An interview with Alexandra Nicolajsen, Director of Social Media and Digital Sales at Kensington Publishing Corp.
What does your role involve and what do you like about working at Kensington?
I oversee Kensington’s social presence, online sales, ebooks and online marketing. The timing has been great for me because of how important digital marketing has become. I started as an assistant and was able to build and run a whole new department. I love being an independent publisher because it allows you to work closely with authors and with a range of departments. It also means you have to do even more to bring your book to market because we all wear so many hats.
What books do you publish at Kensington and who is your main audience?
We publish a wide range of fiction and non-fiction with genres varying from romance, historical, mysteries, thrillers, cozy mysteries, historical fiction and health. We view each book as its own product and then look at the demographics afterwards. Our audience tends to be aged around thirty-four and upwards, and mainly female, but we publish books for everyone.
What books do you mainly read yourself and do you steer towards Kensington publications?
I read a lot of different genres, mainly historical fiction, romance and mysteries. I’m not sure I could pick a favourite book or author but I really love Stephen King. I alternate between reading Kensington books and other books from across the industry. It’s really important that I read a mixture so that I know what’s going on in the market.
How has Covid-19 affected your sales and have you noticed readers preferring particular genres during the pandemic?
Books have sold extremely well throughout the pandemic and they’re a great way to entertain when you can’t go anywhere. In the face of all the horrors of the last year, books have been a constant and that has been really amazing to see. Our historical fiction, romance and cozies have been really popular and provide something light and escapist. I hope people keep reading even once we’ve left our homes, you can take your book with you if you go out!
What are cozy mysteries and why are they so popular?
Cozy mysteries are essentially murder mysteries but without the blood and gore that you might expect in a harder thriller. The narratives are light and fun, often with romantic undertones and an amateur sleuth solving the mystery. Cozy readers, like romance readers, are extremely voracious and passionate about their genre. The books are often written in series which further hooks readers in. You can hear about all the latest cozies in our newsletter, on social media or through our Between the Chapters book club.
How does Between the Chapters work, and who is it most popular with?
Between the Chapters started as a Facebook book club which aimed to bring valuable book content to readers, without simply being a sales message. The Facebook group now has nearly 15,000 members and we’ve launched a content-based Between the Chapters site which gives people access to exclusive material, information about authors, recipes, book recommendations and lots more. We also have accounts for Between the Chapters on Twitter and Instagram now, as well as the original Facebook club. Our members are from all over the world, with the whole premise behind the club that there is a book for every reader. Each month we have four main book selections from a mixture of genres. There is a Between the Chapter newsletter with exclusive content from authors, sweepstakes to win books and discount codes to use on our website.
I see you have lots of wonderful virtual events planned. How successful have these been and will you continue to put on virtual events post-Covid?
Virtual events are fantastic. Our attendance rate is often much higher and it allows people to attend from all over the world. If people are busy during the online event, then they can watch it later on YouTube so that’s also really appealing. I think it will take time for people to fully return to in-person events and we will aim to do a mixture in the future. There is definitely room to retain virtual events and there are huge advantages, such as when a fan wants to meet an author but can’t travel to see them.
What’s your biggest driver of traffic to your website?
A combination of social media and our newsletter. We run a lot of social advertising that directs you to our website. Our newsletter is sent out twice a week and depending on which genres are being promoted, we get different amounts of click-throughs. But social media is the biggest driver and paid advertising is very effective.
Do you find some books much harder to market?
It depends on the genre. If it is a fiction title that isn’t part of a series or from a bestselling author, then we need to find the hook that will bring readers in, help to get publicity, and inform our targeting.
Looking to the future, is there anything new planned for Kensington?
Well recently we’ve had very strong success with big books like Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn, The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman and When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson. Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce has just come out which we’re all very excited about. Bryce is a fantastic author and the publicity and marketing plan for the book have been amazing. So, we’re just trying to keep going like this, and think about how we can fill our list with diverse books and authors. It’s a pleasure to work on some of these brilliant books and having a very diverse list is really exciting.