Tag Archives: IPG

IPG’s Annual Spring Conference & Independent Publishing Awards

On the 8th-10th of February the IPG Spring Conference will be running in Oxfordshire! For more details check out the official IPG website!

They’ll be keynote speakers, conferences, events and networking opportunities. As well as the awards in the evening! A great event!

Let us know if you’re attending the IPG’s Annual Spring Conference on our social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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The Beginners Guide to Networking in Publishing (and other industries)

Networking. It’s not many people’s favourite activity but we all have to do it. Charly Salvesen-Ford of the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) and I recently gave a “Masterclass on Networking” to the SYP Oxford, and below are the highlights of what we talked about.

But why do I have to network?
Publishing is a very collaborative industry and it is very relationship driven. Networking can get you anything from free books, to book club members, to new business opportunities, to job offers.

  • People are more likely to remember you if they’ve met you and can put a face to the name.
  • People are more likely to remember you, and therefore recommend you to others if they’ve spoken to you in real life
  • People are more likely to remember you, and therefore be willing to help you if they’ve met you in real life.

Ok. Quick! Tell me what I need to know in 30 seconds.

  • Be brave and fake it till you make it – I bet 90% the people in the room are just as nervous as you are! Seriously, people are often just as shy as you are, and being nice to them in real life, will make them feel better about themselves and therefore good about you.
  • Baby steps – challenge yourself to get just one business card. Voila! You have networked. Next time will be easier and you can get two.
  • Practice – The more you do it, the less scary it will get. I promise.
  • Just do it!!! – Networking is one of those things that you learn by doing.

Maybe a little bit more detail…
Even the most extroverted people know how intimidating walking into a room full of people can be… and a room full of people that all seem to already know each other is a million times worse! Quick tip for that? Get there for the start of the event as opposed to “fashionably late” and cliques won’t have had time to form.

Claire Louise and Charly’s Top Ten Tips for Networking Success

Before the event

  1. Bring business cards, and be ready to accept them too.
    If you’ve got no business card, bring a biro or a Sharpie – that way you can improvise if necessary, or can jot notes to remind of you of things that you will associate with the new contacts. Note: We say biro or sharpie, rather than ink pens because some cards are glossy and hard to write on. Keep spares in your name badge holder/lanyard if you have one.
  2. Look at the delegate list.
    You will often have access to a list of who is at an event. If you have a quick look over it, it may help you recognise people in the room. There may also be specific people that you’d like to be introduced to – why not ask an organiser (or an experienced industry person) if they can point them out or introduce you. You will sometimes know who is going to an event beforehand, in which case it’s worth doing some prep.
  3. Engage online if it is encouraged by the event.
    For example, IPG events love to use hashtags – it’s a good icebreaker for before an event “I’m going to this, do say hello!” and to start virtual conversations that can transfer to real ones if you find the person you are tweeting alongside.

During the event

  1. Just say hello.
    It can be difficult to know how to open a conversation but it’s usually absolutely to fine to start with the basics – say hi and smile! First impressions really count, so a smile can be a winning accessory – even to people you don’t speak to on that occasion.
  2. Give yourself a target of people to meet / cards to obtain.
    Remember though ultimately it’s quality not quantity. Make it a challenge and a game and get invested. These don’t have to be big challenges. For example, if you are super nervous, set yourself the goal of one conversation. Little steps. Next time it won’t be as daunting.
  3. Ask questions
    If the networking follows a talk/conference, ask what they thought about a panel. People like to be asked questions about them and what they do – it’s often an interesting and useful conversation springboard if you ascertain how long someone has worked in the industry.
  4. Speak to people you wouldn’t normally speak to.
    You never know when something/someone’s going to be important and it would be boring if we only spoke to people like ourselves. (It can be tempting to hang around with a group of friends. You will see your friends again, this is the time to work on your career.)

After the event & general thoughts

  1. Do your follow up!
    If you exchanged cards, send a “nice to meet you” email a day or so later. If you said you would send them something, SEND IT!
  2. Don’t forget to tweet the event (using the hashtag) to say “great event” afterwards. A thank you is also always appreciated – events take a lot of organisation! (And if you write a blog follow-up, again, mention the hashtag and organiser in a tweet with the link)
  3. Don’t panic.
    Everyone is human and we don’t all get it right all the time. That’s fine.

Do you have any further tips or networking tricks? Do let us know in the comments, or jump into the conversation on Twitter (@atwoodtate, @kempcl, and @ipghq).

clk-new Charly Ford


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IPG DMQ – Selling direct to consumers

Last week I attended the IPG’s Digital and Marketing Quarterly (@ipghq #ipgdmq), hosted at the offices of Faber and Faber. The theme of the event was selling direct to consumers and there was a great range of talks from experts in different fields of publishing.

The evening kicked off with Gareth Cuddy, CEO of Vearsa, who spoke about the promise and pitfalls of selling direct to consumers and the increase in “social” or “recommendation” based selling. He ran through a list of different platforms for selling books online and advised that publishers should not be afraid to outsource parts of their business where possible. Tech start-ups rely heavily on outsourcing and it works well for them!

This was followed by James Woolham, MD of F+W Media. He talked about how they have built a successful direct to consumer business based on a series of online craft brands and he demonstrated how publishers can build an interactive online community of fans and customers. It is not an expensive process but it does require time and commitment and the revenue gained will be far greater than any risks.


Next up was Jaime Marshall (MD of Higher Education) and Katie Thorn (Marketing Director) at Macmillan. They gave an insight into the 3 categories of higher education books they publish and how best to market each category to their desired consumer. Selling to lecturers and students is both an art and a science and a blend of B2B and B2C tactics are required.

1. Core adoptable textbooks: The single source of reading for a course.

2. Recommended reading: Optional reading which doesn’t fit a whole module

3. ‘Trade’: Scaled out titles, generally sold in bookshops to trade consumers

The increase in tuition fees and the closing of campus bookshops has changed the landscape of academic bookselling. One way they have overcome the challenges is by partnering with John Smith & Son and setting up virtual campus bookstores online.

The evening finished off with Steve Bohme, Research Director at Nielsen, who spoke about the trends in book buying across different formats and the fact that eBook sales have slowed due to a slowdown in ownership of reading devices. He also urged publishers to think more resourcefully and creatively about how they make use of their data for marketing purposes.

Thanks to all the speakers for their contribution to a very interesting evening, full of useful tips and facts for selling direct to consumers.

The next DMQ is on 26th November.

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The IPG Autumn Conference – all about Reaching Readers

IPG 3 photo

It was a great day of talks and a forum for sharing ideas recently as the crème de la crème of the independent publishing world met up at the RSA for the IPG Autumn Conference. (Interesting fact: I got married at the RSA!)

Nick Harkaway kicked off with an entertaining look at how publishers can reach their readers via digital channels.  He urged us to consider what is the perfect reader experience? What’s yours?  What’s your readers?  He encouraged us to engage with people – more Argentine tango style and to be responsive, engage their passion.  Pick your area and know who you are as an independent publisher.  He mentioned a couple of publishers doing it well: Brands like Nosy Crow and Angry Robot are engaging and he knows that he’s very likely to like what they do next.

Other suggestions included publishing more quickly so readers don’t have to wait 12 or 18 months for the next book.  Also readers don’t want to pay more than once for the same content in different formats so think about bundling and in return get the customer details so you can learn who they are and what they will want to buy in future.


Tim Williams of Edward Elgar and Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow gave case studies of 2 very different publishing styles for different markets.

Edward Elgar Publishing specializes in the academic and professional markets and their books are mainly sold direct to libraries and Tim asked the question, if the customer isn’t the reader, why bother trying to reach them? Answer: Readers are also authors; readers request books from librarians; they write new books and they leave a trail of citations and usage data.

Nosy Crow has come a long way fast.  It’s hard to believe such a strong brand has only been going since 2010.  They have to reach their readers but through another person e.g. teacher, librarian, parent.  Kate outlined that publishing used to be about shouting to an unknown audience but now we have the opportunity to connect with book buyers directly.  This involves interacting with them via twitter, blogging and other social media.  They gather audience mailing info and have ambassadors who get early release material.  They have oversubscribed reading groups and have run a conference for their authors, illustrators etc.

Tips with social media – you need to be:

Consistent – stick to the voice you’ve decided on

Responsive – internet not as broadcast medium, interact

Respectful – have a sense of privilege to connect with readers

Grateful – for good reviews etc. thank them

Generous – talk about other publishers


In the very important ‘Supply chain’ section, Colin James of Penguin Random House outlined some of the changes they’ve made e.g. moving to a little and often printing model.  He stressed the importance of getting strong partnerships in place with printers and suppliers and getting SLAs in place.

Andy Cork of Printondemand-worldwide urged publishers to think about designing for manufacture in order to keep costs and timing manageable for POD.

Gareth Cuddy of ePub Direct gave us an insight into his world and considered the important question of how to help publishers manage and control data?  There are lots of products out there and publishers need reports but need to know what to do with all the data once it starts flooding in.


Suw Charman Anderson, gave lots of sound advice on publishers’ social media strategy, suggesting publishers think about their audience demographics – each social media has different users.  She advised us to use every piece of content 3 times e.g. on Twitter, your blog and Pinterest.  It’s important to measure the activity of your audience – when are they online?  Also measure your activity – are people sharing information? Importantly, review what you’re doing regularly and how successful it is and change as needed.

Guy Fowles and Rob Nichols from Constable & Robinson encouraged us to engage with our audience, encourage them to interact and share your content (& link back to your sites!).  Advice was given on how to get to the top of google listings – we need to have unique high quality original content that adds value e.g. photo albums, author interviews, comment or blog pieces, promotional videos, competitions.  And share it across multiple platforms different times to reach different audiences.


Chris Bennett of CUP gave a fascinating talk on global pricing issues and advised indies to hold their nerve.  The pricing disparity where publishers produce home market and international editions of textbooks and price to the local market is more severe especially with the onset of eBooks.

Lee Harris from Angry Robot was very entertaining and after his first thought on preparing a talk on pricing: “Look at what everyone else charges and charge that” gave a fascinating outline of the various considerations involved in setting prices.  He considered the implications of print and eBook pricing and the variations in acceptable prices both in the UK and the US.  What’s the best price for an eBook? Depends on what best refers to – the reader / publisher / industry!

Matt Haslum of Faber & Faber gave us some great ideas on the power of partnerships and how pretty much any publisher can come up with a partnership idea to suit their brand.

So, a lot of ideas and suggestions on reaching the reader along with some interesting observations e.g. that we want absence of screen sometimes (oh yes!) and that we consume in different ways.


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