Monster Books, as you hopefully know by now, is building up to relaunch in 2018. We are taking on new authors, illustrators and publishers and expanding our catalogue quite significantly. There are talks of stop motion animation productions, charity audiobooks and illustrated videos all designed to engage children of every age and their parents. Our ethos is to encourage and enrich the imaginations of younger generations and to develop an enthusiasm for reading and books even amongst those who rarely get past the first page.
The ideas are there and the team is coming together – transcripts, when you look, are everywhere, and with one call for authors they come flocking in their hundreds. This creates its own issues, with the desire to be a responsible publisher and acknowledge each applicant with a response, conflicting with the fact that, realistically, there are just not enough hours in a day. But at least we won’t be short of material. Now we are in partnership with our sister company, the Aktuel Translation Group, seeking tales from all four corners of the world, there are seemingly an infinite amount of books to be published: an exciting prospect for any trilingual independent children’s publisher!
But, the real question, is how do we tell people about this? Spread the word, engage the audience, stand out in an age where, thanks to social media and technology at our fingertips, everyone has a voice, an image and a story to share. At the moment we are a group of freelance minds, drawing on the limited knowledge we have of the rapidly expanding industry that is social-media fuelled advertising and marketing campaigns and learning as we go along. It is both a blessing and a burden that there are now so many platforms through which to communicate and engage with our audiences and so many wonderfully creative leaders in the industry whose examples are there to be followed.
Take, for example, Instagram legend and food blogger Deliciously Ella. From the simple idea of healthy eating and a love of veg her Instagram feed is wonderfully personal. With its consistent colour scheme, hearty home cooked food, chatty tone and immediacy and intimacy of photographs, it speaks directly to and with the reader. Through one way or another, Ella Mills has made her life the brand and manages to communicate with a network of over 1.1 million people. Every. Single. Day. On a continuous, real-time basis. It draws you in and leaves you waiting for her next snap, like a friend ready to catch up on a lunch break at the office. Except this is not quite the reality. As a fan-girl you know, deep down, that Ella isn’t really sending you the recipe for her butternut-squash and pumpkin seed, nut free Moroccan tagine just in time for your Friday night dinner party which she may (or may not) attend. But you go along with it anyway, because, let’s be honest, it’s nice to imagine.
But the deception goes much deeper. The development of Monster Books’ online presence has opened up a Pandora’s Box of intricate coding, marketing teams, monthly subscriptions to social media planners and organisers that can cost hundreds of pounds a week, and can be edited by a plethora of Instagrammers and bloggers behind the scene. The Economist has an entire team of people purely to manage their Snapchat account. There are platforms for the platforms, and probably platforms for those too. It is a secret club of social media gurus, and scratching the surface both opens your eyes and makes you feel blinder than ever – a muggle in the Wizarding world that has been deceiving you all along. Suddenly we aren’t sure who Ella really is – we have grown apart.
Despite this endless amount of competition and confusion, Monster Books is modernising and embracing the trend. Beginning with the platform Hootsuite, which really is a God-send for scheduling and snapping – allowing us to avoid the shameless 8am train selfie with our latest title – we have grown our online presence and are beginning to engage with our readers. It’s a fine balance between personal promotion and joining the conversation. Engaging with other readers and publishers, understanding opinions and trends, is just as important today as the printing and distribution of our books. It has been a learning curve for us as a publisher which hopefully you will see reflected in our 2018 catalogue and relaunch. Perhaps, Ella, we can be friends after all…