Kate Rados: Digital Ninja, Gadget Geek

Kate RadosBy Marian Schembari, Contributing Editor, Digital Book World

For me, I’ve been asked more than a few times ‘well, how did you get into digital publishing?’  And the answer’s never fun… ‘I just read stuff.’ But that’s actually 75% of it.  The other 25% is having a passion for the digital side of things.

Doin’ It Digital“, Kate Rados

Kate Rados, the Director of Digital Initiatives for the highly regarded niche publisher, Chelsea Green, actually started out in television, first as Casting Director for MTV Animation/Nickelodeon, then at the Food Network where she was the Publicist for Rachael Ray, Giada DeLaurentiis, Mario Batali, etc.

“Food Network was where I started handling book tours and loved every second of it.”

In 2005, she moved to Sterling Publishing as a Senior Publicist, eventually working her way up to become the Director of Digital Markets.

“Digital years are like dog years,” says Rados. “Back then, publishers weren’t really thinking about ‘going digital’. I was lucky enough, and ninja-nerd enough, to pounce on the opportunity to create the department at Sterling. About five years later, in January 2010, I started at Chelsea Green.”

Despite her (relative) newbie status in publishing, Rados believes that the relationship between reader and publisher has been “turned upside down.” Publishers can’t just shovel books into the marketplace and expect readers to accept what they’re given, they have to listen to what their readers want, engage with them on a regular basis to see what’s working, and what’s not.  They have to cultivate relationships.

Despite these changes (or maybe because of these changes), Rados loves the camaraderie that’s developed among publishers, at least on the digital side of things. People are sharing information, brainstorming, “all for the sake of keeping publishing not only alive, but marathon-ready.”

One place that camaraderie is most present is on Twitter, and Rados is a Twitter fiend. When asked whom she admires in the industry, in addition to usual suspects like Debbie “Publishing Warrior” Stier, and Guy “Master of Community Building” Gonzalez, she suggests taking a good hard look at all of the publishing people who are active on Twitter.

“Every single person brings energy, unique ideas, and feedback, and we are lucky to be able to connect and collaborate with them every day.”

There are some changes that aren’t syncing with this Digital Ninja, though.

  1. “Square peg, round hole.”  A souped-up Jane Austen enhanced eBook with video commentary and companion iPhone app.
  2. “Me Too!” publishing.  Zombie-Dog-Vampire-Memoir anyone?
  3. Press Releases.
  4. Launching a product in a vacuum with NO marketing efforts outside of Publishing Trade Press.
  5. The notion that Digital is a just a department with a costly budget line.

Rados feels that the biggest challenge for publishing is avoiding becoming “The Man”. While everyone’s fighting about pricing and business models, readers begin to feel that everyone in the publishing industry is “old, greedy, set in our ways, don’t care about them, and are too lazy to check the quality of our work”. She finds this particular challenge the most frustrating and wishes there were a publicity firm for the industry itself.

And her response to the requisite Future of Publishing Question: half-full or half-empty?

“Full. In a child-safe, recycled-plastic tumbler that will never break, though it may be knocked around from time to time.”

Kate Rados is Director of Digital Initiatives for Chelsea Green Publishing. Before this position, she was the Director of Digital Markets for Sterling. Kate never takes off her consumer hat, attributes her theater training as the best resource for dealing with any situation and is a self-proclaimed gadget geek. In her spare time, Kate is a vocalist and can frequently be seen rocking out in karaoke bars across Manhattan.

Marian Schembari digs social media and books. Usually at the same time.

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