I was one of the lucky book bloggers chosen to attend the first ever Penguin Random House National Book Bloggers Forum. It was such an amazing day and I am so glad I was a part of it. They are looking to do another one next year, maybe even in another city (This one was held at the Random House Sydney office.) so you should try and make it if you can because it was a really great day. I know a lot of bloggers who couldn’t make it so I thought I would do a recap post for those who weren’t able to be there.
Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf, Amy from Lost In A Good Book and myself arrived at Random House around 9.10am. As a writer this was kind of mind blowing. I was in a publishing house! A place where dreams come true! Anyway…
Upon arrival we were greeted by Kirsty, the publicist who had arranged the day 🙂 and a few of the other marketing staff. They were keen to chat and were really friendly. We got given an awesome goodie bag. I love goodie bags and this one contained books. There’s not much I love more than a free book 😉
In this cool tote there was a discount card for Bookworld, as well as a bookworld bookmark. A notepad and pen to jot down notes and some pretty cards. We also got a copy of Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (I was really glad I got this one because although I have read it, it’s the only book of Marchetta’s that I don’t own!), Stoner by John Williams, The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster, A Fatal Tide by Steve Sailah (which is an ARC), Murder In Mississippi by John Safran, and Skinjob by Bruce McCabe.
After the initial met and greet we got ushered into a conference room. Here is a picture of our wonderful host, Kirsty:
At 9:50 am we were welcomed by Brett Osmond, Director of Marketing and Publicity at Random House Australia.
He had some interesting things to say. He said there has been huge change in the past 5 years, that everything is much more global. Ebooks account for 20% of sales, and that they use to be able to print 20,000 copies of a book to get into bookstores and now it’s only 3,000, which for me as a writer was a little shocking. But to him format doesn’t matter, it’s the words that matter.
He told us that Australians are the highest readers in the world (Yay, go Aussies!)
Next up at 10.15am were Eva and Ella, RHA’s digital gurus. They explained how they use Google Analytics (you need a Google account to use it.) to analyse their blog traffic. One tip I wrote down was that if you are seeing a high bounce rate (some one visits your blog and then leaves after looking at only one page) to add extra links to that page to try and tempt people to look around.
They then gave us some tips about how to build our community, referring mainly to Facebook, but the advice would work for other social media too.
The tips included:
Make strong calls to action. E.g ‘Share this’ or ‘Don’t forget to like.’
Engage with others pages.
Use epic content, people like photo’s, links, lists etc.
And build rapport with your followers: reply to comments, answer questions and in the case of Facebook, like what they say on your page.
Keep a content schedule, they have a monthly plan.
They said likes are great but to look at how many people are ‘talking about this.’
They suggest you find out your top content and create similar posts in the future.
At 10.35am Sneh Roy, winner of the 2013 Best Australian Blog Competition talked to us about her book-to-blog experience and gave us some tips on blogging. She was very lovely and gave us some great tips.She stressed that content is the most important thing. She said to find your own voice, be original and stick with it. Don’t worry about trends. She suggests you grow and evolve to support your voice, which should come from your heart.
She suggested you make a list of goals for either the week or fortnight.
She said to read other people’s blogs, build connections and let your regular followers know how much they mean to you.
She also said to remember that comments aren’t the measure of your blog.
Between 11.05am and 11.20 am we had morning tea.
After morning tea the Random House publishers talked about the books they were most excited about publishing this year.
Bev, the Random House fiction publisher was up first.
She told us about ‘A Fatal Tide’ which was in our goodie bag. It is about two friends who go to Gallipoli to find a murderer during world war one. A Fatal Tide is a powerful novel that’s part murder mystery and part coming-of-age story, as two young men – one white and one black – discover the limits of humanity amid the horrors of war. It is due for release in time for Father’s Day.
The other book she was excited about was Eden by Candice Fox, sequel to Hades. She said Candice is one of the most exciting crime writers she has read in a long time.
Then Meredith showed us some non-fiction titles she is excited about:
– The Writing Life by David Malouf.
– My story by Julia Gillard, out October 1st.
– He Who Must Be Obeid: The Untold Story by Kate McClymont and Linton Besser.
– Seven Letters From Paris by Samantha Verant. It tells the true story of a woman who falls in love with a French man and then takes twenty years to find him again. This one sounded like a really good one. I love a good love story, and it’s even better when it’s true.
– Who Knows Tomorrow by Lisa Lovatt-smith. A rag to riches story with an inspiring ending. It comes out in November and is another one I can’t wait to get my hands on.
-Qantas vs Virgin: The War To Control The Skies.
-Hooked: The Secrets Of A Sydney Call Girl by Samantha X.
-Australia’s Hardest Prison: Inside The Walls of Long Bay Jail by James Phelps.
Then we finally got some YA. Zoe Walton told us about three books she was excited about.
– Skyfire: Chasing The Valley 3 by Skye Melki-Wegner, coming out in July.
– Intruder by Christine Bongers. The title put me off a bit but then Zoe explained in was about family and how the past shapes us and has a bit of romance so I’ve added it to my to-read list. 🙂
– Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth. I really want to read this one. It’s about twins who go on a road trip and one of them has Autism. It’s suppose to be funny and I love humor in my books. Apparently, if you loved Eleanor and Park this is the book for you.
Then Felicity showed us:
–Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead.
– Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier. A Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey set in Venice. Yes, please!
–Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. (I want this one so bad.)
And that brought us to lunch and where I’m going to end this post because it’s getting crazy long. Are you still with me?
Tomorrow I’ll bring you all the wonderful things that happened after lunch, including who the surprise guest author was, so be sure to visit again 🙂
*If you were there and I got anything wrong (like names), feel free to correct me and I will change it 🙂
Edit: you can now read part 2 here.