IPG Virtual Spring Conference 2020

As part of our membership with the IPG (Independent Publishers Guild), we are invited to attend their many publishing events across the year. IPG conferences are renowned throughout the publishing industry and their two-day conferences boast presentations, training and discussions across the publishing sector. This year, however, the current circumstances have meant that physical events are out of the question and the IPG Spring Conference was therefore taken completely online.

Using a state-of-the-art platform, members of the IPG came together to celebrate the rich and vibrant culture of the publishing industry. The IPG kindly opened up attendance to all staff of member organisations, which meant that many members of the Troubador team who don’t usually get to experience the conference were able to for the first time. Looking back over the event, we thought we’d share our thoughts and experiences of the first virtual IPG conference.

Our Sales & Marketing Manager, Jonathan White has attended many of the previous conferences and was interested to see how a virtual conference would work. Jonathan says, “The IPG has always managed to put together a good selection of the important personalities from the publishing and bookselling world for their conferences, and they very much did this again. The best of these was an interview with James Daunt – mainly about the situation with Waterstones in the UK but also about Barnes & Noble in the USA. Against the odds, the IPG did still managed to put together a very interesting two-day conference on the state of the book world at the moment. Let’s just hope we can do it in person next year.”

 Also in attendance was our Operations Director, Jane Rowland. Jane says, “From the Operations side of the business, I am always looking at workflow, finance and better ways to do things. I enjoyed the talk on productivity – and also the references to the challenges publishers have faced working differently and remotely during the pandemic. It’s also reassuring to see other Indie publishers reaching the same conclusion as us… We can no longer see this as a temporary emergency that needs to be managed, but must embrace the reality that everything we know about life, publishing, consumers and the workplace can/will be changed, reimagined or improved – rather than staying firmly fixed to how things used to be.”

For the first time, three members of our Digital team were able to attend the event. Megan Lockwood-Jones (Digital Manager), Stephanie Carr (Digital Marketing Controller) and Andrea Johnson (Digital Production Controller) looked forward to seeing what they could take away from the event and implement within their team and the services they offer.

Megan says, “The conference opened my eyes to further audiobook marketing opportunities. Whilst we don’t currently offer an audiobook marketing service, we are trying out techniques to help push our audiobooks and we have always focused on pushing the Amazon, Audible and Apple links. However, the conference inspired me to think about this differently and I have since thought about using social media in different ways to help promote the less commonly-used YouTube links for our non-exclusive audiobooks, as YouTube can be used by anyone rather than us relying on authors having an account/subscription or signing up for an account with some of the bigger audiobook retailers.”

Chelsea Taylor, Production Manager and member of our office’s ‘Mental Health First-Aiders’ team attended sessions specifically on wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. Chelsea says, “My main take away from the wellbeing talk was that we’re doing all the right things at Troubador, not just saying wellbeing is important to us but having tools and activities available for staff, and running whole weeks to shine the spotlight on the importance of looking after your mental health and wellbeing. Two of the stand-out statistics from the session were:

  1. 1/3 of job performance is dependent on the wellbeing of staff members, so it has a direct correlation

  2. Companies that promote an openness re. mental health and wellbeing have 28% more productive staff, and 34% more creative staff 

It’s good to know that we are implementing the right things in our company and this session provided further insight and knowledge on this important subject.”

Our Assistant Marketing Manager, Philippa Iliffe was also able to attend the conference for the first time. Attending many of the talks and delving into discussions, Philippa says, “The wide range of talks meant that there was something for everyone and the digital format allowed you to catch up on talks from previous sessions – something you couldn’t do in real life. One of my highlights from the event was attending the breakout session on ‘Agile Marketing in Lockdown’ with Louise Dickens and Alison Middle of Kogan Page. This session looked at how indie publishers could use their agility to respond to shifting habits and develop their marketing and promotional strategies to make their books as visible as possible, particularly on digital platforms. This is something that we have been working on since the start of lockdown and it was refreshing to engage in a positive discussion with other indie publishers.”

Overall, the event came off as a great success. Whilst we enjoyed everything the digital conference had to offer, we are very much looking forward to attending in person sometime in the near future.