Category: Publicity

Quantum 2018

Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference [event report]

On Monday 13 November, over 120 people came together for the second Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference, organised by The Publishers Association and the London Book Fair. Over the course of 2017, many writers and publishing staff from under-represented communities have expressed their frustration with our industry’s love of a panel discussion, which can often take the place of any actual progress. It’s appropriate, therefore, that the strap line of this conference was Reflecting All: Effecting Change, and that a real sense of ‘But what are you actually going to do about this?’ ran through every session.

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5 tips for getting yourself PR-ready

Congratulations, you’re writing a book. You’re probably thinking, ‘I just need to get this finished and then I’ll begin to think about how to promote it.’ My advice would be, start thinking now. It’s never too early! Here are my top 5 tips to get your book and yourself PR-ready:

1) Book your publicist early

If you’re planning on hiring a professional publicist, bear in mind that they’re likely to want to start thinking about the campaign about 4 months ahead of publication. Good PRs get booked up, so start your research early.

2) Have a clear idea of ‘what’ your book is, and who your target audience is

When the project is close to your heart it can be hard to stand back, be objective, and accept that your book won’t be for everyone and to really pin down who it is you’re trying to reach. Your publicist will read your book, of course, but your help here is invaluable too. I can’t stress how crucial it is to nail your audience – in order to create a targeted campaign (meaning one that results in book sales) your publicist needs to identify the media consumed by the audience you most want to reach. Are they the well-heeled, middle classes in the Home Counties who might enjoy their subscription to the Times or Telegraph; are they ‘heat seekers’ looking for their next beach reads; are they urban types who want to be ahead of any new trend?

3) What is the USP – what is it that makes the book, or your personal story, original?

Is it a non-fiction book that contains brand new research?  What are the most salient, newsworthy points? Are you uniquely qualified as an author on this particular subject? For example, bestselling crime writer Kathy Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, so you always know that the science in her books is going to be spot on. That is her USP.

4) It’s all about the angles…

A publicist will be trying every avenue to get you publicity, so give them as much info as possible.
  • Be honest with yourself, and know what you’re happy to talk about.
  • Do you have an interesting career, or hobbies?
  • Do you live in a particularly stunning house that would lend itself well to photoshoots?
  • Are you well connected? For example, maybe you have a famous brother, and your publicist could pitch you to ‘Relative Values’ in the Sunday Times.
  • Do you have local connections – always handy for regional media.
  • Are you a police officer who could write about all the things that police procedural novels normally get wrong? Are you a Doctor who sees countless mistakes in medical dramas? Your publicist will be able to place a piece on this that will in turn link to your book.

5) Utilise social media platforms and begin to build relationships

Twitter can be a godsend for authors, enabling them to engage with like-minded souls who might be interested in hearing about their book. Don’t be all ‘plug plug plug’ – let your PR do that for you – instead, find people talking about books that you like and join in. Lots of book bloggers are very active on twitter and engaging with them early can be hugely beneficial when the time comes for your book to be pitched. Everyone remembers the person they had a lovely back and forth with about a shared interest. Your publicist is there to do everything they can to get your book to the widest audience possible. Have an open discussion at the outset about your hopes for the campaign, and find out what their plans and their vision is, so that everyone is working to the same goal.  Good luck. Emma Finnigan has been promoting books for almost 20 years, at both the Orion Publishing Group, Penguin Random House and most recently as Director of Emma Finnigan PR Follow her on twitter at @EmmaFinnigan.

Snapchat: A summary report for publishers

Sarah Garnham is a Publicity Assistant at Ebury. Here’s her summary report of Snapchat for publishers, looking at the publicity opportunities it offers, and when to use them. 

Statistics

Although a number of these statistics are out of date or estimated (mainly because Snapchat doesn’t often reveal exact figures), it is clear that Snapchat is an incredibly popular app and user platform, particularly with younger target audiences.

Key Areas

Stories Stories are a really good way of updating our users with new news and updates and the recent addition of an auto-play function means that when they are checking their friends’ everything plays through. This is a delicate balance of making sure the snap is relevant and frequent (but not too frequent). Special events with big lead-ups can be very good if you know you’ll be posting a longer story on a different day as this way you won’t annoy too many people and can build the hype. PRH Careers did this prior to their long “follow me” stories for The Scheme where you got to follow an editor/assistant/manager for a day. Discover Discover seems to be a much more costly way of advertising as big companies such as BuzzFeed and The Sun use it. It’s a daily update from either a news/food/entertainment source and tends to contain about 10-30 snaps, videos and challenges. This function continues to gain in popularity with media outlets and could lend itself really well to publishing; however this would be an expensive task. You can however buy ad space in this feature, the price of which can be negotiated with that particular discover partner. This means that they can earn money back, and you can save money as it could work out much cheaper than advertising in between stories. Live Streamed from viral events, including the London location which is likely to be the most likely place where an event might get featured. However advertisers can buy time in between these which might be a possible way to advertise if you wanted to do so (although these can be skipped). At a larger event e.g. BAFTAs, new stories are created, with fans and those attending able to add images and videos to the story. One idea might be to try and get featured at bigger events e.g. Summer in the City as these will almost definitely have a Live feature or at the very least be included on the London stories function. In combination with a filter, this could be really popular. Filters Geofilters are digital graphics that layer on top of images or videos and are specific to a location. Often if enough of these are shared to do with certain events or simply as part of the ‘Our London Story’ function in a single day, then they can get featured and seen by many more people. There are two main ways in which a Geofilter could be utilised. Firstly is if an artist or designer submitted one and this was chosen by Snapchat. No brand logos are allowed, but this option is free. However this wouldn’t be particularly useful as it is likely that the location would only be the office, so generally used by staff. However visiting authors give it the potential to be seen by more people. The second way, which would probably be a lot more useful is by temporarily purchasing one for a special event e.g. a launch/reading/signing. These can be approved in one business day and start at $5. They can cover a space between 20,000 square feet and 5 million square feet, so would be able to fit the perimeters of a bookshop or venue. These encourage people to share their images and would be particularly useful at large blogger events. (This article goes through the steps of the process: http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/23/how-to-make-snapchat-geofilter/). Many brands and locations use these, and particularly well designed ones are likely to be further shared on Facebook or Instagram. As this is being proposed to be used for advertising the classics, you could really utilise the different designs of the sets e.g. birds and bees and they have a fun and bright design. Lenses These are graphics that fit over a user’s face, sometimes even available for multiple people in the shot. They follow the movement of the face and are often animated, usually when the user opens their mouth. A recent popular example includes the Cadbury campaign to push individual chocolate bar brands such as Crunchie, Twirl and Wispa. They launched a featured lens that appeared first in the list (before the popular dog lens) which appeared every Friday to tie in with their Friday Feeling campaign. It featured a gold mask which covered the whole face, music and a feature which rained Crunchie bars across the screen and said either “Give Me That Friday Feeling” or “Obey Your Mouth” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJEGL6Aa3xI). These are reported to be quite expensive, although they get a lot of traction. The Face Swap lens offers a way of utilising this function for free although you would have to promote it elsewhere.

Instagram Stories

On the 2nd of August, Instagram launched ‘Instagram Stories’, essentially a direct copy of ‘Snapchat Stories’. This allows users to post photos and videos, overlay these with words, emojis and a drawing function. The photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and don’t appear in you feed. If you tap on someone else’s picture you can send them a DM about it and you can also make your story private so no one, not even your followers, can see it. You can see who has viewed your story by opening it and swiping up on the screen, you can see the number and the name and these statistics are private. It also offers an easy way to share a picture/video from your feed into your story using the (…) function. You can also download the images to your phone, much like snapchat. Pros
  • More things on one channel = build audience.
  • More drawing options e.g. neon and calligraphy pens and custom colour control.
  • You can pause the screen and go back and forth between images.
Cons
  • Missing a lot of Snapchat’s key features e.g. location, lenses, custom sticker emojis
  • Can’t add old content.
  • Can’t see who has screenshotted content.
  • Can’t save a whole day’s content in one go.
Full list of differences and similarities here: https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/02/instagram-stories/

Publicist [JOB POSTING]

Polity, a leading independent publisher, is looking for an experienced publicist to join its friendly marketing team in Oxford.  Excellent communication skills are essential; applicants with a social sciences, humanities or publishing degree would be preferable. Polity offers a competitive salary, a pension scheme and 25 days annual holiday. This position is based at our offices in the Oxford Business Park, Cowley, Oxford and reports to the head of marketing. Please apply in writing with a full CV and the email addresses of two referees to Gill Motley, Polity, 65 Bridge St, Cambridge CB2 1UR.  The closing date for applications is Monday, 31st  October 2016.

BookGig: The ‘publisher agnostic’ initiative launched by HarperCollins

A new initiative hit the book world this week: BookGig, ‘all the events from the authors you love’. What’s interesting about that? Well, it’s one of the few initiatives launched by a publisher (HarperCollins) that isn’t narrowly focused on that publisher’s own lists. ‘Publisher agnostic’, they’re calling it. Which is exactly what readers are, of course. HarperCollins have recognised that to do anything worthwhile they need scale, and to get scale they need comprehensive coverage. (Their reward, apart from the kudos and the opportunity to promote their own events and authors, is of course the contact details of hundreds or thousands of book lovers aka potential future customers.) It’s also interesting because of the way it zooms in on a key point of differentiation – in a book ecosystem dominated by Amazon’s sheer scale, author events are a blue ocean of opportunity. (BookMachine fans know the value of a good event better than most, of course.) They’re also a win-win-win scenario: for the author, the opportunity to convert readers into raving fans; for publishers and booksellers, the opportunity to sell significant quantities of books; for readers, an experience that gives depth and texture to the book itself. I’m fascinated by the range of events already featured – not just your traditional author readings and book launches, but book clubs, business breakfasts, workshops, even a walk. The possibilities are infinite: masterclasses, demonstrations, debates, all-night readings, fan fiction competitions, maybe a sneak preview of a new book with the opportunity to contribute or collaborate? This for me is the most exciting space for publishing in the digital age – brokering not just a transaction but a relationship between author and reader. future of the bookAlison 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

Why small publishers sell more books with Nielsen Book2Look

ralph-moellersSmall independent publishers and self-published authors need to maximize the impact of their books and ensure they are easily found on the Internet. Ralph Möllers, the founder of a children’s publisher based in German decided to develop his own book widget, Book2Look, that would enable book buyers, both trade and consumer, to look inside the book before they purchase. The Internet makes content readily available for free. Ralph felt by offering easily digestible free content as a hook would encourage readers to want to read on and most importantly to click ‘buy’. Making the point of discovery the point of purchase. As a starting point before any book campaign, publishers should think about whom their current readers are and what is happening in the marketplace. Here are some of Ralph Möllers’ latest observations, together with how this led to the development and continuing enhancement of the Book2Look widget.

Your Readers are web savvy

According to BBC research, young people now spend an average of three hours online a day. This seems quite a conservative estimate really, and professionals must spend more than double this amount. Tech savvy millenials are wise to advertising and many use ad blockers to protect them from the ‘lure’ of online shopping ads, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated. According to eMarketer, about a quarter of all U.S. internet users, nearly 70 million people will use technology to block online ads in 2016. Publishers therefore need to develop respectful ways of promoting to these readers, as a result of this.  Nielsen Book2Look is therefore an ideal option that lets you share sample content, video, audio clips and other promotional material via the internet on social media sites, on your own site, author site or with retailers, bloggers and reviewers.  Each version can be tailored to meet your audience needs.

Shelf space is decreasing

Despite books such as the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, which achieve huge sales, shelf space for the average book in traditional book stores has been decreasing and this makes discoverability of new books extremely difficult for publishers. Author James Patterson launched an admirable initiative to help indie bookshops survive and thrive – however, in the UK in 2014, almost twice as many bookshops closed down as new ones opened. Between 2009 and 2016*, the number of independent booksellers in the UK and Ireland, has fallen by 25%. With fewer options to browse books in-stores, publishers need to replicate the ability to browse books online, and that’s where Nielsen Book2Look can help you reach a wider audience for your books.

The social media frenzy continues

Trends in Social Media usage are changing. Many Facebook users have migrated to Instagram or Twitter away from parental observation. Groups of friends prefer to communicate via closed groups on Path or What’s App. Professional networks such as Yammer give work colleagues a valid reason to chat online. Nothing remains constant but the one thing all forms of social media have in common is that they give their users the opportunity to share. Nielsen Book2Look lets your readers share sample content. It gives them a valid reason to communicate on their preferred social channels, and you can add a link to your preferred retailer, ensuring that you achieve sales. Nielsen Book2Look is a tool that encourages readers to share and spread the word about the books they like. A tool that supports your local retailer by offering customised sample content. And lastly but not least, it’s a tool that gives you great analytical data about the performance of your book content that can be connected to your existing Google analytics account.

Conclusion

Today Nielsen Book2Look is helping thousands of publishers of all sizes worldwide to promote and sell their books. Nielsen Book2Look has achieved millions of book views, last year the figure was 20m, and we expect that to increase this year.  Ralph Möllers says: “As a developer and as a publisher I am really proud of this contribution to our industry and I am delighted that so many publishers around the world can take advantage of this remarkable book widget. Even better news is that Nielsen Book has launched its new ISBN Store which enables publishers not only to purchase their ISBNs online but the Book2Look widget too – what could be simpler than that?” *2016 is seeing a number of new independent bookshops starting up, which might lead to a resurgence of high street retailing, but this is still a hugely competitive market with customers being offered a huge of point of purchase. book2look  

The Zoella Book Club: interview with Amy Alward

Earlier this month WHSmith launched Zoella’s Book Club in partnership with blogger and vlogger Zoe. Here Norah Myers interviews Amy Alward, one of the eight authors to be included in the Summer 2016 collection.

1. Why was it important for Zoe to start a book club in partnership with WHSmith?

Zoe’s always been passionate about reading, and the WHSmith book club is the perfect way to share that passion with her viewers.

2. The sales of the books Zoe chose increased exponentially right away. What does that say about the power and influence of YouTube?

It’s incredible! I think those in industries who have worked with major YouTubers before, like fashion and beauty, will find it no surprise to see the uplift in sales. They’ve known the power of social media stars for a long time. But, for books, this is something completely new. For so long, YA publishers have been debating the best ways to reach real teens in the UK and beyond, without the benefit of a movie or TV show. Zoe is putting reading back on the teen radar in a BIG way.

3. Does Zoe plan to stick to YA recommendations or will she branch into other genres?

I’m not sure! I’m very excited to see what she picks in upcoming book clubs – her taste so far has been spot on and even I’ve discovered some recommendations that have gone straight on my TBR pile.

4. Where do you and Zoe see the book club going through the rest of 2016 and beyond this year?

So far, it’s been amazing seeing the reaction to the book club and the level of interaction during the online events. I hope that continues right the way through September, when the vote for the ‘favourite book’ is counted. As for beyond, I hope that the book club continues to shine a light on authors that otherwise would not be getting the attention they deserve, introducing more awesome and diverse authors to new readers. There is so little coverage of children’s books in general in the UK, especially not in places that will be seen by teenagers. This is an amazing opportunity to spread a love of reading far and wide!

5. Congratulations on being chosen as part of Zoe’s first eight picks. What does this mean for you as an author and where do you see it taking you in terms of your own writing?

Thank you so much. For me – of course, I’m blown away by seeing the jump in sales and by the hundreds of messages I’ve received from new readers discovering the series. All I know is that I have many more stories and adventures for Sam Kemi to go on, so I hope it gives me the opportunity to write even more books in The Potion Diaries series! Amy Alward is a Canadian author and freelance editor who divides her time between the UK and Canada. In 2013, she was listed as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars. Her debut fantasy adventure novel, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, was published in 2013 under the name Amy McCulloch and was longlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award for best UK debut children’s book. Her first book written as Amy Alward, The Potion Diaries, was an international success and the second novel in the series, The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour will be published in August 2016. She is currently travelling the world, researching more extraordinary settings and intriguing potions for the third book in the series. She lives life in a continual search for adventure, coffee, and really great books. Visit her at AmyAlward.co.uk or on Twitter @Amy_Alward.
Allison Williams - Project Manager

Learning from Snapshots III: 8 project management tips for beginners 

As part of our MA in Publishing course at Kingston University, we collaborate with various companies to produce a book in a rather short timeframe. I was thrilled to be on the team that worked with BookMachine on Snapshots III and the experience I gained from being our project manager was invaluable. We are excited to launch Snapshots III and are busy preparing for the free launch event on June 8. In the meantime, here are eight things I have learned about project planning and production.

1) Plan, plan, plan, and then plan some more

It isn’t just about creating a practical and realistic project plan for your internal team, but also making sure you are fully aware of the planning and scheduling needs of your client and any other partners that need to sign off on the project. You also have to remember that life happens, but a good project plan should consider that from the beginning and have room to yield a bit.

2) Ask the right questions

Part of creating a good project plan and executing it is knowing the right questions to ask your client and all other people involved. Think about what you already know and what you need to know and let those questions lead to more questions. I’ve found asking questions about my questions often yields the right question (check out Q-Storming for more on this idea).

3) Communicate

I have come to the realisation that there is no such thing as over-communication when working on a project – especially when that project involves multiple teams and many moving parts. Send follow up emails after meeting with the action items listed, request status updates and restate any question to avoid miscommunications.

4) No two projects are the same

I’ve had some experience in project planning, but Snapshots III really affirmed that you can’t execute an effective project plan by copying and pasting what you’ve done before. Prior experience is going to impact and influence everything you do, but ultimately you need to treat each project as an entirely new experience.

5) You have to be creative

Something takes longer than you thought, a design element doesn’t quite work on a page, friction between team members, pesky orphans and widows… it all takes flexibility and creativity to find a solution.

6) Be a Jack…

…of all trades, that is. It is so important that you can support your team in the tasks they are doing. Whether this involves showing them how to use a software or filling in last minute, often you have to step in and help out.

7) Sometimes mistakes happen

As my tutor said, “welcome to publishing”. The key is to own up to it, determine and follow through on the best course of action, learn from it and, finally, move on.

8) Learn something new

Whether that is a crash course on kerning in InDesign, how to create an index, or how to handle a miscommunication. Approach every task with the aim of learning from it and never walk away from a project without considering how you can do better next time. Join us in June for the launch of Snapshots III, BookMachine on Publishing, in London, Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton. Allison Williams is a MA Publishing student at Kingston University. She was a part of BookMachine’s Snapshots III production team and worked in event planning prior exchanging Seattle mist for London rain. She enjoys epic novels, red wine and avoiding writing bios.
Snapshots I launch party

Organising a book launch: tips for making it awesome

If you read this site often, you will know that it is ‘book launch’ time. Snapshots III, BookMachine on Publishing is a compilation of the best of the BookMachine blog. It requires a big bash to announce its arrival. And, as any event organiser will know, the success is in the detail. Snapshots I was a hoot, down in the basement room at Adam Street Club. Snapshots II was a North London affair, with crowds and contributors congregating upstairs at the Island Queen in Angel. All very London-centric we know; so for Snapshots III’s launch you can find us in London, Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton – take your pick! So after organising quite a number of book launches, here are our top tips:

1) Remove chairs from the room

People want to move around and meet each other. They don’t want to be stuck sitting next to the person they sit next to all day at work. We recommend only having enough seating for 10% of your guests. It’s polite to let them know beforehand so that everyone is wearing comfortable shoes and can move around the room and sit through a presentation hobble-free.

2) Send timely reminders

Most event ticketing software does this for you, but lacks detailed information. If you are using Eventbrite, for example, it is worth customising the automated emails so that guests are reminded about catering (will you be serving food?), exact location (should they head to the 3rd floor?) and timings of the evening (can they arrive 20 minutes late and still catch the presentation?). This encourages people to show up, as they are clearer about what to expect – and also means you get less last-minute emails asking about the launch detail.

3) Ask people to help you promote the launch

You also want to remind those who didn’t attend the launch that they can buy your book. How do you do this? Encourage guests to tweet. Post the hashtag around the room, email it to everyone before the launch and remind them on the night too. It’s a great way for them to keep in touch with everyone they have met at the event, too. We often see #BookMachine #hashtag being used in dialogues days after a launch. It’s great for guests and a brilliant marketing tool. Whilst we are here, talking about book launches – please do join us in June for the launch of Snapshots III, BookMachine on Publishing, in London, Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton.
noticed

Getting a book noticed: 4 tips from the UK’s bestselling indie author

Rachel Abbott self-published her first novel, Only the Innocent, in 2011 through Kindle Direct. It reached the number 1 spot in the Kindle store just over three months later,held its position for four weeks and was the second highest selling self-published title in 2012. In August 2015, Amazon confirmed that Rachel is the UK’s bestselling independent author over the last five years. She is also listed at number 14 in the list of bestselling authors – both traditionally and independently published – over the same five year period. Here are her top tips for promoting a title. The one question I am always asked by writers is “How can I get my book noticed?”. As we all know, it is possible to write the most brilliant novel in the world but, unless people know it’s out there, how are they going to find it amongst the millions of books available for the Kindle? The tips below might help you to be noticed and to build and maintain a high readership.

1) Run an awareness campaign

Don’t only think about marketing activities that result in immediate sales – focus on making sure that people recognise your books, seeing them in as many places as possible. Display your covers: at the end of each email you send; in guest posts for popular blogs; in tweets or Facebook posts. Awareness is crucial to success. When readers see your book in a store you want them to think ‘I’ve seen that book before – it looks interesting.’

2) Develop a list of reviewers

Most bloggers post their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as well as on their own blogs. Keep a list of the reviewers you like, and make sure you invite them to read the book before launch. Find other reviewers by searching similar authors, plus the word ‘review’. Send reviewers all the details they might need including what the book is about, the word length and genre. Good reviews create a desire for people to buy.

3) Build your mailing list

A perfect example of a marketing plan objective would be to increase your mailing list by 500 readers. Your actions might include putting a link to a sign-up page in the back of your books, running a promotion, creating a newsletter sign-up form for the author Facebook page, blog or website. Then you can send readers regular updates on the book launches.

4) Use social media tools to help you

It’s all so easy to get hooked on Twitter and be on their all day – but use scheduling tools to cut down on the time spent on social media. Remember the average Twitter user reads tweets for no more than 15 minutes per day and follows 270 people, so if you want to catch their eye, you need to tweet at regular intervals.
crowdfunding

It’s all gone a bit dead: 6 steps for reviving a stalled crowdfunding campaign

Jimmy Leach is, amongst other things, head of crowdfunding at Unbound. Here are his 6 steps for reevaluating and reviving a crowdfunding campaign. It happens to everyone, to some degree. All crowdfunding campaigns – for books, apps, watches, whatever – all follow the same kind of pattern. A spike at launch, a spike at the end which gets them over the line – and, at some point, a plateau in the middle. But what to do when the campaign never gets off the plateau, when the whole project becomes marooned? Obviously, the first point to make is that a lengthy fallow period can be avoided. There is no magic bullet to any crowdfunding campaign, other than the fact that activity begets pledges. In other words – if you stop, so will the pledges. But let’s say, that you’re doing plenty and still the pledges have dried up. What next?

1) Look at your messages

What are you saying to people? Are you getting the tone wrong, too blatantly asking for money? Are you explaining the project badly? Many a good project has stalled due to bad communications. Get someone you trust, someone who can be honest with you, to check over the messages you’re sending and see if they ‘feel’ right. Next: Look at what you saying to people and get a second opinion – then re-write.

2) Look at your platforms

Where are you asking for support? In email? On social media? With a quill on vellum? The best campaigns are a mix of media and platforms, but they often concentrate more on one-to-one communication (usually via email) than the one-to-many of, say, Twitter. When I see a failing campaign, I often see a project reliant on a few tweets here and there – and that only gets you so far. Next: Make sure you’re on the platforms which suit your readers, rather than suits you. And, almost certainly, make personalise emails a bigger part of the mix.

3) Look at your audiences

Are you targeting the right people? Most books have two audiences – people who want to support the author and people who want to read about the topic (which can make some fiction harder to fund). Many authors are too reticent about asking their personal networks and not sure where the subject networks are. The first needs chutzpah, the second needs research. Next: Shamelessly dig deep on the the audience of people you know, and put the work in to find the people you don’t.

4) Look at your energy levels

I’m a big fan of the elastoplast model for funding. A short, sharp burst of frenzied activity is better than dragging it out for months. To get a book funded, you should schedule some time every day, be contacting a good number of people each time to make sure those numbers keep ticking over. Next: Remember when you used to schedule your revision and teachers would tell you to ‘make sure you do something every day’? That.

5) Engage

Reticence is a big problem with crowdfunding. Now is the time, as one author put it to me, to ‘unleash your inner American’. That means emailing people you haven’t spoken to in a while, replying to Twitter replies and Facebook posts. The more you talk to people, the more they become involved in the project. Blog about your book and the processes behind producing it. Without being too cheesy, take people on your journey. The people who read that will become your advocates. Next: While writing is a solitary experience, crowdfunding isn’t. Gird your loins and get sociable.

6) Monitor

Observe what’s working – and repeat it. Watch what doesn’t work – and stop doing it. It sounds obvious, but so many authors blithely assume they know what works, and are shocked when the data comes in. Next: Look at the data on your project page (any decent platform will show that to project owners), and learn from it. In short, if your campaign is flagging, it’s time for some honesty as to what is not quite working. Take the time to take your campaign apart a little, examine the parts and shine them up a  bit. Then re-assemble on your way to 100%… Thanks to Norah Myers for sourcing this guest post. 

Startup snapshot: Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy

Ferol-Vernon-280x280 (1)Ferol Vernon is the COO of Written Word Media and has built technology for everyone from doctors and combat medics to musicians and now authors. Ferol’s focus is building deeply engaging technology for readers, and effective ad products for authors and publishers. Here we interviewed him on Freebooksy and Bargain Boosky, both part of the Written Word Media Family. 

1) What exactly are Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy?

Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy are book deal sites. Freebooksy features only free books has 213,000 registered readers and Bargain Booksy features books that are priced under $5, and has 160,000 registered readers. Readers save their genre preferences as well as reading device preferences so our daily newsletter is extremely targeted, and the books we feature sell lots of copies.

2) What problem do they solve?

Two problems really. Readers are always looking for their next great book, but not everyone wants to pay full price, so we offer book deal alerts to readers. We help them find a great book, in the genre they want, for a price that can’t be beat. The second problem we solve is for authors, who are always looking for a place to promote their book. Our advertising products are very effective, and extremely affordable. Authors who promote with us see tangible results, and they keep coming back.

3) What do they offer for publishers?

The service we offer to publishers is the same service we offer to authors. Our advertising works so well, some of the biggest publishers on earth use us. We strive to make sure the same promo tools that work for major publishing houses, are available to indie authors as well.

4) What has been your greatest success?

We’re really most proud of our reputation among the author community. We genuinely care about our authors, and it shows in how we run our business. We know authors want great customer service, so we make it a priority. There’s real people here answering emails every day, and customer service is the first thing we talk about in our weekly staff meeting.

5) What challenges do you face?

Big goals are always challenging and at Written Word Media we have big goals. We want to provide the world’s best  promotional services for authors and that means constantly finding new audiences of readers. Our strategy is to build brands that cater to specific reader types, we’ve branched out from just Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, and launched two new sites. NewInBooks is all about the latest, hottest books, and more in-depth content about books. Red Feather Romance is a romance-specific site. Both of those sites were built to offer a new type of reader to our authors. Continuing to create new brands to attract new readers is challenging, but we’re up to the task.

6) What will be next for Written Word Media?

Like I mentioned we’re highly focused on finding readers and building great ad products for authors. That strategy has served us well and we’re not abandoning it, look for continued expansion form us in in the coming months! ferol-vernon-featured-image-bookmachine
booktube

All about BookTube: Sanne Vliegenthart interview

Sanne Vliegenthart has been making videos on her YouTube channel, booksandquills, for the last 8 years, documenting everything from studying English in the Netherlands, to moving to London to find a job in publishing. She loves to travel, visit museums, go to as many bookshops as possible and discover and review the latest books, graphic novels and book to movie adaptations. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) What inspired you to start a BookTube channel?

I had been watching YouTube for about 2 years before I made my first video. Channels like the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green) and fiveawesomegirls made me realise that there were people with similar interests online that we’re talking about the stuff they love. When I saw that there were ‘auditions’ for a Twilight related collaboration channel, I decided to film my very first video.

2) How do you generate ideas for new material?

I have a Google doc (which I’m a massive fan of) that I can access on my laptop and phone, in which I write down any ideas that might pop into my head. Sometimes they disappear to the bottom of the document, other times they turn into a full video or even a series. Very often I will be looking for something online, realise it isn’t there and end up creating it myself. Examples of this were a guide to how not to crack the spines of big books and also a guide to upcoming book to movie adaptations, in case you’d like to read the book first!

3) What’s the BookTube community like and how do you fit in?

The BookTube community is in general a very welcoming place, though, like every other community, there happens to be some conflicts from time to time, which I try to stay away from. There is a huge variety of BookTubers but I always think there is space for more and for people who want to approach things differently. Working in publishing has given me the chance to be able to make some videos from the ‘other side’, talking about how books are created and giving advice on how to get into publishing, which I’ve found really fun.

4) What have you learned about yourself as your channel has evolved?

I’ve learned that I really enjoy getting feedback from people and I love starting a conversation. I also get the most satisfaction from helping people get the information that they need, whether it’s travel tips, or the best bookshops in London. I’ve also become way better at public speaking and I discovered that I really enjoy speaking on and moderating panels, so I try to do as much of that as I can.

5) Where do you see your channel and BookTubing going in the future?

I’ve been doing this for almost 8 years now, so I don’t see it going away any time soon because I enjoy it way too much. I know that the BookTube community in the Netherlands, where I’m from, has really started growing in the last year, and in general BookTube is getting more recognition and more companies are interested in working with BookTubers. I’m excited to see what the future will bring!

6) Did your BookTube channel help you land your current publishing job?

I actually first got in touch with the company where I got my first publishing job to review one of their books and, after I made a video and shared it with them, I stayed on their radar. I studied literature and translation, and everything I know about social media and video production I learned from building my channel. I’m currently working as Social Media Producer at Penguin Random House UK and it’s been great to work across the company and talk to different people about the YouTube-related projects they’re working on. As a side note, both for my previous and current job, I sent in a video application instead of a cover letter, and I do think that helped quite a lot.

7) What advice do you have for people who want to start their own BookTube channels?

As Shia Labeouf would say, JUST DO IT! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right equipment or don’t feel like you’re an experienced reviewer. Just take whatever you have and talk about the thing you love. I started with a picture camera the size of a brick that could only hold 30 seconds of footage at a time and I edited everything in Windows Movie Maker, so everyone has to start somewhere. I promise you will learn everything you need along the way.
Frankfurt book fair

Top PR and marketing tips for an international audience

Kathrin Grün is the PR Manager for the Anglo team at the Frankfurt Book Fair and is in charge of all media relations with the international news outlets. She also coordinates the PR activities for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s offices abroad. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair, with around 275,000 visitors meeting in Frankfurt over five days. They network, they have meetings, they eat, they drink, they sleep occasionally, and they walk. A lot. In the PR and Marketing team we play our part in organising the 4,000 or so events which take place every October in the Business Club and on the Fair Grounds and, of course, we liaise with the press all year round. During the Fair itself, roughly 10,000 journalists descend on the Halls, so we are always on call. But it’s not all about what happens during those 5 days in October. The Book Fair team are busy all year round, so it’s important that we keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of books, films and games on a daily basis, and that we keep our PR and Marketing messaging up-to-date. As our thoughts focus on the London Book Fair, where we will meet up with friends and colleagues from around the world, I thought it might be useful to share some PR and Marketing tips with you, focusing on reaching an international audience.

1) Planning

Planning is crucial. Look at the entire calendar year ahead, so you can dovetail any promotion or announcement into an important/relevant event. Other international book fairs, like London and Bologna, are always good opportunities to unveil new initiatives. But timing is important, so make sure you don’t clash with something else happening at the same time, and spread your announcements out as much as possible.

2) Identifying what is relevant to each market

Do you research before sending out any press release or email blast. What might be relevant in one country may be totally irrelevant in another. Remember, if people can’t see how it affects them, they will bin it. If it’s not relevant, don’t send it.

3) Keeping the messages simple and easy to understand

Don’t get too close to the project or announcement you are working on, and don’t make it too complicated. Simple and concise language is always best. If no one understands your messages, it’s a waste of time and money.

4) Using social media to reach people internationally

Make the most of as many social media channels as possible. It’s the quickest and easiest way of getting to lots of different people around the world, all at once. And it’s free. But do remember about different time zones. It is pointless announcing something huge when half the world is asleep!

5) Trying to keep ahead of the curve

Keeping ahead of the curve is always a challenge, but it’s really important to be up to date with all the latest trends and developments around the globe. Try to build up contacts in as many international markets as you can, so they can keep you up to speed with what is happening where they live. Any press releases or marketing initiatives should reflect the very latest activities in a particular region, and should include the most recent statistics.

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