This is super late. I have no excuse. I'm sorry.
It's kind of difficult to say where we are with our project, mostly because I'm not entirely sure what I'm allowed to say. All of our submissions have been read and the successful authors have been notified. The shortlisted works have been sent to our judges (who we've still not even finished announcing) and we're excited to hear their feedback! Kara is in the process of designing our cover and they're looking really great, I'm excited to see how they turn out. This is when we start crunching the numbers too, and that bit is possibly the least enjoyable as you can imagine.
Sales, Marketing & Promotion
Week 3 was on marketing theories and techniques by our own Daniel Boswell. We looked at the increasing direct-to-consumer nature of marketing books now that publishers no longer rely so heavily on the high-street booksellers and how this has changed the way we market. It's almost surprising the amount of theory behind marketing strategy: it is most definitely not as simple as just throwing together some posters for some train stations and posting about it on Twitter. There's almost a science behind it that begins at the beginning of the editorial stage.
Week 4 John Bond from Whitefox and Clare Somerville, the Deputy MD at Hachette Children's came in to discuss brand management with us. We learnt from John that the publishing industry still has a lot to learn when it comes to branding their books and their authors; it's all to clear that without the help of film, TV and, recently, YouTube, the publishing industry would not be where it is today because they cannot brand themselves. Clare on the other hand suggested that Children's publishing has got it right; there are a few key brands that drive the sales of the publishing industry using Rainbow Magic Fairy series as a case study. Through licence sales many brands in Children's publishing have grown exponentially.
Applied Creativity and Content
Week 3 we had a really great session on metadata; yes, I'm being serious. Azar Hussain, the Head of Data at Faber & Faber came in to talk to us. In speedy 10 minute segments, Azar gave us a quick rundown of metadata in 4 parts. And he made it interesting! He showed us the importance of metadata and the importance of getting it right first time. Incorrect metadata can break a book's sales. Well considered metadata can greatly improve the visibility of a book and thus positively drive sales.
Week 4's session was on paper! Steve Holmen of Holmen Paper came in to speak to us about how paper is made and how it affects the final product. It's the tiny details; mere millimetres can greatly affect a books sales: if it's too thick and the book looks too cumbersome, a reader might not buy it; too white and it becomes too difficult to read. They're things that, as readers, we kind of don't really think about it, but the wrong decision by the publishers could change everything.
Week three we had a fantastic session on diversity in Children's literature. It was really interesting to talk about and discuss the common assumptions when reading; more often than not, unless explicitly told otherwise (and even then, there are those who will chose to ignore it) we assume that the person we are reading about is white, straight, cis. Of course the black Hermione was mentioned, was it enough for J. K. Rowling to come out after and say well I never said she was white, or, in the position of power she was in as an author, should she have made it explicit. Juno Dawson, who has sort of become the poster girl for diversity in YA of late, says that children's literature is getting a bad reputation and it's doing far better than most adult genres in terms of presenting diverse characters. The only reason people think it isn't is because the big ones, the Divergents, the Twilights, the Hunger Games, they eclipse all of the diverse children's literature out there. We also spoke to Crystal Mahey-Morgan formally of PRH, now founder of OWN IT! London who shared her experiences as a WOC in the publishing industry. She also shared with us her own projects that tackle the lack of diversity in literature today.
Unfortunately, week 4's session was cancelled as Mel was ill; get well soon Mel!