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TYOH Q&A: Cory Beatty

Cory Beatty, Marketing Director at HarperCollinsCanada, on who is responsible for marketing authors, why YA writers should be active on social media, and why he loves his job.

Tell us about yourself. (What do you do and where do you live?)
I’m the Marketing Director at HarperCollins Canada. I live in midtown Toronto and have been in the city now for 16 years (though I grew up in a town small enough that it’s entire population could fit inside University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall!)
How important is it that an author has a presence on social media?
More important for some, less so for others. I always tell authors that they shouldn’t use social media if they don’t have the time to be social—that is, if they aren’t able to actively and regularly engage with readers. Having said that, I think it’s vitally important for YA authors to be active as social media is so incredibly pervasive with their demographic.

How much work do you expect an author to do to promote him or herself?
None. I think it’s the publisher’s privilege to promote terrific authors and it’s the author’s job to write terrific books. If an author likes to engage online that makes our job easier.

Don’t most writers tend to be introverts? And doesn’t this make it difficult for them to market themselves?
I wouldn’t generalize so much. Many authors are active performers and some of the most extroverted people I’ve ever met are authors. It’s a myth that an author who refuses to engage on social media can’t be successful--that’s just not true. The best marketing is a great book, that’s what an author can do.

What do you do when you have a writer who has no presence on social media or the web?
I ask if they’re interested in growing their profile. If they are—I offer advice on how to do so based on the type of book they’re publishing. If they’re not, that’s ok too. HarperCollins Canada is lucky enough to have an INCREDIBLY large and engaged social following of our own so it’s not as if that author’s work won’t have a presence online.

What is your favourite social media tool for promotion and why?
My personal favourite is Twitter. It may also be the hardest but you don’t have to wait long (only seconds) until you learn whether or not what you’re talking about is catching on.

How important is it for an author to do a book tour these days? 
It varies by author and subject matter of course. For the long term success of an author’s career I think the more readers they can make one-to-one contact with the better. Blog tours, twitter chats are all becoming viable, cost-efficient alternatives.

Is there any such thing as too much publicity or bad publicity for a writer? (Think the Lindsay Lohan of the literary world…)
I do think there is such a thing as too much publicity and bad publicity. Overexposure (with the media and consumer) can really hurt a career…as can publishing too often or being marketed wrong. I don’t think there are too many authors out there that fall into the “Lohan” category but if you consider those actors who release multiple movies a year (of varying quality) you can make a comparison to certain authors.

What do you like best about what you do? 
Besides easy access to some of my favourite writers? Lately, what I love more and more is the overwhelming feeling I get from our fans and followers online that—despite what certain media will tell you—the book is not dead. In fact, far from it. Everyday I see hundreds of Canadians talking about the books they love and recommending to others. Being able to see and tap into that passion for books isn’t just rewarding from a business perspective but also from a personal one as a reader.

Cory Beatty is one of the readers for our upcoming Twitter challenge! You can follow him @corybeatty and @HarperCollinsCa.

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