Today we are excited to announce the launch of NetGalley Advanced! This new, premier level of service is now available as an upgrade*, offering new reports to help publishers track activity within NetGalley, and new tools designed to reduce manual effort and time for staff. With more insight and flexibility, NetGalley Advanced will help you analyze your data so you can make strategic decisions earlier and anticipate trends before your books go on sale.
How Berkley turned a debut novel into a smash hit using social influencer marketing
On NetGalley Insights, we highlight the successes of NetGalley publishers and authors, and share some of their strategies. Today, we’re talking with Jessica Brock, Senior Publicist & Digital Media Strategist at Berkley about The Kiss Quotient.
One place that The Kiss Quotient really resonated was on social media. BookTubers posted video reviews and Bookstagrammers placed it in aesthetically pleasing shots. Jessica knew that putting The Kiss Quotient into the hands of social media influencers was going to be an important part of building its buzz. And, she even used the campaign as an opportunity to build her network of social media influencers! Learn more about her strategy in the interview below.
Tell us about your strategy for getting influencers excited about The Kiss Quotient.
Immediately upon finishing The Kiss Quotient I knew it was going to be something special. The first step for me was determining how to shout “READ THIS BOOK!” to the widest audience possible. This story isn’t just for traditional romance readers and I wanted to make sure people knew that. The campaign began with a cover reveal and excerpt on Bustle, hitting a key, younger female demographic. The cover popped, Helen’s personal stake in the story intrigued readers, and the excitement began.
After that, my main goal was growing steady interest in the book among bloggers, Bookstagrammers, and bookish influencers. Providing early galleys and e-galleys was a big part of that, as well as continual coverage on Berkley Romance’s social media platforms. This is a perfect example of “Oh, I’ve seen that!” publicity awareness. In my outreach to influencers, I talked about The Kiss Quotient like I would with a friend, with delighted squeals, OMG’s, and BAE’s included. I also specifically asked that they “help me tell the world about this book” via Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Facebook. I didn’t have a platform preference because I wanted to reach as many readers as possible. I do think that Bookstagram played a major part though as the cover is quite ‘grammable. On a visually driven platform, The Kiss Quotient stands out beautifully.
How do you build relationships with influencers as a publisher?
One of my main responsibilities at Berkley is communicating and cultivating relationships with media contacts and influencers, in particular those who focus on romance. Romance bloggers are the backbone of the online romancelandia community and I absolutely love working with them. I send out two curated monthly newsletters to romance-focused bloggers and media contacts, chat with people on Twitter and Facebook, and generally try to keep up with what folks are reading, because romance bloggers are ravenous readers. We do our best to get them galleys as early as possible with the hope they will read and love our books and ultimately share reviews around the release dates.
How did you let influencers know about The Kiss Quotient and how did you give them access to read it? What was your balance between proactive outreach and responding to requests?
I sent pre-approved NetGalley widgets to a large list of media contacts and influencers. [Widget invites accounted for 26% of all members with access on NetGalley, so this strategy was highly effective!]. I also sent out a number of print galleys in fun packaging (I love color coordinating!) that I hoped would encourage them to share images immediately on their social platforms, mainly Instagram as it is so visual. I knew the “Look how pretty” appreciation at the beginning would morph into the “Omg this book is amazing” attention as soon as they began reading and that they would share those thoughts on their social media as well.
I also dedicated a lot of time to responding to requests for the book. There were numerous BookTubers and reviewers who requested The Kiss Quotient that I had never worked with before. Granting them access to the book and getting to know their channels and sites has been a great way to start successful working relationships with many of them. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the benefit of some light internet stalking! If someone posted about The Kiss Quotient on Instagram, I would check the comments to see if they were from other influencers that I could also approach for review or feature coverage and I did the same with Goodreads. Twitter searches also proved very useful as the title of this book is pretty unique so I could easily see who was talking about it without having to filter through a lot of non-book related posts.
Aside from working with social media influencers, what other strategies did you employ for The Kiss Quotient?
I secured a lot of mainstream media attention, including The New York Times,Entertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed, which piqued other outlets’ interest in the book and Helen’s personal story. I highlighted The Kiss Quotient’s strengths, joined the excited conversations with early reviewers, and reached out to other authors whom I thought would love Helen’s book as much as I did. Support from fellow authors can make a significant difference in reader awareness and publicity opportunities.
Jessica is a Senior Publicist and Digital Media Strategist at Berkley who manages the romance social media accounts and works with authors like Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory, Alexa Martin, Samantha Young, Uzma Jalaluddin, and more. A self-proclaimed Slytherpuffenclaw, she loves to read YA as well as romance and dark-and-twisty thrillers.
Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
In the book marketing world, getting your name out there is crucial. If someone casually browsing for their next read recognizes your name, they’re far more likely to take a closer look, and hopefully purchase.
Since writing is your craft, one of the best ways to get your name noticed is to write. So, write! It’s natural to want to write exclusively about your book as a way to promote it, but you should also consider writing about topics related to your book. For example, if you write Civil War romances, pitch a column on a women’s cultural interest website about the hidden histories of women in the United States in the 19th century. You can access a wider audience than you could otherwise, and demonstrate your expertise about your chosen field of interest.
You can also write in more casual settings; like a blog or a newsletter. Many authors and cultural critics send out periodic newsletters that describe what they are reading, listening to, and thinking about. Newsletters and blogs are a way to stay top-of-mind for your audience, and to help your readers develop a more personal relationship with you and your work.
This kind of tactical writing can increase your visibility and the visibility of your titles in the marketplace. But, as with all kinds of marketing efforts, quality is more meaningful than quantity. First and foremost you should write and pitch content that you would be interested in reading, and the readership will follow.
In the publishing industry, metadata refers to data about books. This includes the ISBN, keywords, the author name, pub date, BISAC code, reviews, author bios, and more.
Why does metadata matter for book publishing?
At the most basic level, metadata is how people find your books. Say, for example, that I heard an interview with an author about a new sports romance. I might remember a few plot details, but not the title or the author. If I wanted to find that book again, I’d probably Google “sports romance football single mother” and hope to come up with the right title. If the book’s metadata is set up well, those keywords will be enough to help me find the book I’m looking for from that search.
Without important metadata, you might as well be tossing your book into a huge bin of other unrelated books, instead of placing it carefully on a categorized shelf. Because metadata ensures that books are discoverable and searchable, it has a huge impact on book sales. Metadata can also help potential consumers see what other readers are already saying about your book.
What do I need to include in my metadata?
If you want to push metadata about your titles out into the world, here is the minimum information you’d want to include, according to Firebrand’s Director of Sales and Education, Joshua Tallent:
Main Description or Brief Description
Publication Date and/or On-Sale Date
Page Count (for print and ebooks)
Total Runtime (for audiobooks)
Adding a few more fields to your metadata can really improve its quality, which will ultimately help retailers better sell your books. Tallent recommends adding the below:
Table of Contents
Citations (this is where you’ll put professional reviews and endorsements or reviews from industry publications)
Title Relationships (comp titles, the author’s other books)
Age & Grade Ranges
BISAC Merchandising Themes
How do I distribute metadata?
ONIX is the industry standard for distributing metadata.
According to BISG, ONIX is “A standard form that publishers can use to distribute electronic information about their books to wholesale, e-tail and retail booksellers, other publishers, and anyone else involved in the sale of books. ONIX enables book information to be communicated between different organizations even if they have different technical infrastructures and business needs. It isn’t a database, but provides a standard XML template for organizing data storage.”
Essentially, ONIX is a standard format used to share metadata to variou trading partners.It is used to create and update title information on their websites.
Eloquence on Demand, a service owned by Firebrand Technologies (NetGalley’s parent company), is the gold standard for ONIX distribution in the United States. It provides publishers with simple but powerful tools to help them manage their metadata and send it out to trading partners around the world.
How can I use metadata in my marketing strategy?
Providing detailed metadata to your retail partners and updating that metadata consistently will help retailers sell your book and will help consumers find your book. Metadata helps position your titles in a crowded retail marketplace by giving retailers as much information as possible about those titles. The more information retailers have about your book, the better they will be able sell it. For example, retailers will use metadata fields like keywords, BISAC subjects, age ranges, and comp titles, to figure out how to best position titles for their consumers.
One powerful way to make metadata work for you is to keep it updated as new information becomes available. Pre-publication, update your metadata as often as you need. From publication date to 3 months post-publication, update your metadata every few weeks. If the pub date or price changes, make sure to update that in your metadata. And, be sure to update your keywords and add reviews as you start getting more and more feedback. After that, you can update metadata as needed.
You should also be sure to update your Citations field to get the most out of reviews you’re receiving. When you add reviews in to your metadata – from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and elsewhere – you are demonstrating to retailers that people are paying attention to your titles.
It is also important to update your keywords based on early feedback that you receive from NetGalley or BookishFirst. Learn more about Firebrand’s Keywords service, which provides audience analysis and keyword creation here. The ways that early readers are talking about your books are likely the ways that potential consumers will be searching for your books. Pull keywords from that feedback to see what is resonating with your earliest readers and add that to your metadata to help bring in more readers.
Metadata is one of the most powerful ways that books become discoverable in a crowded marketplace. By ensuring detailed and high-quality metadata as part of a standard workflow, publishers and authors give their books the best possible chance at finding a wide and enthusiastic audience.
Book clubs are full of passionate readers who go out and buy books throughout the year. They are always on the hunt for new titles to read, and are recommendation engines for the family and friends outside of the club. In Ask A Book Club, we help you better understand how book clubs find the books they read, and where they talk about books beyond their club. We look at individual book clubs to learn more about what they look for in a book and how groups of passionate readers come together to choose their titles.
Today, we’re talking to Anne Haag about her globe-trotting book club.
About the book club
A friend decided she wanted to start a book club in the model of her grandfather’s group, which meets monthly and reads a book focusing on a different country each time. So, she invited a few friends to join, and it webbed out from there. Quite a few of our members were born or raised in other countries. We have members from Indonesia, Spain, Canada, England, and Ireland, so we have a variety of international perspectives present at each meeting. There are about 10 of us, all in our mid-20s. We live in Chicago and meet once a month.
We try to read a book by an author from a different country each month. A lot of the books we read involve some kind of historical conflict or element tied to a certain place – for example, the slave trade’s impact on Ghana in Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, or religious fundamentalism as it manifests in Pakistan in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. By focusing on a different country each time, we are able to expand our understanding of global conflicts, and how they influence our world today. We do occasionally indulge in lighter works when we need a break. Last summer, for example, we read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.
We read quite a few works in translation. We skew towards fiction, but have read nonfiction, like Caitlin Doughty’s exploration of death across different cultures, From Here to Eternity. Most of the titles we’ve read were published within the last 20 years. We try to stick to shorter books; usually around 200 pages. I am guilty of not finishing more than one book when it lost my interest. We read The Doubleby Jose Saramago, and quite a few others joined me in the “easily disinterested” ranks.
Finding new titles
I always look for ideas in the New Yorker, specifically the short reviews they publish at the end of each issue’s featured book review. That has come up previously as a source others have used as well. In fact, two of us recommended Memoirs of a Polar Bearby Yoko Tawada after reading about in the New Yorker. Book reviews in the New York Times are another common source, as well as Goodreads. Sometimes our ideas come from reading about current events and seeking out related literature, often just by Googling.
Members bring up titles they’re interested in reading at the end of each meeting. Typically, there’s a title that stands out as interesting to the group as a whole, so we pick that one. If more than one sounds interesting, we typically just agree to read them in following months. We aren’t particularly organized – we have a group email thread, and that’s about it. Really, we don’t even keep a list of books we’ve read.
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.
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-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 LonesomeBodybuilder. Bonus points if you can take a queue from Soft Skull Press and animate your cover to give it some extra oomph.
As we begin a new year, it’s always fun to look back on all the great things that happened in the last year. The needs of our clients have always led the evolution of the NetGalley service, and I’m proud that our conversations with various types of publishers continue to drive our development.
Through these conversations, it has become apparent that publishers of all sizes are relying on data to assess how their strategies are working, and if they’re reaching their goals for engagement. More and more of you are employing data scientists, or are analyzing data yourself. Numbers from all across the industry come together to reveal the story about a book’s success. You’re tracking and analyzing results that range from engagement with your social media platforms and click-throughs for your digital advertising, to sales numbers and rankings.
One of the purposes of NetGalley has always been to give you more insight into the success of your pre-publications efforts. Many reports in NetGalley (including Feedback, Opinions, Snapshot, and Detailed Activity) already offer a deep dive into the specific activity your titles are seeing on the site.
During the Firebrand Community Conference this year our CEO and Chief Igniter, Fran Toolan, mentioned the DIKW hierarchy–a model that emphasizes the relationships between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. The idea is that each level of the pyramid is reached through analysis that adds context to the level below. So data will lead to information, which will lead to knowledge, which will lead to wisdom. Once you reach wisdom, all of that learned experience can guide your actions.
In 2019 we’re excited to bring you even more tools to drive targeted activity on NetGalley, and to display valuable data and information to help you reach those levels of wisdom that can inform your strategies. When you analyze the activity happening in your NetGalley account, it can help you identify early trends so you can anticipate them as your books go on sale, or give you evidence that support a change in strategy.
We are committed to continuing to build tools that will reduce manual effort and time for your staff, and give you more space to gain knowledge about your strategies and the activity they’re generating. It’s our New Year’s Resolution to continue to help you attain wisdom about your strategies, and strive for it ourselves, too.
To learn more, join our webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 30 all about NetGalley Advanced–our new, premier level of service.
Since NetGalley Insights launched in July 2018, we have published nearly 40 articles about the publishing industry – interviews, industry trends, best practices for using social media, case studies from successful book marketing campaigns, and more.
We are looking forward to continuing to leverage NetGalley’s unique place within the industry to provide creative marketing ideas, to highlight the great work that’s being done across the publishing world, and to help our readers keep up with new tech and trends.
We are grateful to our community of publishing industry professionals for sharing their expertise and experience with our audience. And, of course, to you, our readers.
Here’s what we’ve been up to in 2018!
NetGalley has unique access to different members of the publishing industry – we work with authors, publishers, and publicity and marketing services. By sharing their successes and strategies with you, we hope you’ll find new, creative ideas that you can implement, too. In 2018, we interviewed members of the publishing industry at all levels; from interns to senior account executives. We even tapped our own team for their experiences finding and keeping mentors.
We know how valuable it is for authors, marketers, and publishers to learn from each other’s successes. That’s why we feature case studies from our NetGalley clients. We’ve shared the strategies that made Glimmerglass Girl, a debut poetry book, one of the Most Requested poetry titles on NetGalley, how NYU Press successfully engaged with NetGalley members, and North South books used availability settings and timely subject matter to create pre-publication interest for a children’s book.
Readers looking for their next pick tend to trust recommendations from content curators in their communities and online . With that in mind, we talked to librarians, podcasters, and a BookTuber to help publishers better understand these influencers’ communities, what kinds of books they are looking for, and how they find them.
We know that you can’t be everywhere at once, so we’re doing our best to be there for you. NetGalley Insights attended conferences for the ECPA, Firebrand, and for BISG. We listened to book club gatekeepers, including the books editor at O: The Oprah Magazine and the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, talk about what’s important to them as they make their influential book club picks.
With a dedicated NetGalley UK site and partner sites in Germany, France, and Japan, NetGalley is a part of the global book industry. With our global perspective, we featured stories about the German book market and recapped the first year of NetGalley.co.uk.
Subscribe to our weekly digest so that you can stay tuned for everything that NetGalley Insights has in store for 2019. You can expect articles on blockchain and metadata, interviews with content creators and curators, case studies from successful marketing campaigns, tips for authors, and more coming to you in the new year.
It’s been a year since we launched NetGalley.co.uk – our dedicated UK platform, showcasing all the best in British books – and so it feels like the right time to give an overview of all that’s been happening on the site. We’ve been delighted by the response from readers and publishers alike, and are proud of the new ways we’ve been able to highlight titles to prospective new reviewers.
New promotions, new views
With Netgalley.co.uk, one of the main aims was to find new ways for members to find titles – and to show a distinctly British slant on the site. Now members can see only the books for which they are likely to be approved, and British titles are always front and centre on the site. The introduction of featured titles and category spotlights has been hugely successful, boosting impressions, discoverability and requests for all titles included.
Results have been amazing, with an increase in requests for featured titles on the previous two week period varying anywhere from 150% up to 8800%!
Eblasts – more popular than ever
Our dedicated eblasts are sent to all UK members opted into marketing communications, and have become the most popular way of marketing to members. It’s the digital equivalent of a Super-Proof, showing members just how excited you are about a particular title.
We still only ever send one eblast a day to our members, which means that we’ve been fully booked for almost every day – week and weekend – for the whole of 2018. As many of you know, spots are now at a huge premium, so in order to get the date you want, don’t forget to book well in advance. Booking forms for 2019 are here.
2018 has been a brilliant year for NetGalley UK, and we’re very much looking forward to the New Year, and helping publishers really boost the performance of their titles!
For ten years, the ALA initiative I Love My Librarian has been recognizing the best librarians in the country. Communities nominate the librarians who are best supporting their patrons, providing creative programming, increasing intellectual curiosity, and bringing resources to those who need them. Because we also love librarians, NetGalley attended the award ceremony for the ten winners of the 2018 I Love My Librarian Award at the Carnegie Corporation of New York on Dec. 4.
Winners thanked their colleagues for their support and their patron communities for letting them do what they love for a living. They affirmed libraries as places for patrons to explore their own identities and for marginalized groups to find acceptance and support.
One of the patrons who nominated Lindsey Tomsu, a teen and YA librarian from the Algonquin Area Public Library District, described the work she does to create an inclusive atmosphere. “She creates a haven for…teens questioning their identities and orientations, diverse teens, rich and poor alike…” Stephanie H. Hartwell-Mandella, head of Youth Services at the Katonah Village Library thanked the librarians who didn’t bat an eye when she was a curious adolescent who started checking out romance novels. Paula Kelly, library director at Whitehall Public Library, is committed to keeping her diverse community’s needs at the forefront of her programming. She sends a bus every month to pick up patrons (mostly elderly members of immigrant families) to transport them to and from the library. Her library also partners with its Bhutanese community to preserve their shared history and stories, and to share those stories with other Pittsburgh residents. Learn more about all of the 2018 winners here.
Librarians are an important part of the NetGalley community, so we are always curious to learn more about what makes their communities and their libraries unique. And we know that this information is valuable to publishers, as well! Check out our Ask a Librarian series to read more.
Congratulations to the 2018 I Love My Librarian Award winners from all of us at NetGalley!