This autumn will be 'tough', Bookseller's marketing and publicity webinar hears

This autumn will be 'tough', Bookseller's marketing and publicity webinar hears

The marketing and publicity director of Simon and Schuster UK has advised industry workers to "be patient and realistic, because it's going to be tough in September".

Speaking at The Bookseller's marketing and publicity webinar, hosted yesterday (Monday 20th April) on video conferencing platform Zoom, Osborn said "the pressure to make sales back [once the immediate coronavirus crisis is over] is going to be immense".

Osborn was joined on a panel by freelance publishing and marketing consultant Laura Di Giuseppe and Canongate Books publicity director Anna Frame, in a webinar helmed by The Bookseller's programme director Miriam Robinson.

Ahead of the autumn boom, Frame urged publicists and marketing professionals to ask bookshops what they needed.  Osborn stressed the importance of "big events for indie bookshops" regarding sales, adding that "managing author expectations", is now more important than ever. "Interesting things will come in the autumn, [which is] exciting in some ways," she said.

Frame acknowledged the increasing pressure that budgets are coming under and advocated for transparency around mental health. She said "clear communication around furloughing... and your working from home situation is really important." She added that maintaining a social aspect to the job and "making sure the achievements are celebrated" and keeping "spirits up is really key".

Involving 200+ participants, the conference focused on managing communication during the pandemic, mental health and the need for innovation in marketing campaigns. The conference was recorded and will be available to watch from today. It is part of a series of online event to be held in the run-up to the actual conference, sheduled for 9th July.

Di Giuseppe warned marketing colleagues that "online space is becoming increasingly saturated" and monetisation difficult because of the availability of free content. She emphasised the importance of establishing "a clear timeline with publishers", when working on a digital campaign, and asking questions ahead of time on social media platforms.

Frame suggested that books tours, which are increasingly becoming virtual, could "reflect the physical variety", by curating events to specific platforms. She said using different social media platforms, including Facebook Live, online book clubs and Zoom would be "a bit of an experiment" but necessary during the pandemic.

The long-term sustainability of the digital event model is an area for debate, she said, but could be "a massive advantage for publishers", in terms of increasing audiences and regional breadth.

The panel reiterated the importance of using digital, giving an advantage to the industry at the present time, with the increasing digitisation of book proofs, and sales of digital-based products.

Simon & Schuster UK was experiencing "uplift across revenue week on week" in sales of audio and e-books. "More people will be open to reading digitally,", Osborn said, "it will be interesting to see whether or not people stick with it".

She added that while the company was braced for "initial fire-fighting", the "huge increase in social media engagement" and newsletters was "encouraging."

Di Giuseppe said the adjustments publicists and marketing professionals had made due to Covid-19 could be an asset in the future. "Smart working and flexibility can be a way forward, not just in a time of crisis. We can keep building a community," she said.