Developing Verticals & Serving Readers (Roundtable 5/5/11)

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The DBW Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast featuring some of the most outspoken industry professionals gathering to discuss and debate the hottest publishing issues of the moment.

In this bi-weekly 1-hour WEBcast, the Roundtable offers insight into the greater book publishing ecosystem with actionable case studies from practitioners in publishing.

In the past week, two major publishers have announced vertical communities dedicated to engaging with readers, especially those of genre fiction: Criminal Element, from Macmillan, and F+W Crime, from F+W Media and Tyrus Books. In addition, Penguin has announced its own community site dedicated to writers and readers of genre fiction, Book Country. It’s been approximately 2 years since the founding of Tor.com, one of the first publisher created community sites for fantasy/science fiction readers: What sort of results are publishers seeing from audience engagement in niches? In this episode of the Roundtable, we’ll answer questions like:

Why and how a publisher should create and foster a vertical community, within and without genre fiction?

What goes into the day to day maintenance sites like Tor.com or BookCountry? What sort of skill sets and staff are needed to truly support a community of readers?

What specific practices do publisher verticals need to enact to remain relevant and authentic?

How does a publisher serve an audience who might not always agree with its business decisions?

This edition of the Roundtable will especially appeal to business strategists, marketers, publicists, and editors at publishers large and small.

The Roundtable will be broadcast on May 5th at 1 PM EST / 10 AM PST.

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Penguin Launches Book Country, An Online Community for Genre Fiction
Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly

In a phone interview, Barton acknowledged that while Book Country is focused on developing writers, she expects to find new authors for Penguin through the site as well. But she also emphasized that Book Country will be “publisher agnostic” and encourages editors from Penguin as well as other publishers and literary agents to join the Book Country community. Agents or editors who wish to contact a writer about their work can notify Book Country staff who will then ask the writer if they want to be contacted. The private beta of Book Country has had about 500 members using it.

“Criminal Elements” is Live!
Scott D Parker

The site will feature pre-release excerpts, original short stories from various authors in the space, topical blog posts, and will eventually be offering downloads and podcasts. It’s a place for fans of the genre to come together in one exciting online space. At launch there will be excerpts, original fiction and articles by authors Joseph Finder, Steve Hamilton, Rosemary Harris, Charles Ardai, Luis Alberto Urrea and more. Much like its successful sister sites, science fiction community Tor.com and romance community HeroesandHeartbreakers.com, CriminalElement.com is “publisher neutral,” meaning that it will include author participation from all publishers and other content creators, and is not exclusive to Macmillan authors.

F+W Buys Tyrus Books, Launches Crime Vertical
Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly

Through the new vertical, F+W Crime will publish a mix of e-books, hardcovers, trade paperbacks and print-on-demand titles. The first e-book only titles, which will have a mix of prices, will be released in June and F+W plans to release 200 in 2011. The list will be a mix of originals and, according to F+W communication director Stacie Berger, “rediscovered gems from the past inspired by some celebrity genre names.” While some e-books will appear under the Tyrus name, the celebrity genre titles will be released under Prologue Books, an initiative that LeRoy had been developing.

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