Making the Most Out of Conference Season

With London Book Fair around the corner, here at NetGalley we’re gearing up for weeks of plane travel, convention centers, and branded pens. Conference season is a crucial time for us to see our clients across the country, to check in about their needs, and to continue building the kinds of rich personal relationships that make this industry vibrant.

In order to make the most out of any conference, it’s best to arrive with a plan. Here’s how we’re planning on getting the most out of conference season.

View from London Book Fair 2018
Photo credit: LondonBookFair.co.uk

Identify your goals

What is it that you want to get out of a conference? Make your goals clear before you arrive, whether just to yourself or with your team. Then, with that in mind, you can plan how to best spend your time. Are you hoping to get an overall sense of industry trends at one of the big trade shows? Make sure to spend some time wandering through the booths to see what patterns you notice. Are you hoping to forge new connections? Make sure to take advantage of sponsored networking opportunities. If you are more junior at your company, use an event to demonstrate your value to your colleagues and learn more about the industry by offering to take notes in client meetings or by writing a conference recap for your team. Conferences can be overwhelming, but if you go in clear about what you are hoping to get out of the experience, you’ll be able to create some structure for yourself.  

Set realistic expectations

It’s unlikely for an indie author to land a whirlwind movie deal for their debut novel at London Book Fair (although it does sound like a meet-cute in a book we’d probably read). London Book Fair has around 25,000 attendees every year, which is quite a crowd. If you hope to land  your big break at a professional conference, you will likely end up disappointed. Instead, focus on smaller and more attainable goals, while remaining flexible enough for surprises. Consider each conference as a chance to grow your professional network by meeting new people who you will keep in touch with over the coming months and deepening your relationships with colleagues across the industry. Remember to do your research ahead of time, too–understanding the audience attending or exhibiting at each conference, and what the main focus of the event is goes a long way toward setting your own expectations and goals.

Go to the seminars and lectures

Take advantage of all the experts giving advice and talking about industry trends. Take a look at the schedule before you arrive at the conference to see which talks you’ll definitely want to attend, and schedule your other meetings around them. Seminars and lectures are perfect opportunities to get inspired by how other folks in publishing are handling the challenges of the industry in new and creative ways. Then, once you’re in the room with colleagues in your field, introduce yourself to the lecturers who you’d like to connect with and say hello to audience members who asked questions relevant to your work. Targeted seminars are great places to forge connections with people who might be working on similar projects. Last year at London Book Fair, there were over 220 programs to attend. This year looks to be just as jam-packed. There’s sure to be something tailored to your specific needs at any of the larger industry gatherings.

Meetings at BookExpo 2018
Photo credit: Bookweb.org

Put faces to names

One of the most important benefits of conferences, especially the huge ones, is that everyone will be there. Use these opportunities to meet people who you only communicate with via email or phone in person. A few weeks before the conference, start asking your colleagues and clients if they’ll be attending, and find the time to get together either for a formal meeting or a casual catch-up. And, even if they won’t be attending, they’ll certainly appreciate being asked. In-person meetings are one of the most important ways to strengthen your professional relationships.

Follow up

You’ll likely leave any professional conference with a stack of business cards. Rather than letting them wither in a filing cabinet, send a quick email introduction after the conference. That way, you’ll still be fresh in each other’s memory, and now you’ve established some digital communication.

Record your impressions

When you’re on the conference floor or talking with colleagues, your mind is likely to be buzzing with new ideas or busy making connections between different aspects of the industry. We recommend writing down these thoughts while you’re still at the conference, or very quickly thereafter. When you return to your regular daily activities, you’ll be able to refer to the inspiration you felt or the trends you saw when you need to zoom out and look at the big picture of your work. It’s worthwhile to revisit these notes throughout the year, too! You may have learned something new since then that casts those earlier experiences in a new light.

Plan your 2020 budgets

After you return from your conferences, keep track of which events were the best fits for your previously-established goals. Which ones were most worth your while and which ones did you go to purely out of habit? Then, when you are planning how best to allocate your budget for next year, you’ll have documentation to refer back to when deciding whether to budget in those same conferences next year.

We’re packing our bags for the next few weeks on the road. Stay tuned for our recaps from some of the conferences we’ll be attending. See you at the convention centers!

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7 Tips on Polishing Your Query from a Senior Literary Agent

As a Senior Agent at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency, I’ve read and reviewed thousands of queries. Yes, thousands, and possibly tens of thousands! Since my query inbox first opened, I’ve had the opportunity read some amazing queries, and some that could have benefitted from the following these tips on polishing and personalizing your query.

1. Send individualized queries

It will take more time, but this is an important relationship. You are hopefully going to be partnered with an agent for years, so just like with any other long term relationship you want to build strong foundations. This means at the very least addressing the agent by their name with the correct spelling and with the correct title if you choose to [address them by their] surname.

Additionally, if you happen to typo, that’s okay, it happens! Feel free to follow up with a quick correction after you hit send. Or if you’re querying via a portal, you should have the ability to withdraw your submission and then re-submit with the corrected form of address.

I promise you it will be worth it.

2. Read lots of query letters

To the Google!! Authors writing in all kinds of genres have shared their query letters, and agents have also shared sample query letters. Find them. Read them. The more you read the more you’ll be able to sort out what format would work best for your book and your genre.

Also note that while their are similarities between fiction and nonfiction queries, they are different.

3. Query letters are like the writer’s version of the middle school five-paragraph essay Here’s a quick cheat sheet of what each of those five paragraphs can contain. Remember, you can shorten as you see fit and [be sure] to personalize it.

Introductory Paragraph: This should introduce yourself and your work. Be sure to include genre and word count.

Three Body Paragraphs: You don’t have to have three, but I find it’s a solid set of paragraphs for you to talk about your book. Try to hone this “about section” think of it as similar to the text you can find on the back of a book’s cover or on the flap of a dust jacket.

Conclusion Paragraph: This closing paragraph is where you can share a bit about yourself. Think of it as your bio. Feel free to include any accolades for your writing that you might have, any professional writing organizations, or fun facts. Also include how you can be contacted if you haven’t included that info in a signature block, or some submission form.

4. Less is more

I know it may be tempting to share as much as possible about your work, but I always say that if an author could share everything they wanted in a pitch about their book then why would they then write an 80,000 word novel? So, know that we want to get to your book and your pages. Don’t keep us hostage in your query letter! Instead, use your query letter as a springboard for us to dive into your book and/or submission materials. Your pitch should pique interest and lead the reader (agent or editor) to you pages! Ultimately your book, your work, your story is what’s most important.

5. Have a friend, family member, or colleague read your query

Be open to editorial feedback. It is helpful to have someone familiar with the querying process to proofread your query letter. But, no matter what, another set of eyes will help catch the small things like the typos that our brains like to gloss over. And then, thoughtfully consider their feedback. Ultimately, you have to make the final decision on what you are going to send out, but most of the people you ask for help aren’t making suggestions just for the sake of it. Really consider their edits, and be sure to appreciate and value the time they’ve taken out of their day to spend on reviewing your query letter.

6. Ask a critique partner to help you draft a query letter

Oftentimes it’s difficult for an author to synthesize their work into a one-page pitch. If you have a trusted critique partner, they can sometimes help draft a few paragraphs to get you started. Of course, you might then owe them chocolate or whatever delicious treat they might desire. But this is an option I’ve had several of my authors mention they used when querying me! Seeing how others frame your work after reading and working on it with you might be helpful. You should never pressure or guilt critique partners or beta readers into helping you draft your query. Ask. And if they decline, that’s okay!

There are also freelance editors out in the world that might also offer these services, and you can totally pursue those options as well. But when money is involved and exchanging hands that’s a personal choice. And always make sure you vet any freelancers you might choose to work with. Do your research, folks!

7. Make sure that when you’re submitting to an agent that they do indeed work with the type of projects that you’re sending

While an agent might seem really cool in interviews or on social media, you’ll be wasting their time and your time by querying them with a project that they do not work on. Save yourself!

Good luck!

Sarah E. Younger, Senior Agent, at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency began her career in publishing at Press53 in Winston Salem, N.C. after receiving her undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. She later attended the University of Denver’s graduate publishing program where upon completion she moved to New York City.  Sarah joined the Nancy Yost Literary Agency in the fall of 2011 and has since cultivated a diverse and talented list of authors including a variety of commercial fiction and select non-fiction titles. She is specifically interested in representing all varieties of romance, women’s fiction including chicklit and romantic comedies, adult science fiction and fantasy, and very select non-fiction. You can find her on her personal Twitter @seyitsme. Learn more about the Nancy Yost Literary Agency including how to query Sarah by visiting the NYLA website.

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Connecting with Bookstore Book Clubs

One of the most powerful ways that a bookstore can compete with digital retailers is by providing something that the algorithm can’t – community. Bookstores host author talks, children’s storytime, and more. Many bookstores also host book clubs as a way to bring in new customers and to cultivate a vibrant atmosphere.  

Some publishers are already working with bookstore-based book clubs and learning about their needs, but we hope that more will take the time to cultivate relationships with indie bookstores through their book clubs.

These bookstore book clubs draw in new readers who become regular customers and active members of the community. Book clubs help readers find out about new genres and new authors that they may not have been previously exposed to, with picks curated by experienced readers. For example, Bella De Soriano joined City Lit’s Graphic Content book club in Chicago because she saw a flier while she was shopping. She wasn’t a big graphic novel or comic reader before but saw it as an opportunity to expand her reading horizons and get connected to some of her neighbors.

When indie bookstores have to compete with the ease and convenience of online retailers, being able to create in-person points of connection is crucial. According to City Lit owner Teresa Kirschbraun, the bookstore’s book club programming has resulted in not only friendships outside of the clubs, but an engagement!

In addition to fostering community, these book clubs help stores gain more loyal customers and build a more dynamic events calendar. Some of the other book clubs at City Lit include the Wilde Readers Book Club for LGBTQ lit, Found in Translation, Women Write Books, Weird and Wonderful Book Club for speculative fiction and fantasy, the Subject to Change Book Club featuring coming-of-age stories, and more. City Lit encourages book club members to purchase through their store by providing a discount to members who have an account with the store.

While many privately-run book clubs function as social gatherings as well as literary ones, book clubs that operate in bookstores are a different beast. Often, they have clear leaders and facilitators who are, in most cases, booksellers themselves. Since joining the Graphic Content book club, De Soriano has taken over some of the organizing of the club. This includes purchasing copies for the book club members and working with City Lit to schedule meeting dates.

Book club leaders think and talk about books for a living, so their relationship to book club picks looks a little different from “civilian” book clubs. They are more plugged into the wider publishing industry, with better understanding about trends that readers are enjoying and knowledge of new titles on the horizon.

Book club leaders at City Lit find titles using industry tools like book awards, as well as keeping tabs on releases from publishers whose work they already like. Kirschbraun explains, “For Found in Translation, [the leader] will review information from publishers of translated books, [like Open Letter Books and New Directions Publishing]. She also looks at other translations by favorite translators. Other booksellers rely on lists of books that have been longlisted or won awards.  Some review modern canon lists. For Women Write Books, the book club leader finds lists of diversity such as women of color or queer women authors.”

Additionally, bookseller-led book clubs tend not to use reading guides. Book club leaders at City Lit look for interviews with the author, book reviews, and find coverage from news media such as Bustle or Huffington Post.

Cosmo Bjorkenheim, who leads the NYC History Book Club at McNally Jackson’s Williambsurg location, agreed. “Mostly any outside material has been supplemental, like an exchange of letters between Robert Caro and Robert Moses right after the publication of The Power Broker, an open letter from Jane Jacobs to Michael Bloomberg from 2005, some maps, some movie clips… Bibliographical information is often useful, as are footnotes and indices. These are helpful for digging deeper into topics mentioned in a book but not elaborated upon.”

While Bjorkenheim does not currently work with any publishers directly for his book club, he hopes to do so for the next book club that he and his colleague will host, the Movie Adaptation Book Club. Interested publishers can email him at Cosmo@mcnallyjackson.com. “We plan on structuring this club a little more carefully, with screenings scheduled between meetings and some kind of thematic arc guiding the readings. There will be more of an emphasis on supplemental materials and something like a “lesson plan” for each meeting.”

Kirschbraun has made a point to tell her reps from publishers about the book clubs at City Lit so that the reps can suggest upcoming books that might suit the booksellers’ and the clubs’ interests.

Check out these other bookstores with robust bookclub programming:

We hope that more publishers will make an effort to get to know the book clubs that exist in the bookstores they work with. Talk to the leaders, learn what kinds of titles their members are most interested in and what sorts of supplemental information would make for a richer discussion.

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How to Pitch: Kelly Gallucci, Executive Editor of Bookish.com

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of Bookish.com, where she oversees Bookish’s editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors like Colleen Hoover, Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, and Julie C. Dao.

As the editor of this popular site, she gets pitched a lot of books to consider for features, interviews, inclusion in lists, and the like. Below, she shares some tips about how to approach pitches, based on her experience receiving them.

Give us a sense of the volume of pitch emails you receive. How do these fit into your overall workflow and help you build your editorial calendar?

My inbox is my personal Everest. I’d estimate that I receive roughly 100 emails a day, give or take, though not all of those are pitches. There’s definitely an ebb and flow depending on the day of the week and the season of the year.

Our editorial calendar is first shaped by recurring features (such as our book club recommendations, monthly Bookish bingo, and our seasonal roundups). The next step is to fill in any features that our team wants to work on. While writing those in, we leave room for articles inspired by publicity pitches, such as interviews and author guest posts.

Sometimes books pitched to us will fit into features we’re already crafting (a romance book pitched while we’re writing a holiday romance listicle), or they’ll inspire features we want to work on in the future. I also like to leave room for author guest posts, where authors share a short essay or a list of book recommendations. This gives our readers more insight into the author and their work, and lets us profile their book more directly.

What are the most successful ways that people have contacted you with a pitch? What are pitfalls that might make a pitch less successful with you? Feel free to include specifics.

The best pitch emails are the ones where a publicist shares an idea for an author guest post or predicts the kind of content the book would be best suited for. This makes it easier to envision where the article would fit into our calendar.

As for pitfalls, the big one is pitching us for content we don’t feature. For example, I receive a lot of pitches asking for us to review a book, but we don’t do book reviews on Bookish. Similarly, I receive a lot of requests for interviews. Interviewing authors is one of my personal favorite parts of my job, but they can be tricky for our audience. You have to work twice as hard to motivate a reader to click into an interview with an author they’re unfamiliar with. If an author has a strong online community, we can tap into that. If not, I’ll often see if the author is available for a different type of feature instead. A lot of this depends on the author’s availability, but I always appreciate publicists who are willing to think outside of the box with me when it comes to how to feature books.

Describe the relationships you have built with publicists and authors who regularly pitch you. How have publicists been able to earn your ear and your trust?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many brilliant and talented publicists over the years. Their creativity and drive never cease to amaze me.

The ones I rely on most are the ones who take the time to truly understand Bookish. They read our articles. They know the content we do and do not cover. They pay attention to the genres we feature most frequently. Basically, they do their homework. As a result, their pitches are refined and reflective of the content that does well for Bookish. When I see an email from them in my inbox, I know the book they’re pitching will be a good fit for us.

I also always appreciate the publicists who ask questions, especially if we haven’t had the opportunity to work together for long. I’m always happy to hop on the phone or fire off an email that can explore in detail the kind of content we cover, what does and doesn’t perform well, who our audience is, and more. When I receive a pitch, I’m never just thinking about the book. I’m considering all of those other factors too.

When digging through your inbox, what kinds of subject lines catch your eye? What details are important right up front?

I think the best subject lines are concise and direct. In my inbox right now, there’s an email with the subject “Cover Reveal for Bookish.” That’s excellent. I know exactly what I’m clicking into, and it alerts me to the fact that this is a more time-sensitive email. Another one I’ve spotted is “February’s Most-Anticipated Read” followed by the book title and author name. I now know the book, the time frame, and the angle.

On the other hand, I see a lot of emails that try to offer too much information upfront. An example from my inbox at the moment would be “New Standalone Novel From NYT Bestselling Historical Fiction Author” and the rest of the subject (the book title, author’s name) are cut off. The lede is buried here, and at first glance all I really know is the genre.

How do you feel about follow-ups from publicists? Is there a timeframe that works well for you if they haven’t heard back? What is important to you in a follow-up from a publicist?

My inbox is a dragon and it hoards emails like they’re gold. Follow-ups often work really well for me because they help to bring the email back to the top of my inbox.

The ideal timing varies. I don’t mind if a publicist follows up on a time-sensitive email the following day. For general pitches, following up a week or even weeks later is helpful, particularly if the pub date is still a healthy distance away.

A longer time between follow-ups also means that there’s more potential for new information to have come out, and that’s something I’m always looking for in those emails. Has anything changed since the first pitch (news, reviews, blurbs, etc.)?

What is one pet peeve (or pet pleasure!) that you have about pitch emails?

My pet peeve is definitely when emails don’t contain enough information. It’s most helpful for me when the author, book title, genre, and pub date are as up-front and clear as possible.

I’ll also add, and this isn’t related to pitches, that it’s extremely helpful when authors list their publicist on their website. It’s one of the places we check if we’re looking to contact a publicist we haven’t worked with before, but most authors only list an agent.

As for pet pleasure, it’s always a joy to open an email where a publicist references projects we’ve worked on in the past, books I’ve enjoyed from them, and other personal touches. To be clear, I’m all for form emails. Publicists are juggling multiple books and authors, and I support anything that makes their lives a bit easier. But personal touches at the beginning of those emails are always just a nice thing to see during my day.

Follow Bookish on their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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5 Book Design Trends to Remember in 2019

Like it or not, cliche as it is, we all judge books by their covers. An effective cover can convey a book’s tone; is it a lyrical meditation, a brash appraisal of contemporary life, a hard-boiled noir, or a fizzy modern romance? Book covers should give readers a sense of what they are in for  (unlike these misleading ones). Successful book covers will look modern without looking like a trend that will mark it as out of date by next year. To ensure that your titles look fresh and inviting for 2019 readers, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite trends in book design.

Lydian font

This font has been all over the publishing industry, gracing the covers of some of the buzziest books of recent years. Lydian dates back to 1938, giving it a well-earned timeless feel. Lydian has been successfully deployed in the service of essay collections, novels, non-fiction, and more.

Hand-lettering

Hand-lettered covers give books an honest, lived-in feel. It connotes authenticity and vulnerability. It can also clue readers in to the emotional tone of a book while they browse. Sharp and angular scrawls can alert the reader to conflict, complication, and fracturing, as it does for Awaeke Emezi’s Freshwater and Mark Sarvas’sMemento Park. Hand-lettered titles can be intimate and authentic, which is especially important for nonfiction titles like I Can’t Date Jesus.

Vintage Nature Imagery

Using the visual iconography of an old encyclopedia or naturalist textbook gives a cover aesthetic gravitas. Covers like The Far Field look more established and timeless rather than trendy. Additionally, using vintage images of nature gestures to readers that the book will be about observation in some way. Lauren Groff’s Florida, with its vintage illustration of a panther, demonstrates to the reader that, like a naturalist observing animals, this collection of stories will feature close observation of creatures (human and otherwise) in their natural habitats.

Gen-Z Yellow (and, of course, still millennial pink)

To give your titles a contemporary feel, and to hit a demographic of late teens to late-20s readers, consider the ubiquitous, but still popular, millennial pink. Or, for a fresher feel, it’s younger cousin, Gen-Z Yellow. Both are bright and inviting, and look great on a social media scroll. Consider this color palette, especially if your book is about millennial or Gen-Z characters. Better still, combine them both like The Lonesome Bodybuilder. Bonus points if you can take a queue from Soft Skull Press and animate your cover to give it some extra oomph.

Illustrated portraits and bright backgrounds

Tracing back to Where’d You Go Bernadetteand further, covers featuring an illustrated figures against a bright background is a great way to attract attention for your titles and to visually place them in conversation with other breezy contemporary titles that have used the same style. Great examples of this trend include The Proposal, The Matchmaker’s List, and the Crazy Rich Asians series.

Be sure to check out some of our favorite covers on NetGalley in our Cover Love series to gain even more inspiration for your cover art!


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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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How to Use Wattpad If You’re an Author

The Internet is a social place. It’s where readers find their next book, where authors stay connected to readers, where publishers keep abreast of new voices, and industry newbies hunt for their first jobs in the field. “How to use…if you’re…” breaks down best practices for literary social corners of the Internet for different players in the publishing industry.

At BookExpo, we sat in on the panel discussion “Industry Disruption and the Future of Finding Rising Stars.” During that panel, Lindsay Summers, Wattpad star, discussed how she used Wattpad first as a way to read new stories, then a creative outlet for her own storytelling, and eventually as a vehicle for a book deal.

So, today we’ll be looking at how independent authors can use Wattpad to sharpen their own storytelling skills, connect with other authors, and grow a community of dedicated readers.

Using Wattpad as an Author

Wattpad is a great place for authors to experiment with serial storytelling, and to connect with passionate readers from all over the world. Authors can use it to hone their voice, get immediate feedback from readers, and expand their audience.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is a socially engaged and enthusiastic community of writers and readers. With a global community of 70 million members, and over 565 million story uploads, the platform is a vibrant place full of passionate readers and emerging writers. Most of the stories on Wattpad are geared toward young women and tend toward YA, Romance, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy, although other genres have devoted followings as well. The website is free to use, for both writers and readers.

Some Wattpad authors have even transitioned their Wattpad stories into traditionally published novels, or turned into TV shows or movies. Others have worked with companies to create branded content on the site. Huge successes like this may be outliers, but even if Wattpad doesn’t turn into a star-making vehicle for you, it is a place to grow as a writer, and to connect with an audience that is invested in your voice.

Hone your voice

Because Wattpad writers publish their stories serially, you have some flexibility to play around with your style. If you realize after a few chapters that the way you’ve been formatting dialogues is clunky, shift gears. If you intended your story to end with the heroine falling for her shy best friend, but realize that the femme fatale is a better fit for the story arc, you can reshape the plot as you write. Wattpad lets you change direction without having to rewrite your whole story.

But as you experiment, don’t forget about the reader! If a reader is clicking through several chapters at a time, they will likely be frustrated if you are making huge structural changes, like switching from third person to first person or turning your dystopian YA story into a sweet teen romance. If you do decide that your story needs a dramatic change, try starting a new one entirely.

Be sure to check out Wattpad’s Writer’s Portal, for both inspiration and practical advice.

Get feedback from readers

One of Wattpad’s most exciting social features is the line by line commenting. Readers leave comments on Wattpad stories, and can even comment on a particular sentence, showing precisely where they are having an intense reaction. You can see what readers are loving and what is drawing them in. You can also learn if your writing is registering with readers in a way that you don’t intend.

Grow your audience

With Wattpad’s huge global community, you can find kindred spirits, both as readers and fellow writers. Joining message boards, called Clubs, can help you become more involved in the Wattpad community. Industry Insider is geared specifically towards authors, and full of threads about the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry (from copyright to cover art) and general community encouragement. You can also join communities of readers who are reading stories similar to the ones you write, or the ones you like to read. See what readers are saying, and jump in on the conversation!

You can also engage with readers and other writers on profile pages. All member profiles, both writers and authors, include a Conversation section for members to chat with each other. Get to know writers whose work you admire by commenting and striking up a conversation. And when readers comment on your profile, make sure to respond! It’s a great way to cultivate a dedicated community of readers.

Check out more tips and strategies for independent authors here, and be sure to subscribe to NetGalley Insights so that you don’t miss a post!

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BookTube Basics for Marketers

What is BookTube?

BookTube is the segment of the YouTube community dedicated to reading and reviewing books. Like any other community on YouTube (like gamers or beauty bloggers), BookTube has its own celebrities, norms, and unique quirks. The bulk of BookTubers read primarily YA novels, although not exclusively. BookTubers are enthusiastic, and tend to be quite high-energy.

According to YouTube, the BookTube community has over 200 million views of videos, and engagement is growing. Comparing July 2017 to 2018, engagement with BookTube videos is up 40%. This demonstrates both the reach of BookTube, and its effectiveness. Because of the intimate nature of these videos, reviews feel like recommendations from a friend rather than from an impersonal cultural gatekeeper.

Who are BookTubers and their audience?

Most BookTubers are millennials, and, like the rest of the trade fiction and YA market, skew female. The BookTube audience comprises primarily millennial and teen book enthusiasts. Marketing teams at children’s or YA publishers and imprints work with BookTubers to gain access to an audience of enthusiastic young readers who are already active on YouTube, as opposed to other media outlets, or even other social media platforms (i.e. Facebook or Twitter).

What is a BookTube video?

There are many different kinds of BookTube videos. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Book Haul: The BookTuber will go through the pile of books that they recently received, or purchased. It’s a roundup of what titles they are most excited to read.
  • Book Tag: Book Tag videos are centered around a specific theme or challenge, for example “Out of My Comfort Zone.” A BookTuber will respond to all questions in the tag, and then tag other BookTubers to participate as well to keep the conversation going.
  • Bookshelf Tour: BookTubers show their own collections of books. These videos show how a BookTuber organizes their books; by color, genre, To Be Read, and more.
  • Readathon: Readathons are interactive reading marathons hosted by one or more BookTubers. Often they have special challenges and rules, and integrations with other platforms, like Goodreads and Twitter. These readathons take place over set period of time The BookTubeAThon is an annual readathon hosted by multiple BookTubers.
  • Reviews: BookTubers give their impressions of a book, including a summary. Similar to any other kind of book review.
  • Unboxing: A popular style of YouTube video even outside of the BookTube community. BookTubers will open boxes of books, often sent to them either by a publisher or by a book subscription service.
  • Wrap Up: Wrap up videos are recaps of books that BookTubers have read during a given set of time. Often, these will be annual. They can function as a BookTuber’s “Best of” list.

How do I find the most relevant BookTubers for my titles?

Research BookTubers the same way that you can find relevant influencers on other platforms. Searching hashtags like #BookTube or #BookReview will give you a good overview of the community, but might be too broad for truly targeted searching. If you are publishing a YA dystopian title with a Latinx protagonist, try searching for BookTubers who have engaged with similar titles, or searching #YADystopia or #OwnVoices. Then, see who has high counts of followers and strong engagement from their audience in the comments section.

Once you have identified a few key BookTubers for your needs, consider looking at who they have listed under “My Favs” on their profile. Or, keep an eye on who BookTubers are tagging in their Tag videos. Learn who BookTubers are following and communicating with to gain a better grasp of the community landscape.

How can I engage with BookTubers to reach their audience?

Many major book publishers are already working with BookTubers to meet an enthusiastic market of young readers where they already are, with popular BookTubers receiving many requests from publishers and authors. WhittyNovels offered some tips about how publishers and authors can increase their chances of having their titles reviewed by a BookTuber.

Publishers should send print or digital galleys to BookTubers as they would to any other influencer (most BookTubers post contact information in the About section of their page) but the video format does offer some unique opportunities that publishers can take advantage of to drive creative strategic marketing decisions.

Publishers (or retailers) can also work with BookTubers to sponsor unique content. For example, Barnes and Noble sponsored a book haul with Linh Truong. Publishers can send galleys in special packaging to encourage BookTubers to feature their titles in unboxing videos, as Simon & Schuster did for the release of Lady Midnight. Or, work with BookTubers directly to create an unboxing video, as Penguin Teen did with JesseTheReader for A Map of Days (see right). Consider asking BookTubers to feature your titles for a readathon to boost awareness and enthusiasm, or work with multiple BookTubers to create a themed Tag video around your upcoming title. BookTubers grow their audience by consistently providing entertaining and creative content. Offer something new and exciting that will keep their fans engaged, and build a mutually beneficial partnership.

Stay tuned for more BookTube coverage!

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Up Your Instagram Game with Stories

Most publishers already know that they need to be on Instagram. It is a thriving platform for businesses. There are 1 billion active accounts on the site, per month. And of those accounts, 80% follow at least one business.

After you’ve mastered the basics of the perfectly arranged photo of your book surrounded by aesthetically pleasing and thematically appropriate props, #bookfacefriday, and engaging your followers by asking questions for them to answer in the comments, it’s time to use some of Instagram’s other features to engage your audience and build enthusiasm for your list and for your brand as a whole.

Instagram Stories let users post disappearing slideshows of both photos and videos. Stories are visible on a profile for only 24 hours, unless the user decides to pin them to their profile as a “highlight,” in which case they will be available indefinitely. In a story, a user can create a temporary post, ask a question, create a poll, and more.

Many brands and companies are already using Instagram Stories as part of their overall strategy. According to Instagram, 50% of businesses on the site create a story within a typical month. And members are engaging with these stories. Over 400 million members use stories every day and 1/3 of the most viewed stories on Instagram are from businesses.

Take a look at some creative ways publishers (and a library!) are using Instagram stories to share updates, highlight their offerings, and grow their brand.

Engage your audience with quizzes and questions

Dutton took advantage of some nasty winter weather to post a timely quiz as a story, featuring their titles. They asked their audience what kind of survivalist personality they identified as, and showed stacks of books with the different character archetypes represented. Quick yes or no quizzes are low-impact ways for your followers to engage with you. Ask questions, and post the results! Posting responses signals that your audience is engaged. The audience will instantly see the results of the poll once they have responded. You can see who has responded and how by swiping up on your story post.

Grow your newsletter list

Penguin Random House uses stories to invite their audience to receive customized book recommendations from their list. Followers who click for recommendations are brought to Penguin Random House’s website and invited to fill out a brief profile with genre preferences. They are given recommendations by genre and added to Penguin Random House’s newsletters. It’s a quick way for PRH to move their audience from Instagram to their website and to put them on their mailing lists for relevant releases, all the while offering something of interest to their followers.

Offer a sneak peek

Verso Books teases new releases, like Jenny Hval’s forthcoming Paradise Rot, in their stories. They give followers a little taste within the Instagram story itself, and also a link to read a fuller excerpt on Verso’s website. Like Penguin Random House, they are using stories to drive traffic to their website by providing interesting content.

You can also consider taking a page out of New York Public Library’s book and post whole texts (or maybe just a chapter). Consider using this as a special time-based promotion. For example, read the first few chapters of an upcoming title for one week only.

Share your list

Grove Atlantic uses their stories to showcase their most current titles. Followers can click through their highlighted stories to see what titles are currently or recently pubbed. Effectively, it’s a catalog on Instagram, full of well-composed photos, reveal videos, and blurbs. For your audience who might not spend the time to go to your website to look at your most current releases, Instagram stories is a great way to keep them informed about your most important titles.

Use stories to highlight events without distracting from your grid

One of our favorite publisher Instagram accounts, Graywolf Press, has a visually pleasing grid full of bright colors and clean lines. They use their highlighted stories to keep their audience aware of upcoming events while maintaining their Instagram’s overall aesthetic.

 

 

 

 

How have you used Instagram stories? Let us know in the comments. We hope to feature your success stories in future posts.

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