Part One: Dazzle
On Tuesday morning we at OICPS learnt all about website marketing via an informative talk by Kimberley Manning, former fellow student, now the web marketing manager at OUP.
She shared some of her insights into site layout. Useful tips such as; the human eye tends to skim read web pages in an ‘F’ formation, searching out navigation and key information along the top and to the right hand side of a page. Bucketing similar information into groups and providing bitesize chunks of 20 words or less allows the reader to digest the facts without getting overwhelmed. Remember to ensure that your website works on different devices in this fast moving technological age.
And my favourite lesson: use appropriate dazzle.
Dazzle is all those fancy things that a website can do beyond provide pure copy. Today I added a bit of dazzle to the front page of my own charlieinabook site, by adding some widgets connecting to Goodreads, Twitter and LinkedIn. If I were to embed a video or animate my site, that would be dazzle.
Here, watch this fabulous trailer for an upcoming Christmas title 'When It Snows.'
Which leads me to the second part of today’s post; Mr. Fickling of David Fickling Books...
As a sales assistant at The Book House I was aware of DFB through titles such as Kenneth Oppel’s ‘Half Brother’, the comic books series ‘The Phoenix’, and Nick Sharratt’s wonderful picture book ‘Socks.’ A DFB title was one that grabbed the eye and told a good story. I know that a DFB title has a strong reputation in the industry for quirky and original content. The publishing team based in Oxford picks twenty titles a year for their special attention.
Their website is sleek, informative and efficient. It is also bright, playful and engaging. Ms. Manning would approve of their brilliant bucketing techniques.
I had been hoping to get an opportunity to gain work experience with the publishing firm. So when I heard that the SYP (Society of Young Publishers) would be holding their October speakers event with Mr. Fickling on Tuesday evening, I was very excited to attend.
Mr. Fickling dazzled in person.
With his famous red bowtie and buckets of personality that had the entire room clutching their sides in helpless giggles, we were let in to the secrets of the industry from his wonderful eye. “Have you ever read a book which changes you?” The theme was introduced as the publisher and the author. “The job of the publisher is to add energy.” There is no one method to build a relationship with an author, it is up to us as publishers to adapt and find a way to work to the best of our ability with each unique text. There have sometimes been mistakes made. Mr. Fickling told us an anecdote of a wrong path he’d taken with a title, and how he corrected it. A choreographed dance, using patience and collaboration to achieve the best end result.
“Authors are like the magical elves in a fairy story. I think of my mistakes as authors whom I’ve managed to scare out of the garden.”
As to how to find the unique content and great stories his publishing company is famous for commissioning, Mr Fickling had the following advice:
“Trust your own views and have the courage to make decisions based on them.”
We finished the evening with the three principles of publishing: “Legacy. Share. Autonomy.”
I returned home to discover an email, and will be interning for DFB in late January.