals could be done using online platforms like Google Hangouts. As an industry, I’m not sure we are maximising the potential offered by these free communication channels. But, I’m also a great believer in touching the flesh, so long live Frankfurt and London Book fair as far as I’m concerned.
4) What is next for the events team at HarperCollins?
I’m organising an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. To say it’s an exciting event to work on is an understatement.
5) Finally, could we please have a sneak peek of what you’re going to talk about at BookMachine?
I’m going to talk about the Romance Festival as a case study, so what our objectives were, how we went about it, things we learned and then results. Very happy to be very open and answer any questions along the way.