The Bookseller #mandp14 interviews: Vicky Hartley of Watkins Publishing

In the run up to The Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference, we’ll be running a series of interviews with some prominent and interesting figures in the book publishing industry. Asking them about their experiences and expert opinions on book marketing and what we can learn from campaigns they’ve seen so far.

Our first is with Vicky Hartley, who has been the Marketing and Publicity Director at Watkins Publishing for 8 years. She is responsible for all brand marketing and publicity strategies, and also oversees all campaigns for products and the development of partnerships. Vicky was previously a Marketing Executive at Hodder and Stoughton.

1. How does marketing a series of books differ from marketing a one-off title?

You need to have a strong message for the series, but then you also need to have a message about each of the books. Depending on the nature of the series you might also be marketing to slightly different demographics, so the planning of a series is really important. Getting involved as early as possible from a marketing point of view is helpful, so that you are clearly connected to the aims of the series. Series are also less author driven, which means you have to do more work in creating a voice for the products because no one else is going to. Once a series is launched then the marketing becomes easier as there is recognition in the market.

2. What do you need to consider when marketing a big release?

Firstly it’s about gathering and refining your data – making sure you have a strong idea of what the book is about, what themes are, and making sure that that is clearly reflected in all of your copy. Then you need to take stock of what your assets are, from the authors connections, relevant third-parties, existing extra content, and extra content that is easily created. Then you need to sit and plan out the campaign and start making your approaches. It’s also worth liaising closely with the sales team to ensure that you are hitting their deadlines and that you are making use of all of the promotional avenues.

3. How big a part does social media play in your marketing strategy?

It’s a big part because we produce niche books, and we leverage every avenue that is suitable for that book – you have to evaluate which of the social channels your core reader will be on and then make sure you are on there. It’s important to not spread yourself too thinly and to think about making sure your message is suitable for each channel too – copying a tweet straight on to your Facebook feed is not ideal – there are often differences in terminology and misuse can undermine your message.

4. Do you get many pre-orders? And do they impact subsequent marketing plans?

Pre-orders are becoming a bigger part of the launch plans for a book – partly because Amazon rankings are so important to authors and agents and also because authors are desperate to talk about their books, so you need to have somewhere to send them. Which is why making sure that you get your content/data perfect at such an early stage of the campaign is important, so that wherever pre-orders are taken the page itself is polished and the sales pitch is strong.

5. Finally, what is the best book marketing strategy you’ve seen? What can be learnt from it?

The best strategy I’ve seen is for Titantic by History Press  (@TitanicRealTime) because they engaged in so much creativity for that, ticking all the boxes in terms of getting their data right, leveraging all their assets, targeting their core audience through third-parties, creating engaging social media channels and doing it all on a very tight budget.

Want to learn more about our new product BookSnacking, the best way to promote and get your book discovered online? Arrange to meet our very own @LauraAustinNow, YUDU‘s Head of Marketing, at #mandp14 by emailing

Categories: eBooks, Experts

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