Diving into the Digital World
By Annie Jay and Aisling O’Mahony
As more and more people around the world gradually have access to the internet, it becomes easier to reach out to a broader public. Before this, the only way to find information out was to buy a newspaper from your local newsstand or to read about it in a book. Nowadays, however, it is as simple as following your pages of interest on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, among others.
You may be asking yourself how this relates to publishing - do not fret; this is what this article is covering. Over the last few years, especially the last due to the global pandemic, the online presence of both publishing houses and authors has seen a considerable growth. The former take to such platforms in order to share everything from upcoming releases and new members to their teams, to anything such as in-house events and related news. The latter tends to post frequently about their work, sometimes using tools such as hashtags, while also securing a bond with their readers by liking and commenting on posts regarding their books. The former tends to share a different kind of content, relating in a more direct way to advertising and marketing strategies, although their followers will sometimes fail to realise that they are indeed consuming an advert - this is the power of social media and digital marketing.
Publishers have also branched out to video and audio platforms to consolidate their brand and online presence. For instance, publishers often collaborate with BookTubers - the community of YouTubers who use the platform to discuss books - to advertise their upcoming titles. Several publishers run their own BookTube accounts, such as Penguin and Hachette. Similarly, a book-related community called BookTok, has emerged on the social media platform TikTok. Some publishers have embraced this new medium such as Penguin Random House, who run a BookTok account called @penguin_teen. In terms of audio platforms, literary podcasts have experienced a continuous increase in popularity. Various publishers have capitalised on this by beginning their own podcast series. For example, the podcast HarperAcademic Calling is run by HarperCollins, whilst The Penguin Podcast is run by Penguin Random House.
Reading apps such as Kindle, Apple Books and Nook have proved useful to publishers as a place to not only sell their publications, but also to promote them. Publishers can pay to advertise their books on the platforms and they also have the opportunity to offer readers a sample of the books to attract their attention. Book review websites are also very useful for publishers to spread hype for their books. By adding their titles to websites such as Goodreads and The StoryGraph, publishers give readers the chance to share their opinion about the books and recommend them to others, a whole marketing strategy in itself.
On top of social media, video content and book podcasts, another advantageous platform for both publishing houses and authors is that of NetGalley, a platform where book bloggers and professional reviewers can get access to books before they are published. This way, a book can be provided with support and feedback both before and upon its publication. A big beneficial factor to this platform is that proof and review copies can be distributed both at a lower cost and among a larger number of readers. An example being that publishing houses no longer have to focus only on reviewers and bloggers that live in the UK, but they can now also count on those living in foreign countries.
The fact that books can be read and reviewed, before their publication date, in so many countries, broadens the whole marketing strategy of said books. They now not only receive critiques and attention in their country of publication, but in others where they may also have the chance of catching the attention of foreign publishing houses. The latter then increases the possibilities of selling foreign rights for translation at a future date.
Publishers are continuously finding innovative ways to use digital mediums to interact with their readers and promote their brand and titles. For publishing hopefuls planning to get into the marketing side of publishing, it would be invaluable to have the knowledge and skills necessary to utilise these online platforms. The online presence of publishing houses and authors has increased over the years and it will, without a doubt, continue to do so. The advantage of social media and digital marketing in general has a great deal to do with its flexibility. Therefore, as mentioned above, skills and knowledge in these areas are most definitely a bonus in the publishing industry.