Nosy Crow is a winner!
Last night, the most enormous bunch of us – Kate, Adrian, Imogen, Michela, Erin, Frances, Rebecca, Hester, Julia and Tom, spent the evening at the IPG Independent Publishing Awards.
Our awards table, clockwise from far left: Hester, Julia, Rebecca, Erin, Frances, Michela, Imogen, Tom, and Adrian (picture taken by Kate)
It is a big old risk to bring a bunch of people to an awards ceremony: the stakes are high, and I have a bit of a superstitious belief in the “curse of the full table”: the award night to which you bring a full table of staff or guests, is the award night you win nothing.
But we won the new and shiny Independent Publishers Guild Marketing Award.
Hester, Julia and Rebecca, with our Independent Publishers Guild Marketing Award
This is what the judges said:
“Nosy Crow had another superb year of marketing in 2018, when its focus was on retailers including Waterstones, Amazon and independents. It built brand recognition in schools and libraries too, organised many successful author events, and refined its digital marketing via Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. It’s hugely impressive—strategically thought out and really well executed. It’s a 101 of how to run marketing campaigns.”
As I do for most of our award entries, I put together the award entry. But here’s the thing: the day before, I’d been a speaker at the IPG conference, and had talked about the challenges of growing fast. One of the things I’d talked about was the need for me, as a founder who was involved in so many of the details of Nosy Crow early on, to let go. And there are kind of milestone moments when you realise how much the business has moved on. For me, writing the entry for this marketing award was one of those moments.
I’d asked Hester, Rebecca and Tom (with Julia) to pull together the information I would need… and what they sent to me made it clear they were all doing so many things that I didn’t know anything about. They were planning and acting with – to me – such impressive responsibility and autonomy and coming up with, and executing, such clever ideas. We don’t actually spend a massive bunch of money on marketing relative to our sales. Our turnover was £15,000,000 last year and our third party marketing spend cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds rather than millions of pounds. It is true that a lot of our costs – PR and social media, for example – are overhead costs rather than third party marketing costs. And it’s also worth saying that our third party marketing costs are focussed on generating our UK sales (abroad, it’s our partner publishers who work on marketing our books) so our marketing costs as a percentage of our UK sales are much higher than our marketing costs as a percentage of our overall sales. But in any event, inventiveness, focus and a sense of getting the best value out of our marketing activity is key to our success. So I was actually quite lumpy-throaty reading about all the things we’d managed to pull off on a tight budget.
We were shortlisted for Children’s Publisher of the Year, which we’ve won four times in the last seven years, and congratulate Bloomsbury Children’s Books for winning. We were shortlisted for the International Achievement Award, which we’ve won three times in the last seven years, and congratulate Kogan Page on winning. While it was hard to feel anything other than delighted for the incredibly bouncy and happy winning one-man medical publisher, Zeshan Qureshi, we were sad that our own entirely brilliant Ola Gotkowska didn’t win the Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award, for which she’d been shortlisted four times previously.
As I write this, on the train returning from Oxfordshire to the office, I feel both very proud of Nosy Crow, and of the marketing and PR teams in particular, and very pleased and relieved to have avoided the “full table” jinx.
Amazingly, Nosy Crow’s fourteen (!) IPG Independent Publishing Awards