It began with a vodka bottle (not mine) delaying my train – the guard announced that a bottle had got stuck in the door. “It’s not the first time I’ve been defeated by a bottle of vodka,” he announced, “and it probably won’t be the last!”
But vodka trains and a tube strike didn’t stop me from getting to London and my first Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Conference (although I’ve been a member for years) which was a great event. Three days of action-packed talks, workshops and socialising – wow, do romantic novelists know how to party – the temperatures in and out of the conference halls in East London soared!
A small sample of fascinating things learned:
Customer profile at WH Smith Travel shops is 50/50 male-female, and largely professionals; 7 out of 20 current top titles have the female sex in their titles, eg girl, woman, female name etc. (info from Fiction Buyer Matt Bates)
Kingsford Campbell is a new literary agency, combining traditional author representation with marketing campaigns (info from former Bookseller reviewer, Sarah Broadhurst @S_Broadhurst)
How to get editors excited! Gillian Green of Ebury (@GillianGreenEd) loves a snappy ‘elevator pitch’ – best one at a recent acquisition meeting was, ‘Robinson Crusoe set on Mars’ !!
Online book reviewers – Lovereading want a review to be a “piece of passion” not boring publishing blurb; The Little Reader Library and The Worm Hole have an open author policy (ie will read self-published books too) – Charlie at Worm Hole loves anything about history or castles while Lindsay at LRL prefers to read print but will review ebooks too. Anna at We Love This Book (run by the trade magazine The Bookseller) must be wowed by the first page in deciding what to review and won’t take self-published.
Multiple genre author, Jane Holland (@janeholland1 who writes under an impressive dozen or so different names!) suggests setting up a different social media profile and brand for each pseudonym – she uses Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, Linkedin, Instagram, You Tube – and don’t forget which ‘author’ you are when posting to your fans! Use a quote from your book on a promotional card or a picture to conjure up the brand.
Reader Insight – the use of statistics and info on readers garnered from social media – Kate Harrison (@KateWritesBooks) opened up a brave new world where sales rankings, Amazon page reads, web page visits, YouGov profiles, Goodreads reviews can all be used to build up a profile of your ideal reader – their likes, brands, hobbies. Then go and interact with them and give them what they want!
Marketing guru, Alison Baverstock (@alisonbav) told us about planning a marketing strategy – it’s an ongoing process from developing relationships with readers on social media to organising review coverage of a new book – “tempt but don’t tell too much or they won’t want to buy it!”
Affinity Marketing = linking two products that go well together, eg books and chocolate!
Urine in medieval times was a sought after resource (there is nothing we authors won’t discuss!) – used in bleaching, tanning, shrinking cloth and dyes. This was just one of the facts learnt in an entertaining hour on historical research led by Joanna Hickson (@joannahickson) and Jenny Barden (@jennywilldoit).
Best of all were the meet ups, chats, gossip and laughter with fellow writers – both with friends from the Border Reivers Chapter in Northumberland and with new friends made at the conference. Big Thanks to Jan Jones (@janjonesauthor)for carrying out the mammoth task of organising the conference so well and to Kate (@katyhaye)for looking after the ‘newbies’ with our special sparkly badges.
Roll on next year!