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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Carina Press: Aideen O'Leary-Chung

I have a very special guest today.

For those who want an inside look at how Carina operates behind the scenes, Aideen O'Leary-Chung, Senior Manager of Digital Commerce kindly agreed to an interview. Enjoy!

1.                Tell us a little about what you do at Carina Press.
My title is Senior Manager, Digital Commerce for both Carina Press and Harlequin digital products. What does that mean? It means that there is no such thing as a normal work day really. 

Let’s see, when wearing my Carina Press hat, I serve as Art Director for the covers, briefing and assigning them to the artists that I think will most enjoy working on them, handling communication with the team and artists as we work through drafts and providing finalized files to Production.

Also, I work with the rest of my team, Tara Stevens and Carly Chow on marketing for Carina. We’re consistently looking at different venues and methods for promoting the variety of editorial that can be found within the Carina Press brand. We’re always looking for new websites, newsletters reach the audiences for the many genres we publish. As a member of the acquisition team for Carina, I get a sneak peek at the titles to come. 

The other half of my role is the same for both the Carina and Harlequin sides. I work with ebook retailers to build awareness of our books, merchandise our books and ensure that they have anything they need to sell our books.  That’s it in a nutshell and there are a ton of other details that fit within there, but that’s not fun to read about!

2.             How did you come into this position?
Well, I’ve been with Harlequin for over 10 years now and I began in our Direct-to-Consumer group, where my roles included marketing and product development. Then, almost 4 years ago, I was able to move to the Digital group. 

This role allows me to take my passion for our books (yes all of them – give me an hour and I’ll find you an author or series that’s for you) and share it with readers in a whole new way. In the words of Malle Vallik, “It’s all about the story” and as more and more readers integrate ebooks into their reading habits, they are looking for the same title availability and in-depth information on books that they get in the print space. 

We work to bring that information to our various vendor sites and into our online marketing. The best part? The digital space provides more opportunities to communicate with readers in a variety of ways and in a timely fashion.

What do you think sets Carina Press apart from other digital publishers?
We want to publish it all…and so far, we do! I love that our acquisition discussions focus on how interesting and unique the stories are and I think our willingness to support books that might not otherwise find their audience sets us apart . The more intriguing the genre, the better! I feel that we do a great job of embracing our tagline - “Where no great story goes untold”. 

What sort of things do you do to market Carina Press authors?
One of the things we do is provide authors with the tools to enable them to promote their books. Sometimes it’s as basic as giving them their covers, but other times, we create banners for a site or postcards with the bcc and a promotion code for them to take to conferences. 

We have an enewsletter that is sent to subscribers each month containing new releases, author spotlights, genre spotlights, an array of info! All of our titles are available on NetGalley each month and we’re currently running ongoing ads on a number of popular blogs and websites. 

In 2011, we’ll be targeting even more of the genre-specific websites to reach readers of Steampunk, Mystery and other genres. We began the Carina Press blog on the day we announced launch and kept readers up to date on acquisitions, shared covers as they were available and generally kept the communication going leading into launch. 

We’ve also got a thriving presence on Facebook and Twitter, each with its own content, so that people can visit all properties and get something new. In print, we’ve been in PW, Romantic Times Book Reviews and coming soon, in Suspense Magazine. Last year, we attended both the Romantic Times Convention and RWA and our Executive Editor Angela James hit a variety of reader and writer conferences to build the buzz.  

What tips can you give authors to better market their books?
I would say that marketing is ongoing. It begins well before your book is released and continues well afterwards (particularly with ebooks as they never disappear). You want to build a brand within the digital space – through your author website, Twitter, Facebook etc…that is true to who you are. 

Discover blogs and websites with other readers and authors and become engaged. Finally, make sure you always include the basics – title, release date and where your book is available in your communications. While readers love the behind-the-scenes info on a book, be sure they have the how/where to get it.

3.             What do you do for fun?
I have two boys, aged 9 and 4 ½ so they pretty much are my fun and take up all of my free time. Whether they are schooling me on the Wii or we’re negotiating how many stores Mom has to hit before they can get back to their lives, they definitely keep me going. When they finally go to bed, I collapse on the couch and recharge with way too much TV.

Thanks, Aideen! It was generous of you to stop in and give us inside peek on how Carina operation.


UPDATE: I'm blogging at Carina Press today! 

Stop by for a chance to win a copy of True Believers. 
1st post: Secrets & Lies
2nd post: Behind Closed Doors
3rd post: Zombie Chickens and Scorpions


Shirley Wells said...

What a terrific interview! Thank you, Aideen and Maria.

I'll never forget the thrill of seeing my cover for the first time and then the lovely site banners. Carina do a great job - I'm surprised Aideen has time for TV. :)

Liz Fichera said...

Aideen is the Cover Art Goddess Extraordinaire too! I seriously believe that Carina has some of the most gorgeous covers out there.

Great interview! How nice to get a peek into Aideen's busy life.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Agreed about the great covers! Aideen, it's nice to see you out in public! You do so much behind the scenes.

Joanne said...

There are so many innovative ways to bring the internet into the marketing arena, and it sounds like Carina is really active in working with authors on promotion. It must be nice, as an author, to have this support! Thanks Maria and Aideen for sharing today.

jackie b central texas said...

Maria what an interesting behind the scenes peek and some nice information as well, thanks to you and Aideen both for this lovely interview!

jackie >_<

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Nice interview! Carina Press has always had this extra "something" than other e-pubs, IMO. I really like them, and I don't say that too often about publishers, haha! (Even my own, har har har) But Carina Press, I like! :D

Maria Zannini said...

I was very lucky to get Aideen to agree to the interview.

I learned a few things myself from it too.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Aideen, such a great peek behind the scenes. The whole Carina Press/Harlequin team is amazing. It's lovely as an author to have my expectations exceeded--which is precisely what Carina Press has done.

Maria--great interview!