Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Song of the Open Road

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Today our guest blogger is Rachel Chou, Chief marketing officer at from Open Road Media. I didn't get to hear the presentation from Rachel's colleague at Bouchercon (and maybe you didn't either) so here's what Rachel has to say about one of publishing's newest and most innovative companies.

Connecting Mystery Authors with Readers
While reading is a solitary activity, it is also inherently social. People tell their friends about a book they just loved or that they hated, discuss the latest bestseller at a local book club, or rediscover an old classic on a colleague’s recommendation. So in this day of social networking, online and off, what can a publisher offer readers and authors beyond what they are already doing on their own?

Open Road Media, founded less than two years ago, is a digital publisher and multimedia content company. We strive to create connections between authors and their audiences by marketing their ebooks through a new proprietary online platform, which uses premium video content and social media.

Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors including William Styron, Pat Conroy, and Virginia Hamilton, and has launched new e-stars like Mary Glickman. We have a constantly growing mystery/thriller list that includes Ruth Rendell, Jack Higgins, Lawrence Block—and the addition of dozens of authors with the recent partnership with Otto Penzler’s

Throughout the publishing process, we work closely with our authors—who we see as partners, not clients—and use a variety of new media tools to market our books, including online advertising, social media, and content partnerships, as well as traditional publicity. We want to bring our authors and their fans together, and our “special sauce” comes from the ongoing marketing into and within readers’ social circles. It’s not only about the launch date, but also about ways to connect with readers months and years after a book has been published.

We are often asked what truly distinguishes our marketing. I believe it is the quality and variety of the content we syndicate. Whether it’s sharing five questions with Jack Higgins, hearing from Jonathon King on the occupational hazards of working the crime beat, giving new life to a 1982 article by Lawrence Block, or asking Ruth Rendell about the weird mother-son relationship in A Dark-Adapted Eye, we’re interested in bringing these new insights to readers, wherever they are.

Another example of this content comes from our in-house production team. These incredible producers, production assistants, and cinematographers travel around the globe to film our authors and capture their worlds. Instead of focusing on a single title for a release, hours of filming are conducted and the interviews therein cover a wide-range of topics, from writing to authors’ passions and life backstories.

You can see authors speaking about achieving “thrills and chills” or geeking out for International Geek Pride Day. You can watch a profile about horror master Ira Levin, for which we interviewed contemporary writers, such as Chuck Palahniuk and Chelsea Cain, who were influenced by his work. Based on the above range of videos, it’s easy to see that from serious to silly, inspirational to celebratory, the topics for discussion are truly endless.

There are few genres with more opportunities to engage directly with readers than mysteries. At the end of last year, the Book Industry Study Group released a report revealing that mystery fiction is one of the two fastest growing genres for ebooks. And the digital and offline worlds are filled with dynamic and engaged communities of mystery readers. As a result of the rise of ebooks and online communities, iconic books can, in the words of our cofounder and CEO, Jane Friedman, come “back to the future.” With robust digital marketing, Open Road is paving the way for these incredible reads to be found.

Here's a look at something Open Road created for one of its clients...pretty cool.

Visit Open Road at


  1. Thanks for telling us more about Open Road. I had heard the name tossed around writing circles, but I was unfamiliar with the story behind the company. Sounds like it would be a great fit for many of my fellow mystery/thriller author friends.

  2. Okay, I unwittingly embedded a video link that constantly changes so apologies if images poke into sidebar or look weird (but it's fun that they can do this!)May try to change.

  3. This is fascinating stuff, Rosemary, and shows how rapidly the our publishing world is changing.

  4. Tell us more! How does it work? Is it expensive? Can anyone use this?

  5. Very cool. I'm fascinated by the myriad ways new social media are being used for what's essentially a very old-fashioned purpose - talking about books.

  6. Wow, nice to hear about you! I'm with Hank: tell us more! Specifically, can an author hire your company even if you don't publish her ebooks?

  7. Ditto, ditto! I'd like to know more.

  8. Yes let's hear more, even though all these new things make my head hurt:)

  9. "Proprietary platform." Does that mean the same thing as DRM? On what devise is it read/viewed/listened to?

  10. Fascinating. SOMEONE is going to figure all this out.

  11. Hi gang, It's Rachel from Open Road. To answer a few questions. We do not offer our marketing as a stand-alone service. It's part of what we do when we publish an author's work as ebooks. We work with agents and directly with authors who have their ebook rights. Typically we have authors who have a catalog of works vs a single or small group of titles. A lot goes in to the marketing so it makes more sense when we are looking to market 5, 10, 20 etc.

    Proprietary for us doesn't mean DRM in this case. It means we built our own system for managing marketing content, pushing it to a bunch of sites at once and tracking all the "engagement." The system also acts as a project management system where we can see what all the marketing team members are up to. Makes collaborating much easier! Hope that helps clear some things up. Visit us at or on twitter to see what we are up to :)