Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Awesome Things That Publishers Do

I remember first thinking about this topic when Steph of Cuddlebuggery Book Blog mentioned that publishers consistently asked her at BEA what they could do better. So I thought, well, here are some things that I've really enjoyed and others that I could do without, and why not see what y'all think?

1. Pre-order campaigns

I love pre-order campaigns. I understand the motivation behind them - it's easier to get a title on the NYT Bestsellers List in its first week, more pre-orders means more awareness on book selling pages, etc. etc. - and when it comes to it, the people who benefit are the hardcore fans of that series. It feels like a great way of publishers interacting with the people who are already supporting them. Sometimes it's a signed poster of the cover, sometimes it's lipstick and nail polish, but every time I see one, I pass along the news.

2. Promotional campaigns

This ties in with #1, but is slightly different. When I got a CD for This Song Will Save Your Life, I immediately listened to the tracks. And then immediately wanted to read my ARC, but it's still out on a tour. But you can bet that you've got my attention and that very title is no longer one of the review books that I'm feeling "meh" about or leaving off to the side. I love additional little things that so clearly tie into the book and can manage to make you excited without feeling overly pushy. Ads feel that way to me, even if they do charming things like quote fellow Goodreads users.

3. Publicists who reach out to you

Ksenia Winnicki is the fan favorite publicist of Macmillan Kids because she's actually a publicist who will reach out to you bloggers. She manages the blog tours and twitter accounts for its campaigns (MacKidsBooks and FierceReads, I believe)... and after participating in the Crewel and The Shadow Society blog tours, I can't tell you how much I celebrated when I got an email about the MacMillan catalogs from her. I never know when other publishers release their catalogs nor do I actually feel like I'm interacting with them. Ksenia added a personal note talking about her favorites, and that makes it all the more awesome. (Not to mention how friendly she sounded in general--and I am all about the friendliness.)

4. Epic Reads videos

Have you ever participated in an Epic Reads Tea Time or ARCParty? I participated in my first ever ARCParty maybe two weeks ago, and watching two people (energetic! and excited! and with Snarfles? I think that's the little dude's name) talk about the upcoming books for Harper and watching my own tweets alongside those of others participating was overwhelming but... so much fun. And so good about raising my awareness of their upcoming titles, some of which I would have never heard of had I not watched those videos. Of course, this also means that you can't log into twitter when they're happening without getting a barrage of tweets--but hey, maybe you should participate too :).

Things I don't like:

-When e-novellas or prequels will change your impression of the story greatly, like inside jokes within the story. I like when they add additional backstory and depth to the world, as Leigh Bardugo's Grisha novellas and Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles novellas do, but when they become integral to the actual story, it feels like another way of breaking the bank of book bloggers/lovers (because really, who else hears about these promotional items? Well, unless they compile the novellas into one book). I have read some prequels and enjoyed their incorporation into the next novel but have also been dismayed: if I hadn't read them, would I have loved that novel as much as I did?

-Book trailers. Okay, so a long time ago, I wrote a post on when book trailers do and don't work for me (and hey, someone did take my advice and post the videos to the book pages on Goodreads), but lately I've felt kind of "meh" about most of them. I understand that they're another channel to raise awareness of a book (and potentially interact with all those book reviewin' vloggers out there), but I'm not feeling them. Especially the ones that are just showing the cover unravel. They don't make me feel all that excited when sometimes they're just a rehash of things I already know about the book.

-Any sort of widget that makes sound. There are a few countdown widgets out there that have seagulls or random beach noises, and every time I hear something like that come up, I immediately exit the page. Sorry, fellow bloggers! I just can't deal with them.

What do publishers do that you do or don't like? How do you think they could improve in their interactions with bloggers?


  1. I have never interacted with a publisher so uhm... I am little to no help here! I will say I am COMPLETELY against those widgets with sounds. It drives me absolutely batty, especially because I spend half of my time on my laptop with headset on since it's easier to talk to Dave on Skype with it. I'll be bloghopping and talking to him no problem when suddenly WHOOSH! I'll have some loud wind or bird chime or some annoying sound blasting into my head. Soooo stupid and an automatic turn-off for me. Just no.

    I think the most important thing for me, if I were to interact more with publishers, would be the friendly interaction. Swag can be nice and fine but it doesn't really get me excited about the book. I just want someone to be personable when contacting me and actually make it sound like they care about what they're talking about and my own blog. Simple as that, really!

  2. I hate those widgets with sounds, especially when I'm listening to music (and that is about most of the time) I really like interaction with publishers. So far, I've had some contact with HarperCollins and they are always so kind :)! I wish it was possible to get more interaction with other publishers, but I guess I must be happy with what I can get as international blogger :D

  3. Ha, I don't interact much with them either. I think the only times I have have been because they've approached me, or I've requested something online (have yet to email or try to form contacts yet o.O). And online requests don't actually feel like interaction.

    lol, yep. One blogger had said that those sound widgets revealed that she wasn't actually working when she was pretending too. I'm also not a fan of the really flashy or animated ones.

    I'm not a huge swag person either. "I just want someone to be personable when contacting me and actually make it sound like they care about what they're talking about and my own blog." <-- :).

  4. I never really understand the distinction for international vs. bloggers here. Because you have a lot, a lot of US readers. Why should it be any different? But yay for the contact at HC! I think your wish, though, is a general wish of the blogosphere. More interaction. Less top-down?

  5. Gah I have the same opinion on novellas and I also dislike when the novellas and must-reads if you want to understand a certain plot point or character, they should be optional to offer more insight on a character's POV etc. And UGH I almost had a heart attack just this morning bc of a stupid sound widget and swore to never ever go to that blog ever again!! They are EVIL!

  6. I totally agree about the novellas. Like with the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand. I didn't read Radiant and then I read the last book and feel like I totally missed out by having not read the novella. I like when you can get something EXTRA from them, but I don't think you should miss out on important stuff by not reading them.

  7. I totally agree about book trailers. I used to watch them but now I don't. They're all kinda... eh.

    HarperCollins is sooo great with their YA branch and watching TeaTime every other Wednesday is such fun. They're so happy and excited about the books that I become happy watching them as well.

    I don't have that many interactions with publicists but I think it's great if they add personal touches to their mailings like Ksenia did.

  8. Ksenia is fantastic! And also the Bloomsbury publicity team.. At BEA, Bridget and her colleagues were on the floor chatting with everyone about their titles and about books in general. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they made everyone feel welcome at the booth. And Tea Time is always a riot…

    To me, it seems like novellas are really for the super-fans of a series who just can't get enough or can't wait between books. (Maybe they could be a free pre-order present!) And I agree with you that they should just be extra material, not anything essential to the story. I don't have time to read them all :(

  9. I really like the between the novel novellas, but I am strongly against the ones that you HAVE to read or your missing something. They should just be little ad ons to the story not a critical piece. I feel like someone mentioned this on twitter the other day but I can't remember who.

    I'm a huge fan of preordering (especially when it involves trinkets). Probably too big of a fan lol.

  10. OY VEY, the widgets with sound. Please, no more of those! I don't mind book trailers, though they don't really work as promotion for me because I usually don't even know they exist until after I've read a book. I used to do a regular feature with novellas and short stories, but it's kind of fallen by the wayside in favor of discussion posts on Sundays. I'm hoping to get to one this week, but they don't seem to garner much traffic, anyway, so I think a lot of people probably don't read novellas. I completely agree that they shouldn't be mandatory reading. I love the ones you mentioned.

    The Epic Reads videos are awesome. I discover so many books I *must* read through those. It's fun to spaz out for an hour or so with two zany girls who love books as much as we do. I've dealt with some publicists who are very cut and dry and others who are very personable and truly want to promote their authors' books. I obviously prefer the latter, but any feedback or response from the pubs is a plus, considering some never reply at all.

  11. Jenny @ Supernatural SnarkAugust 7, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    Ksenia is totally awesome, I adore her:) She just makes things so easy, and seems to genuinely enjoy working with bloggers. Sometimes I feel like a nuisance when I send a request in even though I don't request all that many books, but never with her. I love the team at Epic Reads as well, their Tea Time videos are always a blast to watch and their marketing campaigns are super clever.

  12. I don't like novellas either.. I think if.. If people hadn't read Destroy Me, they wouldn't be so team Warner since let's face it, he is a psychotic killer wit ha daddy complex. I won't get into it if you're team Warner, but I won't be continuing the series unless the ending via spoilers satisfies me, because the romance between the MC and Warner just.. disgists me to a point where I want to pull out my hair and gag. If people didn't know how "vulnerable, misunderstood and sad" he is, then they probably wouldn't want a freaking killer to end up with the girl. I'm not exactly team Adam, but I find that boring is better than a psychopath. I like book trailers like TMI/TID series, um.. Under the Never Sky for instance (even if people aren't happy with the actors.. well, I can't imagine Robert Downey Jr. taking a book trailer job, these are for lower than A, B or even C list actors). I hate those widgets as well. These Magnus Bane chronicles or whatever widgets drive me mad! I close the page and don't visit it anymore so their loss. I somewhat like the buzz of a book that's not published yet, but at the same time, I rarely pre-order a standalone or #1 of a new series. I can't handle the disappointment of having a book if the reviews will be no good by people whom I have the same taste in books with. I LOV EPIC READS! I've missed a couple of get-togethers lately, but I watched the videos on youtube and haha, they're just so awesome! I love those girls and the fact that they're just as enthusiastic as we are if not more.

  13. How I abhor those countdown widgets!!! When I see (HEAR) one, I immediately leave, and never go back. There are a few great book trailer out there (A Monster Calls!), but overall I'm pretty indifferent about them. I know they exist (somewhere on Youtube) but never actively seek them out. As for novellas, well, I'm just not a novella/short story person. So unless it's a book/series I really, really love, I won't read them.

    I don't do promo posts, or news posts, but I enjoy chekinging them out on others blogs. :) And that ARCParty sounds fun, maybe I should try participate in next time...

  14. I've heard nothing but good things about Ksenia Winnicki! She seems to be everyone's favourite publicist. :) I regularly hear from the publicists over here, but I agree that it makes it so much nicer when their emails have a personal touch. It's easier to approach them when you can tell they're enthusiastic about what they do.

  15. lol. I actually thought of your comment while I was compiling my bookish rounds post because someone had a sound widget that just blared out while I was getting stuff for Sarah J. Maas news. I really don't understand why they are still in existence.

  16. I haven't read Radiant or Boundless yet, but that makes me a bit discouraged. I understand that having time in between the plots of each book means that the author can explore what happens to the characters then, and I understand how that might get incorporated into inside jokes, but ... what about the people who don't even know of these novellas and come across these mentions in the next books? It's like violating that ultimate rule where every sentence in a book is either in regard to plot or character development, and not toward getting you to buy the novella.

  17. Me too. I've stopped watching, though I'll continue to link to them for those who are interested. "They're so happy and excited about the books that I become happy watching them as well." <-- yes! So true. They're such pros about keeping the energy level up and actually being enthusiastic about the books they promote. And I don't have many interactions either, but personal touches like the way the Epic Reads folks make you feel *a part* of something are definitely the best.

  18. Aw, Jen. Now you make me wish I was at BEA. I was seriously debating going, and I do think I'll go to the 2014 one because these references... must know what's up! must finally get to meet other bloggers!

    Yeah, and I think reviews of novellas tend to not get a lot of attention either, so unless you are watching out for them like a super-fan, it's hard to even know of their existence. That's why I like the Macmillan ones - they're free, they're online, they're extra material to showcase the world and writing, and they're available for anyone who is the least bit interested. Eventually I might get around to reading more of them...

  19. Yes, it was my namesake, aka the other awesome Christina (A Reader of Fictions). Haha, her tweet about novellas inspired me to actually write up this post and my thoughts on the subject. And pre-ordering supports the community, so you could never be too big of a fan :P.

  20. Honestly, Jen. I thought they'd stopped. And then I ran into another one last night while writing a post. "they don't really work as promotion for me because I usually don't even know they exist until after I've read a book." <-- So true. And sometimes I've tried including them in reviews, but they're not always released by then, so I'm really at a loss as to how to make them better promotional tools, or whether they should just get lost. For now, I'll just link to them if others are interested.

    I think a lot of people don't read the novellas not only because they don't know of them but also because there's such a huge reading pile. I like your Sunday Symposiums, but I will also read your novella posts :).

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Your description of the Epic Reads videos is so spot on! And yeah, each to his/her own for blogger interactions, and I imagine there's just *so* much out there, emails from us and the company and authors and etc. etc. that it gets hard for publicists to manage and hard to stay energetic. But like you said - any feedback, even if it's not as personable, is still good.

  21. Yes. I love how some of the marketing in the videos are also different ways of describing the book besides that which is *already* on the book. It shows how much they care that they can talk about the book in various ways. And I agree--Ksenia makes things so much easier and nicer to deal with!

  22. I think Destroy Me is actually one of the better novellas out there because it's from a second love interest's POV (which I've seen people clamor for in regard to changing love triangles up a bit) and without it, as you said, you might not feel as sympathetic toward him (though it sounds like you're not sympathetic at all lolooll).

    I do like that book trailers are another way of interacting with the Hollywood world besides all the movie options that may or may come to fruition. You're almost making me curious enough to look up those book trailers ;).

    YES OMG THE MAGNUS BANE WIDGETS, that's what was making the noise last night as I was writing the bookish rounds post! I didn't know where it was coming from. Grrr.

    Yeah, the bad thing with pre-order campaigns is that... well... how do you get people to pre-order if it's a debut title? Or the first of a series? I suppose that's where bloggers with ARCs come in and massive promotional campaigns like the one for the 5th Wave.

  23. Neither do I. If I see them get tweeted, I'll keep my eye out for them and post them for those who are interested but *shrug*. And yeah, novellas and short stories are a lot harder to get excited over. And oh!! There's no doubt publishers and publicists are nice-- I do hope I didn't come off that way -- but yes yes yes participate in an Epic Reads video. So much fun!

  24. Sam, I agreed to be a part of some blog tours for a few Macmillan titles. One of the titles I wasn't a huge fan over even if I saw its potential and like the writing well enough. So then I had a hard time thinking of original guest posts or content or interview questions. Ksenia helped. She helped and later she made me feel like I was actually included, or a part of something.

  25. Sarah (Escaping Through Books)August 8, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    I love pre-order campaigns as well! I'm super excited to get my signed cover print of Crown of Midnight from Bloomsbury for pre-ordering it.

    I only recently heard of the Epic Reads TeaTime, but now I LOVE it! I even went back and watched many of their past videos on Youtube. They have definitely made me add a lot of books from HarperTeen to my TBR pile because their excitement for the books is so contagious. It's also cool to get a glimpse into the publishing office. I wish that other publishers would do something similar!

    I'm on the fence about e-novellas. On the one hand, I love to read extra content by my favorite authors. Some e-novellas are great, but others make me think, "Why did I just pay $3 for 45 pages of material about a random side character that doesn't add anything to the story or world?" I completely agree that Marissa Meyer's stories posted on the Tor site were wonderful! I saw her tweet that she has more short stories in the works. I'm SO EXCITED!

  26. Me too! The poster will look BA and be even cooler when signed from SJ Maas :).

    Yes.yes.yes. Me too. I haven't watched their past videos and if not for some other work, I would participate in Tea Time every week. I love glimpses into the publishers' offices and hey, it's not meeting the publicists, but it is getting to interact with them in maybe not a direct way, but a refreshing and exciting one.

    Yep! I think a part of their deal with MacMillan is that they'll write short stories prior to publication of their novels. It's good publicity and hers are definitely a good example of ones that do add to the story and world and will get lots of readers because it's not asking for money, and because it's well done - Cinder and Wolf definitely *feel* different to me as characters. More developed.

  27. I went to ALA (as a librarian and a blogger) and it was fascinating to me how certain publishers would treat me differently because I was a librarian AND a blogger. Now Bloomsbury and MacMillian didn't even blink, but a few did! They were happy to talk to me as a librarian, but as soon as they found out I had a blog they got this look of disgust on their face which makes me think second about them, y'know?

    I do appreciate Tea Time and things like when they actually answer the emails. But yes, anything with sound kills me. Or this many retweets and we'll reveal..NO.

  28. Very true. I don't really understand the disdain towards bloggers. There are a lot of us out there, yes, but that's another reason to interact with the community. If they did, they'd see that we are *passionate* about books, hyping them up for the rest of our family and friends who don't follow the news as closely (i.e. when I introduced Angelfall to 2 of my friends who are now also purchasing the sequel). I don't bother with titles when it's clear that bloggers are the least welcome of reviewers/galley recipients.

    Yes, X many retweets or follows (or likes). If it's something on twitter, not everyone will even see that contest. Also, making a reveal conditional is taking a huge risk - if it doesn't happen, well, what then?

    PS - ashley, neither your Disqus profile nor the blogger comments section is showing your blog, and I'd love to come visit :).

  29. UGH. Disqus hates me! It's http://yadultreview.com :)


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