Introducing a New, Premier Level of Service: NetGalley Advanced

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.

All of the existing features in NetGalley will still be available, while NetGalley Advanced will continue our ongoing strategy of implementing new features to address publishers’ needs and goals. Take a look at the information below to see how NetGalley Advanced compares to what we’re now calling NetGalley Classic.

Join our webinar on January 30, at 1:00pm ET for a demo of the new features and to ask questions.

We look forward to continuing to help publishers of all sizes promote a wide variety of titles to early influencers, and continuing to grow and evolve to meet your needs.

Read the NetGalley Advanced press release here!

*NetGalley Advanced is currently available for publishers in North America, and will be made available to publishers in other territories at a later date.

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Wisdom in 2019

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.

Happy New Year!

Kristina Radke

VP, Business Growth and Engagement

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NetGalley Insights Looks Back at 2018

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.

 

 

 

Social media platforms and tools are always changing. That’s why we do our best to help you keep tabs on new trends and to offer strategies for making the most out of different social media platforms. We recommended Instagram accounts to follow, gave examples of how publishers are using Instagram stories, gave you a peek into the Librarian Twitterverse, provided a primer on BookTube, and suggested ways for both authors and acquisitions agents to get the most out of Wattpad.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Because so many NetGalley clients and NetGalley Insights readers are authors – either working with publishing houses, marketing services, or self-publishing – we are providing resources on NetGalley Insights for authors. We interviewed authors about how they balance their writing schedules with the rest of their lives, as well as offering advice to authors on ensuring their books are ready for publication, building their social media presence, and selling their titles into bookstores.

 

 

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.

 

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1 year of NetGalley UK

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.

A bigger audience, visiting more than ever!

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!

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I Love My Librarian 2018 Awards

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!

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Meet the German Booksphere!

Facts & Figures for Europe’s largest book market

 

NetGalley operates all over the world, serving the needs of global publishers. With dedicated NetGalley sites for Germany, France, and Japan, as well as the U.K., we are proud to support many different publishing ecosystems, all with their own unique characteristics. Today, we’re hearing from Karina Elm, who heads up customer relations and community management for NetGalley Germany. Below, she gives an overview of the German publishing landscape and book market.

Germany, well known to some for its great poets and thinkers (to others for its sausages, beer, football and the Autobahn), owns the largest book market in Europe. Struggling – just like in many other countries – with the rise of strong competitors called Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and others, the book is not yet forgotten. On the contrary: Even though the number of people buying books has decreased, individual people actually read more and the amount of titles published per year is still rising. Let’s have a closer look at some facts and figures from the year 2017 as well as some specialties of the German book market!

 

Source: Source: MVB-online.com, “Buch und Buchhandel in Zahlen.” 2017.

Bookselling: Bookstores and Fixed Prices

 

6,000 bookstores are selling books to readers, employing a total of 27,800 booksellers. 3,500 are small independent bookshops and 1,200 are part of bookstore chains. Berlin has the most bookstores in German – 236 stores for its 3.5 million inhabitants.

Many bookstores meet the challenge to compete with online sales platforms by selling coffee, hosting events (like public readings) and turning their shops into cultural meeting points. Since 2015, the German Ministry of Culture honors the most innovative bookshops with the German Bookshop Award.

2018’s three best bookshops are Krumulus, Lessing und Kompanie, and Bittner-Buch.

Germany has fixed book prices. This means that publishers set a price for each book which is then mandatory for retailers. Only a limited number of discounts are allowed. Publishers can change the price, and the price for a different edition may vary. The tradition of fixed book prices goes back to the 19th century, the current law was introduced in 2002. Fixed prices are widely seen as a strong advantage of the German book market since they have benefits for both the industry as well as from a cultural perspective.

Booksellers of all sizes profit from a calculable margin on bestsellers, retailers compete not just with their prices but also with their service. It is beneficial for brick & mortar booksellers in the often destructive competition with online retailers and vendors outside the book industry. For publishers it means that they can cross-subsidise bestselling books with other works, allowing publishing decisions to be made on other aspects than just the selling potential sometimes. This helps support the work of lesser-known authors, as well as titles with complicated or expensive layouts.  For readers, the fixed price system results in a large variety of books as well as publishing houses with different profiles. It also allows for a very efficient distribution system: If you order any book at your favorite bookstore you’d most likely be able to pick it up the next day. Last but not least, a strong network of bookshops offering a diverse and colorful range of books is an important part of a diverse and colorful society!

 

German Readers: Who they are and how they read

 

Source: MVB-online.com, “Buch und Buchhandel in Zahlen.” 2017.

Just like in many countries, book bloggers are on the rise in Germany. By 2018, thousands of blogs about books, reviews and other bookish topics can be found online – the actual number is difficult to establish. The blogosphere is very active, well connected and spanning all genres and formats. Booktubers and Bookstagrammers are on a strong rise, too. By now, many publishers are working closely with individual bloggers, some even launched unique platforms for bloggers to read and review their titles. In 2017, the first German Book Blog Award was initiated by NetGalley Germany in cooperation with the German Publishers & Booksellers Association and rewarded the best German-language literary blogger as well as one booktuber. In 2018, the prize was given out in 9 categories, among them Romance, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Children’s Literature, Newcomers and Other Formats.

German Book Blog Award Ceremony 2018

The Tolino is Germany’s own reading device for ebooks, competing with Amazon’s Kindle – and rising above it with a market share of 40% in 2017. Tolino is a strategic alliance between biggest German retailers to offer and produce e-readers and tablets. In January 2017, the Japanese Rakuten Kobo took over the shares of their former technical partner Deutsche Telekom. 2,000 bookstores sell books through the Tolino system and many independent booksellers are connected to it as well. Contrary to the Kindle, Tolino is an open system which means ebooks can be bought at any participating shop and read on any other device as well.

Book Industry Events, Awards, and Associations

 

Two book fairs are the German publishing industry’s yearly highlights and every book lover counts the days between them. The big one, Frankfurt Book Fair, is actually the world’s largest trade fair for books and has a long tradition, rooting back to 1454. Every year in mid-October, publishers, agents, tech companies, and content providers meet for business, trading, and international rights deals. Over the weekend, the fair opens for the public. More than 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors took part in 2017.

In comparison to this, Leipzig Bookfair and it’s 208,000 visitors in 2017 is like a younger sister. It’s history goes back to the 17th century and it is a fair for the public: Visitors can attend all 4 days in order to discover new books and meet their favorite authors. There are hundreds of public readings at the fair but also throughout the whole city of Leipzig which transforms into a huge festival of reading during this time in March.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

Germany has numerous literary awards for books and authors. The most famous of them is probably the German Book Prize which can be compared to the Man Booker Prize. Launched in 2005, it honors the best novel written in German in each publishing year and is awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Most of its winners have already been translated into English, you can find a list here.

The most prestigious literary award in Germany is the Georg Büchner Prize which honors an author’s lifetime of work and was, for example, given to later Nobel Prize winners Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Elias Canetti and Elfriede Jelinek. A very atypical literary award is the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. It honors an author for an unpublished literary excerpt only and is very publicly awarded during the Festival of German-Language Literature where the texts are read out loud and the jury comments directly, often very critical, while the audience watches in the room as well as in front of the TV across the whole county.

The German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), founded in Leipzig in 1825, represents all sectors of the book industry: Publishers, Retail Booksellers, Antiquarians and Wholesalers. They also organize – among other things – the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Book Prize, and they are custodian of the fixed price system.

 

NetGalley Germany

 

NetGalley.de was launched in March 2016 (just in time for the Leipzig Book Fair!) and by now has more than 11,500 members, The first ones to adopt the platform were of course book bloggers who had already used NetGalley.com and were very excited to finally also find German publishers and titles available for them.

German publishers by then were working with their own bloggers already and saw NetGalley as a platform to use it in their communication with those bloggers, and to widen th

NetGalley Germany

eir network.  However, a few adventurous German publishers started sending the NetGalley widget to their network of booksellers, as well. It was a big transformation of workflows that have existed for many, many years (and we all know

how painful this can be) but it was worth it: We now receive excited and very happy feedback from both publishers who followed this example, as well as from booksellers, telling us how much easier their daily work has become.

The growing implementation of NetGalley in publishers’ work with booksellers has resulted in the following division of member types, very special for the German market: As of October 2018, 47% of the German speaking members are reviewers, 43% booksellers, 5% media and 5% librarians and educators. Their favorite genres are Fiction (45%), Teens and YA (40%), Thrillers & Crime (37%), Fantasy & Sci-Fi (35%) and Romance (25%). During an average month in 2018, more than 26,000 galleys were sent out through NetGalley.de, and members provided over 5,000 pieces of Feedback.

Do you publish in German? Use NetGalley.de to reach out to our avid community of professional readers, promoting your tiles to German readers! I would be very happy to hear from you via karina.elm@netgalley.com.

 

Karina Elm is Customer Relations and Community Manager at NetGalley Germany – and a huge bookaholic. After studying Comparative Literature, she worked for Ullstein Publishers as part of the team around digital imprints Midnight and Forever, and as the online marketing manager at Clear Canvas, an online marketing agency in Berlin. Karina Elm is initiator and driving force behind the German Book Blog Award which launched in 2017 and has been teaching a class at the Free University of Berlin about online reading communities in 2018.

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Book Publishing from Concept to Consumer with BISG

On November 15, we braved snow flurries in Chicago to attend BISG’s day conference: Book Publishing, from Concept to Consumer.

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) works to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry. Their membership includes trade, education, professional and scholarly publishers, as well as distributors, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, service providers and libraries.

Throughout the day, seven different presenters described their jobs – their workflow, the challenges they face, and where their work fits into a book’s lifecycle.

Most of us only see books during a relatively small part of their lives. The details and strategy that consume our workdays are only a fraction of the work that goes in to bringing a book to the public. Acquisition editors see books when they are just manuscripts and ideas. Printers shepard books into the physical world and then pass them along. Library marketers are thinking about how books will live in communities years after their pub date, when the pages are soft and earmarked. This overview of what our colleagues are doing across the industry was a welcome reminder that we all depend on each other’s work to bring the best books to the readers who will love them.

For those who weren’t able to attend, here is a bit of what was covered:

Publishing is beyond personal taste

Contrary to popular conception, Todd Stocke described his role as SVP and Editorial Director at Sourcebooks as less about his own inimitable tastes and more about analyzing data and looking for spaces in the market to tell new stories. For him to be successful at his job, he needs to be able to think outside of his personal preferences and the demographic details that have given rise to his interests and tastes. He has to have an idea of what people of different backgrounds are interested in, and to have access to the writers telling those stories. He described the necessity of having a pipeline that is both broad and deep. A broad pipeline means getting manuscripts from a variety of sources and a deep pipeline means developing relationships with the people providing those manuscripts so that, for example, an agent will know immediately if the manuscript in their hand is the perfect book for the Sourcebooks nonfiction editor.

All stages of book publishing are about the audience

This was the overarching theme of the day. It was not a shock to hear audience as the focus for acquisitions, bookstores, or libraries. These are the parts of the industry that we know need to be responsive to what readers are looking for. But we were surprised to hear how much audience fits into how other players in the industry do their jobs. As Judine O’Shea described the design process for a book, she made the point that a big driver for her is audience-appropriateness. If she’s designing the title and page layout for a children’s book, how many colors will be too busy for young eyes? Will the font be easily legible for early readers? Michael Shea from LSC Communications pointed out that audience use determines the physical form of a book, too. Different binding styles are better for the different ways books live in our lives. For example, an art book that is meant to lay flat on a coffee table will be bound differently than a trade paperback meant to be read on the subway. The glue used on a technical textbook that will be out of date in a few years will be different from the glue used on a book that might be passed down from generation to generation.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown illustrates Judine O’Shea’s audience-centric design principles – Plenty of visual interest for many rereads with simple font for early readers.

Know your local, professional community

Suzy Takacs chalked up some of her success at the Book Cellar to her close relationships with local players of the book industry. She described her warm relationships with other booksellers, and how she has called upon stores like Women & Children First to help her stock titles in advance of events. She even described visiting IPG’s warehouse for a last-minute pickup. She is able to quickly respond to inventory needs and meet consumer demand because she has positive relationships with other booksellers and with distributors. Stephen Sposato of the Chicago Public Library expressed a desire to work more closely with booksellers. He suggested sharing data about which titles have long hold lists, so that bookstores will know what readers are asking for and can make sure to adjust their inventory to align with demand.

Speakers:

  • Concepting/Acquisition: Todd Stocke, SVP & Editorial Director, Sourcebooks
  • Editorial Development: Annie Nybo, Editor, Albert Whitman
  • Design & Production: Judine O’Shea, Marketing, Publishing, and Grants at HPC
  • Manufacturing/Warehousing: Michael Shea, SVP LSC Communications
  • Distribution: Richard T. Williams, VP Development IPG
  • Retail: Suzy Takacs, owner Book Cellar
  • Libraries: Stephen Sposato, Manager of Collection Development & Readers Advisory, Chicago Public Library

 

For more cross-industry knowledge and events, follow BISG on their website, where you can see all upcoming events.

And, stay up to date with industry news by subscribing to the NetGalley Insights newsletter.

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Lessons from ECPA PubU

Last week, NetGalley joined 230 other attendees from 90 companies in Nashville to attend ECPA PubU. It’s a chance for members of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association to learn from one another, to think creatively about how to market their titles, and to brainstorm ways to expand their audiences. Many publishers and authors who use NetGalley are also members of the ECPA, so we at NetGalley Insights were grateful for the opportunity to hear more about the attendees’ unique needs, goals, and challenges.

Over and over, we heard attendees talking about how publishers and authors can put their readers first: By making it easier for readers to find the books they are looking for in a keyword search, by being experimental and responsive with the implementation of new platforms, by curating content for them in an overstuffed marketplace, and by making sure that marketing emails provide information of real interest and value.

Here are some of the ideas and lessons we’re taking away with us from ECPA PubU:

Better cross-departmental communication is key to making the most out of your metadata

During his talk about metadata, Firebrand Director of Sales & Marketing Joshua Tallent made the case that marketing and data departments should be working together much more closely. He suggested not only that there should be cross-training, but that in an ideal world, these departments would share staff. Metadata is fundamentally a marketing tool, helping with algorithmic discovery. As you might expect, titles with basic metadata (author, title, ISBN) have 75% higher sales than titles without that information. It only stands to reason that data and marketing should be more closely linked at an institutional level. For example, data teams can use keywords to see how audiences are searching for your books and then marketing departments can include that in their copy and as keywords in the metadata feeds that they are sending out to retailers. This way, data insights are made actionable during a book’s lifecycle. Publishers across the industry know that they need to incorporate data into their decision-making process, and creating better cross-departmental collaboration is a great place to start.

Experiment as you implement new channels and platforms

When the Rabbit Room began in 2007, it was a blog for Christian writers, pastors, musicians, and fans to gather together. Now, in 2018 it is a conference, a publishing house, a live music series, and a podcasting network. In his talk, “Building a Community of Readers,” Pete Peterson, Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press, described how Rabbit Room experimented with different ways to connect with their community as it grew and changed. One of those ways was podcasting. At first, they just had The Rabbit Room Podcast, but realized that they were better served by hosting multiple podcasts that could better target the specific interests of their community. They are currently in the process of building the Rabbit Room podcast network with multiple programs geared towards specific interests. This lesson reminded us that when publishers and authors are finding new ways to engage their audience, it’s ok to experiment and pivot to best suit your needs.

Curation is crucial for publishers and retailers of all sizes

In her opening remarks about the future of faith and the future of retail, NPD’s Kristen McLean suggested that the future of retail is a mix of high-touch and convenience. Brands (including publishers and retailers) will have to be both personable and easily accessible if they are going to succeed. Several panelists during the conference described their successes with curation as a strategy for becoming high-touch, but without coming across as overtly sales-y. Stacy Kennedy of Red Bird Social noted the success of Patsy Clairmont’s Patsy Box as a way to connect authentically with fans. David Barker of Readerlink highlighted how Amazon is getting into the curation game as well. Amazon is now offering a podcast full of personalized picks from the Amazon staff, to put a warm human face behind the convenience and the algorithm. Curation is something that can be implemented at an author level (what would your protagonist put on a Spotify playlist?) or at a company level (here’s what our team is reading).

Encourage authors to create around their book topic

Authors need to get the word out about their titles around pub date, but it isn’t effective to just blast out “pre-order/buy my book” emails or social posts. Instead, authors should create content that’s related to their book or to the writing process to build excitement. This should all be done in order to provide something of real value to the audience. For example, author of the Left Behind series Jerry Jenkins described the Facebook group he runs for aspiring writers. He is able to connect authentically with an audience by providing value in the form of writing advice. Then, when he has a book coming out, he has an audience that’s actively engaged with him both as a person and as a writer. He also noted that, as a writer, he’s not inclined towards self-promotion, but this writing group on Facebook feels authentic rather than gimmicky. Additionally, outside of the ECPA ecosystem, Ling Ma did a terrific job with this strategy by writing about crying at work for Buzzfeed News before her novel Severance pubbed.

NetGalley is proud to partner with and support the ECPA and its members. Reach out at insights@netgalley.com for more information about how we work with ECPA publishers.

Don’t forget to subscribe to NetGalley Insights to stay up to date with industry news and conference coverage.

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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!

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