Lessons from the Firebrand Community Conference

In late September, Firebrand (NetGalley’s parent company) hosted its bi-annual community conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The community conference is an opportunity to bring our clients together from across the industry to swap stories and strategies. And, it’s a chance for us at Firebrand and NetGalley to learn about our clients’ needs. After an intimate conference full of long-time attendees, we’re still mulling over the conversations we had. Here’s what’s still on our mind:

Learn to fail or fail to learn

The conference opened with Firebrand President, Doug Lessing, showing SpaceX’s video of failed attempts to land orbital rocket boosters. Entertaining as it was to watch a bunch of technical fails and explosions, the message was clear; organizations that aren’t afraid to fail will ultimately be the ones to innovate. Experimenting, and learning from those experiments, will help us think ourselves into the future. The publishing landscape is always shifting, and most publishers are still trying to catch up to new audiences, new platforms, and new technologies. It’s only by being open to experimentation (which necessitates failures), that we will be able to meet these new challenges.

It’s not just about getting data, it’s about how you use it

It’s no news to the publishing industry that we need to embrace data more fully as a decision-making tool. But, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where to get started and how to implement it into our already busy schedules. Fran Toolan, Firebrand’s Chief Igniter, introduced the DIKW framework for thinking about how to integrate data into decision-making. Conference attendees practiced the DIKW process together by examining lists of most popular books from multiple sources during a group session. By looking at different data sets – evaluating what information we can glean from it, what information is missing, and what other data points we might want to correlate – we were learning about how to structure data collection, analysis, and implementation.

New technology doesn’t replace the old

Michele Cobb, Executive Director of the Audio Publishers Association, brought up a surprising fact during her talk on growth in the audiobook market. She said that despite the popularity of digital media consumption and the rise of podcasting, audiobooks on CD don’t appear to be going anywhere. As new tech emerges, such as smartphones with streaming capabilities, old tech does not just go gentle into that good night. In the case of CDs and audiobooks, they are still useful for libraries, car travelers, parts of the world with spotty Internet infrastructure, and more. Additionally, self-published audiobooks can be printed on demand on CD, allowing for more audiobooks to come from more sources. It’s a welcome reminder that the newest and shiniest tool or technology doesn’t necessarily mean the death knell of traditional tools and tech. Ideally, it just means more choice and more access.

Collaboration across industry is key to survival

Publishers are all feeling the effects of a crowded industry. There seem to be infinite books, authors, platforms, publishers, imprints, and content delivery systems, all hoping to get the attention of what can feel like a dwindling market. But, as BISG Executive Director Brian O’Leary reminded us during his keynote, it’s by working collaboratively that we can make real improvements to the industry that will set us up for collective success in the future. By developing shared standards and workflow, we can ensure a more streamlined process throughout the life cycle of book publishing. Doug Lessing’s talk on blockchain brought this message home. He described one potential use of blockchain technology: developing an industry standard, secure platform for all aspects of the supply chain. While this would certainly require a lot of cross-industry conversation and planning, a secure standard platform for all supply chain transactions would streamline the day to day operations across the industry. And it’s only through that planning that all industry players could reap the benefits.

The Firebrand Community Conference is an opportunity for us to come together with our clients to think about how to best prepare for the future of publishing. At both Firebrand and NetGalley, client input, like the conversations we have at the conference, is a leading factor in how our services evolve. We value this opportunity to connect with our clients to better learn what their needs are, and how we can continue to help them reach their goals in a changing industry. We’ll see you all at the next Community Conference!

Divider

Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Find Your Audience, IRL

Personal connection is a huge part of any successful marketing campaign. To build a personal connection between author and reader, it’s important for authors to meet face to face with their audience and to use live events as a way to grow that audience. We know that it can be daunting, especially for authors who are introverted or just starting out, but it can make all the difference.

Look for reading groups, book clubs, literary open mics, and library events in your local area. See if you can connect with these groups by giving a reading or participating in a Q&A. And be sure to think broadly–if you write historical fiction, look for a historical society that might be interested in your research methods. If you write political thrillers, pair up with a film group to discuss some classic films in the genre and how they influenced your work. Spend some time researching what kinds of special interest groups and literary clubs exist in your city or town, and connect with them!

You can also look for other authors who are publishing a book around the same time you are, or who are also just starting out. Think about how you can support each other, perhaps by joining forces for a combined book tour. Use connections you have to authors in other cities and towns, perhaps authors you are friendly with on social media, to help organize a small book tour. Ask where you should read, and see if your far-flung author friends would be interested in interviewing you at their local bookstore. And, of course, offer to return the favor!

Finding ways to engage with new audiences, both in your local community and beyond, is crucial to building a dedicated and connected community of readers.

Divider

A Writer’s Schedule: Myfanwy Collins

Today we’re talking to Myfanwy Collins. Over the past 25 years, Myfanwy Collins has written and published three books, numerous freelance articles, advertorial, web content, newsletters, blog posts, book reviews, short fiction, and essays. She has also worked as a ghost writer, editor, and creative writing teacher to continuing education students. And, Myfanwy just happens to be the office manager at Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley’s parent company.

How do you set your goals?

I’ve always been goal oriented so I truly like to make goals and stick to them. I have different goals for large projects than for small ones. For instance, I will say to myself that I’m going to finish a draft of this manuscript by x date, which is usually something that corresponds with my Astrologyzone monthly horoscope. Not even joking. One time I told myself I could not watch the latest season of Game of Thrones until I finished my manuscript. If it’s a quick project, I will tell myself I can’t have a glass of wine or piece of chocolate or whatever until I finish. Basically, my jam is a mixture of astrology and denial and treats. I guess I’m sort of like my dog that way.

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

Describe your routines as a writer and how they help you stay on track with your goals:

I got divorced two years ago which sort of blew my routines to smithereens. I’m just now beginning to reclaim and rework them. With that said, I’ve never been a sit at my desk every day and write person. I will do that if I have a project I’m working on and excited about and then I tend to blast through the first draft pretty quickly. After the first draft, I put the manuscript away for a period of time (weeks or sometimes months) and then come back and revise and then put away again and revise until I feel it is ready for other readers. At that point, I pull in my trusted readers and gather their feedback. My trusted readers are my friends who write. They don’t all write the same types of things, but they all know and understand my work and what I am trying to achieve and aren’t afraid to ask me hard questions or tell me when something’s off. Also, they know how I like to receive feedback. Once their feedback is incorporated and I feel like I have done all I can do, I send the manuscript to my agent and wait for her feedback. After her feedback, I revise and return it to her and repeat this until the manuscript is as good as we think it can be.

As for shorter work, one new routine I am really enjoying is that my fiance Evan (also a writer!) and I taking part in #submissionsunday on Twitter each week. We submit at least one piece of work to a venue each Sunday. Doing this is actually making me eager to work on new pieces.

How did you develop your writing routines?

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

I have been writing professionally for nearly 30 years at this point and so my routines have been established over time as I worked. When I was younger, I was more impatient to get work out there when it really wasn’t ready to be seen. I was essentially giving all editors an opportunity to say no to my work. After several years of that I began to learn about the importance of taking my time during revision. I learned this also through years of being a reader for various literary journals. When you read submissions you tend to read a lot of work that could have used more time and more revision. Reading submissions is something I cannot recommend highly enough to writers. It really does help you understand your own shortcomings as a writer.

Ask journals if they need help. You can also look on their websites and see if they have any openings listed. Another place to look is on Twitter. If you follow a lot of writers and journals (as I do) you will often see calls for readers or interns. Finally, I think Submittable probably posts some openings. Pretty much all reader positions are unpaid (mine were) and they do require quite a bit of work but I promise you they pay off is that your own writing will improve.

What routines have you tried that didn’t work for you? Why didn’t they work?

I’ve tried to use writing prompts in the past in order to get myself writing more but they generally don’t work for me because I’m a bit of a rebel.

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I do a couple of things:

  • I read (I do this all the time anyway but I do it more so when stuck).
  • I force myself to sit at the page and I set a timer for myself for 20 or 30 minutes and tell myself I must write during that time. It helps me get past the anxiety of the blank page. This is something I recommend to my writing students as well and it’s been very helpful to them.
  • I go back to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and work the program. The book is a 12-step program for creative people and it is so immensely helpful. In fact, I think I’m past due for another session.

Describe the balance between having a full-time job, family, and writing. How do you manage both?

This is the hardest balance. It was hard when I was a part-time working married mother and It’s hard now as a full-time working divorced mother. My child and family come first in all things and so writing becomes secondary when I am momming. Since I am divorced, there are times when my son is with his dad and so I could be writing but am often sad and missing my kid which gets in the way of writing. But the good news is that I have a really great therapist! I’m starting to listen to her about using my time more wisely instead of allowing myself to be mired in grief.

How do you think about finding a job that supports you financially and supports your writing? Do you need something that leaves room in your mind for creative work, something that keeps you in the habit of deep thinking and frequent writing, something else altogether?

Financial support is key to me and so that is always my first priority. With that said, it is wonderful to have a part of my current job that feeds me creatively. I think if my job were writing all day, I might not pay any attention to my own creative writing. So right now I have a job that is one part business oriented, one part process oriented, and one part creative. It’s a really nice mix.

For more perspectives on creating a successful schedule as a writer, check out our interview with Stuart Evers!

Divider

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.

Divider

Social Sharing on NetGalley is Buzzing!

Make the most of NetGalley’s social integrations

Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to increase book sales. Whether this chatter happens face-to-face with friends, or digitally through online reviews or social media shares, the earlier audiences are talking about your book, the better! In order to facilitate this digital word-of-mouth, NetGalley introduced simplified social sharing in November 2017, to allow NetGalley members to connect their NetGalley profile with their Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn accounts to share their reviews with just one click.

This is great news for your titles! Reviews of your books are being seen on more platforms by broader audiences. You can track where reviews are being shared by checking the book’s Feedback Report in NetGalley. Plus, it’s easier than ever for publishers to encourage more cross-posting and successfully leverage the buzz. Here are some ideas and best practices we’ve observed in action:

Incorporate hashtags: Publishers can add a custom hashtag for any title on NetGalley. This helps to focus the buzz around a title, and can make members feel like they are joining a rich conversation online. Ask members to share their reviews on social media with the hashtags when you follow-up with them, and then use those hashtags to identify your most vocal pre-publication advocates. Retweet them, favorite them, and consider auto-approving those members in NetGalley! For more information about including hashtags in your NetGalley marketing plan, check out this 2-minute video.

Share the shares: If NetGalley members are sharing reviews on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, consider using those reviews in your own social strategy. Retweet or re-post the reviews you see, and be sure to thank the member. Everyone loves a shoutout! Use screenshots or quotes of these shared reviews to demonstrate the word-of-mouth energy behind your titles and include them in sales presentations. They are visible proof of early consumer interest.

Learn more about your audience: In addition to watching your hashtags, you can use your NetGalley Feedback Report to see who has shared their reviews online. Digging into your data, including the social media presence of members who are talking about your book online, can give you some powerful demographic information about your audience. Are they mostly millennials who post on Instagram? Are they primarily baby boomers who use Facebook to stay in touch with their friends and family? Use this insight to guide your marketing messages and to determine which platforms are worth your investment of time or advertising dollars.

How have you successfully leveraged social media sharing in your marketing campaigns? We love to feature case studies from our community of publishers and authors.

Divider

Case Study: The Trans Generation by Ann Travers

How NYU Press used strategic timing, leveraged comp titles, and engaged with NetGalley members to make The Trans Generation a success

On NetGalley Insights, we highlight the successes of NetGalley publishers and authors, and share some of their strategies. Today, we’re talking with Betsy Steve, publicity manager at NYU Press about how she used NetGalley to ensure that The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution got the enthusiastic launch it deserved.

Published on June 5, 2018, The Trans Generation uses interviews with trans children and their parents to explore gender in the 21st century, and the experiences of navigating schools, healthcare, and society as a trans youth. Written by trans activist and advocate, Ann Travers, The Trans Generation is designed for both academic and popular audiences.

Our audience is always eager to learn more about how others are planning their publicity and marketing efforts on NetGalley. Where did NetGalley fit into the overall strategy and timeline for The Trans Generation?

At NYU Press, we find that NetGalley exposure plays an extremely important role in elevating the titles that we believe have potential for a more general readership. These are also titles that we want on librarians’ and booksellers’ radar as soon as possible.  We pay close attention to early feedback from users as it helps us position our books in the marketplace.

We knew in the early stages of planning for The Trans Generation that NetGalley would play pivotal role in its success. Last year, we had a separate book dealing with issues affecting the transgender community that was hugely popular with NetGalley readers, so we knew that there was a strong interest in the topic. As soon as we were ready to make ARCs, which for us is about 4-5 months ahead of publication, we posted the materials to NetGalley. We were able to use the widget in our ARC follow up and also email reviewers that we work with who primarily use digital galleys. The book’s publication month was during Pride month, so we also wanted to do a push with readers during that time.

Tell us a little about the various communities you focused on to promote The Trans Generation.

Outside of the academic community, we definitely wanted parents and caregivers of trans or gender fluid children to be made aware of Ann’s work. The book also has important information that can help teachers, social workers, community organizers, LGBTQ activists, even lawyers and medical providers.

With so much interest from a wide variety of readers, how did you use NetGalley to access these different readers?

Our previous success with Beyond Trans by Heath Fogg Davis helped inform who in the NetGalley community might be interested in The Trans Generation, so we targeted those same users. We were thrilled by the response from parents, many of whom I think were drawn to our book because of the title and cover. We also made mention of the author’s deep involvement with the trans community in our marketing copy to highlight that they are more than just an academic researching this area. Ann is deeply committed to the improving the lives of anyone who identifies as trans.

In what ways were these specific communities important to the success of the book?

Many of the reviews left on Goodreads, NetGalley, and Amazon were from parents or general readers interested in learning more about the trans community. It was fascinating to read that they learned so much from Ann’s work and that they would recommend the book to friends, their local libraries, and community outreach groups. We are thrilled that the book carries a 4.3-star rating on both Goodreads and Amazon, which we believe has helped in the book’s success.

What about the trade community on NetGalley? Were Reviewers, Librarians, Booksellers, Educators or book-trade media especially important to you? Why, and how did you go about reaching them?

The trade community is very important to us. Though we are an academic press, the titles we choose for NetGalley are accessibly-written on topics that appeal to a broad readership. We have cultivated an extensive list of auto-approved librarians and media that regularly check on our listings. We also notify users when we have a book they may be interested in because of their previous activity.  When we see that a user posted a review to a blog or website, we make sure to tweet out the link.

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

For this, we made sure to add all the excellent advanced coverage the book received in the “Advance Praise” section. We find that endorsements from library pre-publications and other long lead media appeal more to general readers than praise from academics and scholars. We also added to the title page all the amazing reviews users submitted.

Which NetGalley marketing tools did you take advantage of? How and when did you use them to increase interest?

NetGalley offers some excellent marketing opportunities that I take advantage of whenever they fit with our titles. For The Trans Generation, we nominated it to appear in the “Featured on NetGalley” promotion that coincided with “GLBT Book Month,” which was a perfect and timely tie in.  We definitely saw an uptick of requests once that ran.

How did you engage with members who requested access? How did this fit into your overall timeline for marketing and/or publicity?

We create a personalized approval email for each title that encourages members to leave reviews on sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, B&N.com and their independent bookstores’ website. We rely on their positive feedback on these platforms to boost our titles’ visibility.  For The Trans Generation, we did a promo push to celebrate both pub and Pride month with all members who requested access. This was a follow up email that encouraged members, if they hadn’t already, to please leave a review of the book as a way to celebrate Pride. We did see an increase in engagement after we sent that campaign.

How has NetGalley been incorporated into your post-pub strategy?

For our more popular titles, like The Trans Generation, we often leave them up for a few months after pub. We definitely want to leave enough time for users to leave reviews with Amazon.  National and local review coverage plus radio interviews often provoke members to look up a book and it’s important to us that everyone who is interested in our titles have an opportunity to download them. We also will use the widget in course adoption campaigns that may go out after the pub date.

What are your top tips for academic publishers and nonfiction publishers listing titles on NetGalley?

  • For academic publishers, try to post titles that are accessibly-written and would appeal to a general reader. This definitely helps with relationship building.
  • Take advantage of the NetGalley marketing programs.  They do an excellent job making readers aware of books they might be interested in.  It’s a great way to boost your visibility on the platform and gain some new readers.
  • NetGalley is a process.  The more you take the time to engage with users, the stronger your following becomes.

Betsy Steve is the Publicity Manager at NYU Press.

Divider

Finding and Keeping Mentors in Publishing

In most industries, who you know can sometimes be as important as what you know. Publishing is no different. The right mentor has walked the path you are now trying to walk, and can give you a vision of what publishing looks like as a long-term career. Mentors are important for any career path, publishing included. But sometimes it can be challenging to know where to look for mentors, and how to build a mentoring relationship.

Here are some of the strategies that have worked for members of the NetGalley team, and tips to find and keep mentors in the book world.

Cast a wide net

There is great opportunity in the publishing industry to find mentors through advanced degrees or other programs focused on book publishing, including internships. While these may give you access to potential mentors, they aren’t the only place to find professional connections. Even if you don’t have the institutional support of a publishing school or an internship, you can still make inroads in the industry and create meaningful mentoring relationships.

You might find professional mentors even when you aren’t looking for them. Israel Carberry, NetGalley’s Engineering Manager, found two of his professional mentors through their shared interests in civic engagement: One while volunteering at a food bank, another while volunteering at his local chamber of commerce. As their friendships organically grew through shared interests and values, he began to ask for some professional advice, slowly building a mentoring relationship.

Tell friends and acquaintances that you are looking to break into the industry and ask if they know anyone who would be willing to sit down and chat with you informally to share information about their experience. Friends of friends, parents of friends, neighbors, and other members of your community are great resources. And even if you don’t know anyone in your circle who is in publishing, see if you can build relationships with individuals who work in fields adjacent to publishing. For example, a journalist likely knows publicists who pitch them books for review.

Once you have been connected to a potential mentor, ask them to join you for a cup of coffee so that you can learn more about the industry or to get their advice on job hunting. Make sure to do some research before you meet so that you can ask informed and specific questions.

Follow up after an informational interview to thank the person for their time. This helps the conversation continue, and demonstrates that you absorbed the insights they were able to share with you. Find them on LinkedIn, as well, so that you are added to their professional network.

Be Proactive

No matter where you find professional contacts, it still takes initiative and follow-through to turn these contacts into mentors. NetGalley’s Sales Assistant Katie Versluis recalls how she met her mentor, Allie.

“She was doing a presentation in my class about book marketing…Being an eager student I hung on her every word. She’s only a few years older than I, but she had already accomplished so much and was working as one half of the marketing department of a feminist press in Toronto that I admired greatly. During the question period, I asked her if they took on interns, and she said, ‘It’s possible…’ but [that] they weren’t planning to in the near future. I, of course, took that as a ‘Heck yes we are, please apply,’ so I drafted an application email to her before she’d even left the building.”

Katie’s application was successful. While the internship did not transform into job afterward, her relationship with Allie did help her find a job. The two of them stayed in touch after the internship ended, and Allie tagged Katie in a Facebook post for the Sales Assistant role at NetGalley. “She said, ‘Apply!!’ and I said, ‘NetGalley was my baby! I’m all over this!’ And the rest was history.”

Katie gained access to publishing industry professionals through her degree, but she made the most out of that access by proactively reaching out to gain an internship, and then by staying in touch after the internship ended.

Keep in Touch

Most of us are only actively in touch with our networks of colleagues, friends, and mentors when we are in transition–looking for a new job, asking for references and letters of recommendation, thinking about a career change. We might reach out to our mentors to ask for advice or to see if they know of any interesting job opportunities.

However, it’s crucial to stay in touch with your mentors even when you are not actively asking for advice. Mentorship is about relationships and those relationships can grow and change with time. When NetGalley’s Communications Assistant, Nina Berman, was making the switch from radio to book publishing, a friend connected her with Sarah Younger, a literary agent who helped Nina edit and format her résumé and cover letters. This ultimately helped her land a job at NetGalley. Several months after Nina started at NetGalley, the two met to catch up and Sarah mentioned that many of her authors use NetGalley, but perhaps not to its fullest potential. Nina was happy to return a favor and sent along some resources and best-practice materials about NetGalley for Sarah and her authors. These relationships can often be mutually beneficial in surprising ways. Stay tuned for a guest post from Sarah in the fall.

Some ways to stay in touch: If you had an informational interview with someone during the course of a job hunt, follow up with them once you have found that job. Let them know that their advice was useful and that you are grateful for their support. If you see their name pop up on Publishers Lunch, drop a line! If their imprint is putting out a book that you think looks terrific, send a quick congratulatory note. It keeps the conversation going and can help transform a one-time meeting into a relationship.

Publishing can be a daunting industry to break into, full of ambitious and talented people, but it is a friendly one. People want to help others succeed!

How have you found mentors in publishing? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to feature your advice and experiences in a future Insights post.

Divider
Divider

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.

Divider

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.

Divider