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Think News, not Reviews

Posted on July 13, 2015 by Sheila Bounford

In her third and final post on what an independent literary publisher made of the Bookseller's recent Marketing and Publicity conference, Cherry Potts of Arachne Press summarises what was said about reviewers, reviews, news & literary festivals.

Reviewers, Reviews, News & Literary Festivals
Useful advice from Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director at The Sunday Times about approaching newspapers and magazines, and not necessarily going for the book pages which are inevitably chock full of big names. Apply the human angle (again! they are more interested in the author than the book) to a current news story and offer a relevant author to write or be interviewed. This has the advantage of including authors from the backlist, it doesn’t need to be limited to the authors of recent or forthcoming titles.

For a review send the book with a hand written letter to a specific person and tell them why you’ve chosen to send them it – if they’ve written about the subject or reviewed positively a book that you can relate it to etc.( I expect some of you are going yes, yes; at this point, but this information was manna to me!)

There was some disagreement over the value of print media reviews, with the booksellers saying they are incredibly useful, and the online reviewers saying don’t get stuck in the past, so do whatever you think will work for you! (I’ve been researching all the social media that people mentioned this morning and I have to admit to reaching my Don’t ****ing Care level in the process). For those of you with greater tolerance you might want to look at The Pool (dot com). How did I not know about BookTube?

Specifically Books and Quills was recommended as a possible place to try for articles that relate your books and authors to current events. I have to say after a swift glance at what came up at the top BookTube is a bit noisy, but if they are being noisy about my books, that’s fine by me. I learnt a lot about Pinterest, but found myself thinking that adding this to my already time consuming social media roster might be that spread-too-thin moment.

A useful point was not to put the same content on all the different media streams at the same time – apparently it annoys reviewers if they get the SAME message from different sources. Counter-intuitive?

Something I already knew about publishing – people are generous and don’t treat each other as competitors. Publicists were talking about promoting each other’s books, and running blogs that never mentioned the books or the company behind the blog but just talk nicely and topically not even always about books and authors at all. Behaving like journalists gets them noticed by other journalists.

(This is where the time thing comes in again ...)

And finally: pitching to literary festivals. Know who you are pitching to – who goes to the festival? Is your book/ author right for it? Think broadly - cross over to other publishers and suggest joint readings that match the zeitgeist. Tell them if your author is shy or needs a host or can hold their own in a row … Invite organisers to your events.

You see, it really is all about the author!

Many thanks to Cherry for taking the time to write about what she learned (and what knowledge she had reconfirmed) by being our winning delegate for the Bookseller conference. You can read Part I here and Part II here. Also a number of slide presentations from the conference are available here.

If you have an idea for an article about publishing for the Inpress blog, please do get in contact with us.



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Marketing, Publicity and the B-word

Posted on July 10, 2015 by Sheila Bounford

In this second of three posts about her day at the Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity conference, Cherry Potts of Arachne Press focuses on ‟brand”. In my own experience the b-word is always a vexed issue amongst publishers, with starkly divided views on whether any publisher (with the honourable exceptions of Penguin and Faber) can ever truly market themselves as a brand. About 15 years ago I struggled to gain agreement to programme a session on brands at a publishers' conference, such was the level of feeling that brand marketing just isn't what publishers do. I'm pleased to say that I've seen a big shift in this attitude over the years since, and Cherry's succinct post below highlights two aspects of brand marketing which publishers — particularly independent publishers — are becoming very smart at: (i) building affiliations with compatible or like-minded brands and (ii) supporting, growing and leveraging the author brand to maximum advantage. Here's what she has to report:


Natalie Ramm who has been working with Pushkin Press talking the power of brand partnerships impressed me. She had found a number of high profile brand partners for them, and for the price of quite a lot of free books, the cost of a pop-up shop, and her own (I’m sure not inconsiderable) fee, had gained huge reach and recognition, and made the money back in book sales. That’s the sort of publicist I want!

Author-led marketing: remember in my first post I said that everyone is more interested in the author than the book? Getting the author involved as much as possible was the theme of the day, whether by persuading them onto social media, channelling them to get an authentic voice for your marketing message, getting them out on book crawls, or being aware of how you as the publisher can work to create the author as a brand. Conversely make sure the author knows how you are pitching them.

In the final post of this series, next week, Cherry will be reporting back on review coverage and reviewers. Tune In then, because it’s a goodie ... Meanwhile a number of useful slide decks from some of the presentations made at the Bookseller's Marketing & Publicity Conference are available for download here.

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Bookseller Marketing & Publicity Conference, June 2015

Posted on July 08, 2015 by Sheila Bounford

Cherry Potts of Arachne Press was the winner of our prize draw for a free place at the Bookseller's Marketing & Publicity Conference on 30th June, and she is kindly sharing her key take-aways from the event with us. Here's the first of three posts with her comments and observations on the day ...

So — a hot day on the South Bank with the Bookseller’s finest. I was doubtful how much benefit I would get from the conference as a one woman outfit and found myself laughing nostalgically at the oft mentioned ‟learning to work together across departments” from those working in the larger publishing houses. I was not alone in laughing at £4k being described as ‟a tiny budget for marketing a single book”. And this was where my doubts sprang from: my marketing budget per book is less than £100! But in fact this was one of those rare events where I didn’t feel at any point that my time was being wasted.

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