Described as the number one networking organisation in publishing, Byte the Book hosted a discussion on marketing authors and their books at the h Club (formerly the Hospital Club) in London last night. The talk was chaired by Marketing Director for Little Brown Book Group, Hermione Ireland and the panel consisted of Julia Silk (Literary Agent for Kingsford Campbell), Truda Spruyt (Director of PR agency, Colman Getty/Four Communications) and Kit Caless (Author and Publisher at Influx Press).

The evening featured a lively discussion and insightful advice for authors and publishers alike as the panel explored varied topics and answered burning questions from the floor. The conversation covered the best approaches to marketing new titles, when to begin campaigns, to how authors should present themselves on social media and what authors can do to support the marketing efforts of their publishers.

In relation to the question of social media, Julia Silk talked through some common pitfalls authors fall prey to and advised, “It’s about marketing yourself not your product really. It’s about being your authentic self.” Conversely, Kit Caless responded to this by admitting that he preferred the enigmatic approach, i.e. authors that don’t use social media often or even at all, “I think we’re at a tipping point where social media is not as useful as it used to be. I quite like the mystery.”

Byte the Book’s Justine Solomons introducing the panel at Covent Garden’s h Club.

Caless went on to warn attendees that despite developing a good online presence, quality is king when it comes to the books themselves, “Whether you’re curating yourself, or being authentic, the writing still has to stand up.”

On the topic of providing good metadata, Silk was quick to answer: “It works and it’s really, really important […] it’s something that clever publishers will be messing around with all the time.” She went on to explain how BIC/BISAC codes and keywords etc. can automate aspects of marketing by bringing the right audiences to your books.

The panel was finally opened up to questions, and an author asked, “What should I be asking my marketing team?” Spruyt suggested that while book launches are less popular now, bringing a community together can be very effective, particularly if it’s a news-worthy event. And encouraged authors to think creatively about what could be with their marketing team, concluding with, “everyone loves a party!”

On the same topic, Caless explained that he had hosted a successful book launch for a Grime music title at Rough Trade East where he had invited 300 people (readers, people in media etc.). According to Caless, the event saw 95% invitees in attendance and reportedly sold 200 books on the night. He explained, “it works when you’ve got a community ready to go.”

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Panellists discuss the best approaches to marketing authors and their books. (From left to right) Hermoine Ireland, Julia Silk, Truda Spruyt and Kit Caless.

A final takeaway from Spruyt was, “Understand how to access your audience in lots of different ways” whilst Silk advised creating marketing content that “tells a story” and avoids reading like a sales pitch.

After the panel concluded, attendees had the opportunity to network with authors, agents, publishers and suppliers to the publishing industry at the members club over a glass of something chilled.

Byte the Book’s next event will be ‘The Way Forward: What Does The Future Of Culture And Storytelling Look Like?’ and will be sponsored by IPR’s parent company, Frankfurter Buchmesse. This event will take place at the Groucho Club. Byte the Book and Groucho members will be able to enter free. Non-member tickets are £25 (+ VAT and booking fee). If you are keen to join Byte the Book please sign up here.



Junior Marketing and Account Manager, Maya Whatton