5 Ways to Effectively Evangelize Your House’s Brand at BEA

In Guest Contributors by Guest Contributor

Here are five suggestions for making the most of BookExpo America—not just for titles but for publishers’ own brands—and for the growing interaction of readers.

By William Kingsland and Rakesh Satyal of Siegel+Gale

BEA 2013 againAs BookExpo America (BEA) approaches, it’s time once again for publishers to marshal their resources and in-house enthusiasm to tell the industry about the titles they’ve anointed as their “Big Books” of the season (or even of the year). But it’s also a perfect time for publishers to think about evolving how they market themselves. Here are five suggestions for making the most of BEA—not just for a few select titles but for publishers’ own brands—and for the growing interaction of readers with the publishing houses that their favorite authors call home.

1. Use Your “Big Book” as a Driver of Sales Across the Board

William Kingsland

William Kingsland

Everyone at BEA is familiar with the famous “Big Books” panel, in which publishers trumpet one linchpin title in the hopes of making it the book of the season. And, in a notoriously volatile industry, publishers are increasingly dependent on these books to make their projected numbers. But just as a video game startup, for example, might leverage out the success of its most popular gaming app when branching out to other offerings, publishers should be willing to call attention to their entire list by way of their big books. This simultaneously allows publishers to promote their star titles while spreading the success to other books that may not otherwise have received special attention. In other words, discussing the “Big Book” is a natural way to start a conversation about a house’s larger list and editorial mission—thereby strengthening the house’s brand by showing the taste level and breadth of the house itself.

2. They’re Not Salespeople—They’re Ambassadors

Rakesh Satyal

Rakesh Satyal

It’s a common complaint among editors: with the volume of titles that salespeople have to handle, it often feels as if they don’t even have time to read the books they’re selling. Unfortunately, this is not always off the mark. At the same time, the best salespeople are fierce advocates for the books that they love on a particular list. As such, they are great brand ambassadors. Having the most passionate salespeople network as actively as editors and publishers at BEA and its related events is a great way to mix business with a much-needed element of dedication.

3. Take Inspiration from Authors’ Enthusiasm

Nobody is more excited about publishing than authors themselves; after all, it is their lifelong dreams to see their work in print. As a result, most of these authors are incredibly loyal to their publishers because they see them as integral to their careers. So publishers should feel comfortable in speaking with authors as if they, too, are brand ambassadors for their publishing houses. Most authors work tirelessly to promote their writing and their books; promoting their publishers would be a natural and logical extension of the work authors are already doing. Authors like Jennifer Weiner, for example, have been very vocal about loving the imprints that publish them (in Weiner’s case, that would be Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint), and this has undoubtedly led to higher visibility of, familiarity with and dedication to them as brands.

4. Add a Consumer Component

BEA is, of course, an industry event, with all the in-the-know parties and panels that such an event implies. But adding a consumer component to the event gives a face to a publisher and to specific imprints. A chance for readers to engage directly with authors and other key decision makers is a great idea. Publishers, for example, could invite select readers to attend author breakfasts or panels at BEA, hold a contest for fans to have lunch or dinner with their favorite author during BEA and so on. By breaking down the invisible wall between “prestige” publishing and the most dedicated book lovers, publishers have an opportunity to add warmth, visibility and business-to-consumer impact—all at once.

5. Create a Chance for Readers to “Follow Up”

Authors like John Green have been so wildly successful because they engage feverishly with fans and have established a rapport in which readers know exactly how and when to interact with them by way of YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, message boards and more. Using social media to inform readers of the goings-on at BEA and then creating a chance for them to “follow up” and continue the conversation—in an online forum, in stores, by entering branded writing contents—is a great way to sustain the constant, strengthening relationship between publishers and the readers who love their books and their authors.

William (Billy) Kingsland is a senior content strategist of brand development, based out of Siegel+Gale’s New York office. Before venturing into the world of branding, Billy spent more than a decade in the book publishing industry in New York, working primarily on the literary agency side of the business. He helped writers—including a number of award-winners and bestsellers—conceive and write their book. 

Rakesh Satyal is a naming strategist based out of Siegel+Gale’s New York office. Prior to beginning a career in branding, he spent ten years as a book editor, first at Random House and then at HarperCollins. He has taught as an adjunct professor in the publishing program at New York University and been on the advisory committee for the annual PEN World Voices Festival. He is also a novelist, and his Lambda Award-winning debut novel, Blue Boy, is now taught at high schools and colleges worldwide.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.