News for Authors

New on the Author Portal: Notification System & Annual Survey

by The Author Newsletter Team|March, 2018

You may have noticed a recent upgrade to the Author Portal: a site-wide notification system that keeps our authors up to date when any new information is added to their portals. Continue reading to learn more and to take our annual Author Portal, newsletter, and webinar survey.


Author Portal Notification System

Recently, we added a new feature to the Portal—the Author Portal Notification System—which was requested by authors who wanted to know when a new royalty statement or subright appeared in the portal. We are pleased to announce we have added those notifications, plus much more:

  • New Royalty Statement – As soon as a new royalty statement is available in the portal, you will receive a notification on the Author Portal dashboard that, when clicked, will take you directly to the royalties page. The new royalty statement will be highlighted on your first visit to this page.
  • New Subright – Similar to the Royalty Statement notification, clicking this will take you directly to the Subrights page, where the new subright will be highlighted.
  • New Questionnaire Available – In December 2016, we announced that company-wide author questionnaires are available online through the Author Portal. If you have a new title publishing within eighteen months, the title will appear on your author questionnaire page and you will receive a notification.



As transparency is an important goal of the Author Portal, we have also included two notifications that will alert you whenever your data has been updated by Penguin Random House staff:

  • Updates to Your Questionnaire – Whenever your publishing team makes an update to any of your author questionnaires (About the Author or About the Book), you will receive a notification. When clicked, this will take you directly to the section that has been updated, and timestamps beneath each question will show you which ones have been edited by your team.
  • Updates to Your Profile Page – These notifications will appear whenever your address or phone number has been updated by our royalties team. You can also make these changes from your profile page in the Author Portal, but if you have requested our teams to make the change on your behalf, you will receive this notification.



Annual Author Platforms Survey

This exciting upgrade was the direct result of suggestions and feedback given by authors in our previous annual Author Platforms survey. Your feedback helps advise our future content and enhancements, from monthly News for Authors mailings and webinars to the variety of resources on the Penguin Random House Author Portal.

To thank you for your participation in this survey, we will donate ten Penguin Random House books in your name to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational resources to children from low-income families. Please join us in nurturing our next generation of readers and writers.


Click here to take the survey.

Youth Activism in Books

by Neda Dallal|March, 2018

Recently, the publishing industry has seen an uptick in books that showcase activism from the youth perspective. Books like She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez broach topics of social justice and acknowledge the presence of racial, socioeconomic, and gender divides in our society.

We sat down with Jill Santopolo, editorial director at Philomel, and Josh Redlich, publicist at Random House Children’s Books, to talk about their experience acquiring and publishing these kinds of books.


Can you give us some context on the emergence of youth activism as a topic in children’s literature? 

JS: There have been books focusing on kids as tiny activists for a long time—I remember reading 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth in the early 1990s—but when the government is humming along in a way that makes people feel comfortable, there’s less of an imperative to raise your voice and make yourself heard. I think the recent election has shown all of us—including, or perhaps especially, kids—that when there’s something important to you, something you want changed, you can speak out and make a difference. In the last year, we’ve seen that fighting for your beliefs is one of the bedrocks of our society and can have tangible effects. As an adult, I know that I want kids to understand that, and I think a lot of parents, teachers, writers, and publishers want that as well.

JR: Incorporating stories of young activism in publishing is not so much a “trend” as it is a necessity. With our social and political climate what it is, the need for activists has never been greater, and it is the responsibility of those in publishing—agents, authors, illustrators, editors, etc. —to share that with young readers. They are our future, and if we want our future to be any better than our present, we need to arm them with the tools that will let them rise up and make a positive difference.


How do these stories impact young readers?

JS: I hope stories about kids and teens who have effected change in their community will inspire the readers of those stories to harness their passion into activism.

JR: Publishing, children’s publishing in particular, has the ability to reach today’s youth directly with stories that inform them, inspire them, and, in many ways, shape the person they will one day become. By providing them with stories of other young activists, both fictional and true, we show young readers that their voice matters and that they too can make a difference.


What do you see for the future of books with young advocates?

JS: I hope that we never stop publishing books that empower young readers and encourage them to be empathetic, to use their voices, and to make a difference in the areas that matter most to them.

JR: I think we’re on the right track. We have picture books like The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner, which illustrates the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches, as well as books for older children and teens like We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, an upcoming anthology from Crown Books for Young Readers that features poems, letters, personal essays, and art about young activism. Let’s just keep books like these coming!


How can readers go beyond the book to increase their own activism?

JS: In addition to the wonderful books out there for and about young activists, I’d also suggest checking out, which gives you lists of causes and organizations to support based on what you are passionate about. The Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America are also great, as is John and Hank Green’s Project for Awesome, in which thousands of people post videos advocating for charities, and communities then promote these videos and raise money for the charities.

JR: For teen advocates, Teen Vogue first comes to mind. They have made a shift toward covering and supporting social activism, and it’s a great resource. In a recent interview, the magazine’s former editor-in-chief, Elaine Welteroth, said of this evolution: “[O]ver the years we’ve realized that our mission was really to become more focused on making this an inclusive community, that speaks to every kind of young person.” That’s a message we can all get behind.


Neda Dallal is Coordinator of Publishing Development and Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.

What’s New on Your Favorite Social Media Platforms?

by Neda Dallal|March, 2018

In the age of social media, our communication platforms are constantly in flux. In this article, we highlight recent updates to the most popular social media platforms, and how these changes will be relevant to you. Incorporating these updates into your social media routine might really help to extend your brand and increase awareness about your books!

We’ll focus on four central social platforms that authors tend to use: Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Facebook.



Twitter’s newest feature is the expansion to 280-character tweets in all languages except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean (languages that can already provide double the information in one character compared to English, Spanish, French, etc.). The 140-character length has been a long-contested feature of the platform, and doubling the length of tweets has given Twitter users more space to share bite-sized information.

But remember that you don’t have to use the extra characters. Twitter still runs on short, easily consumable information. Keep this in mind and adjust to your audience—if you find you get less engagement on longer tweets, opt to continue using threaded shorter tweets.

Alongside this change, Twitter users have seen an update to the interface. Rather than a character countdown from the beginning, now a circle fills as you approach the character limit. Once you have twenty or fewer characters remaining, a countdown appears. Additionally, Twitter has streamlined the process of writing long strings of tweets. Now, you can compose full threads and post all the tweets in one thread at the same time.



Instagram recently released two new features for Instagram Stories: Archive and Highlights. With Archive, your Stories (small video clips or photos that disappear twenty-four hours after posting) will be automatically archived—for your eyes only—once they expire. On your profile, there is an Archive button that will show you your post archive and allow you to switch to your Stories archive.

Highlights gives users the option to save Stories to their profile pages indefinitely (although you can only do so with Stories that have been posted since the latest update in December 2017). Up to 100 photos or videos can be added to Instagram Stories Highlights. But there’s no limit to how many Instagram Stories you can create—if you add more than 100 clips to your current Story, the earliest ones will be removed and added to your Archive. So if you’d like to capture all the photos from an author event and keep them on your Instagram page after the event ends, rest assured that you can do so with Highlights.

Instagram also announced that users will now have the ability to follow hashtags. Instead of regularly searching for a hashtag to find new content of interest, users can have the content delivered to them. Following a hashtag creates a feed where this content will appear. For authors, this change will increase the likelihood that your posts and mentions of you and your book will show up in more people’s feeds, and will allow for easy monitoring of your own brand hashtags.

Finally, the poll feature in Instagram Stories is a handy tool for authors wanting to get a sense of their fans’ feelings on certain topics. To use the poll feature, go to the Stories section of the app and tap the sticker icon with the happy face (top left corner). Then select the Poll sticker option, and create your poll!



Goodreads recently enhanced their giveaway program to deliver additional marketing benefits. Everyone who enters a giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list. Additionally, the author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to a Want-to-Read list get a notification letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. Also, about eight weeks after a giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads reminding them to rate and review the book.

With the premium giveaway package, Goodreads offers a special “Featured” placement on the highly trafficked Giveaways homepage, which provides the giveaway with significantly more visibility and more entrants. Find out more about Goodreads Giveaways here, and check out some best practices here.

Another important update is that Kindle Notes & Highlights are now available on Goodreads. This feature allows authors to add notes and highlights to their own books, as well as any other book they care about. It makes for a vital space where authors can be an active part of the reading experience, and where readers want to see more content from authors. Our contact at Goodreads tells us that 79 percent of readers are interested in authors’ annotations.

Additionally, Goodreads recently launched the ability to easily select and share all the notes in a book at one time. Authors can decide which notes to share, can add spoiler alerts, and can access their notes across all books they have annotated in one place for easy editing. The right note brings immeasurable value to fans and a unique level of engagement for authors. Find out more about Kindle Notes & Highlights here.



In January, Facebook made the decision to change their News Feed algorithm to prioritize news from friends and family over content from businesses, brands, and media. For authors with Facebook pages, this could mean further decline in organic reach and traffic, the extent of which will depend on the type of content you produce and how people interact with it.

Influencers, Pages with Facebook Groups, and authors whose video strategy incorporates live videos will benefit from the algorithm change, while those that employ “engagement bait” (a tactic used in some Facebook posts that provokes people to like, share, or comment on the post for a boost in traffic) will be penalized. This can be a positive development, as many authors do successfully use Facebook to engage with fans and promote their content in a meaningful way.

While users will see less news media content on Facebook, it will not disappear entirely. The new algorithm will reduce the amount of news stories people see in their feed to 4 percent down from 5 percent, but the sites that do surface will be deemed “broadly trusted.” Based on ongoing quality surveys, news that is considered trustworthy, informative, and local by Facebook users will be prioritized.


Neda Dallal is the Coordinator for Publishing Development & Author Platforms at Penguin Random House.