We’re going deep inside the making of a book, with interviews from Penguin Random House employees in editorial, marketing, sales, and more. If you’ve ever wondered about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making your favorite books, this is the series for you. Take a look at the first post in this series here.
Gemina is a very unique book, so our employees need to be big-thinking and creative. We sat down for a round-table discussion with the digital marketing team at Random House Kids to find out exactly what they do to support a book.
Please introduce yourselves and explain your work in this group:
I’m Stephanie McKinley, Technical Producer at Random House Children’s, which means that I handle all of the technical projects for the digital marketing team. Before I started, all technical projects—even a copy edit on a website—were completed by outside developers. Now that I am here, we’ve been able to bring a lot of these projects in-house. The Illuminae Files website is one of the projects that was initially created by an outside developer that I have since updated for Gemina.
I’m Cayla Rasi, Senior Digital Marketing Manager. My job here is to dive into our digital projects – I work closely with Stephanie and our Director, Kate. I do a lot of social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. We’re always thinking of really cool ways to reach our readers.
I’m Kate Keating – director of Digital Marketing here at Random House Kids. I oversee the department, and we basically touch everything digital. Email marketing, websites, social media, we oversee all digital strategy for the department.
What do you think is special or unique about this book? Why will readers want to get their hands on it?
Stephanie: The book is just so different in the way that it’s written. With all the art elements inside, it’s just a completely different reading experience than anything you’re used to.
Cayla: Of course, it’s the format- It’s just so wild, it’s so cool. But from a social media perspective, the most special part about this book is the authors. They are so engaging, they love their fans, and they’re kind, generous people. Their social presence is magnificent, and they’re so fun! You can’t help but fall in love with them and their book. For people who aren’t following them on Instagram and Twitter – you’ve got to. Their personalities just shine.
Kate: Well, It’s not like any other book I’ve seen, especially for this audience, and people are so hungry for the second book after reading Illuminae. I love how into the characters everyone is… they feel really connected to them. I love that the authors are willing to do anything and they understand social media… they really get it. Everyone in-house is saying it’s the book for people who don’t necessarily know they like sci-fi.
What are some of the steps you take when you first start working on a title?
Cayla: I start by reading the book. I find inspiration from between the pages. Then, I love looking at the fans and what they’re saying online. The fans give me that fire in the belly, they get me excited to work on a project: I love being able to see what they are talking about, what matters the most to them.
Kate: Our marketing process starts with list launch meetings, when the editorial group presents all their titles for that season. Later on, we have meetings with publicity, editorial, sales, and marketing groups. We talk about comparative books in the marketplace, and how we felt about our readings of the book.
Afterwards, we create slide presentations to flesh out ideas for a marketing campaign – at this stage, it’s still loose and flexible. The next round of big meetings is called pre-sales: that’s when we present our ideas to the field sales representatives and our president. They give us feedback, and we tweak our plans accordingly.
We also have author meetings to figure out challenges they’ve faced in the past, or things that have worked well for them before.
Next up is sales conference – at that point, everything need to be pretty finalized because editors have to send final concrete marketing/publicity/sales plans to the authors and agent. A big part of our team’s work is prioritizing tasks, because the digital landscape changes so quickly. Sometimes we may have a whole plan that we’re starting to execute, but will suddenly need to do finish is much faster than anticipated. We try to plan as much as possible, but we do have to react to things quickly.
Cayla: Social changes all the time – so we make plans, but there’s also so much shifting and changing so we have to stay very creative and nimble. But really it’s a matter of being able to do both: plan in advance and also work in real time.
Check back in the coming weeks for the inside scoop from the Gemina team!
Follow along: #Gemina, #Illuminae, #IluminaeFiles
Follow the authors on Twitter (@AmieKaufman, @misterkristoff) and Instagram (@amiekaufmanauthor, @misterkristoff)
Visit the website here: illuminaefiles.com
Read more about Gemina and Illuminae below.