BookExpo held their annual publishing conference last week in New York City. There were plenty of sessions and panels focused on book marketing, so we gathered several exciting takeaways we wanted to share with our readers.
From consumer data to personalized marketing campaigns, publishers and marketers were buzzing about researching your audience, fostering reader relationships, and running innovative marketing campaigns.
Here were our top seven takeaways from BookExpo 2017:
1. Find key opportunities for growth
Understanding industry data can help drive growth and profitability. Experts provided an in-depth look at data across various segments of the publishing industry. Here were some of the top takeaways:
- The children’s print book market is growing! In fact, according to the NPD Group, it’s been growing faster than the overall print market in the US, especially children’s comics and graphic novels, which has increased 24% over the past five years.
- Podcasts are the “entry drug” to audiobooks. According to Michele Cobb at the Audio Publishers Association, 44% of the US population has listened to a complete audiobook, whereas 68% of US podcast listeners have.
- Library book sales are growing across many genres. There are more libraries in the US than there are Starbucks, according to David Burleigh at OverDrive. Library goers also consume books in multiple formats — 41% of library readers use both ebooks and audiobooks (51% favor ebooks only, and 8% favor audiobooks only).
- Gift-givers are a huge segment of book buyers. According to Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah, 25% of trade books are bought as gifts, and 43% of books purchased as gifts are for children 12 and under.
Regularly looking at industry data could help publishers and marketers take advantage of untapped markets and make more profitable business decisions.
2. Understand your target audience
Several speakers throughout the conference emphasized how publishers and book marketers should ensure they have the right information about their target audience. This will help them engage with the readers most likely to purchase.
For example, our very own international account manager, Annie Stone, provided several insights into BookBub’s international audience. Becoming familiar with insights like these allow partners to run more targeted campaigns that better accomplish their unique marketing goals. Some interesting takeaways include:
- BookBub’s UK audience has the largest percentage of male readers. 29% of readers in the UK identify as male vs. 24% of BookBub’s worldwide readers.
- BookBub’s Canadian readers largely live in urban areas. 36% of Canadian readers live in urban areas vs. 26% of BookBub’s worldwide readers.
- BookBub’s young Australian readers (under 35) are more willing to pay more. 89% of Australia’s young readers are willing to pay full price for a book, vs. 82% of all Australian readers (and 74% of BookBub’s worldwide readers).
Scroll through her presentation below:
3. Innovate continuously
The need for publishers and book marketers to innovate was a common thread throughout the BookExpo sessions. Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah encouraged her audience to “tackle big issues fearlessly” instead of sticking to old assumptions. For example, she’d assumed teenagers would buy into digital as a way to consume books, but the data shows that teens are still very print-centric. Her team relies on data rather than their personal assumptions to make better marketing decisions. She acknowledged that while innovation is challenging for publishers and retailers — it’s expensive and you fail a lot — experimenting leads to learnings that move the needle. It’s also okay to fail because you’ll learn what didn’t work for next time!
One innovative marketing tactic publishers are trying is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. David M. Ewait, author of Defying Reality shared some ideas for using VR and AR in publishing:
- Launch parties: Use VR to host a book launch party. These aren’t geographically limited, as readers from around the world would be able to attend.
- Book trailers: Create immersive VR book trailers and create environments to go with the story. This could be particularly effective for sci-fi books.
- Digital content: Make a physical book interactive with AR. For example, readers could point their camera phone at a page in a book and see interactive elements overlaid on the page.
4. Invest in reaching readers who are willing to become long-term fans
When determining where to invest your marketing dollars, you want to find new readers who are willing to buy the book you’re marketing, of course. But to maximize ROI, it’s important to find readers who are willing to go on and buy other books by that author as well. Our own Katie Donelan, head of BookBub’s Partners team, explained to conference-goers that 95% of BookBub’s readers try authors for the first time because of price promotions featured in BookBub’s daily email. She noted that while BookBub’s readers prefer to try out authors at lower price points, 76% of them purchase full-priced books, too. BookBub’s millions of members are avid readers and many read close to a book a day. Since they’re constantly looking for new content, they use price promotions as a discovery tool, but once they know they like an author, these readers are likely to become loyal, long-term fans.
This means BookBub’s readers are a valuable audience to target with your marketing campaigns. And BookBub now offers authors and publishers multiple ways to reach readers, including tools for marketing full-price books. Katie walked attendees through all of BookBub’s products, explaining how to best take advantage of these tools to reach millions of power readers. Scroll through her presentation below:
5. Make your marketing personal
Whether you’re running a giveaway, distributing swag, or growing a social media presence — and whether you’re an author or publisher — forging a personal connection with readers will make them more excited to read and spread the word. A few examples of how you can engage with fans on a more personal level include:
- Running giveaways: Oftentimes giveaway winners are determined via a random lottery, and there’s no guarantee a recipient will review a book. Laura Clark at St. Martin’s Press advised that the note you include along with a giveaway (trade paperback, advanced reader copy, etc.) can make all the difference. Make this note personal to increase your chances of getting a review!
- Participating in small events: Bryn Greenwood, author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, recommended that authors make themselves available for both large and small events. Participating in small events like Skype Q&As or book club meetings can have a snowball effect — those readers will tell their friends about the experience and become big advocates for an author and book.
- Distributing swag: Creating functional, personalized swag can be a great way to engage with fans. Bryn Greenwood regularly connects with fans on social media and sends them personalized swag.
6. Pitch events to indie bookstores
Indie bookstores may not have the widest reach, but they have more mindshare than market share — they help create tastemakers and reach local influencers. So if you’re an author, it’s worth considering pitching indie bookstores, both to keep a book in stock and to host an event, such as a launch party.
In regards to pitching an event, indie bookstore owners said they prefer receiving pitches via email rather than in-person, as the store’s event coordinators often don’t work out of their brick and mortar location. They recommended making each pitch personalized — for example, mention how indie bookstores are important in your life, why you love their store, and how the event will benefit the bookstore. Also reference how you plan to help promote the event, such as by inviting friends and family, and by promoting the event on social media. Those personal connections and commitment to help make the event a success will make a pitch stand out, and will increase your chances of getting them to host your event.
They also mentioned that even Stephen King still works hard at indie bookstore events to connect with his fans and make them happy. Don’t expect others to do the work for you.
7. Regularly refresh your metadata
Consumers’ mind-sets are constantly evolving, so it’s important to regularly update your metadata to reflect current trends. Margaret Harrison at Ingram Content Group recommended choosing 3-5 keywords that best reflect the content of a book in a way readers would search for that content. Add these to the keyword field on retailer sites, but more importantly, look for ways to incorporate them organically into your other metadata.
According to Margaret, the three metadata elements that have the biggest impact on search results are:
- Contributor: For authors with common names, it’s helpful to disambiguate yourself from other authors (e.g. add a middle initial).
- Series name: Be consistent throughout the series.
- Book description: Use HTML formatting to create a bolded headline (the 200 character intro) and set it apart with a paragraph break. Incorporate the most important keywords into this headline.
If you have the right amount of paragraph breaks and a good bolded headline, you can make a book description as long as you want — once a reader clicks “Read More,” they’re interested. Break up long descriptions with bullet points and paragraph breaks. Nobody wants to look at one dense paragraph.
Were you at BookExpo this year? What were your biggest takeaways? Let us know in the comments below!
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