So what’s this GDPR malarkey then?

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You may have started to see a marked increase in blog posts, articles and general chatter about GDPR in recent months. Although the details have been known about for ages, it comes in to force in a May, and in best ‘Millennium Bug’ tradition, many businesses are only now starting to worry about it.

What is the GDPR anyway?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).

The GDPR will supersede the current UK laws on data protection, which are enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It introduces tougher fines for non-compliance and breaches, and gives people more say over what companies can do with their data. It also makes data protection rules more or less identical throughout the EU.

But we’re leaving the European Union, I hear you cry! Blue passports, independence from Brussels, rule Britannia! Well, sorry, but that doesn’t matter, because EU laws and regulations will be incorporated in to UK law, and, equally important to our non-European clients, even if data controllers and processors are based outside the EU, the GDPR will still apply to them so long as they’re dealing with data belonging to EU residents. There is little doubt these regulations are with us for the long-term, EU member or not.

When does the GDPR come in to force?

It will apply in all EU member states (which still includes the UK, for now), from 25th May 2018.

Fascinating fact: Technically, the GDPR came in to force on 24th May 2016, but it’s only from 25th May 2018 that the adjustment period ends and the law applies.

Who does the GDPR apply to?

‘Controllers’ and ‘processors’ of data need to abide by the GDPR. A data controller states how and why personal data is processed, while a processor is the party doing the actual processing of the data. So the controller could be any organisation, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government. A processor could be an IT firm doing the actual data processing.

Are you a data controller or processor?

If your website, built for you by Bookswarm or anyone else, does any of the following things, then you almost certainly are:

  • E-commerce website which takes orders and stores customer data
  • Website with user registration functionality
  • Website which has forms through which users can submit information – this could be a contact or enquiry form, a content upload mechanism, etc.
  • Website with a mailing list signup mechanism

Obviously there are loads of other, non-website-related circumstances under which you could be a data controller or processor (customer databases, CRM, client lists, mailing lists, and so on) but we are going to focus on the website aspects here.

So what does GDPR require us to do?

It’s the data controller’s responsibility to ensure their processor abides by data protection law and processors must themselves abide by rules to maintain records of their processing activities. If processors are involved in a data breach, they are far more liable under GDPR than they were under the Data Protection Act.

Once the legislation comes into effect, controllers must ensure personal data is processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled and the data is no longer required, it should be deleted.

One of the following justifications must apply in order to lawfully process data:

  1. If the subject has consented to their data being processed
  2. To comply with a contract or legal obligation
  3. To protect an interest that is “essential for the life of” the subject
  4. If processing the data is in the public interest
  5. If doing so is in the controller’s legitimate interest – such as preventing fraud

In the website scenarios we mentioned above, the first two on that list (in bold) are the key ones for most of our clients:

  1. “If the subject has consented to their data being processed” relates to opting-in to a mailing list or online system, including registering an account
  2. “To comply with a contract or legal obligation” is the most relevant to e-commerce – if a customer has placed an order, they have entered in to a contract with you which you can’t complete without processing their data

In many cases, both of those justifications may operate together. A customer creating an account on an e-commerce website is consenting to their data being processed (setting up an account so they can place orders more quickly next time) and entering in to a contract or legal obligation (placing an order they want you to fulfil).

What does consent look like?

Consent must be an active, affirmative action by the data subject – passive acceptance (asking people to opt out, or opting them in by default) will not be permissible. Fortunately, Bookswarm have been discouraging our clients from this practice since we started trading!

“Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not … constitute consent” (Recital 32)

Active, affirmative action could be:

  • Explicit. Ticking a box which says “I agree to the processing of my personal data by X for the purposes of Y and Z”
  • An affirmative act. Not explicit but done in the clear expectation of how the information would be used, e.g. user enters their e-mail address into an e-mail field marked “optional”, with a short disclaimer underneath reading “Enter your e-mail address to receive information about products and services we think will interest you”

Controllers must keep a record of how and when an individual gave consent, and that individual may withdraw their consent whenever they want. This is really important – it means if you can’t provide a record of exactly where and when a user gave their consent, then you could be held in breach. Fortunately, the form builder plugin we use (GravityForms) and e-mail marketing providers like MailChimp both capture detailed information about when forms are filled in and users sign up.

What counts as personal data under the GDPR?

The EU has substantially expanded the definition of personal data under the GDPR. To reflect the types of data organisations now collect about people, online identifiers such as IP addresses now qualify as personal data. Other data, like economic, cultural or mental health information, are also considered personally identifiable information (PII).

When can people access the data stored by a data controller?

People can ask for access at “reasonable intervals”, and controllers must generally respond within one month. The GDPR requires that controllers and processors must be transparent about how they collect data, what they do with it, and how they process it, and must be clear (using plain language) in explaining these things to people.

People have the right to access any information a company holds on them, and the right to know why that data is being processed, how long it’s stored for, and who gets to see it. Where possible, data controllers should provide secure, direct access for people to review what information a controller stores about them.

They can also ask for that data, if incorrect or incomplete, to be rectified whenever they want.

Individuals also have the right to demand that their data is deleted if it’s no longer necessary to the purpose for which it was collected. This is known as the ‘right to be forgotten’. Under this rule, they can also demand that their data is erased if they’ve withdrawn their consent for their data to be collected, or object to the way it is being processed.

What happens if there’s a data breach?

It’s the controller’s responsibility to inform its data protection authority of any data breach that risks people’s rights and freedoms within 72 hours of becoming aware of it. The UK authority is the Information Commissioner’s Office. Those who fail to meet the 72-hour deadline could face a penalty of up to 2% of their annual worldwide revenue, or €10 million, whichever is higher. They also have to inform affected customers within the 72-hour deadline.

What happens if there’s a failure to observe the rules?

If you don’t follow the basic principles for processing data, such as consent, ignore individuals’ rights over their data, or transfer data to another country, the fines are even worse. Your data protection authority could issue a penalty of up to €20 million or 4% of your global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

What about cookies and other tracking data?

As you probably already know, websites use cookies to track returning visitors and collect usage information. It seems likely that visiting a website with a browser set to accept cookies will be taken as affirmative consent to place those cookies on the user’s device. In other words, there is an assumption that if you didn’t want cookies being placed on your device, you would make the appropriate changes to stop them from being set. That’s good news – and it also means that those annoying cookie consent pop-ups will no longer be needed.

OK, you’ve scared the pants off me. How should we make sure we’re compliant?

Here’s a checklist of things you need to do to make sure your website is GDPR-ready:

  • Ensure your website has a Privacy Policy, written in plain English
  • Ensure that the Privacy Policy explicitly identified all the ways in which the data controller may use the data gathered (on that basis it’s better to ask for permission for the broadest possible range of uses)
  • Include a simple ‘opt-out’ form on any site which gathers user data, allowing the user to freely withdraw their consent. In broad terms this would be a very simple form – name, e-mail address – allowing a user to contact you and request opt-out or removal. What you do with that information depends on what you are doing with the data – it could be as simple as manually unsubscribing them from a mailing list, or it could be more complicated (removing them from in-house databases, deleting all of their e-mails). Here’s our removal request form
  • Ensure your existing mailing lists are compliant. That means being able to say exactly how and when each user signed up, and that they have consented to be on the list. If your existing list contains any users who you added manually (because they were existing customers, or any other form of implied consent), or you can’t say how and when people gave permission, you should no longer use that list!
  • Review all forms and other data collection points on your website to ensure they are compliant. It should be clear what purpose users are providing their data for. Existing forms may need to be re-worded or tweaked to make permissions more explicit

Here at Bookswarm we are having to ‘bin’ our old mailing list. That’s because, as well as people who opted in via a form on this website, we also added the e-mail addresses of existing customers ourselves. That used to be allowed, but it’s not permitted under GDPR. As a result, we are starting a new list and contacting all the people on the old list (BEFORE 25th May, of course!) encouraging them to join it. If your list has any implied opt-ins on it, or any data you can’t vouch for, you should do the same.

What should be in our privacy policy?

We’re not lawyers, and can’t write this for you, sadly. Privacy policies have for may years been a box that many website owners have reluctantly ticked without really engaging with the detail. However under GDPR, the stakes are raised, and you should ensure you have a compliant privacy policy that you understand and follow in practice.

This handy privacy policy generator could be very useful – we used it to make our Privacy Policy – and there are other plenty of other tools and templates available too.

I need help!

Don’t worry, Bookswarm is here for you. We are offering a special GDPR website audit to all our customers. This includes checking off the key points identified above, and implementing changes if necessary:

  • Add or update Privacy Policy page, and add it to the footer or menu – you will need to supply the policy, but we can tell you what technical information you will require to make sure it’s accurate
  • Add a simple ‘Data removal request’ form, on its own page, and link to it from an appropriate location on the site e.g. from the footer, as well as from the privacy policy itself
  • Check all web forms and ensure they have active and affirmative opt-ins where necessary
  • Advise you on whether your existing mailing list is compliant based on what you tell us about it, and if necessary connect your website to a new, GDPR-compliant mailing list (we recommend MailChimp but other options are available)

All that for the bargain price of £75 (ex VAT). Special rates can be worked out for clients with complex needs or multiple websites. Drop us a line using our quick contact form, or send us an e-mail.

It’s important for us to say that based on the way we build our websites, and the admin access that all clients have, these jobs are all things you can do yourself if you want to. However, we recognise that some clients may not have the time to tackle this, or feel confident about what’s involved, which is why we’re offering this service.

Good luck getting to grips with the joys of GDPR, and may the data gods smile on your endeavours.

Bookswarm sponsoring Byte the Book

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Bookswarm is sponsoring February’s Byte the Book event, entitled Buzz Words: How Can You Build A Community Around Your Content, which takes place on Monday, February 19, 2018, from 18:30 – 21:00 at The House of St Barnabas in London’s Soho.

What are the most effective techniques to build an audience for your work? What online and offline marketing techniques and tools work best? How can you be heard using limited budgets? Who does community building well and what can we learn from other industries?

Lysanne Currie (Journalist and Digital Strategist and Ex Group Editor and Head of Content Publishing at The Institute of Directors) will chair and her panel will include: Piers Torday (children’s book author), Laura Lindsay (Director of Global Communications at Lonely Planet) and Leena Normington (Senior Media Producer at Vintage Books and the brains, voice and face of YouTube channel JustKissMyFrog)

As well as the talk, you’ll also have the opportunity to network with authors, agents, publishers and suppliers to the publishing industry before and after the discussion.

Bookswarm client Piers Torday is included on the exciting panel, and of course our own Simon Appleby will be there to hear what they have to say and enjoy a spot of networking.

Booking information

Simon’s interview with

Our own Simon has been interviewed for writing advice site by Abidemi Sanusi, the founder of the site, which aims to provide support to writers.

Read the interview

Bookswarm creates Literature Matters Online Hub for RSL’s new campaign

The Royal Society of Literature is launching a programme, “Literature Matters”, to campaign for recognition of the power and value of great writing. Writers and readers are being asked to help with contributions, proposals and support.

A key part of the Society’s new programme will be the Literature Matters Online Hub, designed and built by Bookswarm as an extension of the RSL’s main website.

RSL director Tim Robertson told The Bookseller: “For me and Marina [Warner], we are the new gang at the RSL, we are building on its tradition and heritage but feeling that in the panoply of all the different literature organisations – some like The Reading Agency about literacy and reading, some like Arvon about creative writing, others like the Society of Authors about writers’ rights – our bit is about being a voice for literature, great writing, words that aspire to be more than plain communication.

“That’s what we’re trying to do, show that in this big, complicated, messy world, literature has a really vital, crucial role – our job is to make that case and get that debate heard out there in the nation.”

Visit the Literature Matters Online Hub

Barbara Oakley on rewiring your brain

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There’s a great interview with Bookswarm client Dr Barbara Oakley on the New York Times today, all about her massively successful online course, Learning How to Learn. We designed and built Barbara’s website last year and we think she’s a real inspiration!

Read the article (up to 10 free article views allowed)


Bookswarm creates new P. D. James website for Faber

Faber & Faber has launched a website dedicated to the “beloved” crime writer and author P. D. James, on the date of the author’s birthday. The site was designed and built by Bookswarm in response to Faber’s brief to create an online hub for information about James, encouraging fans and new readers to discover more about her work and life.

Faber CEO Stephen Page says: “This site is a rich resource for readers, whether they are one of the huge number of P.D. James’s fans from around the world, or a reader coming to her books for the first time.”

Visit the new P. D. James website

FutureBook on ‘browser books’

Our friend Molly Flatt at FutureBook has just published a very interesting editorial piece about ‘browser books’ which takes as its starting point Phoenix Magazine‘s journey from delivering digital content via an app to delivering via a well-organised web-based magazine – the latter being created by yours truly.

It’s a series of nested pages off our main website, strung together with some smart but not particularly complicated code. It enables us to have a front cover and keep that bundled monthly issue feel – while also retaining total SEO, facilitating easy social sharing, and enabling effortless embedding and interactivity, all without taking the reader out of their flow. Obviously, because it’s online, it’s automatically compatible across all devices and browsers. And because it runs off a simple WordPress back-end, it’s utterly easy to use. Oh, and it appears to be working for our readers too, because we now have record viewing figures and an excellent dwell time.

We’ve used the same approach for other projects too – for example Books from Scotland. Because setting a defined number of publication dates per year and compiling content in to editions is much less daunting that trying to constantly ‘feed’ a blog, some clients, and their audiences, find this a really worthwhile approach, especially as you can tie all your social media and e-mail marketing schedules in to the publication of each new edition, and really put your weight behind it, rather than feeding content out in dribs and drabs.

Read the full article on FutureBook

Has social media made author websites obsolete?

An author website is still far more essential than Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, says Simon Appleby. This piece originally appears on the Bookseller’s Futurebook website.

It seems remarkable to me, in 2017, to even be discussing whether an author should have a website, but a quick Google search reveals ample evidence that it’s a commonly discussed topic. And the consensus is by no means clearly in favour of websites as essential. “Go where the audience is”, some sages will tell you, meaning Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest.

I’m here to tell you that this is bunk. Websites are in no way old hat. You may not need a fax machine in the 21st century, and you can certainly manage without a photocopier – but a website should still be as important to a writer as their laptop, notebook and thesaurus (print or digital).

Why? It’s helpful to take a step back and try and look at things from a broader perspective. The Internet is a technological marvel which has changed the world immeasurably in a tiny amount of time. There are people entering the world of work now who can’t remember the time before the Internet revolutionised the way we communicate, buy, sell, live and love. But many of us do remember. We remember the pain of long-distance communication; the dependence on analogue methods of information retrieval. Surely very few of us who remember those days would be keen to return to them permanently.

And when those of us who remember the before-times think about the killer apps which made us realise the power and possibility of this new and mysterious technology, I bet you my old 33.6 k modem that they were email and the World Wide Web. Email is the ravening beast which destroys our productivity – it’s fashionable to hate it, but not to ignore it. Yet the World Wide Web – somehow an information network containing over 6 billion websites, built from nothing in a little over 20 years? That’s passé?

To paraphrase the patron saint of geeks, Douglas Adams, the Web is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. Perhaps its very size has made it unfashionable or daunting. After all, a website owner is in competition with loads of other website owners to get users’ attention. But considering that a good reason not to take part at all seems a bit short-sighted to me.

The web naysayers would have authors (and presumably other organisations and individuals) retreat to the walled bear-pits, sorry, gardens that are the social networks. While these have their place (and I’m as easily distracted by Facebook as the next guy), they also have considerable downsides – trolls lurking under bridges, and shiny baubles to amuse you when you should be doing something productive.

More to the point, you’re giving your personal, private information to a giant corporation which only values you as a way of generating data it can use to sell advertising, bolster its bottom line and grow its share price.

By using a social media platform, it’s as if you are playing a made-up sport where the governing body (which happens to be owned by a billionaire) invented the game and the rules only a few years ago. Those rules can change without consultation or prior warning. The authorities also lend you the kit, rent you the pitch and offer you the chance to sponsor the shirts (all for a reasonable fee of course). How generous of them! How open-hearted!

By comparison, the Web is like a proper sport, such as football or cricket, that’s been around for ages. Yes, there is a top tier of players, with fan clubs, floodlights, stadia and TV deals. But the spirit of the game belongs to all the players, not just the elites, and as long as it exists, it’s open to all, from ‘jumpers for goalposts’ amateurs all the way up to the big leagues. The rules of such sports may have evolved over time, but the way the game is played is recognisably the same, and if the governing body goes bust – so what? People will still play the game, and love it.

It’s arguably easier than ever to set up a web presence very quickly, with a small amount of technical skill and little or no money spent. Free blogging and DIY web platforms? Check. Free stock images? You got it. Take it from someone who’s been doing this a long time – entry-level platforms are easier than ever to use, and well within the compass of even the most technophobic of writers.

Of course, I would say all this wouldn’t I? Well, yes, it’s true – I design websites for a living, and I’m hardly going to talk down my own livelihood. But authors should not dismiss the web as being somehow less convenient, less popular or less valuable than social media platforms. Unlike those platforms, we can be pretty sure the web will be around for a long time to come.

Image source: WWW image

My Digital Life: Dr Barbara Oakley

Welcome to the third post of our new series, in which we ask our author clients to answer three questions about how they use digital marketing in their careers, and how it affects their writing.

This week: Dr Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University. Her research involves bioengineering with an emphasis on neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Barbara teaches two massive open online courses (MOOCs), “Learning How to Learn” (the world’s most popular course) and “Mindshift” (based on her latest book of the same title), alongside legendary neuroscientist Terrence Sejnowski. She has received many awards for her teaching, including the American Society of Engineering Education’s Chester F. Carlson Award for technical innovation in education and the National Science Foundation New Century Scholar Award.

What do you is think the most effective thing you’ve done in the digital world?

The most effective thing I’ve done is a massive open online course called “Learning How to Learn,” through Coursera – University of California, San Diego.  We’ve had nearly 2 million enrolled students. A big part of the success of this course is that I used attention-grabbing techniques, humor, and solid science, to convey the key ideas.  A good explanation of how to create an online video course can be found in week 4 of my course “Mindshift” (it’s free). The courses have served to help introduce people to my books.

How do you feel about the way digital technology has made it easier for writers to connect with their readers?

The fact that so many people know about my work, and reach out to me, means that I’m constantly kept informed of the latest trends in what’s going on that’s related to my writing.  It’s not that I can respond to everyone. But the interaction I do have with my readers and viewers helps keep me sharp and helps me know what people are most interested in.

What’s the single best piece of advice you can give to other writers about the best use of digital marketing?

I’ve found that emails to those who have enrolled in my courses are the most effective means of outreach.  I send an email out each Friday to roughly 1.1 million students.  This weekly email builds a solid sense of community around my writing and my courses.

Visit Barbara’s website at

My Digital Life: Peter Fisk

Welcome to the second post of our new series, in which we ask our lovely author clients to answer three questions about how they use digital marketing in their careers, and how it affects their writing.

This week: Peter Fisk. Peter is a global business thought leader on growth and innovation, customers and marketing. He is a bestselling author, expert consultant and keynote speaker, helping business leaders to develop innovative strategies for business and brands. Having trained as a nuclear physicist he went on to work with brands from Coca Cola to RedBull, Virgin to Vodafone, is a professor at IE Business School, runs his own innovation company, GeniusWorks, and features on the Thinkers 50 radar of best business thinkers.

What do you is think the most effective thing you’ve done in the digital world?

I wanted to write a book that was much more – had more reach, more longevity and more value than 300 pages of paper. “Gamechangers” was based on my curiosity of how companies win in the digital world, and 100 interviews with the most disruptive innovators across the world, in every region and every sector. How do they embrace the new technologies, the new markets, the new issues as businesses? What I got was a deep and constantly evolving insight into the fast-changing digital world. A web-based platform that combined blogs and videos, case studies and competitions, events and toolkits was the springboard from which I was able to launch the book. It enabled me to meet people more globally and actively than any publisher could, and to build an ongoing conversation with participants that embraced events, workshops and awards. The book is now physical and digital, more of a branded community, and has evolved significantly since its launch, with continual updates and new directions. Like the companies that it was originally inspired by, and continues to track – Airbnb to Buzzfeed, Coursera to Dalian Wanda – it has found a space to add real value in today’s hybrid and connected world.

How do you feel about the way digital technology has made it easier for writers to connect with their readers?

The ability to customise and collaborate, to build a conversation and ultimately a community is not new. But fundamentally different in the book publishing world. 4 years ago, I was invited to host the Future Book Forum, now held annually in Munich, and the biggest innovation workshop of publishers and printers in the world. Last year we had over 400 book people together, sharing their best ideas about how to take the industry forwards. As an author, I have learnt to think much more like a brand, to see the book as a mere catalyst, and to see the business model as much more significant that advances (no longer), royalties (trivial sums) and rights (still good money). The best crowdfunded books clearly show what audiences will pay for, with some Kickstarter stars generating over $1 million as they offer custom books to limited edition ego-books, dinner conversations with authors or corporate events. Similarly, linking to brand or corporate partners – aligning a fashion bio with a retail store, a sports handbook with a bestselling magazine – transforms the potential to promote the book (or range of products) to audiences, sometimes far in advance, generating advanced sales and reduced risk. The best form of course is co-created books, custom content that is more authentic and interesting, and word of mouth recommendation.

What’s the single best piece of advice you can give to other writers about the best use of digital marketing?

Digital marketing is all about rethinking ideas and networks. Its not just a promotional tool, but a way to fundamentally reinvent your book and your business model. As an author your value is not in bashing out the 300 pages, it is in having the idea. The big idea (which is usually captured in the first chapter!), that then catalyses a conversation, gets people thinking and talking, participating and sharing. Yes they will buy a copy, but more importantly they will talk to others. More than that they will want to be part of it, either by contributing their own insights and opinions, or by embracing the ideas more deeply through workshops or other activities. This is where value is created and real money can be made. Books still matter, they are the thought starters, and sometimes the enduring manuals. But more importantly they are ideas that become brands that become platforms that become communities. As a result they create impact – an applied action, a collective movement, sometimes even a force for change. Publishers are the ones who need to wake up to this opportunity, to work with authors and technologists to explore these opportunities. Today’s best businesses are ideas and networks companies. They have a powerful, addictive, important idea that is then spread through networks. Forget the linear world of supply and distribution chains that end in singular transactions. Think instead in terms of networks that multiply – social networks that engage more people with more trust, publishing networks that take your content further and faster, and technology networks that enable people to participant and engage more deeply. We live in an incredible time of change – time for authors, books and publishers to catch up!

Visit Peter’s website at

My Digital Life: Patrick Gale

Welcome to the first in a new series, in which we ask our lovely author clients to answer three questions about how they use digital marketing in their careers, and how it affects their writing.

Kicking us off is Patrick Gale. Patrick’s sixteenth novel, A Place Called Winter was a Radio 2 Book Club selection, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize, the Walter Scott Prize and the Green Carnation Award and and is now being developed as a BBC serial. His two part film, Man in an Orange Shirt will be on BBC 2 this July along with a documentary about his work as part of the Gay Britannia season. He is a patron of the Charles Causley Trust and the Penzance LitFest, a director of Endelienta and artistic director of the North Cornwall Book Festival. He plays the cello and lives on the last farm in Cornwall.

What do you is think the most effective thing you’ve done in the digital world?

Around the time Bookswarm designed my website for me, I became far more relaxed about sharing my writing/talking/daily life with the online communities. This was just before a book tour for my novel, A Place Called Winter, and I really noticed the difference both in the size of audience my talks were attracting, in the speed and liveliness with which readers started responding to my work, and in the shelf-life of any articles I published. I handle it with care, as privacy is an issue, but I can’t now imagine returning to being a writer only present in the printed/published word.

How do you feel about the way digital technology has made it easier for writers to connect with their readers?

I’m sure it varies from writer to writer but my novels are intensely emotional and always used to generate a lot of mail. Now they generate a lot of tweets, Facebook comments and direct message. I love that immediacy. Readers now feel involved in the whole process – they get little hints of what I’m working on, sneak previews of the manuscript or design ideas for the book jacket – and I suspect that gives them a greater sense of ownership. Provided booksellers and festivals are also digitally connected, we can now work together to give book events free publicity they’d never get through conventional media. Twitter, especially , presents a great, buzzing hive of eager readers who are really generous at sharing information and recommendations. Far from killing off the book, as people initially feared it would, digital technology has sustained and enriched the entire publishing process. Sales seem to be as buoyant as ever and I regularly meet readers who are buying a novel of mine the second time, to get it signed, having already read it digitally.

What’s the single best piece of advice you can give to other writers about the best use of digital marketing?

Support other writers. I think readers get rapidly bored by talking billboards but they love to hear when a writer they like really rates some other writer they might not yet have discovered. We all enjoy the occasional crow, but boasting will never win the support that professional generosity does! And, speaking as the artistic director of one and the patron of a second, don’t forget to spread the word about the book festivals you visit; don’t assume they don’t need the extra oomph your support will give them online.

Visit Patrick’s website at

Introducing Bookswarm Consultancy

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Delivering consultancy services has always been a key part of what Bookswarm does – but providing information about that alongside our portfolio of core services has always been something of a challenge. So now we’ve created a new website to showcase some of our consultancy work. Take a look at Bookswarm Consultancy.

Bookswarm founder Simon Appleby has 20 years’ experience of delivering digital projects – websites, apps and e-books – and has spent the last 10 years working exclusively with publishers, authors, literary agents and reading charities. As well overseeing the design and production of an extensive portfolio of projects, Simon has also provided consultancy, delivered training and talks, and written articles for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, The Bookseller, Futurebook and others.