Saturday, 18 June 2011

digital marketing - Gollancz

Over the last few weeks this blog has been focusing on what the four imprints I’m using as case studies for my dissertation do to digitally market their books. Like a bookish clash between Come Dine with Me and Whose Line is it Anyway?, each imprint has had a turn, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. I have so far blogged about Tor UK, Orbit UK and HarperVoyager. This post is about Gollancz.


Website: Gollancz has a section on the Orion Publishing Group’s website (which they’re owned by). When I first started this blog, this part of their website, and their blog, were not updated very often. In recent months however, particularly as it’s their 50th anniversary year, Gollancz have hit their stride with their webpage and blog. On their main page you can find their book of the month and author of the month (including links to their previous books so you can buy them, the author’s website and information about them), a bestseller list specifically for their titles with clickable links to further information and ways to purchase them, a list of their upcoming events and a nice link to a webpage for their most popular series, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books. They also have a ‘What’s hot’ section that contains recent news: this week, brilliantly, they’re in cahoots with National Blood Week – cross-promotional AND charity points, they’re also showcasing a trailer for their book of the month, Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper, a link to the Masterworks Reading Project, (old) news about Ian McDonald’s Dervish House being shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award (won by Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City) and a celebration of the last 25 years of the Arthur C Clarke Award (or should that be the first?). Gollancz does have a young adult page, although I’m just focusing on adult fiction here.

Blog: also on the Orion website, you will find the Gollancz blog. If you click through their archive, you’ll see there was a post in November, the next post wasn’t until April, and then you get to the May tab, and you’ll understand what I mean about a lack of activity until recently. Every day for a week in May they celebrated 50 years of Gollancz with a new blog post (I’m sure they did more than write a blog post, 50 years is a long time). They had a readers’ vote for their favourite titles, which is now closed, but this flurry of activity shows what can be done. However, I imagine it took a lot of time and resources, and it’s possible they’re another small team (the entire team seems to have written a post for this seven day session) that can’t afford to do this all the time. So, 50th anniversary points (admittedly, very particular to Gollancz). And it’s a shame that more can’t be done with the blog, because it is a great way to connect with readers, if they allowed for comments, and Joe Abercrombie’s post on George RR Martin shows its potential for entertainment. But that’s where, for Gollancz, Facebook comes in.

Facebook: this is where the digital marketing really happens for Gollancz. Their main technique is to run competitions for readers to win their titles (admittedly, this was more prevalent a few months back). Many competitions. They have all the competition points. It would be really interesting to find out how these competitions affect sales, if at all. I really hope they help sales, I think it’s a unique way of marketing, and great for smaller budgets (although the postage and packaging costs must be immense). You can really see the dedication of the marketing team (person?) here. They also post YouTube links to author interviews and trailers, flag up signings, reviews, post pictures, links to other relevant information they feel their readers will find interesting (points for not just talking about themselves), news about their award nominations, and just a whole host of other links and comments. Some stats: 1859 people ‘like’ their page, on average they post 2-3 times per day, and they have 1 sister Facebook page, Gollancz Dark Fantasy, which has 3526 ‘likes’ (and does much of the same, only with more of a focus on Charlaine Harris).

Twitter: here, as well as the beauty of hash tags, there is more of the same frequency of posts and topics as on the Facebook page. They have a Gollancz, Gollancz Dark Fantasy and a temporary account for their 50th anniversary. They also have mystery book quotes for followers to guess, tweets about events they’re currently attending (like the David Gemmell Awards – topical), and are just generally entertaining. They definitely know their way around a hash tag. Hash tag points.

Digital advances: Orion has a ‘Reading room’ area of their website, which is an ace way of promoting your titles, taking a cosy concept but making it digital. Here you can access sample PDFs of some of Gollancz’s titles, like Charlaine Harris’ Dead Reckoning. Cosy concept points.

Recently their author Charlaine Harris became the latest writer to exceed the 1m Kindle eBooks mark. So they’re doing well here, particularly with this author (the TV series possibly helps).

Gollancz have a digital publisher, Darren Nash, who promised the following back in August 2010 for Gollancz’s digital future: ‘enhanced e-books and apps, backlist projects, building virtual communities and developing online interaction through social media such as Twitter and blogs.’ I would definitely say that social media (barring the blog, perhaps) has taken off and looks to be going very strong. However, apps and enhanced eBooks haven’t yet shown their faces. In a blog post, their author Joe Abercrombie did mention a meeting with his editor that resulted in an absolutely amazing sounding eBook package, but I can’t find any further mention of it. I’m not sure about issuing ‘just around the corner’ points, but, what the heck, I’ll do it anyway.

Oh, and shows that they have 391 eBooks published by Gollancz. That’s a good number.

Extras: the Orion Publishing Group has a general YouTube channel where you can find Gollancz trailers and author interviews. I can’t find many uploads by Gollancz, however, but it’s good that they’re utilising Orion’s page.

Conclusion: contain yourself - an exciting summary will follow shortly. Disclaimer: none of the imprints will win £1000 presented to them on a silver platter. They will not get to read out the end credits in the style of someone trying to propose just as their loved one discovers a beetle doing backstroke in their soup.

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