Author: Lucy Upton

September Masterclass

Our September Masterclass, hosted virtually by James Spackman, featured three brilliant campaigns of the last few months.

Click on the image below to watch the video (running time approx 1hr 25m)

With a big thank you to our panel:


Genista Tate-Alexander, Marketing Manager (Non-Fiction), Bloomsbury

discussing: Humankind by Rutger Bregman


Celeste Ward-Best, Deputy Marketing Director, Little Brown / Dialogue Books

 discussing: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


Sarah Ridley, Deputy Marketing Director, Cornerstone

discussing: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell




Explore three outstanding campaigns of Spring/Summer 2020

Our second Virtual Masterclass, hosted by James Spackman, featured three very different campaigns: from building on a phenomenon to championing social change to announcing a grand fictional finale.

Click on the image below to watch the video (running time approx 1hr 25m)

With a big thank you to our panel:


Matt Clacher, Marketing Director, 4th Estate

discussing: The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel


Abbie Salter, Senior Marketing Manager, HarperFiction

discussing: The Guest List by Lucy Foley


Bethan Ferguson, Marketing Director, Quercus

discussing: I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite





BMS Sessions 4: Facebook

Our fourth BMS Session demonstrated how you can improve your Facebook and Instagram advertising using the marketing funnel.

Click on the image below to watch the video (running time approx 50 mins):

Thanks to Marie Page and Carlton Jefferis of the Digiterati Academy for some excellent advice on how to avoid two common targeting mistakes:

1 – jumping straight in with interest targeting

2 – the wrong message at the wrong time

PLUS don’t miss a useful section on Amazon attribution for Facebook ads and a clever hack to try out.

BMS members can also take advantage of a reduced price offer to a year of online training from Digiterati Academy. Find all the details here.




BMS Sessions 2: Talking TV

Our second BMS Session demonstrated that TV advertising is more affordable than you may have thought!

Click on the image below to watch the video (running time approx 45m)


There’s more to TV than just Linear and VOD.

In fact you can choose from Connected TV, On Demand, Addressable TV and Linear – and you can run a TV campaign for as little as £2,500.

Thanks to Penny Took and Mihir Haria-Shah from Total Media for taking us through the various TV platforms available, how publishers can make the best use of each of them, and how to decide on the right approach for your campaign.




Virtual Events: Key Takeaways


A Bookseller Conversation Series in association with BMS and PPC

Hosted by Miriam Robinson


Maura Wilding (Orion)

Caroline Maddison (PRH Children’s)

Carolyn Jess-Cooke (author and founder of the Stay-at-Home Literature Festival)

Sue Porter (owner, Linghams Bookshop)


Key Takeaways

– When programming virtual events and festivals, consider bringing in big ideas, current events, relevant topics and not just Covid. Big names attract crowds but smaller names have their place, too, for workshops, smaller events or paired with bigger authors. Virtual events also bring in opportunities for fun, ie Stay At Home showcased authors’ pets in their houses.

Author participation helps promotion – asking the author to do a 10-second video to promote the event on their social channels, and of course signed copies/book plates

Micro-events build awareness at the top of the marketing funnel, creating different opportunities for you to engage with your audience and ask for feedback. Puffin Storytime runs on their channels at 3pm weekdays, with a readalong or a drawalong every day plus regular Friday quizzes and a daily Ladybird Challenge.

– Don’t run events without a reason! The panellists run events to create community, maintain publisher/retailer relationships, stay connected, stay in consumers’ minds and foster good will for the long term. Accessibility also sited as a key reason – reaching people who can’t attend events because of disabilities, caring responsibilities, distance or class reasons. Prioritise connection and brand-building.

– FB and IG Live sited as great platforms for really large events, with Zoom working for large ones but also closed groups, too, which create a sense of community with grid view, and when ticketed allow for book sales!  On Zoom people tend to stay for the full event more often, whereas on social they tend to click away. Chat function on Zoom makes it feel more communal than watching a video. YouTube and Facebook are good for family audiences.

– There’s value in large and small audiences – large numbers are obviously very exciting as a publicist and you have the chance to go global. Smaller events create a sense of community and real opportunity to re-engage those attendees and turn them into loyal customers long term.

– Capped events create a sense of exclusivity and encourage people to really set aside the time to participate

– For monetising, book-and-ticket seems to be most popular, and everyone is investigating how to do that on Zoom and Eventbrite. Also being blatant about putting buy links front and centre, telling people before, during and after the event to buy the book.  We looked at multiple monetising models, reiterating that tiered or hybrid systems makes a lot of sense as do sponsorship, donation and Patreon models. Facebook is also launching a monetising feature with Messenger Rooms soon.

Think about libraries! They have massive mailing lists so can help you get the reach if you bring the authors and curate a compelling event.

– You can get organisers’ attention by providing extra support/value – signed stock, added promotional materials, etc.  Look to offer the hosts something different each time.

– As a smaller brand, partnering is key – collaborate with another author, or pair with another organisation with a larger mailing list. All stakeholders now have joint responsibility to ‘fill the virtual room.’

– To prioritise which events you book for your authors, think about the relationships you want to maintain and support. Tap into non-book brands to extend reach.

– Use events as part of the content funnel to maintain community. Events are a great way in for new audiences. Think about what data you have to reach consumers, using Lookalike audiences, etc, to reach people who’ve interacted previously. For organic use content around the theme of the event, eg: a Spotify playlist.

– Give granular level detail to your authors ahead of the event, and do a tech test-run to eliminate potential issues. Zoom events are more draining than live ones so prepare them for that. Authors should be paid for workshops give the time and energy involved, but may not need payment for core promotional events. Clarity is key here.

– With events, nurture attendees/sign-ups:  is there a sign-up discount, can they submit questions in advance, encourage newsletter sign-up. It’s a value exchange for being part of the event and community.

– Move the community through the funnel. Always think – how are we engaging and nurturing for the future?  After the event “Sweat your assets!” Remarket after the event, with playlists, photos, etc. Then you have a ready-made list for the next event.

Watch the video here



BMS Sessions 1: TikTok and Digital Audio

Our first BMS Session took a closer look at TikTok and Digital Audio – hosted in association with Rocket (powered by The Big Shot)

 Click on the image below to watch the video (running time approx 45m)


Part 1 – TikTok

How it works and how to get the most out of it.
The content, the trends, the audience, the ads, the influencers and how it can work as part of a wider campaign.


Part 2 – Digital Audio

The various strands of digital audio including podcasts, music streaming services and more.
What works and should we always be producing?






Adapting to Life in Lockdown: Driving Consumers to Online Sales

Our first ever Virtual Masterclass, hosted by James Spackman, took place on 5 May via Zoom – click on the image below to watch the video

(running time approx 1hr 45m)


With a big thank you to our panel:


Carmen Byers, Head of Marketing, Audio at PRH, on:

-The Penguin Classics audio campaign

-Insight-driven audio marketing

-Working with authors on audio products – audiobook and podcast


Niriksha Bharadia, Marketing Manager at Faber & Faber, on:

-Faber’s recent audiobook and podcast work, including Sarah Pascoe

-Using social media to respond to customer need in lockdown in a planned, yet agile, way supporting indies and selling direct


Rob Chilver, Digital Marketing Manager at Headline, on:

-Driving sales online, from ebook promotion to audio trends to social media campaigns

-How things have changed/accelerated in the lockdown



State of the Nation: Key Takeaways

Comms in the Time of Corona:

A Bookseller Conversation Series in association with BMS and PPC

Hosted by Miriam Robinson


Polly Osborn (Simon & Schuster)

Anna Frame (Canongate)

Laura Di Giuseppe (Publishing and marketing consultant)


Key Takeaways

– Overwhelmingly the challenges people face right now are staying organised and motivated during the uncertainty and unpredictability of this time, the changing nature of the retail landscape and the saturation of the online space.

– Tips for keeping your day structured and replicating the office environment included breaking your day into 90-minute microtasks, making time for informal chat over WhatsApp or Slack, making sure to stop and celebrate successes with your team, replacing weekly catch-ups with ‘coffee mornings’ for both work and campaign discussion, allowing yourself to find your individual rhythm based on your own set of circumstances, and sticking the kids in front of Disney Plus!

– Regarding furloughed staff, the panelists looked towards the autumn, asking that we be mindful of how busy it’s going to be when staff return to work. Right now communication is key – keeping in touch however you can, and keeping an eye on the trade press and Twitter if you want to keep on top of what’s happening in the industry.

– Physical sales of newspapers are down but digital views are massively up. Features editors are looking for your expert authors if you have them, alongside lifestyle and hobby titles. Remember that newspaper/magazine staff have also been furloughed so be patient, and make sure you’re updating them regularly about moving pub dates.

– When sending PDF proofs it’s all the more important to be precise and thoughtful with your pitches, highlighting page numbers you’d like to draw their attention to where possible. More journalist are using NetGalley which helps.

– When running online events, Zoom is currently the platform of choice. Solicit questions for the authors in advance and make sure you have a clear timeline for promotion shared with all stakeholders. When creating a virtual author tour, it should reflect the variety and quality of a real tour. Think about the audience for each virtual event when planning, and plan the chair and guests as carefully as you would for a physical event.

– On whether this event model can ultimately be a revenue source, panelists agreed it’s possible. 30-minute taster events can be offered for free now, with a more in-depth paid-for version later on. They looked at other models such as Spotify/newspapers with a hybrid free (perhaps with ads) and premium structure. Events have always had issues with accessibility so virtual events may provide some solution here.

– Like press, virtual events organisers require more focussed, creative pitches than ever. If you’re from a small press or have an unknown author, consider who you can pair your author with or whether you can create a compelling panel. Also require more planning – if possible to a test run for virtual events with authors to avoid complication on the night.

– For events and content, focus on building communities that have real profile, sales impact and engagement than vanity metrics. Seventy people tuning in to a well-curated event can go farther than 1,000 views on Instagram Live.

– Marketing during this crisis began as firefighting, moving everything from OOH to online. Now has seen increased engagement in social, display and newsletters, though all complicated by constant changes in the retail landscape. Expect budget cuts across the industry to lead to some hard decisions – make sure everything you do has the required effect/impact by testing copy lines. All of this may lead to greater innovation in the autumn.

We’re seeing an uplift in eBook and audio sales. People are dusting off their Kindles and also returning to tried and tested brands – safe, no-risk entertainment – for e and audio. Typical ‘commuting’ books such as business are not doing as well. Promote these formats with audio clips and narrators on social.

– In general, it’s worth investing in backlist marketing at the moment as people turn to safe, trusted classics.

– Children’s will also see an increase of evergreen classics. Opportunity for children to be engaging with screens with zoom hangouts for education.

To support bookshops publishers should prioritise them in the autumn for big-name events, ask their authors to recorded videos for their followers on social telling them to shop in their local bookshop, and send signed stock or anything else that creates a point of difference. When in doubt, ask them (or the BA) what they need!

– Asked what they hope to see change as a result of this crisis, panelists said they’d like to see publishers embrace smart, flexible working; to see events become more accessible with virtual options; and a renewed appreciation across the industry for marketing & publicity teams, who have done so much in a short space of time.

Watch the video here

Lockdown Learning

We’ve pulled together some useful resources we’ve seen for online learning during this period. Check them out below – and do send us any suggestions you have.


Enrol in Blueprint courses from Facebook:


How to use Facebook Live:


Beautiful designs with Canva:


Lockdown learning from Contagious:


Free webinars from Falcon (social media management platform):