Find out what Regina, Ryan Gosling, and Bundling have to do with book publishing, and other sales and marketing tips shared by industry experts at ABPBC’s recent professional development day in this guest post from MPub Candidate Paulina Dabrowski.
On Thursday September 11th the students in the Masters of Publishing program were given the opportunity to sit in on a seminar put on by the ABPBC (The Association of Book Publishers of BC), which focused on marketing and promotional strategies for Canadian publishing.
Bruce Walsh of the recently re-branded University of Regina Press (formerly Canadian Plains Research Centre Press) gave an inspirational keynote address on how to stand out in a crowded marketplace, including pioneering the first reality tv show on publishing.
Joanna Karaplis, marketing and communications manager for BookNet Canada, provided insights into the latest BookNet Canada publications and research on marketing to the Canadian book buyer.
And after a collegial lunch at Steamworks, the attendees dug into the nuts and bolts of working with a sales rep and bundling eBooks.
The professional development day concluded with a roundtable discussion on the questions, frustrations and lessons learned by the members and presenters in attendance.
For those readers interested specifically in the “how-to” component of the day, here’s a recap of the session run by Kate Walker, sales rep and former owner of Ampersand, and Cheryl Fraser, VP Ampersand Inc. and manager of the gift division for the agency.
Everything you ever wanted to know about working with a sales rep but didn’t know what to ask
Kate and Cheryl have decades of experience in the industry and have worked with booksellers, librarians and specialty customers, authors and publishers. They described being a sales rep as follows, “we work with everyone in the publishing company, connecting book publishers to their customers, and customers with book publishers. Our goal is to get the books publishers acquire to the right customers in the perfect markets.”
In order to do this efficiently sales reps work hard to be good mediators. They spend most of their time communicating the right information from publishers to booksellers and back, and in order to do this they are constantly reading, and keeping updated on the book world. They need to keep track of which books are selling, which books are winning awards, and predict needs before they arrive. Kate describes sales reps as “adaptable chameleons” in that they must be responsive to the customers or book publishers’ needs.
Utilizing sales reps effectively can save publishers a lot of time and money. Sales reps have a more personal relationship with book buyers than publishers, and they use this in-depth knowledge to place books where they will sell. Sales reps create and distribute lists on “hot topics” making it easier for book buyers to see a single collection of comparable titles from multiple publishers (books by First Nations People, for example). They make it a priority to visit and build professional relationships with book buyers, creating what Kate refers to as a “bankable trust relationship”, which is a huge benefit to publishers both immediately and for future productions.
Kate and Cheryl also took the time to explain ways of creating good relationships with sales reps. Many times this relationship begins at sales conferences, when publishers present their books for the season. It’s important for publishers to be prepared and speak clearly. Reps will be asking what they know their customers will ask so they expect presenters to know intimate details such as the author’s hometown, or sales history for previous books by the author. Kate notes, however, that it’s important not to make “promises” to sales reps about acquiring information they are missing in their presentation. It’s better to come with a thorough knowledge of the book, and enthusiasm to get sales reps excited. Publishers should know the competition as well as comparable titles, and be open and honest with sales reps as to where the promotion money will be focused, as well as be transparent about any pre-arranged special sales.
The next stage in an important publisher-to-sales-rep relationship is to keep the doors of communication open, and to share information about updates with the book such as pushed release dates, nominations for awards, or upcoming events. It’s also important for book publishers to have easily understandable terms of sale and distribution channels.
In planning author events, it’s important for the publisher to do their research. They have to ask themselves:
- Who is this event for?
- Is the author prepared and do they have the right personality for the event?
- Where will the event be held; private spaces offer intimacy but public spaces open the event to potential new audiences.
- It’s also important not to forget attention to detail; does the event have a microphone available, will the event need seating, does the date conflict with any holidays, will the publisher provide extras such as food and wine?
- And, which channels will be used to advertise the event? Sales reps can assist with this type of planning, after all who doesn’t enjoy a good party!
Cheryl also explained the dynamics of the “gift market”. Gift books are fun and exciting, but not all books one might give as a gift are appropriate for the gift market. To give an example of the differences, below are two books by photographer Philippe Halsman.
The first is a coffee table art book, it’s large in size and is filled with Halsman’s well-known jump photography alongside accompanying text that share the stories behind the photographs. The second is a smaller, simpler book; a photo interview with Salvador Dali that is quite silly and playful, meant to share with the reader the many faces of Salvador Dali and his famous mustache. The first book, Jump Book is a great book to give as a gift, but the second book Dali’s Mustache is a book made for the gift market.
How gift books are bought by buyers differs in many ways from how other trade books are bought. Gift book buyers are really focused on the visual. They want to see the book, hold the book, place it by their cash registers and see how it looks. It’s important for gift sales reps to have physical copies of the books to bring to their customers. Authors are much less important, and the focus is all on the visual appeal of the subject matter. It’s no surprise to hear from Cheryl that her top sellers last season were books on Ryan Gosling, Cats, and Darth Vader.
The gift buyer also heavily relies on the print catalogue, which led to an interesting discussion about the use of electronic catalogues. But I’ll save that for another post.
After a short break, Mary Alice Elcock gave the final presentation before the roundtable discussions.
How to Bundle Up: Making the Most of your Bundled eBooks
Mary Alice is a MPub alumni who is VP of Marketing and Publisher Relations for BitLit. BitLit is an app that allows publishers to offer eBook editions to readers who have purchased a print copy. To quote Mary Alice, BitLit “connects readers to books, and connects publishers to readers”. BitLit’s main market are hybrid readers, ones who read both print and eBook, as research has shown more readers are beginning to fill this middle category.
- Out of 120 million people who own eBooks only 4% are eBook only readers.
- Their studies have shown that 48% of people would pay more for a print book if it came bundled with the eBook.
- Currently less than 1% of customers have purchased both the print and eBook edition of a book, which means there is no cannibalization of sales for publishers if they decide to bundle.
BitLit bundling pricing is typically done in one of two ways. In all cases the bundling is available after point of purchase, but publishers have the choice of offering the eBook as a free add-on which is the case for about 25% of the books BitLit currently has bundled, or the eBook is offered for around 75% off the cover price.
Bundling gives publishers great opportunity to create extra net income. Mary Alice provided example pricing of a book and its net income in print, eBook, and bundling.
BitLit can currently be downloaded (for free) on Apple and Android devices. The user opens the app, takes a picture of the cover which is then recognized in BitLit’s system. To claim the book, the user takes another picture of their name written in capitals on the top of the copyright page, which BitLit uses to match with the user’s name on the credit card they provided in their sign up. Once the book is claimed, the user is given a link to their eBook if it is provided for free by the publisher, or the user is offered the eBook for the discounted price which they can then purchase. The reader can then choose to read the eBook on any of their eReading devices including Kobo, Nook, Kindle, or iPad.
For being only 2 years old (and local to Vancouver) BitLit has already made some major waves in the publishing world. There are currently 20,000 books available to bundle and many authors have fallen in love with the cross-media platform such as well-known horror writer Joe Hill (son of Stephen King).
BitLit’s next big move is a project called “Shelfie” which will save book lovers (and book hoarders if you’re like me) tons of time. Users simply take a picture of their book shelf and “Shelfie” will find all the books which are currently available to bundle, so there is no need to search titles one by one!
Download the BitLit app and follow them on Twitter for the latest news and giveaways.
While you’re at it follow Ampersand on Twitter for great book lists and news and BookNet Canada on Twitter for industry news and reports.
Overall, the ABPBC professional development day was a great opportunity for sharing and learning about the realities of the book publishing industry.
Paulina Dabrowski is an MPub candidate, avid reader, occasional knitter, and master of microwave meals. You can find her on Twitter @paulinkaaa_d
Last Tuesday Publishing@SFU welcomed the 20th cohort of MPubbers to the Master of Publishing program. Not only are the students new, so are some of the faculty. Indeed, a whole bunch of things are new.
This fall, the Publishing Program at SFU enters a phase of major renewal. We have a new faculty complement—John Maxwell, Roberto Dosil, Monique Sherrett, Juan Pablo Alperin, Scott Steedman and Shannon Emmerson—some of whom are new to the Masters Program, others new to SFU, and that brings a lot of new energy to the program.
Industry members and MPub alumni may notice that this year is the first year the Publishing Program will be running without its founding director, Rowland Lorimer. Rowly, who founded this program back in the late 80s, early 90s, designed it to strike a balance between rigorous research-based graduate study and hands-on, industry-engaged practice. The success of the program over the past two decades is very much due to his vision, and that balance. Rowly is on sabbatical this year, leading to his official retirement in 2015.
John Maxwell is the new Program Director. He has been with the program for a dozen years and is actually a product of the MPub program. John was a graduate of the very first cohort way back in 1995.
In his welcome message to students, John said the following:
“Publishing was a different beast back then. Much has changed.
“The world today, in 2014, is a much more exciting and interesting time to be studying publishing.
“What we are witnessing today is nothing less than the very infrastructure of modern democratic culture in tumultuous evolution, on its way to its next phase.
“If you ask me, there is no more interesting place to be in the world than right here. No more interesting time to be here. The world of publishing is in revolution; we will shortly witness which parts of it are destroyed, and which parts remain.
“Better, you are positioned to have a hand in it.
“Congratulations on a good choice! Congratulations on being here!”
The new faculty and students are all eager to get underway. For those readers unfamiliar with MPub, students spend two classroom terms at SFU—September to December, and January to April—doing a combination of practical, lab-based courses; seminars, and project courses in which they create things; make things. It’s a heavy workload, and each cohort goes through it all together.
The following summer, students participate in an internship at an industry placement. During the internship term, each student must define and conduct a research project on, and on behalf of, the internship host. Students conduct original research: a piece of description and analysis of how things actually work. Or perhaps how they should.
In the fall following the internship, students draw the research up into a formal project report. It’s like a masters thesis but a little shorter, more practical, and there is no thesis defense. There is, however, a supervisory committee of 3: two from the Publishing@SFU faculty, and one industry supervisor.
If all goes well, by next Christmas, this year’s cohort will have completed all the requirements and be able to put those sought-after little letters after their names: MPub
More important, the program will change them and challenge them in unique ways. They will know vastly more than they do now. They will have experienced things, and accomplished things that are not even dreamed of today. They will have met a lot of fantastic industry professionals, and they will have a practical, working sense of what publishing is really about, and what matters.
By the end of the program, this year’s cohort will know enough, and know enough people, that each can forge a career in the field of publishing—whether that’s by landing a job in an existing publishing company, or by starting their own, or by doing something else that nobody’s thought of yet.
As John eloquently put it in his welcome message to the students:
“You will become—you are already, really, by virtue of sitting here this morning—part of a network of MPub people, who are shot through the publishing industries in Canada and even around the world. More than two hundred alumni, you will find them in every corner of the publishing world.
“Those people are your family now; they have been through what you are about to undertake. There’s a certain rite of passage element to this (and you’ll understand especially when you get into the Book Publishing Project towards Christmas) that binds all MPubbers together.”
One of the program’s many strengths is its ability to introduce students to alumni and industry guests over the eight months of in situ time, as well as the core faculty it draws. Briefly:
- Roberto Dosil (MPub 1998 and multi-award winning book designer) is and has been one of the core faculty for 7 or 8 years.
- Monique Sherrett (MPub 1997 and leading marketing consultant to Canadian publishers) has taught in the program before and is joining the core faculty this year.
- Juan Pablo Alperin (fresh out of doctoral work at Stanford) is a new member of the core faculty this year.
- Scott Steedman (professional editor) has taught in the undergraduate program, and joins the faculty to take over the editorial course from Mary Schendlinger, who retires this fall.
- Shannon Emmerson (who runs Forge & Spark Media) is back for another year to teach the periodical publishing project.
- Jo-Anne Ray (program manager) is the extraordinary woman who has the last word.
So, with this faculty—and with the MPub cohort of 2014—Publishing@SFU begins a new chapter in this program’s history.
Biblioasis, a literary press based in Windsor, Ontario, is in the market for a dynamic full-time in-house publicist.
- plan and implement national and international publicity strategies for 16-20 books annually, including electronic pitches, review copy mailings, and related follow-up
- build and manage relations with key media throughout North America
- write and tailor catalogue copy for different markets
- write and update press releases and pitches
- manage and update bibliodata and other electronic feeds to keep information about our books current
- liaise with bookstores to promote our books, arrange author signings, and secure event coverage in area media
- use social media to promote press, authors and books
- submit books for appropriate awards programs
- create and implement special promotions and co-op for key titles
- help plan author receptions, book launches, and trade show appearances
- write funding applications and grants which pertain to marketing, sales and author travel
- oversee updates on the Press’s website
- serve as a spokesperson for the press
- liaise with sales forces in Canada and the United States
- field author queries and help handle author relations
- solicit blurbs and endorsements
- solicit direct sales
- other duties as assigned
- excellent verbal and written communication skills
- highly organized with exceptional attention to detail under tight deadlines
- strong knowledge of Microsoft Office and social media outlets/technology
- strong interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills are essential
- the ability to prioritize and work on numerous tasks simultaneously and the ability to work with minimal supervision is required.
- must be able to travel via any means necessary and must have a valid driver’s license and passport; overnight and occasional weekend and week-long travel will be required.
If you are interested in the above position, please forward a copy of your resume by September 15, 2014 to:
Technical Operations Officer, Hansard Services, Legislative Assembly of BC
The key parts of the job are tech support for the editors and publication of transcripts in In Design and XML for print and Web.
Under the direction of the Publishing Supervisor, the Technical Operations Officer prepares the official report of the debates of the Legislative Assembly and related proceedings for publication. The Technical Operations Officer supports the achievement of production goals in a deadline-driven environment and provides first- and second-tier technical support to Hansard Services through consultation with users to understand, resolve or escalate incidents according to established protocols. The Officer initiates and supports systems-related projects and serves as a Hansard Services webmaster. The Officer also provides technical training and systems documentation and supports technical skills assessments for recruitment initiatives.
For more information:
Believe it or not, the SFU Master of Publishing program is 20 years old. And with 200 graduates calling the shots in publishing all over the world, we’ve got a lot to celebrate.
The inaugural MPub Alumni Event was held in Toronto and Vancouver this June, and more than 50 attendees celebrated in style.
5 cash prizes were also awarded to alumni to recognize excellence and innovation in publishing.
Winners of this year’s MPub Awards for Excellence and/or Innovation in Publishing included:
- Meghan Macdonald
- Xiaoyan Huang
- Heather Sanderson
- Craig Riggs and Kiley Turner
- Monique Sherrett
July 7-August 22, 2014; $11 per hour; 30 hours per week.
Applicants should send cover letters and resumes to email@example.com by June 16th
The New Quarterly is an award-winning Canadian literary journal published out of St. Jerome’s University. The student hired will serve as an assistant to The New Quarterly’s Managing Editor.
Work includes daily administrative tasks, including, but not limited to:
- Tracking submissions & contest entries; correspondence with writers re acceptance and contracts.
- Subscription management and customer service
- Support towards the magazine’s events, website and social media maintenance (including writing occasional blog posts), as well as assisting in preparation for the Wild Writers Literary Festival
- Support towards marketing and donations campaigns.
The student will receive training to conduct a marketing initiative.
- excellent customer service and problem solving skills
- excellent organizational skills, attention to detail
- the ability to take initiative and work independently
- excellent communications skills both written an oral
- ability to work well with others in a small and often busy space
- familiarity with MS Office programs
Eligible Student Participants (from Service Canada Guidelines)
To be eligible to participate in the CSJ initiative, individuals must:
- Be between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the employment
- Have been registers as full-time students in the previous academic year and intend to return to school on a full-time basis in the next academic year
- Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
- Be legally entitled to work in Canada in accordance with relevant provincial/territorial legislation and regulations.
Our friends at Toronto’s Coach House Books write:
Coach House Books is an independent literary press in Toronto. We publish fiction, poetry, drama and some nonfiction, and we print all our books in house. Our four-person ship is one crew member short; we’re looking for an enthusiastic quartermaster to come aboard!
For more details, see the careers page at the Coach House Books site.
Appetite, the boutique lifestyle imprint of Random House with headquarters in Vancouver, is looking for an intern for summer 2014.
Email your CV and brief cover note to Robert McCullough, Publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org