Shout-out to PW’s Children’s Bookshelf e-newsletter for topping 25,000 Twitter followers this month. Edited by PW’s illustrious children’s book editor Diane Roback, Children’s Bookshelf has a circulation of more 29,000 opt-in subscribers and is sent out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Book It! took a moment to sit down with Diane to ask her about what makes a successful children’s news and trend-spotting source for publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, teachers, children’s and YA editors, publicists and marketers.
“Children’s Bookshelf has become a must-read newsletter for the children’s book publishing community,” Diane says from her office at Publishers Weekly, where she can be found most days huddled in front of her computer in the midst of towering stacks of books and galleys, and overflowing bookshelves. “I try to be the newsletter that no one wants to delete, and we try to make it a real reading experience each Tuesday and Thursday.”
One of the keys to that stickiness is that the newsletter provides a diversity of content that is purposefully not New York-centric. Publishers large and small, regional, quirky and otherwise are all represented, and the newsletter strives to include a wide variety of stories: book news, author interviews, the stories behind the books, breaking news, updates about new lists and imprints, sales statistics, rights deals, info on “sleeper hits,” links to news articles in the media and even an original comic strip by picture-book author Ed Briant.
Graphics make the newsletter come alive, Diane believes. Each story is heavily illustrated, and the newsletter is designed to look colorful and fun. Certainly Briant’s “Tales from the Slush Pile,” an ongoing saga about an aspiring children’s book author-illustrator, leaves readers itching for the next weekly installment.
The People column reflects Diane’s commitment to inclusivity, covering job moves throughout the kids’ book community, from editorial assistants to CEOs.
Diane knows her audience consists of the movers and shakers within the realm of children’s books. In addition to booksellers, publishers and authors, teachers and librarians form a significant part of her readership.
“Magazines aimed at teachers,” she says, “aren’t really book-centered. They don’t address current publications and the new books that teachers and librarians need to know about. Children’s Bookshelf covers all the big books of the season, informing the larger community.”
Children’s book publicist Tracy van Straaten, VP, Trade Publicity & Education/Library Marketing at Scholastic, says, “Whenever anyone asks me about children’s books, the FIRST thing I tell them to do is subscribe to PW Children’s Bookshelf and follow them on Twitter. Bookshelf is essential reading from absolutely any side of the industry. Each week (and now twice a week!), I can always tell when PW Bookshelf has arrived because the office goes suddenly quiet as everyone stops to read the latest news. Bookshelf’s dedicated but broad children’s focus is unique among industry newsletters, and the in-depth and diverse array of coverage make Bookshelf an invaluable, one-stop-shopping resource.”
Diane tweets each story that runs in Children’s Bookshelf, extending the life and newsworthiness of the various pieces. In addition, PWKidsBookshelf followers rely on her to provide links to a broad selection of children’s book news, which is tweeted as it happens. “No one can read everything,” she says. “For me Twitter is very useful as a news source, and I want PW to be useful to our readers in the same way.”
She continues, “People within this community can learn from other people’s experiences.” That’s why she covers a wide range of companies and innovative marketing programs, and that’s why social media is such an important element of getting out the news.
When asked about her mission, Diane says unequivocally, “My mission to help put as many books in as many hands as possible.” She adds, “Publishers Weekly plays a very important role in informing the people who do put books directly in the hands of kids. And that’s a great feeling.”
Follow Children’s Bookshelf on Twitter @PWKidsBookshelf.
To advertise in Children’s Bookshelf and to discuss cross-media bundling options to reach the children’s book-buying market, contact your sales rep.