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Publishing for kids: how to reach book buyers online [event round-up and photos]

Guest Speakers from different areas of the publishing industry came together to discuss how to make a success of publishing for kids in an online world. Here Abigail Hyland rounds up the key things we learned from the speakers.

pub kids

Steve Bohme, Nielsen Book Research: recognising overlooked marketing strategies

Nielsen measure the engagement children and young adults have with social media, by way of consumer surveys, to find new ways of targeting a market that is increasingly online.

Quick glance stats:

Who’s online? 0-17yr olds   

– 50% of this age group access YouTube

– 26% of this age group access Facebook

– 23% of this age group access Amazon

Where are books being bought?

-33% online

-67% offline

Where are books being discovered?

-17% online

– 83% offline


From these statistics it’s obvious that publishers of children’s books are missing out on a potentially huge referral market. But instead of a missed opportunity, Nielsen are using this research as encouragement to tap into new ways of marketing children’s literature on online platforms.

Sven Huber, Boolino: using the internet as an instantly available meeting place of reader and text

If bookstores are the psychical bridge between authors and readers, how does the internet form a bridge between author and reader to the same effect?

From this question, a business opportunity arose and there ‘Boolino’ was born; a site that aims to connect the reader to a text through online interactive material that’s supplementary to the book.

This ‘added’ content, such as video book reviews, allow a parent to make an informed decision about which books they will buy their child. And, when that book has been bought, further material is available to aid the reading experience in the form of online tests and games. This caught the attention of the publishers of these texts, as they came to recognise the use of this added value. This then formed strong communications between the Boolino and publishers’ websites, leading to a healthy referral system between each site.


Claire Morrison, DK Books: putting what parents want online

DK’s research into what parents want for their child suggests a wish list of age-appropriate content, educational value, engagement with the text, and an expert view on what kids should be reading. This is encapsulated by the advantageous branding DK have which attributes these traits to their publications purely through the trust in the brand. DK are “engaging but trustworthy”, Claire Morrison describes.

Putting this into practice, DK have recently launched the online platform DKfindout!, ‘A safe place online to see, learn and explore almost everything’.

This platform provides:

  • A secure site for a child to search and explore
  • Homework resources
  • Top tips to help parents support their child’s learning and education.


Charlotte Hoare, Hachette Children’s Group: identifying problems one must consider when marketing to children online

Charlotte noted how the children’s books sector is the hardest to target, in terms of marketing, due to the dual approach you have to take when communicating to both the parent and child, buyer and user. But the biggest challenge comes in the form of ‘Verified Consent’: You can easily approach an adult via marketing, but to reach a child is a lot trickier. COPA, an American initiative, states you are not allowed to hold any identifiable data about anyone under the age of 11. So, if you want to sign a child up to a campaign/newsletter/competition, you can only do so with consent from the parent.

Bringing together data (Nielsen) and business opportunity (Boolino & DK), whilst acknowledging the difficulties with children’s book marketing (Hachette), we are provided with a rounded view of how to market books to children and their parents in the current online publishing climate.

For more photos of the event, visit our Facebook page.


Abigail HylandAbigail Hyland is an Editorial Assistant at SAGE Publications and music reviewer for the Brighton based magazine, ‘The Latest‘.


grow traffic

5 tips for growing traffic and engagement for your content

Getting a new blog or social media platform noticed can be difficult. It is important that you are effective and systematic when you engage with the publishing community. Follow this step by step guide to get you closer to your target audience and increase traffic to, and engagement with, your content.

1) Follow big influences

Image credit: @demelzagriff95

Big names in the publishing world won’t necessarily follow you back but repeated, and meaningful, engagement with their content will eventually get you noticed. You need to get your name and brand out there for people to come to you. Start with @samatlounge, @jobsinbooks @publicitybooks and @SamEades.

2) Network

Finding like-minded bloggers is half the battle, but next you need to engage with them to form relationships. The beauty of the internet is that you can meet new people without even needing to attend industry events. Make sure you follow, like and comment on content written by similar bloggers on your platform. Engagement is what you want, so you need to reach others first. Why not offer to host a guest post to advertise their blog? Many bloggers are happy to reciprocate.

3) Don’t hashtag randomly

Hashtags are one of the best way for similar people to find your account. Whether you’re using Twitter or Instagram, make sure you are taking notice of the official and trending hashtags that the majority of people are using. Don’t exclude yourself from the conversation by simply using the a less popular ones. Both Twitter and Instagram have useful features to highlight the most commonly used hashtags. Instagram can even tell you exactly how many posts have used a certain hashtag.

4) Think outside the box

There are thousands of sub genres of book that your blog or social media platform may cover. Once you’ve followed big names in publishing and started networking with similar bloggers, it’s time to get specific. If you aren’t writing about YA, there isn’t always a well-established community to join. It’s time think creatively. Are you writing about politics? Follow journalists or relevant magazines. Writing about lifestyle books? Follow beauty, health and cookery accounts. Search Facebook for relevant groups and events.

5) Create your own community

If you are still struggling to engage in your online community, there is a chance that there isn’t an established community already online. Why not start your own? Creating a Facebook group or blogging hours on Twitter are a great way to bring like-minded people together.


demelza griffithsDemelza Griffiths is an English Literature finalist and social media enthusiast who can’t wait to escape the ivory towers of university to seek a career in book publicity. Her blog, Books feat. Politics covers the latest and greatest in political non-fiction and literary fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress.

Feature Image Credit: mkhmarketing, CC License


Publishing for kids: top online marketing tips

Charlotte Hoare is Digital Marketing Manager at Hachette Children’s Group and speark at ‘Publishing for Kids: how to reach book buyers online’ on 9th March in London. Here’s our interview with Sven.

1) As a marketer, what’s the first thing you think about when developing an online marketing campaign for a new children’s book?

The first thing to consider is always your audience. There’s three things to address straight off the bat: 1) Are we talking to parents or direct to children? 2) If the latter, how do we verify consent? 3) Where would our audience (parents or children) be hanging out online? Once you’ve thought about those three things, you can start thinking creatively.

2) What is the best children’s marketing campaign you have seen? Why is it so good?

I was really interested with what Mattel did for Monster High on YouTube, it’s a classic case of knowing exactly where their audience hangs out. They did a homepage takeover and tied in with some key YouTube influencers to produce a series of music videos for the brand, which they then followed up afterwards with a 4 week campaign targeting viewers who engaged with the takeover to deliver them additional Monster High content (from webisodes to toy adverts). What I liked especially was the way that the takeover was followed up with the more targeted campaign to encourage longer term brand engagement, it garnered them millions of views and YouTube was the perfect platform for the campaign.

3) How can publishers, in general, become better at marketing kids books?

It’s become increasingly clear that we need to move away from the ‘traditional’ idea of a marketing campaign (enewsletters, pub day tweets, bookmarks) and think outside of our publishing bubble. When we market children’s books, we’re effectively competing with the likes of LEGO, Xbox, Candy Crush, YouTube, etc. for kids’ attention. In order to stand a chance against such big companies (and their wallets), we need to spend our budgets more wisely on marketing ideas and digital properties that add real value to a book, rather than something that’s forgotten a week after it publishes.

4) What are parents looking for when finding books for their children online?

I think parents that are into books are always going to know where to find books for their kids, be that on Amazon or Mumsnet or wherever. In the majority of cases, though, I don’t think your average parents are actively looking online for books for their kids. I think for us, as publishers, it’s more about going to places online where they are looking for stuff – be that advice on how to get their kid to sleep or homework help – and seeding out our content to promote books that way.

5) If you could offer advice to any budding children’s marketing professionals, what would that be?

Don’t be lured in solely by the glamorous YA side of children’s publishing. For most lists, these won’t be the bread and butter books that you’ll be spending most of your energy on. Related to that, I’d say to read widely and with an open mind, as you need to be able to appreciate books that are aimed at much younger audiences.

Top 10 tips for crowdfunding

Norah Myers currently works on the editorial side of marketing. She assists with copywriting, proofreading, fact-checking and research. She also sources new clients for an independent publisher, edits narrative nonfiction, and interviews great publishing folk for BookMachine. She has created and managed crowdfunding campaigns for books and assistive technology. Below are her top crowdfunding tips.

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The next 5 years of publishing: jetpacks and hoverboards [OPINION]

In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Lottie Chase. Lottie is the Sales Manager of Legend Press, a publisher passionate about championing new and high-profile authors and ensuring the book remains a product of beauty, enjoyment and fulfilment. She was the Chair of the Society of Young Publishers and has previously worked in export sales at both Walker Books and Quercus.

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book club

Want to join the world’s coolest book club?

Jacob Cockcroft is founder of The Pigeonhole. He is a lifelong book addict with a passion for blending the old and the new. With family origins in Zanzibar, his background is in the intelligences and security sector. Teaming up with publishing guru – Anna Jean Hughes – their mission is to show the world that digital publishing can go beyond the book.

Innovation in the publishing industry is like watching a black and white movie in a world painted in high definition colour. First we had Kindle, an important step but hardly revolutionary – just piping content into a digital form, and now we have e-tailers competing to be the ‘spotify of music’. It’s all fine and good, but that’s really all it is; the potential is so much greater.

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Talking About Books to a Global Audience

This is a guest post by Rob Chilver. Rob is a Social Media assistant for Waterstones, working on a number of mediums from blogging to Twitter and Instagram. He also writes about books at AdventuresWithWords.com and hosts a fortnightly books podcast. He can be found on Twitter and on Instagram: @robchilver

I wouldn’t have guessed when I began working as a Christmas temp at a small town Waterstones that I’d end up in Head Office with a view of the London skyline. Yet, from talking to customers on the shop floor to interacting with them on social media and blogs, the core concepts have remained the same. Here’s what I learnt along the way.

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consumer insight book sales

How to use consumer insight to improve book sales [INTERVIEW]

This is a guest post from Louise Vinter. Louise  is Head of Consumer Insight at Penguin Random House UK, having previously held the role at Random House. She leads a team of consumer insight specialists in delivering research and insight to support all parts of the business. Louise started her career as a political opinion pollster at MORI and worked in audience research at the BBC before moving to publishing in 2011.

1. What exactly is Consumer Insight and how does it fit into the rest of the publishing model?

At Penguin Random House UK our publishing strategies are shaped by a happy marriage of publisher instinct, insight and the conversations we have every day with readers, and underpinned by a wealth of data, analytics, and the collective expertise of our analysts, digital and marketing teams.

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Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook book group

Following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey and Richard & Judy, Mark Zuckerberg has started a massive book group for his fans. In a post on his personal page over the weekend, the Facebook founder said that his ‘challenge for 2015’ is ‘to read a new book every other week’ (presumably bringing him up to 26 in total across the year), particularly focusing on ‘learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.’

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5 questions for Joe Regal from Zola Books [INTERVIEW]

Host of November’s BookMachine NYC, Bree Weber, talks to speaker on the night Joe Regal, co-founder of Zola Books.

Grab your tickets for BookMachine NYC here.

1. How did your background as a literary agent lead to Zola Books?

What I saw as an agent was that with the rise of digital books, authors were stuck with a royalty rate I didn’t feel was fair – 25% of net – but the problem came not from publishers as much as a retail environment where publishers were being squeezed by an increasingly small group of increasingly powerful retailers, and the publishers were passing on that pain to the writers out of self-preservation.  It seemed really clear that in order to continue to serve writers, I needed to become involved in an effort to bring more diversity to retail, so that publishers would have more outlets for their books, enabling them to continue to nurture writers struggling to start careers…or struggling to maintain careers.

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The Write Lines: How to market your book [PODCAST]

Sue Cook talks to Dr Alison Baverstock (author, publishing expert and university tutor), Catherine Ryan Howard (successful self-published author) and Jane Wenham-Jones (fiction and non-fiction writer, journalist and speaker). The guests share their experiences, with advice about writing marketing copy, identifying a market for your book, building a readership, avoiding the hard sell, how publishers promote books, cheap and free books and using social media. Produced by Ian Skillicorn.

Can Publishers Succeed at Social Media?

This is an artists rendering of what shit social media looks like.
This is an artists rendering of what bad social media looks like.

Last week, I went to a workshop on social media at Main Headquarters called a Social Media Social, which unfortunately isn’t a social where you dress up as different icons from social media but more like a bit of a talk, a bit of mingling, and a bit of casual Twitter use.  We got some great tips from the mother of Futurebook and Twitter Queen Sam Missingham, including:

  • Pick your platforms – do research into where your target audience is, or decide what you feel most comfortable doing, and stick to those channels. No one can be everywhere, and you don’t need to be.
  • Consider going off-message – social media advocates from within your company don’t need to be pushing the same agenda as the corporate accounts. Having rogues (eg. Waterstones Oxford St. on Twitter) can be great for your brand.
  • Make it fun – people want to interact with things that involve them in some way. It’s pretty hard to interact with a sales pitch.

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5 questions for Sarah Benton of Hot Key Books [INTERVIEW]

Sarah BentonIn the last 12 months Bonnier’s newest enterprise, Hot Key Books, has gone from boardroom idea to fully fledged business, currently supporting 17 people and a list of 9 excellent children’s titles in the first year alone.
With an ambitious target of 30 – 50 titles to take to market in the second year, Sales and Marketing Manager, Sarah Benton, talks about how it feels to be part of the team leading the charge into the rapidly evolving future of successful Children’s books.

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It’s a Brand New World

This is a guest post from Kathy MeisKathy Meis, who is founder and president of Bublish, a social book discovery platform that is revolutionizing how writers share their stories and readers find books they’ll love. 

In the world of business journalism, where I come from, the idea of a publishing brand, is common. Forbes, Financial Times, and The Economist are all household names. Book publishing, however, evolved quite differently, primarily because of its distribution and monetization models. Book publishers haven’t traditionally sold directly to their customers nor have they had to worry about making money through advertising, which requires a strong brand and an intimate understanding of one’s readership.

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