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The Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference 2023: Highlights and Takeaways

If there's one thing we learned from the brilliant Bookseller Marketing and Publicity 2023 conference it's that few things can rival books in their ability to hold people captive. During the pandemic, book sales skyrocketed, the number of people preferring physical books to their digital equivalents continues to rise, and social media is still obsessed with following the latest reading trends - BookTok anyone!?

This makes the job of book publicity both simultaneously exciting and daunting - how do you stay on top of an industry that is so well-loved and that moves so fast? Fortunately, the latest Bookseller and Marketing and Publicity Conference was a gold mine of expert panels, case studies and thought-provoking talks to help get the ideas flowing.

Having been lucky enough to attend, here were some of the stand-out moments and takeaways from the day:

  1. Navigating the world of TikTok - arguably the most important social platform for engaging diverse audiences, TikTok is becoming a must-have in the book publicity repertoire. Louisa McGillicuddy’s fascinating talk about how to make trends work your campaign, but also when to stop and think about relevancy before jumping on what everyone else is already doing, was a real highlight.

  2. Best preparing authors for interviews - Media training is a staple for any author, but if you can’t predict the success of a campaign, how can you prepare authors for interviews? David Bond shared some fascinating insights on interview techniques, managing tricky questions and building confidence that would help any PR or marketer equip authors for the limelight.

  3. Stepping outside of the traditional campaign - We heard from the team behind ‘Birnam Wood’ by Eleanor Catton, Simon H. and Pru Rowlandson, who shared their three strategic campaign focuses: The Sell In, The Set-Up and The Sell Out. Their talk covered taking the time to be creative as part of The Sell In, explaining how digital assets, themed photoshoots and customised merchandise can enhance a campaign. They also highlighted the importance of maintaining relationships with booksellers, offering bespoke merchandise and guest author readings as examples. Booksellers are the connections who will be your allies when reaching target audiences.

  4. Being a part of the opportunities we create - Working with a range of wellbeing experts ourselves, it was great to hear from psychologist and author Dr Sophie Mort. In her talk ‘Unstick Yourself: How to Get out of your way and Create Better Work Habits’, it was interesting to hear her thoughts on productivity anxiety, to better understand how we work and tips to overcome such procrastination. Working on similar opportunities for our well-being clients, it was great to be a part of an engaging talk with similar discussion points.

  5. A chance to put thought into action - What kind of conference doesn’t like to add a task to push you out of your social comfort zone? Toward the end of the day, we had the chance to brainstorm and produce hypothetical plans for a nation-wide reading campaign. It was a great way to conclude the day and put some new ideas into practice!

We were lucky enough to hear from so many brilliant speakers on a variety of interesting topics.

Overall, the conference was a fantastic chance to meet some new faces and hear from the industry’s best. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how creatives shaping the publishing industry push the bar next.

Hayley Vincent & Faye Austen.

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