Q&A with September Withers: Marketing Executive
By Jade Craddock
September Withers, marketing executive at Transworld, has kindly taken time out from her busy schedule to give an insight into her job and the role of marketing in publishing. ♥
I’m one of the marketing executives at Transworld Publishers and I sit within the digital marketing team. A lot of my job focuses on online promotions, from writing content about our authors and their books for our Transworld social media channels, to writing/creating content for external social channels. I look after a variety of book marketing campaigns, some which have no advertising budget at all, to others which do – and no two marketing campaigns are ever the same. From search advertising to social media advertising, print magazines ads to competitions and giveaways, my job is very varied, but ultimately, I’m just trying to spread the word about the books we love.
Which books have you worked on?
I’ve worked on a lot of different titles from non-fiction to crime fiction, but many of my recent campaigns have been for women’s fiction books. My most memorable of late is The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice. I used to work in the publicity team before moving over to marketing so having experience in both departments hugely helped with promoting #TheBestThingBook. Without a doubt, this has been one of my favourite books to work on – Laura and Jimmy are wonderful authors, extremely kind and they’re hilarious! It’s been so exciting to see the positive affects of social media in promoting their book too; it’s a really powerful tool that works well alongside traditional publicity and marketing, such as magazine reviews and print advertising.
What has been your most memorable experience working in publishing?
One of my most memorable moments in publishing (other than finding out I was being offered a job at Transworld – I cried A LOT) was probably earlier this year when I attended the book launch for a title called Wake by Anna Hope. I was helping to sell books at the event and the room was bursting with Anna’s friends and family. It was one of the most beautiful, happiest launches I’ve ever been to. When Anna gave a speech, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’ll never forget it, I can’t find the words to explain why, but I knew at that moment that I didn’t ever want to work without books again.
What changes have you seen in the way books are marketed in recent years and what are the current trends?
I’m still very new to book marketing, so since I’ve started, publishing books in an ebook format and marketing them digitally feels nothing but normal. There is an online element to everything we do when it comes to promoting both print and digital titles, and this is purely because so many book enthusiasts, like us, can be found on social media. It’s an integral platform for us to use in order to reach those people who might fall head over heels in love with our books and our authors. I would say that ‘online discoverability’ isn’t even a trend, it’s imperative.
How important is marketing?
Very! We work closely with the publicity, sales and editorial teams to spread the word about new books making their way into the world.
How can you make books stand out in an increasingly packed market?
We have fantastic editors here, who bring brilliant books to our attention on a daily basis. Our publicity team are wonderful, they put our titles into the hands of some of the most influential literary editors in the UK, our amazing sales team make sure our books can be bought from local independent and high street bookshops, and we work alongside everyone to ensure that our books are ‘out there’. It’s of course very challenging, as you said, it is an increasingly packed market, but we work hard and we’re nothing without our authors and the stories they write.
How can authors work with the marketing department?
When we’re working on a fully-fledged marketing campaign with a budget for outdoor, print and digital advertising, it’s really important to communicate and speak to our authors to let them know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Even if we’re working on a digital-only marketing campaign, it’s always important to let our authors know any plans we might have for them. As mentioned already, social media is a huge part of what we do – we use our own Transworld channels to speak about our books on a daily basis, however, it’s just as important these days for an author to manage their own channels too – which most do.
At what stage do you begin to plan marketing strategy and what determines the approach you take?
We often have meetings about our books up to 6-7 months before they’re published. That way we can begin to build an idea around what book audiences we should be targeting and how we plan to bring titles to their attention.
Are there some genres of women’s fiction that are more easily marketed?
No. Each book is completely unique with its own story to tell. Though ‘women’s fiction’ is a huge genre, there are so many different types of books that fall into this bracket, so each marketing campaign for a ‘women’s fiction’ title tends to have a completely different journey in making its way out into the world.
And finally what makes successful marketing?
This is a tough question but, without wanting to sound corny, I would say passion and enthusiasm. Behind every book is an author who has poured love into writing their story and we want to make sure that as many people have the chance to read these stories as possible. Working together so closely in-house helps too as does having objectives and being rather organised.