By Sophie Rochester
It’s been quite a year for the publishing industry — an industry still straddling the realms of both print and digital. This could not have been more highlighted through the course of building up to Fiction Uncovered, the major new promotion to support the UK’s best fiction writers, which announces its inaugural selection of eight titles today. The promotion, supported by Arts Council England and funded by the National Lottery, pledges to support those writers who deserve wider recognition.
How do readers find fiction? If they’re buying print books are they more likely to react to print point of sale material? If they’re buying e-books are they more likely to respond to digital marketing? Or is that too simplistic — is digital marketing helping to drive customers into bookshops to buy fiction? And when they’re in a physical store do they want to buy a print book or an e-book? When we launched Fiction Uncovered we knew that while the industry tries to answer these questions we would have to cover all bases — and the only way we would be able to do this was through a series of partnerships and collaborations with like-minded people who were as passionate about supporting the UK’s fiction writers as we were.
We announced the eight Fiction Uncovered titles last Thursday (19 May 2011) and they will go on to be part of a major retail promotion across the UK. We were delighted to have early support from retailers Waterstone’s — who are helping to push out the eight titles with a range of promotional activity including a nationwide 3-for-2 promotion with Fiction Uncovered FSDUs and other POS (including bookmarks and banners) going into around 100 stores, an online retail partnership with digital marketing support via www.waterstones.com and at Waterstone’s Piccadilly — Europe’s largest bookstore.
This early support acted as a catalyst for every other major UK retailer to help support a promotion that no-one had heard of — iBookstore, Amazon, Foyles, WH Smith, the Book Depository and the Book Partnership (reaching independent bookstores) all came on board pledging their support for the promotion.
With retailers behind the promotion our next challenge was to reach readers directly — so at the heart of Fiction Uncovered has always been a strong digital strategy. Our basecamp is www.fictionuncovered.co.uk — and here we’ve encourage since launch (October 2010) a community of readers and writers to discuss fiction they feel deserves a wider audience. Reading recommendations to date have come from writers including James Meek, Evie Wyld, Paul Murray, Matt Thorne, Tibor Fischer, Tessa Hadley, Alex Clark, Amanda Craig, Bernardine Evaristo and Nicholas Blincoe, not to mention some of the UK’s most prolific book bloggers — John Self, Jackie Bailey, William Rycroft, Jonathan Gibbs and David Hebblethwaite.
We also teamed up with the Reading Agency (reaching the all important reading communities of libraries and reading groups) and reader websites such as lovereading.co.uk and bookswarm.co.uk — to reach loyal audiences of book lovers. Fiction Uncovered titles will feature in a dedicated app, created by Enhanced Editions for iPhone and iPad, carrying book extracts, synced audio readings, and video interviews with the selected authors and judges. Readings and interviews with judges and authors (audio and video) have been specially produced by o productions and will be made available to reader websites and publishers to help promote the eight titles, as well as being hosted at fictionuncovered.co.uk, YouTube and Vimeo.
Offline and on the ground we still wanted to reach avid book fans through events but knew how easily book events can be poorly attended. With this in mind we teamed up with the best — and Fiction Uncovered events will run throughout summer 2011 starting with the Shoreditch House Literary Salon (19 May), The Book Stops Here (13 June) and, in association with Literary Death Match, at Latitude Festival (14 July). These are all stellar book event organizers with established audiences — who can help spread the Fiction Uncovered word!
Advertising will follow via a print and online campaign including Granta magazine, as well as a bespoke Fiction Uncovered window at Foyles, Charing Cros Road, London (by designer Sam Oakley), which will run from 20 May for two weeks. Posters, bookmarks and Fiction Uncovered branded display units, also designed by Sam Oakley, will go into retailers, libraries and other literary organisations across the UK.
Fiction Uncovered demonstrates if you want books to be seen everywhere then you need to be working with everyone — the lesson for us was to build partnerships and collaborations with like-minds.
The eight titles selected for Fiction Uncovered 2011, are:
- The Water Theatre by Lindsay Clarke (Alma Books)
- The London Satyr by Robert Edric (Doubleday, Transworld)
- Proof of Love by Catherine Hall (Portobello)
- Night Waking by Sarah Moss (Granta)
- <Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling (Portobello)
- Disputed Land by Tim Pears (William Heinemann, Random House)
- Forgetting Zoë by Ray Robinson (William Heinemann, Random House)<
- The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons (Birlinn, Polygon)
Buy these books, read these books and tell your friends — on and offline — about these books!