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Anything for the authors

Lindhardt og Ringhof and Cappelen Damm plan to use a combination of professional discussion sessions, writing schools, blogging courses and Instagram to help them attract and retain the best authors.

Good stories and good storytellers are alpha and omega for publishers, who need to constantly conceive new ways of attracting authors, getting authors’ messages across to readers and selling books. Courses on social media marketing, special YouTube channels and writing schools are among the methods that Lindhardt og Ringhof in Denmark and Cappelen Damm in Norway hope will attract future writers and retain existing ones.

In autumn 2016 Cappelen Damm launched a crime writers’ school, Krimforfatterskolen, to attract new talent. Thirty-two applicants made the grade and received six days of teaching over the winter. The results were so good that the school will repeat the process this year.

‘We want to signal Cappelen Damm’s aim to be Norway’s biggest and best crime publisher, and that’s why we’re actively pursuing the best authors – both the already published and the as-yet undiscovered. We hope to foster some new authors over the next few years and demonstrate our earnest efforts to boost the proportion of women writers, as at least half the students are female,’ says Knut Gørvell, sales and marketing director at Cappelen Damm.

The writing school gives students an opportunity to develop their creative writing skills and learn about different crime genres, plot and character development, language and style. Students receive instruction through lectures, talks with authors and, paramountly, guidance and feedback on their own work. Students get help embarking on writing their own crime novel or making further headway with a manuscript.

The second part is for budding authors who have already started a manuscript and need help finishing it. The students receive guidance and detailed feedback, and the goal is to have a manuscript ready for submission to the publisher at the end of the course.

‘Almost all last year’s 32 participants have applied for one of the eight places offered in the second part. All of them were very pleased with the course,’ says Knut Gørvell.


Professional discussions with authors
At Lindhardt og Ringhof the press and sales and marketing people team up with the editor and author to discuss the right mix of channels and to coordinate who does what during a book launch.

‘Over the past six years we’ve offered our authors courses in topics like website construction, blogging, Facebook pages and how to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram professionally. The authors generally write alone and rarely have a target group in mind. That’s why it’s important that we, as publishers, can contribute by providing a professional sounding board and helping define who we want our campaigns to reach and how. Our job is to promote the publication at an early stage, find good ambassadors, share the enthusiasm, collect data about the target group, retain and expand the target group and ensure the book enjoys a long lifetime in bookshops and readers’ minds,’ says Gertrud Smith, marketing director at Lindhardt og Ringhof.

With more than 400 new publications in 2017, Lindhardt og Ringhof runs a wide variety of campaigns, but they can be adjusted along the way if necessary,’ Gertrud Smith stresses.

‘We are very strong on videos and produce more book trailers, live Facebook broadcasts, interviews og portraits than any other Danish publisher. Our publishing blog is Denmark’s largest and broadest literary blog, and more people engage with our Facebook pages and communities than with our competitors’.’

Lindhardt og Ringhof is working dedicatedly to collect and use data and information about its readers.

‘Direct communication with fans, readers, booksellers and librarians is a goldmine for the sales and marketing department. Communities like Lovebooks and Gerningsstedet have helped us gain a foothold with Denmark’s most devoted readers of romances and detective novels, respectively. This is invaluable. That’s why we’re focusing on even more sharply targeted Facebook campaigns, videos and greater insight into our customers. We want to know more about the customer’s journey and how we can influence it so we get the right message and product to customers at the right time and place,’ Gertrud Smith points out.

An attractive publishing house
Being visible and attractive to authors is an aim for both publishing companies.

‘Clearly, visibility and professional campaigns help attract and retain authors. However, an individual author may have a host of reasons for choosing the publisher. An important part of Lindhardt og Ringhof’s strategy to attract and retain authors is to make authors feel at home and welcome – whether it’s Leif Davidsen dropping by one afternoon or a debut writer needing support and good advice,’ says Gertrud Smith.

Cappelen Damm hopes the crime writers’ school will produce some new authors. The school is part of a larger drive to get crime stories published, which also includes a festival of crime. In the past, Cappelen Damm has organised a crime competition.

‘Authors and others gave us a lot of publicity and a great deal of enthusiastic feedback on the event. We firmly believe that by running a wide variety of activities we can show readers and authors that we are willing to break new ground and continue to pursue the best writers,’ says Knut Gørvell.

However, students at the publishing company’s writing school are under no obligation to pick Cappelen Damm if their work proves good enough to publish.

‘No, they’re not. But we try to tell them that it would be wise ….’

Lindhardt og Ringhof
The Lindhardt og Ringhof publishing house consists of Lindhardt og Ringhof, Alinea, Akademisk Forlag, Alfabeta, LR Uddannelse, Lovebooks and Saga as well as Denmark’s largest children’s publisher, Carlsen. In total the publishing house releases more than 600 new titles a year and has produced Denmark’s largest catalogue of e-books and audiobooks.

Lindhardt og Ringhof is part of Egmont.

Facts about Cappelen Damm
Cappelen Damm is Norway’s largest publishing company, with more than 1,500 new publications a year.
The publishing company Cappelen Damm AS is part of the book group Cappelen Damm Holding AS, which also owns the book retailing chain Tanum AS and the distribution company Sentraldistribusjon AS. Egmont and Bonnier own 50% of Cappelen Damm Holding AS each.