At the London Book Fair’s pre-conference, Quantum, on Monday, a who’s-who of tech practitioners took to the stage to offer insight, ideas and best practices to the collected audience of industry professionals.
Here is a selection of highlights and choice quotes.
In a session entitled “The Fountain of Youth: Fandom and the Power of YA Audiences” Watttpad’s Ashleigh Gardner, head of partnerships, noted that the company has done a deal with Turner television to adapt several Wattpad horror stories into shows. Horror—as well as Muslim romance and Riverdale fan fiction (fiction based on the CW television show)—are currently hot trends.
“There has never been a generation that is more literate than today,” said Gardner. “What’s key is how they are used to engaging with all entertainment. They respond. They expect to be able to interact with authors.”
This sentiment was echoed at several panels, and exemplified by the fact that the popularity of videos has led numerous publishers to pursue more marketing strategies featuring this type of content.
Sarah Lloyd, digital and communications director at Pan Macmillan, touted the company’s Christmas ad campaign, which featured a series of one-minute videos that were embedded in relevant media articles. “They got 40,000 completed views and a 12% click-though rate,” she said, noting that the average click-through is less than 5%.
Lisa Sharkey, senior v-p and director of creative development for HarperCollins US, encouraged publishers to use Facebook Live to broadcast author content. “It is intimate and direct,” she said of the service.
HarperCollins broadcasts seven days a week—it starts with Motivational Mondays and ends with Spiritual Sundays—covering a different theme each day, typically for 15-45 minutes. Since launch, the project has garnered “11 million views,100,000 stars, 320,000 comments, and 290,000 reactions,” Sharkey said.
Erin Murray Manning, who works in strategic partnership development for Facebook, added that there are 230 million people connected to author pages on Facebook, and a further 120 million connected to book pages.
Among various nuggets in a session featuring Bloomsbury founder Nigel Newton and Sourcebooks publisher and CEO Dominque Raccah, was the revelation that Bloomsbury (which publishers Harry Potter in the U.K.) explored developing its own e-reader in the U.S. in 2005. The device featured two screens, and opened like a book. The publisher abandoned the project, though, when it discovered that the device was too heavy. The failed experiment, Newton said, cost the house several hundred thousand dollars.