Case Study: Chilly da Vinci

How NorthSouth Books used timely subject matter, modern visuals, and Read Now availability to give pre-publication buzz to the story of an inventive penguin

On NetGalley Insights, we highlight the successes of NetGalley publishers and authors, and share some of their strategies. Today, we’re talking with Heather Lennon, managing director at NorthSouth Books.

Below, learn about how she used NetGalley to gather over 100 pre-publication reviews for Chilly da Vinci by Jarrett Rutland. Chilly da Vinci tells the story about a young penguin inventor, tapping into current trends in STEM education for young readers, as well as the maker movement, all with a modern and appealing visual style.

The market for children’s books is especially hot right now. What do you think is unique about this particular segment of the publishing industry, as it relates to marketing and publicity?

Picture book publishing is very interesting in that it’s a visual medium, art and story together. We highlight the illustrations and the story in every book. Right now, I think that is a huge positive as far as coverage in blogs, Instagram, online and in print review journals. For Chilly Da Vinci, Jarrett Rutland’s artwork is so fun and striking–it just pops off the page, so I think it’s very appealing to reviewers.

Where does NetGalley fit into the overall strategy and timeline for Chilly da Vinci?

NetGalley is very important to NorthSouth Books! We always offer our lead titles on NetGalley. We aim to offer them 3-6 months in advance of publication. It’s really helped us reach readers, grow our brand recognition, and amass reviews online.

Which segments of the NetGalley community were most important to you? How did you go about reaching them?

Asking who is most important is like asking my mom to name her favorite child! We love them all. I will say….librarians have been a big part of our publishing program forever. Booksellers are enormously important in the life of a book–we are small enough that we never take a book being in-store for granted. Bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers help us get out the word!  This is our world, and we’re lucky to be a part of it.

Chilly da Vinci is a Read Now title. Tell us why that was the right decision for making the title available widely to NetGalley members.

I don’t set a lot of hoops to jump through to get to our titles on Netgalley. I am thrilled that NetGalley members want to open the book. I truly believe, if you read our books, you will enjoy them, you will recommend them and review them. So Read Now is always my preference.

Most NetGalley members who clicked to read Chilly da Vinci listed the cover and the description as the reason for their interest. It comes as no surprise, given that the author is also the illustrator! Tell us about how you created compelling copy for the Title Details page.

It was important to everyone at NorthSouth that we convey that Chilly is a do-er, that this book would appeal to the maker movement. And that Chilly never gives up. And then in general, I think one of the most important things is clean, readable copy, especially online. It’s so basic, but it’s important to make sure that your info has uploaded correctly–not doubled or tripled or cut off in some weird way!

Tell us more about strategies you used to leverage your NetGalley listing outside the site.

Every book has a tip sheet that is fed out online. The sales reps use it to sell the book, and it gets uploaded to Edelweiss–which lots of bookstore buyers use for their job. Whenever we upload one of our books on to NetGalley that is a sales bullet that’s fed out to the world.

How will NetGalley be incorporated into your post-pub strategy?

We will be following up with everyone who reviewed Chilly with  a pre-on-sale newsletter with activities and info about Jarrett Rutland’s events. The book launch will be held at an ice cream shop in Asheville on Saturday, Dec. 8. We hope that NetGalley members who loved the book will attend.

What is your top tip for publishers to use NetGalley to its full potential?

Download the reviews and keep those members in mind as you work on future books. It’s not just seeing what people think about this book, it’s being able to reach out to them for the next book as well.*

*NetGalley recommends using the Detailed Activity Report or the Feedback Report to see which NetGalley members are requesting, reading, and reviewing your titles.

Heather Lennon is the managing director of NorthSouth Books.

Chilly da Vinci goes on sale Dec. 4. You can preorder it here.

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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