• Home
  • Community building

Category: Community building

5 reasons to use social and mobile for scouting new talent

Sweek, a social platform for free reading and writing, and Ravensburger, a well-known German publisher, have successfully completed #SchreibMitRavensburger, a Young Adult writing contest. At an exclusive event at the Ravensburger headquarters, Samira Bosshard was revealed to be the winner of the contest and earned herself a publishing contract, after impressing both the Sweek reading community and the expert jury of Ravensburger.

Continue reading

Stop trying to go viral

Norah Myers is a freelance publishing consultant for BookMachine. She is currently writing a business book for a marketing company, practising Pilates, and eating too much flourless chocolate cake (and it shows). Her Twitter and Instagram handles are the same: @bookish_norah.

Continue reading

Using social media to find new clients

How to start?

You have a Twitter account, are active on Facebook, have a LinkedIn presence and a website, but you need these to work for you. We all face the difficult task of finding new clients, but marketing via social media can make selling your services online much easier. Social media can be a great way of backing up how you engage with prospective clients and lead to lively and informative conversations online, if you have a clear and positive online presence.

Continue reading

5 ways to perfect your pre-launch publicity campaign

Digital reading platform The Pigeonhole have launched a competition with Pan Macmillan, giving 500 winners early access to a serialized exclusive of Ken Follett’s latest blockbusting novel, A Column of Fire (see below for more info). Ahead of this, The Pigeonhole’s Laurence Kilpatrick shares his top tips for pre-launch publicity.

Continue reading

A long-term approach to working with book bloggers [Winning blog idea July]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. July’s joint winner (with Richard McCartney’s piece), was Dawn McGuigan with her top tips for working with book bloggers in the long term. 

Continue reading

Alchemy: Why poetry publishers need to get it together

In May this year, three wrestling matches were held in a library. Two small poetry publishers, Sidekick Books and The Emma Press, nominated their champions for the ‘Pamphleteers’ grand slam, roared about their scrapping prowess and set them against each other in a no-holds-bard smackdown. Pamphlet took on pamphlet, and the poetry pitted dinosaurs against dragons, witches against sinister government agencies and, most curiously of all, mackerel salad against Angela Lansbury.

Continue reading

Flat Design

The Persona Principle – 8 steps to take UX beyond web development

BookMachine Works is a creative events and marketing agency, specialising in the publishing industry. We combine experience, energy and enthusiasm to create outstanding events and unrivalled marketing campaigns. Here Suzanne Kavanagh, who is part of the team, shares her tips on how you can apply UX techniques and persona development across your business.

Continue reading

The Nibbies Marketing Strategy of the Year Award: Interview with Jodie Mullish

Jodie Mullish is Communications Director for Bluebird, part of Pan Macmillan. Previously, she was Head of Fiction Marketing at Pan Macmillan, and has held Publicity and Marketing roles at Quarto, Penguin and a number of award-winning agencies. Jodie has also occasionally worked as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Here, Norah Myers interviews her about what makes a successful communications team.

Continue reading

Tips from BookMachine Works: Why email should be your priority

BookMachine Works is a creative events and marketing agency, specialising in the publishing industry. We combine experience, energy and enthusiasm to create outstanding events and unrivalled marketing campaigns. Here Nicola Slavin, who is part of the core team, shares her tips on why email should be your priority.

For many marketers, email is one of the most important channels. Adestra’s recent report says email reigns supreme in terms of delivering ROI and it drove an estimated £29bn of UK online retail sales in 2016.

And yet, for those of us promoting books in an ever-changing digital landscape, email can get lost in the rush to create video content, hashtag campaigns and social media accounts.

All of these have their place but there’s little doubt that a healthy, engaged, growing email list is one of the most powerful assets you can own. That’s true whether you’re launching a new book, promoting backlist, or building up your brand.

Here’s a few reasons why…

Your email list belongs to you

Every social media comment, every Amazon review, every Goodreads conversation – they’re all happening on networks subject to algorithm changes, platform updates and acquisitions. The people on your list haven’t used a social account to give you a fairly meaningless like or follow. They have trusted you with their email address – not Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads. This means you own some very valuable data.

They’re already engaged

Your subscribers are usually there because they’ve opted in, and now they expect to receive content. You need to work to keep your list current – tracking open rates, click-throughs and conversions can help keep it healthy – but the fact people have chosen to hear from you is a great starting point.

You can build relationships

One way to capitalise on this is to talk with your readers. You can do this on social media too, but particularly for small publishers and authors, email allows for ongoing conversation. Engaging with your subscribers is also a natural way to keep your list healthy. A small, engaged list is better than a huge, disinterested one.

Targeting

If you’re a publisher with multiple series or an author with a diverse writing portfolio, you might find it hard to know where to focus with social media. Although platforms like Facebook allow you to target posts, there isn’t much that can compete with a well-segmented email database. If you capture the right kind of information, you can send incredibly targeted communications.

Automation

With Mailchimp opening up automation for free accounts and other email service providers onboard with automation, there’s little excuse for not utilising this powerful tool.  An automated sequence allows you to set a trigger or series of triggers so that your readers receive targeted emails whenever you choose. For example, you could share a book recommendation one week after a reader has signed-up.

It works both ways

A healthy email list is an asset not just in itself but because of the other ways it can be used. For example, Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to use your list and build a very targeted audience. This is a great way to reach people who are already interested in your content but might not previously have bought anything.

You can contact BookMachine Works to discuss how we can help you with your own mailing lists.

Startup Snapshot: Squirl

Jef Van der Avoort is co-founder of Squirl, the first location-based book discovery app. Previously he helped brands like LEGO, Philips and Hasbro to create engaging experiences on the border between the analog and digital world.

1) What exactly is Squirl?

Squirl is a location-based book discovery app that lets you bump into the real-world settings from books (e.g. The Plaza Hotel in the Great Gatsby). You can read the excerpt that takes place right where you are standing and check in to the literary location. You may also click through to buy the book. In essence, we are building an augmented story layer on top of the world.

2) What problem does it solve?

Book discovery is the number one issue for authors and publishers. We want to level the playing field by turning the whole world into a bookstore. The places you pass by become portals into different worlds, no matter if it is from a book by a first-time indie author or a bestselling superstar. It is a new, engaging and serendipitous way to discover your next read.

3) Who is your target market?

The casual reader is very important to us. These are people who read 2 or 3 books a year and are mostly overlooked when it comes to publishing tech. Discovering new books is not on top of their list, but they are interested in stories that are relevant to them. Through this geographic relevance we can excite these readers to buy a book they might not have discovered in any other way.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

Our first tangible goal is to see a book rise to the New York Times bestseller list because it was discovered through Squirl. On a more macro-level, we would like authors and publishers to see Squirl next to social marketing platforms like Twitter and Goodreads.

5) What will be next for Squirl?

We are very excited with the positive reception we are receiving and we already have some Squirl fans. We are currently raising a seed round to build some great features and advance Squirl to continue to enhance the experience for both readers and authors.

Instagram Brand Building for Writers

Carly Watters is a VP and Senior Literary Agent at P.S. Literary. Here she shares her top tips on Instagram brand-building for us to share with authors.

Instagram is the last major social media frontier for many writers. It’s not new by any means; in fact, readers have been posting pictures of authors’ books since the platform’s inception. But where are those authors and why aren’t they engaging with all of those posts? Why haven’t writers joined Instagram as quickly as readers?

Why should writers join Instagram?

Many writers are reluctant to join Instagram for many reasons: 1) it takes time away from writing 2) it’s another platform to learn (when they were just getting the hang of Twitter!) 3) it’s against many writers’ natural instincts i.e. writers think they aren’t great at taking lovely Instagram-worthy pictures because they’re writers!

I’m here to argue that writers, you CAN be good at Instagram if you think of it like the storytelling platform it is. That’s right, successful Instagram users create a narrative that brings followers into their lives. That’s the key to those people that everyone wants to follow. You’re following their daily journey because they control the narrative they’re telling and reveal it in a compelling way (much like a novel, hint hint!).

For example, you can choose the parts of your life that you bring your followers into. Many successful users focus on certain elements: bringing a pet home, cooking and recipes, home renovations, a fitness journey, travel, and other hobbies.

Also, by combining the daily posts with complementary “Stories” (i.e. The Snapchat of Instagram, which are the circle icons at the top of your app), you can make yourself a destination that people want to visit regularly.

Published writers have an additional digital marketing responsibility: finding brand ambassadors

You need to engage with your readers. Sometimes they’ll tag you and sometimes they won’t, but search your hashtags (your name, your book’s name, your publisher’s feed etc.) and comment on readers’ posts, follow them, re-post their lovely pictures (which saves you from having to take your own), and make sure they want to pre-order your next. Early fans can become passionate brand ambassadors. They’re out there reading your work so make sure you welcome them into your fold and authentically appreciate the work they’re doing to spread the word of mouth on social media.

(One thing to avoid: talking too much about a work in progress. Unless you’re a multi-published author with a big fan base that’s craving a sneak peek it’s going to be lost on people. Focus on those tried and true Instagram hobby topics instead.)

What Hashtags Should You Use? Try some of these:

  • #WritersofInstagram
  • #Bookstagram
  • #Booklover
  • #Bookworm
  • #BooksandBeans (for books and coffee)
  • #PupsandBooks (for books and dogs)
  • #Booknerd
  • #VSCObooks
  • #Instareads
  • #IgReads
  • And don’t forget the hashtags of writers you’re reading, publishers, book titles and locations you’re reading in.

Follow Carly on Instagram at @carlywatters.

BookTube 101 with Sanne Vliegenthart

BookTube 101 with Sanne Vliegenthart

This is a review of last night’s BookTube event by Abbie Headon. Abbie is Commissioning and Digital Development Editor at Summersdale Publishers. Her book Literary First Aid Kit was published by Summersdale in August 2015.

Everyone in publishing knows one thing: that BookTube (as the community of book vloggers on YouTube is known) is important. What most of us don’t really know is how we can use it to bring our books to a wider audience – or even how book vlogging actually works.

On 29 March 2017 we were treated to a fact-packed presentation from YouTube star Sanne Vliegenthart, aka booksandquills, at The Library Club in London, here are some of her tips.

Tips for making great BookTube videos

  1. If you’re a total beginner and don’t know where to start, the first thing to do is watch videos and start learning the language BookTubers use, such as ‘TBR’ and ‘book haul’, to get a sense of the kinds of structure you could try.
  2. Reach out to vloggers whose work resonates with you. BookTubers like talking to newbie video makers, and there are often meet-ups where you can connect with people who’ll be happy to share their expertise with you. You might even make friends with someone who will work with you on a collaborative video that you can share, connecting their audience to yours.
  3. Be as clear as you can about what viewers will find on your channel, such as books on a specific genre. You don’t have to only vlog about this topic, but having a central theme will help you build an audience who are into the same stuff as you.
  4. Organising your content into thematic playlists is a great way to showcase your content. It means people won’t only see your latest videos when they go to your profile page: you can have a playlist of Book Hauls, or vlogs about a specific book genre, for example.
  5. Creating good thumbnail images with a consistent style will ensure your channel is instantly recognisable. You don’t need Photoshop to create stylish thumbnails: free online resources such as PicMonkey do the job just as well.
  6. Always post on the same day of the week, with a minimum of one video every week.
  7. Don’t feel obliged to vlog about the books that everyone else is talking about – the internet is vast and there’s space for every interest, whether it’s Dutch fiction, the classics, or whatever you feel most passionate about.

Tips for publishers who want to work with BookTubers

An impressive £45,000-worth of books have been sold through affiliate links to The Book Depository on Sanne’s channel, plus an unknown figure through other bookshops. This is an exciting opportunity for publishers, but we can’t just bombard vloggers with books and expect instant success.

  1. Take the time to research vloggers and find out who is most likely to be interested in your book. Don’t contact somebody until you’ve watched at least three or four of their videos: you need to know what makes them tick before you get in touch.
  2. Send a personal email, telling the BookTuber about your book and why you think they will like it. This is much more effective than just sending a press release. And always always email before sending anything: it’s a waste of your marketing budget to send books that a vlogger isn’t interested in.
  3. Think of specific events coming up that they might want to vlog about, and suggest how your books fit into these. (It helps if you’ve done your research and you already know the vlogger always makes videos about Valentine’s Day reads, for example.)
  4. Offer suggestions, but be open to vloggers’ ideas: it’s not your job to tell them what to put in their videos. (Remember, nearly all BookTubers are making videos as a hobby around their full-time jobs, from sheer passion.)
  5. Vloggers like backlist as well as frontlist, so don’t ignore jewels in your back catalogue from previous seasons.
  6. Remember the BookTube community is small and well-connected, so don’t pretend you’re offering someone an exclusive if you’re actually not – you will be found out!
  7. Ebooks are easy to send but have nothing to offer as a video experience. A beautifully produced print copy, maybe accompanied by relevant goodies such as a postcard, bookmark or edible treat, will work much better on camera.
  8. What can you offer vloggers? Of course, BookTubers love books, but you could think outside the box and offer a personal, fun experience that relates to the book, which in itself becomes material for the BookTuber’s social media output.
  9. There are lots of views on whether payment is necessary or appropriate. Sanne says that if you’re just offering books or an experience, there’s generally no need to pay. But if you’re setting a specific date for the video to be published and specific guidelines about the content, then yes, you should pay. Remember, you’re not just paying for the vlogger’s time (Sanne puts in at least 8 hours per video, not including time spent reading the book she’s vlogging about) but also the access to their audience.

There’s a world of fabulous book vlogs out there, and I’m sure the BookMachine community has plenty of budding BookTubers in its ranks. I hope these tips inspire you to explore Sanne’s YouTube channel and the wider world of BookTube – and maybe even to set up your camera and join in! If you do, we’d love to hear from you. Lights, camera, book… and… ACTION!

membership economy

Coming at the book backward

Kelly Pietrangeli had a brilliant idea for a book. She and her friends had discovered a powerful way of managing the chaos and anxiety that seems an inevitable part of bringing up children today with a set of tools around life balance, productivity and goal setting. They’d been using the tools themselves with great success, and the next obvious step seemed to Kelly to write a book. Full of enthusiasm, she and a friend got started.

But then:

‘It just occurred to me one day, how are we going to get a book deal on this book called Project Me, when we have no website, no social media platform whatsoever, like, who are we, you know? We’re just a couple of mothers who are writing this book and I suddenly lost confidence in the idea.’

That’s where many book ideas start and end. Or Kelly could have decided to opt instead for self-publishing.

‘But then it occurred to me, well, we could kind of do things backwards here and set up a website, and take the chapters we’ve written so far and turn them into blog posts.’

Her friend and co-author was initially horrified. ‘What, we’re just going to take all this stuff we’ve been working on and just put it for free on a website so anybody can get it? Why would anybody later want to buy a book if it’s already there on the website?’

But Kelly convinced her it was worth the risk. They launched ProjectMe for Busy Mothers, first as a blog, then gradually as a suite of resources, online course, workshops, coaching and ultimately a community, and the book itself was forgotten. Until one day a member of that community, who happened to be a literary agent, said: ‘Kelly, there’s a book in this.’

And so the book was born, back to front. Instead of pitching the idea to publishers in the hope that they’d be the means of getting the word out and building her profile, Kelly found herself sitting at a table with publishers falling over themselves to sign her up.

She’d done the work. She’d build a following, proved her idea resonated with her target market, and created a back-end that would power the sales. (You can hear the full story here.)

Sometimes it seems like a particularly cruel Catch 22: you can only get a publishing deal if you’re already famous; if you’re already famous, you don’t need a publishing deal. But in fact it makes all kinds of sense for nonfiction.

As Adrian Zackheim, publisher at Portfolio, Penguin Random House, said when I interviewed him for the podcast recently (episode not yet broadcast):

‘There are so many tools at our disposal for communication and for building a following… anybody who is a compelling thinker and communicator who has been completely unable to build any sort of following or to even create a ripple of interest in the media world, when they come to us with their book proposal, we have to consider it with some suspicion, because how come nothing has happened around this idea set so far?… Particularly if you are now coming to us and saying, “I am dying to get this idea in front of a large community. You need to help me because this idea is so important, but I really have not been able to attract a single follower.”’

The next challenge is for publishers to go beyond seeing authors’ platforms and communities as simply a green light to take a risk on a book, to develop tools and expertise to support their authors to build their platform or business even further through the book. And as Mike Shatzkin pointed out on Book Machine last year, no publisher has this right yet.

membership economyAlison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers. www.alisonjones.com

Once upon a time an editor, designer and publicist linked up… Why we started Bookollective

Esther Harris is an Editor and PR with Bookollective

Writing for a living can be a lonely business – you spend your days in your own head, scribbling furtively behind your arm or into a laptop.

Then, when you are finally finished and ready to present something to the world, you need to get out of your head and think product and business – and link up with editors, designers, marketers, publishers, bloggers and social media experts, who can create and keep a buzz around your product. It demands a complete gear change, and it’s one that most authors know they need to attempt, but it can be a daunting prospect.

Who do you go to and where do you start? This is one of the main reasons why we formed Bookollective; to provide a friendly meeting place for writers and providers, as well as a one stop shop of all the creation and promotion related services that authors need to dip into.

Publishers need us as much as individual writers. More and more of our publishing clients were stressing that they wanted their book production and marketing to be more streamlined. With costs ever an issue, and ebooks and the internet posing questions about traditional publishing routes, publishers started to admit: OK,  there ARE other ways of working. We CAN outsource the design and promotion of books and get quality without the overhead.

It’s encouraging to be needed and the response to our services has been extremely positive. However, first and foremost this is about creating a creative community who can help one another – one, big ‘book collective’.

Our launch was held at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road on 2nd December and there was a fantastic atmosphere as traditional publishers from PanMac mixed with people from the indies like Canelo, bloggers, writers, printers, book coaches and more. And of course it wouldn’t be a writers’ event worth its salt if someone didn’t take a punt and hand over their completed, unsolicited first ever manuscript. These rookie crime writers got lucky – there happened to be a crime publisher among the group and they picked his brains for a good thirty minutes!

These opportunities are what it is all about. Many of us know that conversation and who you know and contacts are all vital in this industry – they each help you take a step towards the path of being a better known author or a better informed author. The event was such a success that we plan for it to be a quarterly occasion and the next one will be held in the week of the London Book Fair.

And of course, forming Bookollective is a step taken by freelancers to help each other too. Aimee, Helen and I have all freelanced separately for many years, in the same industry, offering complimentary services – but working alone. The time felt right to pool our collective resources, lean on each other and help each out to see if we could grow something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. We look forward to helping many of you on your journey as we help each other on ours.

Email: hello@bookollective.com

Site: www.bookollective.com

Twitter: @bookollective

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox

Account


+44 207 183 2399

Incubation at Ravensbourne | 6 Penrose Way | Greenwich Peninsula | SE10 0EW

© 2019 BookMachine We love your books