The SPAM guide to publishing

I’ve just got back into the office after 3 days at London Book Fair which was fabulous, brightly lit and rather huge.  You spend a lot of time meeting lots of people and explaining, as a start-up, exactly who you are, what you’ve done and what you’re planning to do.

As Ms Benton wonderfully showed in her Children’s Innovation Stand talk – how to launch a publishing company via social media – we’ve actually achieved a lot in the 6 or so months Hot Key has been in existence.  (It was a brilliant talk, showing our first tweet through to our first order – I got rather teary – and if you missed it we’ll post it online tomorrow.)

The SPAM team mainly started on Jan 3rd (with Meg joining a couple of months later) and setting up the list from our point of view can basically be split into 3 areas.  And they are…

Us!  We needed to tell people who Hot Key were before we did anything else, so we set up the blog, expanded our twitter efforts, set up the newsletter, contacted everyone we knew from previous publishing lives, dragged people in for coffee, made them admire our offices, met the Sales Team, pestered the Sales Team, played the Sales Team videos, got onto panels at LBF, organised publicity in the trade press,  basically shouted a lot so that people knew we were here.

Then, the incredibly fun bit, logistics!!  We needed to set up systems.  You may want to look away now, but in case you’re interested: find Export partners to carry our books around the world, get an ISBN prefix, get our titles loaded on to systems so the bibliographic details feed to the customers and our warehouse, get a warehouse, set budgets, create AIs,  set up trading terms with customers, get sales material ready, work out when we need things by (the lovely critical path), set up every spreadsheet you will ever need to record promotions, spend, contacts, forecasts, print runs, people’s birthdays…

And the third area, most importantly is the BOOKS! We needed to contact and meet all our authors, read everything, draw up marketing plans, work out our PR strategies, talk with the authors about plans, order proofs, get appointments for book fairs, present at book fairs, fill in grids for Christmas promotions, and basically talk about our fabulous launch list to EVERYONE.

So, that’s the last 3-ish months. We’re quite tired, but very happy.  Still got to send out all the proofs, sign off our first print run, pester our authors more, descend on more customers and then PUBLISH.

All I can say is, spreadsheets are very useful.  So is having a fabulous team who are creative but efficient and having the rest of the HK / Bonnier gang and authors to provide all the brilliant books, the amazing jackets, the actual physical copies, the budgeting system (yeah, thanks Jon), the orders and the cake.

Here’s to the rest of the year.  Anyone fancy a holiday?