Romance isn’t Dead, it’s Digital!

At Inspired Selection, we were delighted to sponsor this week’s BookMachine Event where guest speaker Sam Missingham – Head of Events at HarperCollins – told us about the virtual romance festival which she created.

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For those of you who couldn’t make it, you may be asking yourself what a virtual romance festival is…. Should you be hiding your screen if you’re reading this at work?! Do you need to delete your browsing history after this?! The answer to both is absolutely not. Although don’t feel alone in asking, from welcoming people as they entered, we think that perhaps some of the attendees had similar questions before the talk began as well!

Let us explain. Sam Missingham’s innovation is an opportunity for fans and authors (both established and aspiring) of romantic books to engage with each other, brought together by their passion for passion which is the sole agenda. Over the course of two days, people with similar interests form a community and share thoughts, knowledge and experiences. Just like any other festival. That is of course, aside from the fairly crucial distinction that all parking, tents, yurts and glamping facilities are entirely cast aside and replaced by Google Hangouts and online forums.

This festival is much more about creating a strong ‘glampaign’ (if I may coin that term) than glamping. Sam had to attract the audience in order to create the community and in the essence of the event itself, this was done digitally. In keeping with festival season, the marketing had the look and feel of festival promotion and on first glance could be Glastonbury’s or Wilderness’ artwork but the way it reached the eager romance readers was all done online. To attend the festival was entirely free; you just had to register online. For Sam, the email addresses of delegates is priceless as this allows you to keep in touch and keep building and strengthening the virtual pillars of your new community.

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Blogs, tweets and likes were all crucial in generating interest for this event before, during and after it but the real winner that Sam keeps coming back to is the power of email. People read emails, they open and click through to links and above all with the right information you can target specific groups of people with specific content in them. Email addresses are the data that can truly develop business and a community that will become loyal to that business.

We jumped on board with the digital theme of the evening with no hesitation, offering a Kindle to the lucky winner of a Prize Draw which we ran as part of our involvement with the event. This seemed particularly fitting as there is a higher proportion of romance fiction read on e-readers than other genres as we sneak in a good love story on the train allowing fellow passengers to believe we’re deep in the tomes of War & Peace or similar.

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This talk came as refreshing respite in the current heatwave, hearing about such a highly successful business innovation that is purely built on the foundation of adding value to authors and readers. Beneath the digital and technical walls that surround this project, Sam has managed to take us back to what publishing is really all about and that is the love of books. How romantic!

Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter.


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