Book reviewer Amanda Rutter has kindly provided our first website review: When I read Sam’s article concerning the general weakness of publisher websites, I broadly agreed with the points that she made. However, one particular publisher stood out to me as having embraced the modern technological age with gusto – that being Angry Robot. This publisher has just celebrated their second birthday, so they are brand new and were born into a digital revolution.
The design of the website itself is basic, but functional and showcases the brand colours of the publisher. The menu across the top of the screen is exceptionally easy to navigate and provides access to details of their books, their authors, and their webstore. Angry Robot also clearly present their submission guidelines and contact details, so that those wishing to submit manuscripts to them know where and how to go about it. I have found that usually this information is difficult to dig out on other publisher websites, and the clear format of the Angry Robot site is a breath of fresh air. All in all, I would award the design of the website a 9/10 – the dropped mark is probably a matter of personal preference. I find the front page a little “busy”, with all the information that is being thrust at the reader (still, at least the information is there and available!)
As to the category of social connection – here, Angry Robot absolutely excel. They have an active and amusing Twitter stream, which connects with other users as opposed to just pushing links to their novels and authors. They use guest bloggers to keep their website fresh and filled with entertaining content. They are connected to such tools as Formspring, so that people are able to ask questions of the publisher and receive snappy replies. One of their glaring omissions is in the arena of Facebook – although both editors are on Facebook, they do not regularly use their Facebook company page which I think is something they should rectify. Thanks to this latter fact, I would put their social connection at 7/10. Although Twitter is a great way of generating traffic to their website and increasing the profile of Angry Robot, utilising Facebook more effectively would exponentially increase the number of people exposed to their brand.
Social connection 7/10
E-commerce is something that Angry Robot have absolutely embraced. They have a webstore, which offers Angry Robot merchandise, including t-shirts, iPhone skins, pins and mugs. Basically, they are achieving walking advertisements among their many fans. Because of the edgy nature of the publisher and the fact that they connect so thoroughly with their readers, people want a piece of Angry Robot and the recent step into merchandise is a very astute move. In a key move, Angry Robot are also offering an eBook subscription, whereby a person will pay an amount upfront and receive every book released that year at a heavy discount. In addition to this subscription, where the novels released in the year are part of a series, the earlier novels can be obtained easily and also at a discounted price. This is a unique move, and is guaranteeing that people are signing up on a “permanent” basis to be part of Angry Robot and to pass the word out about their books. All eBooks are DRM-free and have no territory restrictions, which makes it exceptionally easy for the brand to become global. I would say that Angry Robot achieve an easy 10/10 for their e-commerce and are one of the very few publishers to have anything like this set-up.
Finally, engagement with the readers. All of the above categories involve some degree of engagement, but Angry Robot have pushed this further with initiatives such as opening up to unagented submissions for the month of March in 2011; signing up author Adam Christopher partially on the basis of a Twitter connection; and attending pretty much every major convention, both home and abroad. They are equally happy to engage with book reviewers, offering a membership to the “Angry Robot Army”, a members-only section of the website where book reviewers can download eBook advance copies of novels and request interviews with authors. This level of engagement creates an incredibly loyal following, who then help to spread the word about this youthful and cutting edge publisher. Again, it is easy to award them 10/10.
In conclusion, my review of Angry Robot’s Net presence is exceptionally favourable, and I would say that other publishers could learn a great deal from the way in which they operate.
Total website review: 36/40
Amanda Rutter is an accountant by day. By night she is a book reviewer for Floor to Ceiling Books, an editor for Morrigan Books and a regular contributor to Tor.com in the US. She reads any and all genres, and her house is beginning to resemble a library.