Marek Lewandowski studied English Studies at the University of Stirling, and takes us through being a digital marketing executive at Almond Press for this week’s Day in the Life!
A career in the book industry is not something I had planned for myself. Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed everything that is ‘digital’ or ‘online’ – video games, social media, tinkering with and then designing websites. These interests of mine, combined with the emergence of eBooks and the popularisation of digital and self-publishing platforms (for me, this what circa 2012) is what motivated me to get involved in the field.
Since the rise of social media, marketers working in the book industry have had to find new ways of distributing and promoting content. Working in the digital realm, my daily tasks involve figuring out ways of using social platforms, dedicated websites (have a look at The Russian Sleep Experiment), and other online media to find new audiences and engage potential readers.
With the use of analytics and reporting tools I try to identify trends in web traffic which can then be used to optimise our online presence for driving interactions with authors and readers, ultimately leading to sales. Sifting through numbers can sound like a major bore, but there is definitely something pleasing in seeing your website traffic from around the world surge when a new book is published. Sales is a game of numbers, so the more potential readers visit a product page or website, the higher the chances of selling a title are. If you can identify what really works with regards to readers finding and purchasing you content, you can design and plan future content so as to maximise those results.
Although Almond Press now publishes books in both electronic and print form, we started off very modestly with just a single sales channel – Amazon KDP. Today, when we prepare for the launch and distribution of a new product, I prepare books for submission in all formats – word, epub, mobi, azw3, pdf, indesign files for print, and any other crazy file formats that we decide to make the book accessible in. One thing is for sure, learning best practices for editing and formatting all the different layouts and file types is a real challenge (I’m not quite there yet), but mastering this skill is definitely one of those things every modern publisher should aspire to.
An essential task for a web based publisher is planning, creating and curating all online content and making sure everything is working properly and accessible. Posting updates, liaising with guest bloggers, sending out newsletters, and auditing existing content is all part of the day and sometimes consumes more time than I would like.
For instance, the most popular page on our website is the ‘Upcoming Writing Competitions’ page, with thousands of unique visitors per month. Combing through google search results for the right events to add to the list, posting and then updating when needed is a tedious task. Thankfully, many organisers of writing competitions now contact me directly with requests for listings. Featuring useful content such as this and making sure it is accessible to authors looking for publishing opportunities is a great way of increasing visibility for your brand. After all, visitors may be interested in our using publishing services, subscribing to our mailing list, or purchasing a book.
One of my favourite activities is designing book covers. This is done in close cooperation with freelance illustrators and graphic artists. Searching for the right people to work with can be time consuming as each artist has his or her own style. Establishing a business connection and eventually seeing the idea for a cover come to fruition is rewarding for both parties. Ideas for covers must first be visualised, and a rough drafts and concepts are drawn up and consulted before work commences. The whole team takes part in making suggestions during the artistic process until everyone is happy. One thing I have learned is that readers, especially readers of eBooks, DO judge a book by its cover. A well designed cover will look great on a printed paperback and in the form of a tiny thumbnail in Amazon’s ‘suggested books’ section. If a visitor clicks on the cover to get a closer look, there is good change he or she will decide to read it, right? In the age of internet browsers, the clickable cover is the first call-to-action.
You can’t have digital marketing without living a life from within social media. I’m sure you know how much time can be spent (and sometimes wasted) browsing through the expanses of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, you name it. I consider myself a social media addict, but I try to use the vast amount of time I spend online, on searching for inspiration for upcoming projects and trying to find that one new, unique thing that can be used to generate more traffic, increase sales and drive interaction with greater numbers of readers and writers. Twitter is my favourite tool for this.
So, is Digital Marketing as a career choice when it comes to the world of books? In my opinion, the publishing industry has many obstacles to get across before all the opportunities offered by digital and online channels are taken advantage of. If you take pleasure in interacting on social media, creating content, and have a general interest in digital and online media, I’m sure that the publishing sector is where your skills and/or favourite pastimes can come to good use.
Just don’t get addicted to Twitter while you’re at it.