Firsty Group - The Firsty Newsletter
Carlton Books
Hi folks,
It’s hard to believe we’re already in March, and yet here we are: an IPG Spring Conference behind us, and a certain London Book Fair just under 2 weeks away.
Who knows what 2017 will hold? Politically we’re in a state of flux. Each day brings yet another new, sensationalist headline from the US, whilst the UK continues its blind trajectory towards an uncertain future, outside the EU.
Yet publishing remains - blossoming, pivoting, adapting, consuming – and we’re excited at what the year ahead may bring.
We’re shaking up our newsletter, and we’re delighted to bring you guest articles from Alison Jones, on Content Marketing; Suzanne Collier, on Skills for the Digital Age; and Jane Tappuni, on Maximising your Rights potential.
All of this alongside our regular columnist, as well as some opening thoughts each month from Darin Brockman, our CEO.
Please do get in touch if you fancy a chat on anything vaguely digital publishing related – we’ll be at Olympia in mid March, so hope to see you there!

The Firsty Team

Darin Brockman on the rise of crowdfunding.

The world of crowdfunding has always fascinated me. The constant stream of people coming up with ingenious ideas never ceases to amaze, and the resource and commitment of individuals to fund and connect to a particular project is incredible. It’s hugely exciting that ‘people power’- not corporate or investment organisations, driven by profit over innovation – is pushing technology forward.I love the fact that crowdfunding is a community of backers creating future products, and closing out the really bad ideas.  

Reading about the ‘Kickstarter’ Tech predictions for 2017 occupies my Sunday morning (alongside feeding my 4-month-old, and taking her to swimming lessons…!). In 2016 there were over eleven thousand projects in just the Design and Tech categories alone, making it easier to predict the projects that will and won't succeed in 2017. I’m sure if Kickstarter shared the stats it would help reduce the failed projects. 

Darin Brockman is Firsty Group’s CEO and Founder.

Turning browsers into buyers. Highlights from the IPG Spring Conference.

Find your readers, engage them and sell. It’s a simple enough three-point plan for publishers, but as the IPG’s recent Annual Spring Conference made clear, it’s easier said than done.
The packed Conference showed the independent sector to be in robust health, full of passion, ambition and creative publishing. The winners of the IPG’s Independent Publishing Awards highlighted many examples of digital innovation too—from overall winner Edward Elgar’s hugely successful Elgaronline platform to Bloomsbury’s Fashion Central portal to How2Become’s energetic online marketing. These three independents have set the standards—so what can other publishers do to master that three-pronged mission?.

To learn how Firsty can help publishers create compelling, ecommerce-enabled websites, click here.

Suzanne Collier highlights 5 digital skills that are often overlooked by publishers.

Every day I meet publishers who overlook so many basic skills in publishing. Whatever role you are in, here are 5 digital skills that you cannot afford to overlook.
  1. Metadata. Why are so many publishers so lousy at writing good metadata? Is it because the task very often goes to the most junior person in the room? Review all your metadata, even the bits you believe you’ve got right. No matter how good you think your Metadata is, it can always be better, and thanks to Onix feeds, you only have to get it right once, and the job is done. Likewise, if you get it wrong, the errors may take years to rectify. Metadata is far too valuable a commodity to be trusted to someone on their first day or to an intern who is only with you to learn. Give the responsibility to someone who knows how to write brilliant metadata and can spell. 

Suzanne Collier from solves career problems for publishers. She covers everything from career guidance through to workplace issues and drives change for people at all levels - senior publishers wishing to realign their career or do their current job better to those just starting out.
Twitter: @suzannecollier @bookcareers

Effective content for your website by Alison Jones.

In pretty much every business today, creating content has become a core part of operations. 'We’re all publishers now,' they say. But for actual publishers, who make their living selling content, not giving it away, this can be a challenging paradigm. In this new series for the Firsty Group, I’ll be sharing some practical tips on content marketing for publishers.
Let’s start with a definition: according to the Content Marketing Institute (and they should know), content marketing is ‘the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.’
That last bit is key: it’s very possible to put out lots of engaging, high-quality content, but if it’s not driving profitable customer action it won’t get you very far.

Alison Jones, MA, MBA is a coach, content consultant and publisher passionate about supporting people and books that make a difference.
Twitter: @bookstothesky

Jane Tappuni looks at backlist sales through online rights platforms.

The beauty of a platform is that it can be your number one most powerful marketing tool. If it’s done well it will deliver a global audience, brand awareness, the ability to market and publish actively, and to continuously innovate. If you master the analytics you can test, measure and adjust for maximum impact. The problem with a platform is that it needs to be done well, really well… the site will need continuous care and attention or it will become a white elephant very quickly. This costs money and requires skills, money and skills publishers often don’t have. The best way forward is to either work with a platform provider to help develop and maintain the site, or let someone else do the leg work.

Jane Tappuni is Head of Business Development for IPR License.
Twitter: @IPRLicense

Client News

What with all the razzamatazz around the year end, we neglected to mention the latest client websites to see the light of day: namely, Carlton Books, and Turnaround Gifts.
Carlton came to us with a clear brief: to improve the user experience – specifically the eCommerce potential – enhance the marketing capabilities, align imprints under one brand, all within a strong, image-rich new design.
Built on the Magento CMS, we feel the new site suitably encapsulates these requirements - and as staunch supporters of direct eCommerce, we were more than happy to fulfil this particular demand.
Carlton's rich list of print titles are now available to buy directly through the site itself, and we're delighted the central London team recently appointed an eCommerce Manager, showing a clear commitment to driving direct sales, and improving customer engagement through their own site. 
There are regular ongoing conversations around SEO, and improving visibility through the search engines, and from our perspective at Firsty, it's a joy to work with such a committed group - we thoroughly look forward to taking the relationship forward over the months and years ahead. 

Turnaround Gifts represents a slight break from the norm for the team at Firsty. It's not specifically book-related, but this long-standing distribution client were looking for a replacement for their gifts website - and we were naturally happy to oblige. 
Again Magento was the platform of choice, providing the Turnaround team with a wealth of sales, marketing and product categorisation tools, and allowing them to service both the individual client, as well as their important trade customers, through the single CMS.
New Firsty Express clients
Last but by no means least, we need to mention the recent signups to the Firsty Express package – we’re really pleased to have the Faber Factory publishers, Orenda Books, Polperro Press, and G2 Entertainment join the swelling crowd on the platform, offering their eBooks directly to their readers, through the free Firsty Express service. 
Indeed, within a few days of go-live, Orenda Books ran a 3-day promotion on their fantastic Scandinavian crime list – through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites – and saw sales go through the roof!
So a special thanks to Karen, Jules, and Jerry - fantastic to have you on board, and look forward to providing an excellent service over the months and years ahead.
Firsty Express

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