Scholastic Agent presentation London, notes from Vicki Willden-Lebrecht MD Bright Group
Publishing is going through enormous change, and on Monday we learnt exactly how Scholastic are approaching the future.
Publishers adapt to change led by consumers and retail and feed this information down to its agents, Bright then translates their message across to its authors and illustrators which results in great, commercially successful, fresh new books from you, our wonderful artists. This blog is for you, to share the information that we feel will help you in continuing to be some of the best authors and illustrators in the industry.
Scholastic are a unique, remarkable and successful family-run business. Dick Robinson, the chairman of the company, is second only to his father before him. As an American publisher with a global reach Scholastic puts value on the UK as a vibrant talent pool which boasts some of the worlds most iconic children’s brands, including beloved current series’ like Harry Potter and The Gruffalo, as well as classics like Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, and Roald Dahl.
Scholastic’s core values are to encourage children to continue to read. They want to build excitement towards books, reading with children and children reading by themselves, enjoying and sharing books with each other. Scholastic engage and sell books directly to children through their own book clubs and fairs, a resource that lots of other publishers also sell through. The data collated through Scholastics book club is a direct response from children about the content they see. Scholastic have a unique understanding of what children say about books, what they want in books, and what they love about books. This, in turn, means that Scholastic sees trends before anyone else and are able to generate and market content in a highly specialised manner. We will be sharing the information Scholastic shared with us very soon. Watch your inboxes Bright Authors and illustrators!
The book clubs on line reviewing platform marks just one of the changes we have seen in the digital revolution. Kids reviewing books, and reading each other’s reviews. Books are now a much more interactive experience, with children recommending and sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other. Scholastic’s book club site currently has over 3 million children’s reviews. It’s really quite awesome!
Sharing with us lots of important data, Scholastic showed they are fully engaged with monitoring the digital revolution and how best to develop content with the future in mind. Coming in March 2014, they are launching their new digital product, the Scholastic Reading Pro. Taking children’s content to the digital market in a new way, this is one to watch out for. More details from Scholastic later this year!
Here was just one of their slides from the day of interesting statistics
My favourite statistic of the day was –
- 35% of children read for pleasure.
Notes for you: Marketing and Branding
If you’re an author or illustrator, Scholastic are interested in developing books & stories that can evolve into brands, series publishing, plus activity, novelty, board, and the all important sticker books.
Scholastic aim to support and expand, but not to overstretch a children’s brand. They grow and evolve with their audience, learning from their responses and thoughts.
Scholastic spoke about not only content but discoverability too. If your book is not discovered it fails to reach the hearts and minds of children, and that would be a great loss. Scholastic create engaging campaigns to delight and attract their readers to make sure their books reach the widest audience possible. We at Bright want to share this important message with you.
Case Study: The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig
This title is not a Bright author or artist but was used as a case study during the event. It’s a great example of Scholastic marketing direct to children and we wanted to share it with you.
Last year, Emer Stamp and Scholastic held their book launch of The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig at Jimmy’s Farm. They invited children to come down and have fun, making their own images. It gave the chance for children to play and interact while Emer went over the book with them. The Scholastic team then created this short film showing how they worked together to create a hay bail Pig! The children had an amazing time, falling in love with the character and securing Pig’s place as the coolest new children’s book on the block.
In terms of marketing, Scholastic created a digital asset that can be shared via social media using channels such as youtube. It creates a great buzz and exposure, ensuring that the book has the best chance of being discovered.
It’s a fantastically funny book that we were all given at the end of the day. I couldn’t help laughing out loud while reading it on the tube home!
1) Utilize digital media and create assets that you can use to promote your book, helping to build your brand recognition. Creating a memorable experience for children that you can film and host online is just one great way to showcase the enjoyment children get from books. (see below examples already from Bright Artists) Think creatively about what assets you could create to promote your books.
2) When creating a children’s book, it needs to appeal to children all over the world. Every author has an audience. Are your publishers going to find them for you? Or are you going to find them first?
3) Know your audience. When a Publisher builds a campaign it begins by finding the right audience for the title. We can’t stress how important it is for artists to consider this whilst working on their title!
4) Book events for children are a great way to find out exactly what children are looking for. It lets us see what children are drawn to, by engaging with them personally.
Great Example of Bright’s Best Assets
Remember artists: You are working for an audience, so know who they are before starting your work! Like Scholastic, Bright have their own great examples where artist creates books with assets in mind.
Benji Davies’ book, The Storm Whale
A perfect example of having an asset in mind when working on the title. This brand new hardback picture book was signed and paired with a Fair Trade knitted whale, specially commissioned to celebrate the launch of the book. The whales were 100% wool and beautifully hand crafted in Nepal.
Sue Hendra’s book, Wands and the Alien
Wanda is an example of how an asset can help grow a book beyond a book. Now a multi-book series, and children’s TV show, Wanda will be coming out on Nickelodeon and Milkshake later this year.
Zdenko Basic’s book, Steampunk Poe
Steampunk Poe by Zdenko was marketted along side this amazingly eye-catching animation.
Thanks to their feedback they gather from children at the many Scholastic book club events and the direct website reviews, Scholastic know what works. We’ll be sending out emails very soon to our authors and artists with details of what they’re looking for specifically.