How the Pandemic Is Changing Book Marketing
Julianne Clancy in Conversation with Kendra Winchester on
the Reading Women Podcast
This week on Reading Women, Kendra talks to Julianne Clancy, an Assistant Marketing Director at Knopf, who gives listeners a behind-the-scenes look at book marketing and answers FAQs.
From the episode:
Kendra: You’ve talked about the challenges that have been facing different departments, like the warehouse and production. How has COVID changed your marketing?
Julianne: COVID changed everything for everyone, right? I mean, there are the challenges we’re facing that everyone’s facing: remote working, hours of virtual meetings, parenting while working, teaching while working if you have older kids. And with that, resources are changing. So we’re really rethinking all of our campaigns. As I mentioned, our warehouse has been doing this amazing job of getting our books to consumers. But that means we’re not shipping as many other materials either, because we want them to prioritize the finished books getting out to people who want to read them, and also the health and safety of our people. So what we’re doing physically has changed a lot, which has been an interesting thing. We’re not shipping as many ARCs as we used to. We’re doing a lot more with NetGalley and Edelweiss.
And our readers’ needs and wants have changed. We’re trying to meet those needs and make sure we’re speaking to our readers in a way that’s honest and appropriate and sensitive. It feels like I’ve learned a whole new job in the past few months. It’s like everything we had on the table for this year kind of was blown up, and now we’re starting from scratch to meet all of these changing needs.
A lot of it’s good, though, I think. It’s hard, but it’s good. I’ve seen incredible creativity from our colleagues across the board. Our production team is approving proofs from their apartments. Our editors are working on manuscripts while teaching their kids. Our field reps are holding meetings from afar instead of visiting stores. Our indie stores are hosting remote events and mastering the art of curbside pickup. Everyone’s adapting, and it’s just been really inspiring.
Kendra: It’s been really interesting to see how strategies have changed. You mentioned you work so far out, and you plan so far ahead, and I imagine all of those plans that you had done are just kind of blown to smithereens. So it’s like you’re not only doing the work you would normally be doing right now, but you’re also redoing work that you did a while back.
Julianne: Yes, that’s definitely been happening. I think with my titles personally, I’d been working a little bit closer to publication this year because things are changing so fast. I want to make sure I not only know the landscape of the book, which I’m normally looking up, but as much as I can about the landscape of the world, which is very tricky right now. Things are changing so fast in our society, you want to make sure that you’re talking about a book the right way and getting it to the right people and the people who will want it right now. Everything’s kind of been pushed a little bit closer to publication so that we are able to speak to the moment and give people what they need and get them the books that will help them or entertain them or distract them or whatever they’re looking for. So, yeah, like you said, everything got blown out. We’re rebuilding. And it’s a new world. It is a fun time, though. It’s very creative to market books in this way, to market with people stuck at home and with us stuck at home. It’s just a new way to think about how we’re getting our books to people.
Kendra: It’s a lot to process. Just hearing about it, let alone, I imagine, working on it. I feel overwhelmed just listening to it. I used to be a project manager for book titles at an educational press, and I knew immediately what it would look like on the inside—the frantic running around, only you’re stuck in your house instead of actually at the office. I have no other words other than I feel very overwhelmed right now.
Julianne: It is a little overwhelming. It’s been a lot. On the bad days, you’re like, oh my god, how am I going to do this? But on the good days, you’re like, okay. So even when we’re back—whatever the world is, when we can all see each other again—there is a lot we can take away from this that I think is going to be really fun and really creative. New strategies we’ve come up with, social media, and new ways of talking with people remotely. I think at the end of this, when we’re all over the craziness and the exhaustion and the dealing with things on the fly, it’s going to change things for the positive.
Julianne Clancy is an Assistant Director of Marketing with Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken. Prior to working with Knopf, she held positions within the marketing, copywriting, and production departments of Berkley, NAL, and Penguin Young Readers, as well as working as a freelance copywriter for numerous other publishers. Outside of her publishing career, Julianne is an amateur chef, Tar Heel alum, Nintendo aficionado, distance runner, wife, mother, kitty-mom, and certified Master of Horror, having received her M.Phil in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin, with a thesis on Satanic horror. She is a contributor in the recently published From Bayou to Abyss: Examining John Constantine, Hellblazer, from the Sequart Organization.