Saturday, 4 June 2011

digital marketing - Orbit

Over the next few weeks this blog is going to focus 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 gets a turn, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. This post is about Orbit UK (and USA/Australia too).


Website: Orbit’s website is its hub for marketing, and what a hub. It streamlines the UK/USA/Australia imprints into one, accessible source of information. As well as containing its publishing schedules and author profiles (with links to websites and details about its titles), Orbit’s website is basically a very well-maintained blog. The site also contains a blog roll and links to SFF sites, and allows for comments on each post, maintaining a healthy online community. In a digital session for my MA Publishing, Orbit’s site was used as a prime example of what good digital marketing is. Assuming that our tutor must be an SFF fan, I approached him after class preparing for a full-on geek-out, only to be met with a firm, ‘Oh no, I’m not a fantasy fan. I just really like Orbit’s website.’ So it’s that good. Whether it means to or not, it’s catering to people outside of the usual ‘fan’ spectrum on its content alone. It contains, among other things, guest posts from authors (not always from Orbit’s own list), editors, editorial assistants and the very excellent, always enthusiastic, Art Director Lauren Panepinto. Just this week, for example, there have been the following posts: fantasy author Helen Lowe waxing lyrical about why she loves martial arts; Lauren Panepinto launching the covers for Michael J. Sullivan’s The Riyria Revelations series (‘Bam! Can you say ‘EPIC’, people?’ – that’s what I mean by enthusiastic); Senior Editor Devi Pillai (USA) announcing the release of Brent Weeks’ straight-to-eBook-and-audio Perfect Shadow from Orbit’s short fiction venture; Mark Yon from SFFWorld continuing his guide to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files in the run up to the release of Ghost Story; Lauren Panepinto again, this time offering Simon Morden’s ‘magic eye’ book covers as wallpaper (which also forms part of Simon Morden’s digital marketing campaign); and finally Simon Morden himself explaining why London is the perfect setting for his post-apocalyptic trilogy. And that’s all just in one week. It really is a smorgasbord of information. There aren’t enough points for this, so I’m just going to say ‘many’.

Twitter: Orbit UK/USA/Australia have a joint Twitter account, which fits with their ‘international imprint’ shtick. Most of the staff who frequent the blog are on there, like UK editorial assistant James Long (716 followers) and commissioning editor Bella Pagan (528 followers). Here’s where the US/UK/Aus staff members communicate and re-tweet each other – forming a joint community by spreading stories from the blog, good reviews of Orbit’s author’s titles and Orbit’s latest marketing campaigns. ‘Community’ points and some general cool points thrown in for the publishing staff building up more followers than some authors.

Facebook: Orbit has a Facebook page, again it’s a joint one between the three worldwide imprints. 2,221 people like it. Here it puts up its website/blog posts up on the wall. As well as good reviews from bloggers for its titles, and blogged interviews with its authors. More ‘community’ points to Orbit, although there isn’t much interaction between the staff and readers on the wall. Orbit also has a Facebook page exclusively for its eBook short fiction (1,119 likes). Digital points.

Digital advances: Orbit short fiction – as already mentioned, Brent Weeks’ Perfect Shadow is eBook and audio-only. In the same manner, Orbit will also be publishing, amongst others, Jennifer Rardin, who sadly passed away last Autumn, and some of her short stories. There’s also a newsletter you can sign up to. This is a really great venture, but I wish it had chosen something other than a robot as its logo, purely because Angry Robot Books pretty much has robots covered, and Orbit’s store would stand out so much more from the competition if it had a logo that was more humanoid. There is more than one kind of dance.

Blog: see ‘Website’.

Extras: Orbit has its own YouTube channel where its videos include ‘making-ofs’ (like for Simon Morden’s optical illusion masterpieces), as well as book trailers and interviews. I’ve posted this before, but bloody hell the book trailer for Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels is good. Let’s enjoy it again together. Points galore. Orbit also has its own flickr account with book signing photos – although they’re three years out of date. There will be no points for this.

Conclusion: contain yourself - an exciting summary will follow after all four imprints have had their turn. Disclaimer: they will not win £1000 presented to them on a silver platter. They will not get to read out the end credits in the style of a news reader who is desperate for the loo.

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