The Life of a Book – Post-production!

Laura showing off some newly arrived books
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year
Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series
Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!

Laura

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands
Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

For many people in the book trade, October is almost synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair and it is no different for Channel View/Multilingual Matters.  For us, the only change this year was that Tommi, Sarah and I decided that we would drive to the fair as we wanted to see some of Europe, rather than fly straight to Germany as usual.  On our way to Germany we visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium and had lunch in Luxembourg City before finally arriving in Boppard, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Frankfurt where we stayed a couple of nights.

The view towards the Moselle from our hike
The view towards the Moselle from our hike

We spent a day hiking in the hills between the Moselle and Rhine Valleys which was beautiful, especially as the trees were just beginning to change colour.  We walked about 12 miles and although Tommi had sensibly chosen paths that were mainly downhill (!) Sarah and I were still extremely tired afterwards – perhaps not the best preparation for a busy week of work!  It took a traditional German dinner, good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast before we’d recovered enough to drive across to Frankfurt where we met Elinor ready for the start of the book fair.

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The fair provides us with an annual opportunity to meet and discuss business with others working in the industry.  Tommi and Elinor meet with our sales reps who sell our books in less directly accessible markets, such as India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia and distributors and wholesalers who make sure that our books get to our customers, and that our customers know of our books.  Sarah meets with those involved in the production side of the industry, such as printers and typesetters, as well as an increasing number of people working on digital projects who she may collaborate with on ebooks and related matter.  Finally, I meet with representatives from foreign publishing houses who are interested in buying the translation rights to our titles for publication in languages other than English.

In between meetings we nibbled our usual selection of German snacks (we’re big fans of Rittersport and Gummi bears) and made the most of the sausages and schnitzel available for lunch!  We spent the evenings sampling yet more traditional German food and we enjoyed the annual drinks reception held by the Independent Publishers Guild, which we are members of.  As ever, we made the most of the opportunities that the fair offers us to meet colleagues from around the world; talk about what’s happening in the industry and discuss future projects and partnerships.  We have all made it safely back to the office and it won’t be long before it’s time to think about next year’s trip!

Laura