Andrew Hayward, Ether – firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Armistead, Guardian Online – email@example.com / @carmitstead
Anna Fielding, Emerald St – Anna.Fielding@shortlist.com / @anna_anna
Emma Gannon, Glamour Online – Emma.Gannon@condenast.co.uk / @girllostincity
Marisa Bate, The Pool – firstname.lastname@example.org / @marisajbate
Ether – Andrew Hayward
Andrew Hayward began the meeting with a five minute introduction to Ether, a new short story app, for which he is looking for material and support from publishers. Current contributors include Paul McCartney, Alexander McCall Smith, Lionel Shriver and many more, but they are looking for more material. They have as much space as Amazon, but their USP is accessibility and discoverability – Ether can help get the word out pre-publication and assess demand, and help to build pre-publication buzz. First chapters and standalone short stories are both welcome, and their users review the material allowing publishers to build word of mouth. They need information and material 3-4 months beforehand, royalties are paid, they can also pass back stats and market insights to publishers. Please contact Andy direct with suggestions.
Claire Armitstead – Guardian online
Claire began as a traditional print books editor at the Guardian, but in 2011 the Guardian website did a quantum leap and now Claire heads up the online content as well. Traditional book reviewing was preview and review – but now they can expand into blogging, podcast and have an international platform in a way they never did with print.
The Guardian are now “webfirst and web-led” – ie pieces are now commissioned specifically for the website and then pushed into the paper. Book content is privileged because the paper recognises that book content does need the long form paper section too.
Claire sees the website as not just reflecting what’s in print, but amplifying what happens in the paper, eg complementary content and features on the website (example they are planning a live readalong section online to complement the To Set a Watchman release.)
Stories are much more dynamic now – they get an initial version up asap and then refine and rewrite the story throughout the day as more details emerge, and it’s the final version that goes into the paper the following day.
They love big “set pieces” – for example with a recent Ishiguru release, they had a reading group, a web chat, first interview, as well as the traditional review. In this way they feel a sense of “ownership” over certain authors – they know that their readers are very keen on a particular subset of authors and they like to really support those names.
“Social”, ie social media, is very important and they have some huge spread there – for example the @guardianbooks twitter account alone has some 1.2 million followers. Their twitter followers don’t always click through – but these people are still part of the conversation. And the “conversion” rate may belie the fact that they are reading the Guardian articles off-site, for example on facebook or off-line and that’s fine – they realise they can’t necessarily expect people to go to the Guardian site, meeting them halfway on their favourite sites is key.
The website has meant that they now have a huge global spread outside the UK, in fact their traffic is ⅓ UK, ⅓ US and ⅓ rest of the world. They have to consider their global market too – for example they do quite a lot of launches in Australian time, if the story is of particular interest to that region.
The books site know that in terms of longevity, they have very different stats to the rest of the paper. ⅓ of their readers come to their content MORE than a year after publication. A third reads their stories between 1 week and 1 year after publication, and the final third is in the week post publication. The percentage of readers who read a books story on the day of publication is actually a comparatively tiny sliver. So they have to remember that their content lasts and is still interesting over time – they are very much aware that they are building up a tremendous archive of content.
A few tips in terms of things not to do – please don’t arrange competing stuff with the Observer – yes they are sister companies but they can’t both cover the same stuff, and communication is key. They will be annoyed if they find a straight literary interview has been arranged with both books pages – so please do be honest and up front. They can do complementary stuff but not (for example) lead interview in each section.
Anna Fielding – Emerald St
Emerald street are what’s called a “women’s lifestyle email” – they have around 110,000 subscribers. They are a sister brand to Stylist magazine, but there isn’t much crossover – the content tends to be quite separate. They try not to duplicate too much though, particularly book reviews!
Every Monday they run a review of a new fiction book. On Wednesday they run 4 books based around a theme. They are fairly eclectic. The one thing Anna is not keen on is anything with a twirly font and cupcakes on the cover – she doesn’t like being pigeonholed as a woman’s magazine. Yes, the majority of their readers are women, but that doesn’t mean they only read women’s fiction.
They don’t do much crime, nor any YA, but other than that they do most stuff – they love fiction.
Books are key to her and she really wants to be reaching out to booklovers and book readers!
Anna loves hosting stuff and loves public speaking – Emerald Street do very successful reader events. The last one they released 60 tickets and sold out within 15 minutes. They then released another 25 which sold out within half an hour!
They do link to buy but prefer to support an indy bookshop or publishers site rather than the big online retailers.
They are open to competitions – Anna doesn’t organise these but she can put you in touch with the right colleague. Their giveaways have to be on-brand and their readership is ABC1 educated women with disposable income to please bear this in mind. Their reader doesn’t like to be dictated to, and certainly doesn’t want to be patronised!
The Emerald St website has historically been mainly an archive for their email content but they are gong to start doing a series of personal essays on there, linked to from the email. If you have an author who is prepared to write something bespoke, please get in touch. They will also be looking at extracts – their preference is for bespoke content but for the right content they will extract. They are very excited about this!
Email is the best way of getting in touch – she has too many phone calls! She always tries to read even if she can’t always respond.
In terms of pet loves/hates – she loves parties! Can’t always come but loves to be asked. She hates it when publication dates are changed at short notice.
Emma Gannon – Glamour online
Emma is Head of Social Media at Glamour – she is involved in upfront planning of what’s working and what’s not. Books work really well for them! Before this she was at the Debrief – Grazia’s online offering. Glamour really values their book content – eg 50 summer reads etc.
At the Debrief she did bookclub events which meant staying after work getting drunk and discussing books online!
There are two regular slots in the mag – Glam Reads which is 4 books on a page with a 3 month lead time. The other way is that if you end up in a celebrity’s handbag picks, but this is a longer shot.
Online they can do more interesting stuff and shorter lead times. Their magazine demographic is women in their late 30s. Their online demographic is much younger – 18-25/early 30s. So here they can feature youtubers for example and generally younger stuff. They can also do fun content – eg they have an upcoming author interview conducted by the editor’s 9 year old daughter wearing a suit and a clipboard!
They can do giveaways and competitionss but they have to be timely – eg if a film is coming out they will do a giveaway of the book with a story about the film. But just a blank giveaway with no peg is hard.
They also have the Glamour bookclub – July is Marion Keyes. This is quite a big event with a lot of planning upfront. Lead time is a couple of months at least.
Online planning is very immediate – within a week. It’s very flexible and responsive. Author interviews do well, particularly if there’s an angle that fits with one of their categories, eg relationships, fashion – they can add the author as a contributing writer.
They get 5 million monthly users on Pinterest which is a big platform for them – so that’s a good place to get onto. They drive traffic back onto the website.
She loves curated recommendations rather than just catalogues being dropped on her desk.
Marisa Bates – The Pool
The Pool was the baby on the panel in terms of age – they are very new – when Marisa spoke to us, they were only 6 weeks post launch!
The Pool is described as a new digital platform for 30+ professional digitally-savvy women, with the USP that they deliver different content at different times of the day that will work equally whether readers are on their phone on the tube, at their desk at lunch, or on their tablet on the sofa.
The brains behind it are Lauren Laverne and Sam Baker.
Their content is driven by the time of day and what people are looking for – so the day kicks off with an email drop at 7am. (You have to sign up for this.)
Then they have a “newsdrop” at 11am. They’re not a news service but it’s topical. Some of it will be commissioned. Authors can contribute on topical subject – 600 words, and they must be prepared for a quick turn around. They have a broad remit and are very open to suggestions for this slot.
Next comes their “Drive time” slot – this is not the offical name for it, but it’s how Marisa thinks of it in her head! This is basically their 5 pm offering featuring their big contributors. On Friday their topic is culture (usually film but could be books)
10pm is their bedtime book club. They pick a book each week and publish an extract from the first 2000 words. They also love audio files. One of them introduces the book. They can be paperbacks, classics, debut… they want it to be a bit surprising!
On Thursdays they publish an interview with the author – they’ve had Lauren interviewing Caitlin Moran in her kitchen. They also feature Q&As with writers… etc.
On Saturday they have a “long read” which is a piece anything between 1000-2000 words. They’ve had extracts, original content, first person pieces.
The Pool is meant to be for women who are “too busy to browse” so their content aims to be accessible and responsive to what women want on their terms – they don’t make people fit with them, they are trying to give their reader what they want when they want it. An example of this is the way they have a scrapbook function so if someone sees something they like but are too busy to read it, they can scrap book it and come back. Another example is the way that all pieces are prefaced with how long it should take to read this piece, so people can fit it into their day. However that doesn’t necessarily mean the shorter the better – one interview they did a 5 minute cut but also a 30 minute cut and the 30 minute cut was the biggest thing on the site that day.
Their social reach is great thanks to Sam and Lauren.
Marisa is best point of contact at the moment. She covers news, arts and culture and anything else she’s dragged into! They only have one phone in the office, so email is probably better. She likes to receive tweets!
Further down the line, they have plans for events – a kitchen table salon which will be hosted by Lauren, where she interviews people and it’s filmed. Those evenings could be with one super special person, or 3 or 4 women on a theme. They are very much a work in progress as they are a start up.
Lead times are about 10 minutes ahead… but longer is welcome! The time is growing. A pitch for the long read is running about 2 months at the moment, but they can turn it around faster.
They aren’t doing reviews yet but would like to.
Please read the site and have an idea for where your writer might sit.
They would love your feedback!