Celadon Books Associate Publisher Rachel Chou has 25 years of experience in the book business, primarily in the areas of consumer insights, content marketing, customer acquisition, advertising, and merchandising. Before joining Celadon Books, she was General Manager of Open Road Integrated Media and before that was V-P, Online Product Development at HarperCollins and Director of Enterprise Website Services at Scholastic. Already she has made Celadon Books stand out online and in social media. Here she answers a few questions about those efforts:
Celadon Books already has a strong online presence via your website, social media channels and e-newsletters. What are the key elements of your approach?
Drawing on my experience at Scholastic, HarperCollins, and Open Road, I've come to understand that title marketing has the ability to reach fans of the author, genre, or avid readers, but more than that, it is increasingly essential to find ways to widen the net to engage all readers which will ensure a stronger marketing program. With this in mind, Celadon has hired a Director of Content as part of the marketing team and is publishing original marketing content around books, culture, and lifestyle through our channels such as our website, newsletter and social.
One only has to look at the breadth of content we have developed on our website to get an immediate sense of our direction.
What are the most effective ways of reaching potential readers?
Facebook and Google advertising still top the list of ways to target and reach readers but working with advertising networks, Live Intent, Goodreads, NetGalley and niche websites allows us to craft customized campaigns that leverage the original content we are creating.
What has the reaction of consumers been?
Our first title, The Silent Patient, is just hitting consumers in our first giveaways and advertising. So far, the reaction is highly positive. The cover for the book is incredible and the feedback on platforms such as Goodreads and Twitter #thesilentpatient has exceeded our expectations. In terms of our web content and newsletter, it's super early days.
Do you have a "profile" of the kind of readers you think Celadon Books titles will appeal to?
As Jamie and Deb have said, our titles are those that we believe have commercial potential and literary merit. And because of this broad approach, we are looking to reach readers who want smart, entertaining, and fulfilling experiences. Our motto is "Celadon Books... Time Well Spent."
Please describe your work at Open Road and how that has informed what you're doing at Celadon Books.
It's hard to believe that when we started Open Road, Facebook advertising was in its infancy, we were the only book publisher to beta test Twitter ads, and Otis Chandler was in our office talking about his start up called Goodreads. Needless to say, a lot occurred in my eight years as CMO and GM. In particular, the last two years of my time were spent crafting our consumer marketing and content strategy. My team launched Early Bird Books and The Lineup as a way to create direct marketing channels and grow the top of the funnel to reach both avid readers via Early Bird and fans of true crime, horror and paranormal via The Lineup. Our experiments with everything from live streaming Ann, the haunted doll (the New York Times said it was "marketing genius") to hand picking excerpts from relevant books and framing them from an editorial perspective taught me the value in off the page content and entertainment as a means to market a product.
You have some intriguing coverage of indie bookselling and libraries on your website, including the TBR q&a's with booksellers and librarians as well as bookstore profiles. How often do you plan to run them? What kind of reception have they gotten?
We really value the partnerships we have with booksellers and librarians. Without them on the ground showing their enthusiasm for our titles, we would not be able to create the buzz with readers. We love showcasing the amazing stores, sellers and librarians to a larger audience and so far have not had a shortage of bookstores and libraries to showcase. Ideally we will get to a weekly feature.
Do you have any special outreach to or programs for indie bookstores and libraries?
Working with our indie and library sales teams we have identified booksellers and librarians who love particular genres. We send unusually early manuscripts to those folks to give us blurbs and feedback and then showcase them in our future ARC printings. And as mentioned above, we are highlighting stores and librarians on our content channels. We are also participating in everything from the Indies Introduce program (Chip Cheek's Cape May was just announced as an ABA Indie's Introduce pick for W/S19) to our own custom bookstore and library campaigns for titles. Our first title, The Silent Patient, will have an upcoming Breaking News campaign designed to be mailed directly to those two markets to create a conversation and buzz leading up to Indie Next and Library Reads (two incredible programs for titles to be recognized.) In addition we participate in the monthly #ewgc Twitter streams to be sure our librarian friends know about our upcoming titles and give us early thoughts on the list.
What other plans do you have for Celadon Books marketing and publicity that may not have been implemented yet?
We are in the earliest days of Celadon and very focused on coming up with innovative ways to grow readership for our books. We plan to implement an early reader review program, continue to build our newsletter program and, over time, create sublists for genres we are publishing more heavily into. We also look forward to forging partnerships with sites and content providers to share our content and grow our audience. The Celadon team will continue to work closely with our colleagues at Macmillan to share best practices and take advantage of the company's wealth of knowledge. We are always eager to exchange ideas and thoughts with others. Overall, we feel the more we can know about our readers, the better chance we will have to connect them with books that are... time well spent.