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Fish Where the Fish Are: BookExpo Take Home Number 1

Posted on: July 9th, 2012 | No comments 

BookExpo America (BEA) is the big annual publishing tradeshow held in early June where publishers lay out their wares for the coming season. As a publisher at McGraw-Hill during the mid-2000s, I talked up our big titles and took more pitches than a catcher working both ends of a doubleheader. Now, as a publishing and communications consultant, I take a different strategy. This year, I decided to concentrate on seminars and panels so that I can bring the latest intel and trends to our clients.

I especially enjoyed “Reader-Centric Publishing.” Skillfully moderated by Carol Fitzgerald of, the panel all-stars were Random House president Gina Centrello, Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp, Bronwen Hruska, publisher at Soho Press, and Megan Tingly, publisher of Little-Brown Books for Younger Readers.

The upshot: publishers are transforming their companies to focus on the reader. This may sound obvious, but publishers historically have talked to booksellers about their books, and booksellers marketed to readers. Now publishers need to bypass accounts to discover where readers are, discover what they’re talking about, and engage them in conversations. Discoverability is the key word.

I loved Gina Centrello’s mantra, “fish where the fish are.” She said Random House does this by developing partnerships on platforms where large numbers of reader communities can be found. For example, they have a partnership with, where they publish original content and have an online bookstore. Jonathan Karp said Simon & Schuster has devoted lots of content marketing and attention to C-Span’s Book TV where truly passionate nonfiction readers can be found.

How can authors fish where the fish are? First, focus on data and research:

  • Explore online brands in your subject area by searching primary concepts in your book to see if they’ve published similar content;
  • Take a bestselling comparison book and

Social Media Calendar—The Playbook for Your Online Content

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 | No comments 

Randomly shot social media, whether auto-fed Tweeted quotes, day-in-the life-of blog posts, or needlessly controversial Facebook updates, gets you nowhere. Your goal is developing a certain niche of followers or community, and you need to be strategic and targeted in the type of content marketing you do. One tip that really helps is to use a social media calendar. I hear over and over that authors feel overwhelmed starting up a social media platform. The social media calendar breaks down the process; it is a spreadsheet or playbook organized on a Monday to Sunday grid where you schedule your tweets, posts, and updates with guidance on tone, types, and targeting. It’s a stress-relieving, strategic tool that forces you to clarify your ideas and plan for your content (see these examples on Wheeler Blogs or on

As you see, social media calendars ask you to develop your content with the end user in mind. In this way, you create content strategically. Some posts keep existing followers engaged, others will win new followers; on some days you will post on news folks can use; other posts will provoke thought and ask questions. According to the wonderful GigaOm site, “an effective social media calendar should include clear designations of each task, clear assignments to specific people, clear deadlines to set expectations, and a place to show a task is complete and demonstrate expectations have been met.”

As with any planning tool, you have to use it or it won’t help you. Ensure you keep the digital file on your dashboard or print out a hard copy version and tack it up near your desk. As with all marketing, test your efforts. Follow your blueprint for a couple months, and see what kinds of posts get response and engagement—and do more of