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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Build Your Social Media Presence

Personal branding is an important part of the success of any author, and social media is a strong place to develop and grow that brand. Your tone as an author, your field of interests, and how you communicate with the world should all be considered as your develop your voice on the Internet. While Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter might not be for every author, savvy users of these sites can grow your community of dedicated fans. So, how to begin building a successful social media presence?

Start by looking at social media as a way to connect with your potential audience, not as a marketing tool. Authenticity will help you genuinely connect with the kinds of readers who will be your be among your best advocates and fans, which will also help your online presence grow organically.

Think about which platforms are best suited to your own instincts and talents. Have a knack for funny or insightful quick turns of phrase? Try Twitter. Are you a visual thinker? Get on Instagram. Once you’ve established which platform(s) you will use, make sure that your tone fits with your audience. If you are a middle-grade author, it’s best to avoid filling every tweet with the most colorful swear words you know. On social media, you are your brand and everything you put online goes toward building that brand.

Be a part of larger conversations and get yourself noticed online by using hashtags, sharing articles, replying to other authors, and engaging with your followers. Communicating directly with your followers is a great way to strengthen your online presence and bond you to your audience. Engaging in conversations that relate to specific topics in your book will attract a like-minded social media following. If you as an author are posting about something that’s interesting to a community, the community will take notice.

Check out the rest of NetGalley Insights to learn more about getting the most out of social media: Which book industry Instagram accounts to follow, using Twitter to learn more about librarians, and how an independent author used NetGalley to boost her title on Twitter.

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Ask a Podcaster: Bad on Paper

Podcasts are an important part of the cultural criticism and influencer ecosystem for books, and beyond. And because audio is such an intimate medium, with hosts speaking directly into the ears of their audience, podcasts develop particularly dedicated fanbases and engaged communities. In Ask a Podcaster, we hear directly from different book-related podcast hosts to help you learn more about their community, what they are interested in featuring on their podcasts, and how they find their next book picks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Becca Freeman

Show: Bad on Paper

Bad on Paper is a weekly podcast hosted by 30-something YA enthusiasts Grace Atwood, also known for her popular lifestyle blog The Stripe, and Becca Freeman. Every other week, Grace & Becca host a book club with a new book they promise you won’t be able to put down. In between, they share their best tips for “adulting;” helping you do everything from finding the right career to the perfect face serum.

What do you love best about your audience? The best part about our audience is how interactive they are with both us and other listeners. On weeks we don’t talk about books, each episode is centered around a topic and listeners write in specific questions to be answered. We love how our listeners actually shape the content of our episodes to make sure the topic matter is relevant to them. In addition, we have an amazing Facebook community where our readers can share reactions to our book club picks, ask questions, and give and receive book recs. It really feels like we’ve built something that is a two-way dialog and not just a one-way conversation where we talk at our audience.

What should book publishers know about your audience? Our audience is made up of incredibly voracious readers. While our podcast started covering just YA books, we’ve recently expanded to include adult fiction titles, too, based on demand from our audience. We’ve also been really flattered by how many 20- or 30-something YA readers who have come to us saying that they were previously embarrassed by reading YA, but are excited to have found a like-minded community to discuss with.

What do you think is unique about podcasting as a medium for book lovers/cultural commentary? I think what’s really interesting is that we’re able to take the book club model and bring it to a much larger audience. Personally, I’ve been a member of many book clubs but oftentimes they’ve fizzled out because of hectic schedules. We’re a book club that you can dip in and out of or consume based on your schedule. It’s convenient to have your book club on your phone to partake in when it makes sense for you.

How do you pick books and authors to feature on your podcast? Grace and I are both very avid readers, so we’re constantly reading and flagging books that could make good podcast picks as we go. In addition, as our audience has started to understand our reading tastes, they’re often giving us recommendations of books we’d love or they think should be on the podcast.

Recently, we crowdsourced our first listener-pick book on Instagram via an Instagram story poll. Our audience picked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. We thought it was fun to turn the picking power over to our listeners and talk about a book they were already passionate about!

Lastly, I’m a huge user of Goodreads, and am always cruising the New Releases and Most Read sections for inspiration and to keep of the pulse on what’s new and popular.

If you use NetGalley, what strategies do you use to find books to request? Oftentimes, I’ll search for books I hear about on Instagram, from bloggers, or find on Goodreads. Of course, sometimes the odd cover art will attract me, and I’ll request that too!

What trends in the book industry are you most excited by? I’m really excited that we’re starting to see more smart female protagonists in YA. A lot of books center around a girl who doesn’t know she’s smart or pretty or has any worth until a boy tells her. It’s really exciting to see more YA titles with more feminist-friendly heroines.

What podcasts are you listening to? I’m obsessed with Who? Weekly for my weekly celebrity gossip fix, Forever35 for self care talk and a surprising amount of author interviews, and Second Life for interviews with amazingly accomplished women about their career trajectories. I also check in with Call Your Girlfriend, That’s So Retrograde, and Fat Mascara when an episode topic intrigues me!

You can follow Bad on Paper on Facebook, Instagram, or on their website. You can subscribe to their podcast on iTunes or contact them via email at badonpaperpodcast@gmail.com.

For more information on finding podcasters to pitch, check out this recent article.

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Intern Survival Guide

One of the most common ways to gain experience in publishing–to get a foot in the door, learn what “querying” means, and figure out exactly what an editor does–is to intern. Internships help students and early career professionals determine which aspects of the publishing industry are the best matches for their interests and aptitudes and develop relationships with mentors across the industry.

Olivia Loggia, currently an intern at BookEnds Literary Agency, has been giving tips for interns in an #internsurvivalguide on Instagram.

Today, she’s sharing some advice about how to find an internship, stand out in the application process, and make the most of it both during and after.

Before you started your internship at BookEnds Literary Agency, what was your process like while searching for a position?

Truthfully, I was hungry for any opportunity I could get, and so my search for an internship was extensive. I wasn’t (and still am not) set on just one career path, and so I applied widely, both at literary agencies, and other companies that deal with creativity and entertainment. I knew I wanted exposure to publishing, and potentially a career in publishing in the future, and the only way I thought I’d have a chance at breaking into the industry was an internship. What specifically excited me about BookEnds was its close-knit, yet simultaneously far-reaching team. I knew that in-office I would be working closely with James and Jessica F., which would give me the opportunity to learn from them directly, and develop the skills necessary in a small team. But outside the main office, BookEnds actually has a big team, something that I think sets it apart from other literary agencies. Taking on a diverse range of genres and a wide audience, I knew that BookEnds would give me the opportunity to gain a holistic sense of the agenting world. Since I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do in the future yet, this was especially important to me.

What did you do to stand out in your application or interview? Research. With BookEnds’s application, I spent time looking at their website, reading about their agents, and scrolling through their social media. Even though I hadn’t been in their office yet , research helped give me a sense of the type of work environment it was, and the types of people they were looking for. BookEnds makes it especially easy to do this type of research, since the agency has an active blog, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube accounts. I considered the way the agency seemed to operate, how my own skills and experiences would fit into their operation, and then did my best to convey this in both my cover letter and interview. This included classroom experiences, previous internships, leadership roles, and interests of mine that were relevant to the type of work I would be doing at BookEnds.

What advice do you have for other young people looking for internships in publishing?

If you’re not sure what you want to do in publishing, an agency is a great place to start. Not only is it more intimate than a large publishing house, and therefore easier to form relationships, but it’s also great exposure to a number of sides of publishing. As an agent, you work with writers, illustrators, and editors, and so as the intern, you still get exposure to all of these other careers. One thing I discovered during my internship is that agents are sort of like the businessmen of publishing. If you’re less creatively inclined, and more business-minded, this might be an excellent path for you to consider.

As far as general pieces of advice for interns, I would say to say YES more often! If you’re asked to try something, even if you aren’t sure you’ll like it, say yes anyway. You don’t know what you don’t know. So try new things, and find out from experience if you like it or not. Your internship is going to fly by, so take advantage of the opportunity to actually be a part of a well-respected team of working professionals.

Ask questions. Think of questions that you genuinely want to know the answer to, don’t fall into the trap of asking questions just to ask questions. Ask questions that will get you to the place you want to be in several years; utilize the incredible resources you have available to you (at BookEnds, this was an entire team of fabulous literary agents!).

We saw your #internsurvivalguide on Instagram, which includes some really great tips. How did you come up with it and what do you hope it accomplishes?

Thank you! To come up with the tips, I thought about the strategies that worked well for me, both during this internship and previous internships, in addition to taking into account tips my parents and advisors at Bucknell University had given me. It started out as a way for me to have more of a presence on BookEnds’s social media, in addition to serving as a resource for other young people. BookEnds is committed to making the agenting world more accessible and “user-friendly” for authors, agents, interns, etc., whether or not they’re part of the BookEnds team. Through platforms like their blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, the agency strives to teach a wide audience about the agenting world. My #internsurvivalguide on Instagram was just one more outlet for this type of teaching.

Tell us the story behind some of the lessons you’ve included in the Intern Survival Guide. Was there a specific experience that prompted a particular tip?

One tip that was especially prompted by my experiences at BookEnds was “ask for feedback.” Early on during my time at BookEnds, I was surprised by how regularly James, who I reported to, checked in with me to ask how he was doing as my mentor. I was the intern, I didn’t expect to be giving my boss feedback! But that’s just how BookEnds operates. During our weekly meetings, agents would share things that went well that week, and things that didn’t go as well, always asking for advice for how to move forward with the latter. I even received an evaluation, which identified both strengths and areas for growth. This was such a valuable reflection, and one that I know will benefit me moving forward in my professional life—it’s certainly easier to just assume (or hope!) you’re doing well, but taking the initiative and demonstrating self awareness is ultimately the most beneficial. At BookEnds, whether you’re the founder, or the summer intern, the mentality is that you can improve. And that’s a team mentality that I think is rare.

What specific goals do you hope to achieve through this internship?

One goal I had with this internship was to become a better reader, part of which included expanding the types of things I read. As someone who generally gravitates towards YA and contemporary fiction, interning at BookEnds challenged me to read many new genres: Cozy mysteries, adult suspense, and picture books. Although I wasn’t as familiar with them, I found that with an open mind, and by learning from example (I often looked at how agents critiqued former projects in the same genres), that I would be met with success. Another goal that I had was simply to develop confidence in a professional workplace! It’s one thing to be in class, critiquing your peers’ work, and quite another to be reviewing actual authors’ work. Early on, I spent a lot of time listening to the way the BookEnds agents interacted with one another and their clients, and then did my best to match their enthusiasm and insight in my own commentary. I pushed myself to participate in the meetings each week, and was very thorough in all of my writing assignments. I knew how lucky I was to be interning at a place where the intern’s voice was so highly regarded, so I made a commitment to myself to fully give my very best work each time—I was not going to miss an opportunity like this one.

What has been the most valuable part of this internship (or of interning overall?)

Having the opportunity to be fully integrated into a team of successful, working, professionals was easily the most valuable part of this internship experience. Not only was I regularly asked for my opinion, but I was able to sit in and participate in meetings, and have one-on-one conversations with agents and clients, and play an active role during brainstorm sessions. Yes, I was the intern. But at BookEnds, the intern is treated like an important resource, and respected team member. The communication, reading, time management, collaborative, and initiative skills I developed through this internship are skills I know will benefit me for the rest of my life.

How do you plan on making the most of this internship even after it ends?

My biggest takeaways from this internship have been: listening is equally important to speaking when working with others, how to give and receive feedback, and the importance of having faith in your convictions. I know these lessons will translate into any workplace, as well as in my classes, or even on my dance team. Beyond these lessons, I also plan to stay in touch with everyone at BookEnds! Throughout my time there, they stressed the importance of reaching out to them, and maintaining my relationship with the agency. I think this is important with any internship/job, and something I plan to continue doing with future work experiences.

Do you have any plans on the horizon you can share with us?

For now, heading back to Bucknell. As a rising junior, I’ve become increasingly aware of how close I am to graduation (make it stop!), and so I’m really excited to just go back to school, keep taking classes I’m interested in, being extracurricularly involved, and spending time with my friends. This spring semester I’ll be studying in Granada, Spain, so that’s something else to look forward to!

As for the more distant future, who knows! BookEnds has been great exposure to the publishing world. I love how the work is different each day, the creative component to agenting, the flexibility the job allows for, and the opportunity to work with many different people. Moving forward, I’m still very interested in publishing, but am also curious about careers in advertising, marketing, and media companies. I am hopeful that no matter where I end up, I have the chance to work with a team as passionate, dedicated, and driven as the one at BookEnds!

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Bio: Olivia Loggia is a rising junior at Bucknell University. She’s majoring in creative writing and Spanish, along with a dance minor. This summer, she had the privilege to intern at BookEnds Literary Agency, providing feedback on submissions through reader reports, writing revision letters, offering critiques on book proposals, assisting with the social media, and more.

BookEnds Literary Agency

BookEnds is a literary agency representing bestselling, award-winning, and internationally published authors. Representing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children alike, BookEnds agents continue to live their dreams while helping authors achieve theirs since 1999.

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An Author’s Path

NetGalley’s own Stuart Evers and Myfanwy Collins share their expert insights as authors and publishing-industry professionals regarding how a book gets written and makes its way into the world.

In “An Author’s Path,” they give a roadmap detailing how authors can find the time and discipline to finish their book, and what to do with it once it’s been written. Stuart covers the conventional publishing route; from finding an agent to represent you and your book, to editing the manuscript, sending out ARCs, and more. Myfanwy explains how and why an author should consider submitting to writing contests or journals, and the basics behind writing a successful query letter. Then, they discuss the basics of book marketing and publicity; how to solicit blurbs and use social media to your advantage.

You can view the full video here. We’ve also included some timestamps so that you can quickly find the most relevant information for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

Timestamps:

  • Intro: 0:00
  • How to write a book: 1:30
  • What to do with your book once you’ve finished writing it: 8:15
  • The conventional publishing route (finding an agent, pitching publishers, editing, ARCs) 9:38
  • Submitting to your work to journals & contests, writing query letters 22:29
  • Book marketing and publicity: soliciting blurbs, using social media: 32:08
  • Q&A: 50:10
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The Librarian Twitterverse

Librarians are an enthusiastic and digitally savvy bunch, which means that many of them are on Twitter, talking about their libraries, and talking to each other. They tweet about their favorite new titles, and about the daily life of working in a library. Librarians on Twitter highlight their community programming, while publishers’ library marketing teams announce their new releases and chat with individual librarians directly or via hashtag conversations. Pay attention to the vibrant librarian Twitterverse to get a better sense of what librarians are looking for, what resources they’re using to find new books, and to gain inspiration for new ways to connect with these important influencers.

Follow individual librarians on Twitter. Some librarians, like Gwyneth Jones and Shannon Miller are vocal, enthusiastic, and plugged into the wider world of pop culture and media. This kind of librarian recommends titles not only to their own library patrons, but to the rest of their digital community as well. Take note of who they are retweeting and which media sources they are linking to to get a sense of which authors they are reading, and whose opinions they trust. If they’re not already on your radar, add those media sources to your pitch list! Looking at these accounts will give you a more personal understanding of who these librarians are and what they are looking for.

Follow trade organizations and publications that librarians use to stay on top of news and trends. The ALA is a great resource for librarians, and for you, to stay up-to-date with national legislation, funding opportunities, and trends that impact the librarians across the country. Review journals like School Library Journal or Booklist offer insight into which kinds of stories librarians are hankering after, and can give ideas about how to most successfully position your titles for librarians.

Many publishers have dedicated library marketing teams who are focused on serving this specific community. Pay attention to publishers’ library marketing presence and see how they are engaging with libraries and librarians on the platform. For example, W.W. Norton’s library marketing department reached out directly to librarian and pop culture critic, Margaret H. Willison, to ensure that Norton would still send her galleys after she changed addresses. It was a casual, friendly, and mutually beneficial interaction. Penguin Random House periodically runs a Twitter chat, #AskALibrarian to engage multiple segments of their audience. Librarians get to champion their favorite books across a range of interests, and readers get personalized recommendations from highly trained and enthusiastic professionals.

Look at hashtags to see conversations around different topics that are important to librarians. Librarians use hashtags like #libraryreads and #readersadvisory to talk about what they are reading at their libraries and what they are recommending to their community. Get a sense of what kinds of stories librarians are excited to read and recommend. #librariesareforeveryone lets librarians demonstrate the diverse programming available at their libraries, for different ages, demographics, and reader types. You can use it to used to keep up with how librarians are thinking about  inclusivity, diversity, and representation in the library space. Use these hashtags to see what kinds of books different librarians’ communities are craving, and use that information to shape the way you market your titles to individual librarians.

How have you interacted with librarians on Twitter? Who do you follow on social media to keep up with new library trends? Email us at insights@netgalley.com. We hope to feature your success stories in future posts!

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Case Study: Glimmerglass Girl

How an indie author’s debut chapbook became one of the most requested poetry titles on NetGalley

On NetGalley Insights, we highlight the successes of NetGalley publishers and authors, and share some of their strategies. Today, we’re talking with Holly Lyn Walrath. She is a poet and author whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Glimmerglass Girl, published by Finishing Line Press, is her first chapbook, and is one of the most requested poetry titles on NetGalley.

Glimmerglass Girl is your debut book of poetry (on sale Aug. 3, 2018). Tell us a bit about your overall strategy for promoting your debut book. Some authors find it challenging to build a community of advocates and influencers before they are a well-established name.

When I set out to promote Glimmerglass Girl, my main goal was to get pre-orders, so my promotion period started sometime in April. I think that was very helpful because starting out that early meant I had plenty of time for outreach. Beyond reaching out to my existing network of friends and fellow writers, I spent a lot of time contacting poetry reviewers and booksellers. Since my book is short and illustrated, I focused on booksellers that were local to the Houston area or interested in indie and rare books or zines. Because my book is being published by a small press, they don’t have the resources bigger publishers have. It is quite a challenge when you’re just starting out. There were a few times when I felt overwhelmed by self-promotion! But, I was surprised by how kind and supportive the poetry community is.

How has your experience launching your own book differed from being published alongside other authors in collections?

When you’re publishing a poem or short story in a collection or anthology, you have the support of every author who’s been published alongside you. They all share the book with their network and that has an amplifying effect. But when you’re publishing your own book, it’s just you! (Or in my case, me and Finishing Line Press, my publisher.) You have to rely on yourself a lot more.

Our audience of publishers and authors is always eager to learn more about how others are planning their publicity and marketing efforts on NetGalley. Where does NetGalley fit into the overall strategy and timeline for Glimmerglass Girl?

At first I wasn’t sure what NetGalley would do for my book, but I decided to try it out anyway. I work as a freelance editor, so I’ve seen clients use NetGalley to varying degrees of success. For me, listing my book on NetGalley was an extra push to get the word out about my book and a bit of an experiment. But I think that experiment has really paid off. It’s also been so much easier to get ARCs into the hands of folks who want to read the book—I just send them a link to NetGalley.

Which segments of the NetGalley community were most important to you (ie. Reviewers, Librarians, Booksellers), and why? How did you go about reaching them?

The biggest reward has been in receiving reviews on Goodreads, Blogs, and Twitter. Because I started early, I have a good amount of ratings on Goodreads and my book isn’t even out yet! It’s also very useful to have a list of reviewers that I can contact when the book comes out and ask them to review on Amazon and other retailers.

How did you optimize your Title Details page to drive requests and reviews for your book?

I included a short description with a few blurbs and an excerpt from an early review of Glimmerglass Girl by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. I was careful to link to my Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter accounts with the #GlimmerglassGirl hashtag so readers could easily tag me online, allowing me to reshare their posts about the book. I also included a press kit from my publisher with additional information about the book.

We loved how you linked to Glimmerglass Girl’s Title Details page on Twitter, bringing attention to your title using NetGalley, for an audience that might not already be on NetGalley. Why was this audience important to you?

It’s pretty much ingrained in me that when I have news, I share it on Twitter (I’m addicted!). I noticed that any reviewers use the #NetGalley hashtag on Twitter when they review an ARC. So it made sense to me that that audience would also be scrolling through the hashtag to look for new books to check out. There’s also a fantastic audience of writers, readers, and fans of books on Twitter via the #amwriting, #amediting, and #amreading hashtags, who don’t know about NetGalley but would love to be a part of the community here.

*for more information about incorporating hashtags into your marketing strategy, check out this 3-minute video.

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

One strategy that’s been super fun is reaching out to Instagram’s book community. There are readers who post beautiful, artful, enchanting posts with their current TBR pile or reading obsessions. I asked a few of them to check out my book on NetGalley and got a lot of responses back from people excited to be offered a free ARC. I think that’s a pretty unique way to reach readers. I’ve also added the NetGalley link to my website and Press Kit.

Which NetGalley marketing tools did you take advantage of, and how did you use them to leverage interest?

I’ll be ramping up my NetGalley marketing in August when the book comes out. Glimmerglass Girl was chosen as a featured title as part of the “debut authors” month so it will appear on the front page of NetGalley. I’m stoked for this opportunity and curious to see how it goes. I think this last burst of interest should help get the book in front of more readers.

How did you engage with members who requested access? Did you follow up with them via email?

I made sure to follow members who requested access to Glimmerglass Girl on Goodreads and Twitter and share any blog posts to my website. I plan on reaching out to all my members who requested access with an update when the book is live to let them know they can order it, review it on Amazon and other retailers, and thank them for reading. I’m grateful for this chance to get to know other lovers of poetry, but I didn’t want to bombard them with emails either.

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

My book will be on NetGalley for about two months post-publication and my hope is that this will help garner some Amazon reviews . . . for the coveted algorithm! I’m also planning a Goodreads Giveaway during August and I’ll probably pair this with NetGalley to let anyone who enters know that they can also get a free copy while they wait (and vice-versa with members who’ve already requested my book and might want to enter the giveaway.)

What is your top tip for authors listing an individual title on NetGalley?

Make sure to check out the other titles in your category. Read their description and model your title page off the books that you love and that are successful. I think readers really rely on the description to know whether they’ll like a book, so having some comp titles (books similar to yours) is helpful. In the case of Glimmerglass Girl, I’d love to reach the audiences of authors like Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav—women readers who are sure of themselves and maybe a bit creative too. Don’t be afraid to name-drop similar authors!

Glimmerglass Girl comes out on August 3 from Finishing Line Press. You can pre-order it here.

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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How To Pitch: Sarah Miniaci, Senior Account Executive at Smith Publicity

Finding placement in relevant media channels is integral to a book’s success. After all, nobody will read or buy a book if they’ve never heard of it! Securing those crucial placements requires pitching. In our How to Pitch series, we hear from some of the publicists who use NetGalley to learn more about their strategies and successes.

We’re thrilled to kick off this series with Sarah Miniaci, Senior Account Executive at Smith Publicity.

We know that pitching books to important media is just one part of what you do. How do crafting the right message, finding the right person to contact, and other pitching-related projects this fit into your workflow?

You’re absolutely right that pitching books to important media is just one of the many initiatives a book publicist undertakes – but, it’s an incredibly important one, and it is the effort we spend the most time on by far in any given week. The many factors we take into account in crafting a pitch – and then identifying the right contact to send it to – include but aren’t limited to: the book’s plot, themes, timely topics, geographic tie-in’s, and key messages, the author’s background, talking points in relation to the book, local market hooks, and past media credentials and/or existing media relationships, what’s going on in the news, what’s trending in the entertainment publishing industry (and/or genre landscape) at large, and what changes are afoot in the media (from contact role updates to new outlets opening to other outlets shuttering their doors or changing focus, establishing new sections, etc.). So, it’s a lot of work – a full-time job, truly! – but work that is very much worth it when it results in the right coverage placement for the right book at the right time.

How do you determine the right people to pitch? Do you have certain contacts that you send every book to, or is the decision really based on each particular book?

As full-time book publicists we have a great benefit when it comes to developing our pitch lists, which is that we spend all day every day immersed in the literary media landscape – and so we are able to develop a strong gauge on which books are suitable for (and appealing to) which contacts. That said, there is no single contact to whom I would send each and every book. A self-published romance novel is not going to be relevant to the same media contacts to whom we pitch high-profile business non-fiction. For that matter, there can be great discrepancies even within the same genre landscape – two separate thrillers novels, both with October 2018 publication dates, can and will usually have very different publicity plans. To establish our pitch targets, we’re really looking in-depth at the book and author, and from there determining how and who we’re going to present them to as a good candidate for coverage. Does the book have a complex female protagonist or is the narrator a young African-American man? Is it set in modern-day New York City or rural Missouri at the turn of the century? Is the author’s voice gritty and hyper-realistic or breezy and family-friendly? Every pitch list we create for every book we work on is painstakingly crafted and highly personalized, taking all of these factors and more into account.

What strategies do you use to make your pitch emails stand out?

Every publicist has their own quirks and executes their pitching a little differently, but the majority of pitching these days is conducted over email – at least as a first point of contact, and for print and online media almost exclusively. Some contacts for broadcast outlets, like radio and television, still like a good phone pitch. As professional publicists, it’s our job to know who likes to be pitched in what ways and act accordingly. Some contacts also like being pitched over social media – but, I will warn, most do not, and certainly not over Facebook (it’s a very personal platform and faux pas to get in touch this way unless otherwise explicitly stated!).

In terms of standing out with your pitch, it’s my sincere belief that if you’ve taken the time to identify the right contact to pitch, you won’t find it hard to stand out and get a response. You need to be confident that this kind of book from this kind of author is precisely the kind of thing that this contact has a demonstrated interest and solid background of editorial coverage in. It’s really important to be cognizant of the fact that the media and reviewers you are pitching don’t actually want to say “no” to the pitches they’re receiving. They love nothing better than a good pitch they can actually do something with. The more thoughtful, targeted, and helpful you can be to the media, the much better your chances of success become. Remember: media contacts and reviewers have jobs to do, too – be of value and you’ll find a lot of open doors and great relationships await!

What resources do you use to sharpen your skills for crafting just the right message in your pitch?

It may sound obvious, but the very best way to sharpen one’s pitching skills is, in my view, by reading and consuming media! To keep up with the magazine landscape, I personally love the Texture app. Twitter is a great way to stay engaged with outlets and media contacts and get a feel for what they’re covering. With newspapers, Twitter can also be helpful (you can follow not only publications but in many cases specific sections, too, such as @nytimesbooks, @globebooks, @latimesbooks, and the list goes on). I also like subscribing to the weekend editions of a couple of print newspapers. Not only is it a nice way to spend a Sunday morning with a little breakfast and pot of coffee, it’s also valuable in gaining a genuine understanding of the media coverage landscape for books. I’m a public radio junkie (as a Canadian, I can’t get enough of the CBC, but I love and often live-stream NPR and the BBC at my desk, too!) and love following #Bookstagram influencers and other media contacts I interact with a lot on Instagram. It really all goes back to the idea of getting to know the people and outlets you’re pitching. Once you get that, everything else really does fall into place.

What do you do if you don’t get a response? 

In this day and age, we all have over-stuffed inboxes and it is completely understandable that not every email you send out is going to receive – or even warrant – an immediate response. That said, if I’m reaching out to a contact with a book that I genuinely believe is going to be a perfect fit for them, I don’t hesitate to follow up about a week after my initial pitch send – it’s always possible that they were on vacation, on deadline, or just otherwise distracted when the first one came through, but interested and grateful for the follow-up! Otherwise, if you’ve done your research and are confident that this contact should, in fact, be receiving your pitch (I keep stressing this because it really is the most important part), keep following up with new angles, story ideas, subject lines. Media contacts often get back to us weeks, months, and sometimes even years after the initial pitch was sent!

Give us your top tip for publicists!

Do your homework, read/listen to/watch media voraciously, and always remember: the person you’re pitching doesn’t want to have to say no, so make it easy for them to say yes!

NetGalley Insights tip: Authors, whether or not they are working with publicists, should also be thinking about these strategies. Authors can help their publicist, or use these strategies to pitch their own titles. Authors should be thinking about how to tie their books to media outlets, influencers, regional opportunities, and more. Authors should be consuming relevant media to learn more about how titles are being positioned, and who is talking about what.  

 

Sarah Miniaci is a Senior Account Executive and Business Development Associate at Smith Publicity – one of the leading book publicity agencies in the world, with offices in Toronto and New Jersey. Founded in 1997, Smith Publicity has worked with more than 3,000 authors and publishers, from New York Times bestsellers to first time, self-published authors.

To connect with Sarah or another publicist at Smith Publicity, contact them at www.SmithPublicity.com or find them on social media @SmithPublicity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Ask a Librarian: Amanda Buschmann

Putting your titles in the hands of librarians is an important part of any book’s success story. Librarians build collections for their library branch, pick titles for their own reading groups, and were the original comp-title recommendation engines before the age of algorithms. Librarians are book advocates in their community and beyond!

In our Ask A Librarian series, we ask librarians on NetGalley about what makes their community special, what they read, and how they stay up to date with the best new titles for their patrons.

Amanda Buschmann, an elementary school librarian in Houston, shares some insights about her community below:

Tell us about your library’s community, and the patrons who use your services: I work in a Title I district in a Title I elementary school, where I see approximately 850+ students on a rotating basis. The school services grades one through five, and the school is a bilingual school with a majority of Hispanic students.

What resources or programs make your library unique? We were one of the first libraries to routinely use a 3D printer and a Makerspace, and we are also the only school with a Gadget Girls club – a club designed solely for girls interested in STEM to explore science and tech in a stress-free environment. Our collection reflects these practices; we have a STEM resource section is that very popular, with a mixture of non-fiction and fiction books geared towards STEM.

Based on what they’re checking out, what kinds of books are your readers most interested in? Graphic novels are the most popular, including graphic novel versions of non-fiction subjects like electricity and biographies. Graphic novels are an effective way to grab a student’s attention and then supplement with additional texts.

What percentage of your patrons check out digital books versus print? Nearly all of my students use print resources, as very few have tablets of their own.

What resources do you use to find new books to recommend, or to add to your library’s collection? The largest and most effective resource I use is other librarians. I am part of a few different Facebook groups geared towards Future Ready and elementary librarians, and they are beyond helpful. So many fabulous ideas! I also love to use School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.

What’s your strategy for finding new books on NetGalley? Firstly, I peruse the Most Requested titles to see if there is anything pressing that I am missing out on. Then, I scroll through the offerings and look for titles and covers that catch my eye.

What catches your eye when you are on the hunt for new books? Cover? Title? Description? I will admit I am a sucker for a beautiful cover, and lately books have been coming out with gorgeous covers. A strong, not overly lengthy title is also paramount to catching my attention. Then I delve into the description.

If you’re looking for ways to engage librarians like Amanda on NetGalley, remember to auto-approve all members of the ALA, and include your titles in the NetGalley newsletter: Librarian Edition. And, be sure your cover art is eye-catching! Check out our Cover Love winners for inspiration. You can nominate your own title for Cover Love here. The promotion is free if your title is selected. And, check out the rest of our Ask a Librarian series!

How have you successfully engaged librarians? Email insights@netgalley.com with your story. We look forward to featuring your successes on future Insights posts.

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Ensure Your Book is Ready for Publication

As an author, you have likely spent more hours than you care to count dreaming up your story, imagining the inner workings of your characters and working through plot structure. And now that your manuscript is ready, your book is almost ready to meet the world! In order to help your book make a positive first impression, here are some ways to make sure that it’s ready for publication.

You’ll want to do everything in your power to make sure that it grabs a potential reader’s attention right away… and holds it. This means a strong cover design, editing with a fine tooth comb, and adhering to publishing standards and deadlines.

Book cover inspiration from @perfectbound_

Readers are inundated with books to choose from, at their libraries –on retail websites, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores–which means that your cover matters. Make sure that it looks professional and eye-catching, and pay attention to what other books look like in the category or genre you’re writing. For inspiration, check out perfectbound_ or  She Designs Books. You might end up shelling out for a professional book design, but a compelling cover makes a big difference for readers in a crowded marketplace.

Once you have a reader’s attention with an enticing cover, one of the quickest ways you could lose that attention is with typos and grammatical errors. A book might be full of the most fascinating characters and original worldbuilding, but if the apostrophes are always in the wrong place and commas are running rampant on the page, the reader will be quickly distracted and turned off. Make sure that you are sending your book out into the world in its very best possible state, with a comprehensive line edit. Your book gets one first impression with readers, so make sure it’s as strong as possible by sorting out any wayward spelling or grammar issues.

If you intend for bookstores and libraries to carry your book, make sure to set a realistic pub date and stick to it. Most bookstores, libraries, and even “long lead” review outlets, need significant time to plan what new books will be added to their store. Setting your pub date at least six months in the future will give you time to share it with book buyers at stores, librarians in charge of collection development, and traditional review organizations. Additionally, it’s important to  ensure that any digital files you have are formatted correctly, and that you have an ISBN number.

While graphic design, line editing, and ISBNs might not seem like the most important part of publishing your book, these are the details that will help your book stand out for readers, reviewers, and retailers.

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