Sarah Foster - Walker Books
Benython Oldfield - Literary Agent with Zeitgeist
Jill Corcoran - Literary Agent with the Herman Agency in New York
Zoe Walton - Random House
Lisa Berryman - HarperCollins
Peter Taylor - Chair
What kinds of marketing does your company do and how has this changed in recent times? Social media engagement, especially in a professional capacity.
Some of the points made by the panel:
Specific marketing to the book and the book's needs, tailor to, for example, the education market - teacher's resources, education newsletter etc. Exclusives for passionate fans on Facebook for "Rangers Apprentice" or into girl magazines for girl books. They try to market direct to consumers now, especially since people are reviewing online, now.
What they do with all their titles they put a lot of effort into defining who the audience is and how, best, to reach that reader.
· Not a lot of social media for Children's but if there is, it is aimed at adults - parents and teachers.
· YouTube trailers
· Artwork postcards and posters for bookshops and libraries
· Gift with purchase
· Partnerships with bookshops e.g. Dymocks - displays and support the book with author events
· YA - Facebook pages for all the titles
· Giveaways, wall papers etc. available on Facebook
· Net Galley placement
· Ads on Facebook
· Teen databases to let people know when books are being released
· Partnerships with magazines e.g. Girlfriend, Dolly
· Interviews and news on the HQ website
· Reviews on Facebook pages
· Work hard with bookshop catalogues - Big W, Independent Book Stores etc.
There is a difference with marketing now. Marketing has gone to two poles: one extreme to a global level and the other extreme to a community level. Small festivals and events are becoming more and more important. 20 years ago the smaller meetings were not as important. Publicity for major and imported titles is done globally with marketing and global release dates.
Publicity media release depends very much on the book. Although they send books out for reviews to bloggers, a dwindling number of newspapers, there is not a full press release across all media. Every now and then, a book with a big story, twist or catch gets a full media release but not all because it diminishes credibility. They have to catch the media's attention, and they will ignore them if they get 20 a month. The story behind the book, author or illustrator is what gets the media's attention.
Gift with purchase will happen with every age if there is something pertinent. e.g. "Surf Ache" they got a deal with Target stores and designer sunblock.
All of them spend a lot of time trying to work out how to promote the books.
Gift with purchase and boxed sets: so many submission letters suggest these things but the marketing teams work on this and they target the series that will suit these marketing opportunities. It is expensive and they only go ahead with them if the large stores agree.
There is no gift with purchase thing in the USA due to litigation if the toy is dangerous. BUT at Barnes & Nobles, getting books on tables sells books and that costs a lot of money. Dump bins. Free publicity really helps, especially well timed.
Are there particular ways that authors have worked with you with marketing?
It depends on the skills of the various authors. Seeing authors performing well in schools means they can pitch those performances to festivals. You have to show them what you can do - public speaking, performing, talking about the books etc. Those that do the hard activities work hard at it and get a following in schools.
It is tricky with school visits when someone is with an agency. Balancing free and paid visits, especially. Publishers are looking to do custom events. e.g. Jackie Harvey is adored by little girls and she uses this. Publishers don't generally organise book launches. Jackie organises her own and puts on an event relevant to the book. She utilises her connections with schools and kids and teachers.
Getting the books into classrooms in different ways - with Jackie French they hire a hall and fill it with as many Teacher Librarians as possible. Then Jackie gives inspirational talks on her books; lectures on ideas, research and how the books can be used in the classroom. There are many different audiences you can market to.
When publishers sent people out, they are sending them on group tours - 4 or 5 writers - at an event. They make some sort of interesting experience. If can do Twitter or Facebook well, you will get a lot of friends. To get people to comment on your blog go and talk to them on their blog. You make new friends that way.
Is it ever useful for Authors or Illustrators to go to Bologna or the other trade fairs their agent is working at?
Jill: She believes you should be in control of your own career. ALA (American Library Association) fair is usually big and crazy, but ALA in winter it is calmer and probably not worth your time. Deals do get done there, though.
Benython: In my opinion, it's not worth going to Bologna. Those book fairs are incredibly depressing for authors because it is the machinations of sales and it is not set up for authors to be involved. Frankfurt and Bologna are very different from ALA which is mostly librarians and teachers.
Sarah: Agents are all scheduled at fairs down to the last minute and no one has time to drop by a stand. It is not a place where you can talk to people walking by. If you have a lot of foreign language editions with one publisher, the foreign rights person may suggest going out to dinner with all the foreign language publishers. Those events are really only for authors with a wide number of foreign publishers supporting them already. If you are going for a conference there, then great, but people are doing hard business there and not available.
Frances Plumpton: Has taken books on behalf of publishers who own rights. It is important to make sure you know who has rights and not counter deals already made by your publishers if you do your own deals. You need to make sure you know which territories you can deal with legitimately.
Benython: It is worth asking your publisher what is going on in the international arena if you feel your book has potential there. It can take a number of years to sell internationally and requires polite conversations between agents and publishers.