SYP Event: Marketing yourself and the books you love

Inspired Selection, SYP Marketing

Inspired Selection joined a sold-out SYP event last night to listen to industry professionals discussing marketing; how to market ourselves and the books we publish. In the intimate setting of The Queen’s Head, Holborn,  chair Louise Newton, Head of Events/PR for the SYP, introduced us to the fantastic panel: Helena Sheffield - Digital Marketing Manager, @AvonBooksUK, HarperCollins (and author of The Art of Wearing Hats #HatsAreBack); Beth Cockeram, Marketing Executive @MichaelJBooks, Penguin Random House and Caroline Brown - Head of Publicity & Marketing at @Octopus_Books, Hachette.

How did they get into publishing? They all took English Literature at University and, like most publishing professionals, have always had a keen obsession with books but their routes to a marketing role involved sales, work experience/internships and a lot of applications and patience!

Caroline Brown discussed the illustrated non-fiction marketing process – working in conjunction with brands, e.g. Vogue, to promote a title, and identifying the market, the consumer and connecting with the community of readers. She talked about the importance of the look and feel of a book – e.g. with cookery titles; with so much imagery online, the physical book needs to be something special, so materials and luxury become key to make it desirable. Influencers are also key to non-fiction to spread the word on a new release.

Beth Cockeram discussed trade titles sometimes requiring a creative agency for additional publicity on high-profile campaigns, using podcasts to raise author profile and talked about the fluidity of campaigns; how feedback on a new release is taken into account for marketing subsequent editions – is a cover working for the audience? If not, it will be changed. Beth also talked about audio books and the growing trend in this area (close to chair Louise Newton’s heart as Audio Assistant at Little Brown!).

Helena Sheffield talked about the digital marketing focus as being on the eBook naturally; how to reach that market with bloggers, not overlapping messaging on titles releasing simultaneously by distilling the USP of the book at the start to make it stand out. She picks a focus book every quarter and establishes a hashtag based on the title if a well-known author, or a themed hook if not.

Helena also revealed that marketing herself as an author involved setting up good relationships with bloggers and staying active online. Also the art of being genuine and allowing your personality to come out over social media without revealing too much about yourself; stick to your interests to stay unique - she blogs on Harry Potter, Hats (unsurprisingly!) and Nutella.

Finally, the panelists were asked what advice they could offer on these wanting to get into marketing or be successful in their marketing  campaigns? Helena suggested having a unique voice online to get noticed, to sell without coming across as sales focused and be active on Twitter. Beth’s suggestion was to make sure that you have strong office and admin skills, to be enthusiastic and read the books you are working with on your internship – making a good impression on editors will go a long way to being remembered when an employment opportunity arises. Lastly, Caroline suggested being a magpie – be interested in trends outside publishing as well as inside and be curious about other industries to generate ideas.

Thank you SYP for a fun and informative evening!