Laura Barnett – freelance writer for the Observer (and others) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa O’Kelly – Observer Literary Editor – email@example.com
Ruaridh Nichol – Observer Magazine – Ruaridh.firstname.lastname@example.org
Meryl Halls – email@example.com
Chris McCrudden – firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Barnett – Freelancer
Laura is both a freelancer for the Observer (and other places) and an author in her own right, so she appreciates the publicity process from both side. Formerly commissioning arts editor at the Guardian, she now interviews author for the Observer review, Guardian, Telegraph, and various other outlets. She will work to commission, eg if an editor like Lisa O’Kelly asks her to do a specific interview, but also pitches ideas off her own bat to a specific section – eg Guardian Family – so do go direct to her if you have an author you feel might be right.
Laura enjoys meeting publicists and going through the catalogue but prefers pitches to be relatively targetted, eg 4 or 5 carefully thought out ideas, rather than 2 hours spent going through the whole catalogue. Email is best form of contact, and she doesn’t mind being chased if you feel she might have missed something, but please leave a reasonable amount of time before you chase as she is very busy. It doesn’t create a great impression when people chase her in the afternoon about an email sent that morning.
Her personal passion is fiction, but she also likes strong first person stories. Her ideal is the two together, for example she did a recent piece on the literary writer Kerry Hudson, who is a novelist, but also a great talker with a lot to say and a good personal story.
Aside from features for the Observer, she is also a regular contributer to a couple of Guardian slots
Why I love – which is people talking about a person passion of theirs. It does need to be big names.
How I made – which is the story behind a creation of a well-known artifact. It’s usually the description of a collaboration, but can occasionally be solo, eg she recently interviewed Raymond Briggs about the process of creating The Snowman.
She also likes getting contact via twitter – @laura_jbarnett
Lisa O’Kelly – Observer Literary Editor
Lisa has been at the Observer for many years, moving to the position of Literary Editor a few years back. She has a dual role in that she edits the book pages – reviews and author interviews – but also commissions book and serial extracts for the feature pages. On top of that she feeds through ideas for author interviews across the rest of the review section. Some possible slots for this –
• Page 3 interview – for debuts, people breaking out of a niche, or switching into a new field.
• Page 5 interview – for better known people, established in their field.
• Sometimes they will do an author interview across a spread in the feature pages. There usually needs to be a back story or a twist to make this section – a new book is not enough of a “story”, it needs something newsworthy or a strong first person angle.
• Meet the author slot – this is a short Q&A slot, and often features fiction authors, as she doesn’t have much room for straight fiction reviews.
She likes to receive catalogues and review copies, ideally bound proofs or finished copies. She doesn’t like A4 manuscript print-outs or bound manuscripts, however equally she doesn’t enjoy reading from PDFs and Ebooks – finished bound proofs and finished copies are best.
Press Releases are very useful – please attach them to pitches and chasing emails to help refresh her memory. She prefers to be approached in the first instance by email and like Laura, please don’t chase her too soon! It’s fine to follow up with a call if there’s something you’d like to discuss.
She doesn’t tend to do press conferences but loves getting invitations to launch parties even if she can’t always come.
Please be aware of what they do and don’t cover – for example they can’t really cover sci fi, they don’t do much crime (although they do feature thrillers) – but please do familiarise yourself with the section and save everyone’s time by pitching appropriately.
She has a children’s book special every 3 months however the dedicated children’s (and poetry) ed is Kate Kellaway, so make sure you are sending to her too. You can still let Lisa know about children’s books though.
Graphic novels should go to Rachel Cook, however Lisa likes to receive copies in the office as well so she knows what’s going on.
Lisa is the best contact for serial rights.
Please don’t pitch to her alongside other editors in the same email – they compete within sections and don’t want to see another editor being pitched the same idea.
Ruaridh Nicoll – Editor of the Observer Magazine
The Observer is a very intellectual paper, so Ruaridh sees the Magazine as light relief alongside the seriousness of more cerebral sections like the Review. Primarily what he is looking for is really great stories – which is where books come in. They would like to do more extracts as they have had great success with these, as well as first person pieces/interviews based on books. A recent example was a piece about Megan Stevens, a woman who was trafficked while on holiday in Greece. They did an interview with Megan herself and got a huge amount of interest and online chat.
They want strong first person stories – non-fiction primarily, but also “big ideas” books – science, newsworthy talky topics.
They also do Q&As, and a variety of slots as well as straight author interviews – eg Richard Ford (they have to be fairly big names to justify a solo interview solely on the back of their new book).
They cannot run stuff that appears elsewhere at the same time in the rest of the Guardian / Observer. Please don’t set them up in competition with other internal departments, as it’s infuriating for editors when they find that other sections in the Guardian and Observer are running the same pieces.
They have to be strict about exclusivity, and in general want to be first on most things, although they can make occasional exceptions for the right piece, so please don’t automatically write him off if you have already placed an interview elsewhere – do check in.
He prefers to be contacted by email, he shares information across other departments to a certain extent but they are internally competitive, and he’s not sure that other sections want his “second hand” news.
A good way in is via a trusted freelancer.
Straight opinion pieces are probably better for the comment section – Rob Yates.
He is on twitter at @Ruaridhnicoll
Next we had Meryl Halls from the Booksellers Association and Chris McCrudden from Midas PR speaking to the meeting about ways for publicists to get involved with the LBF and the surrounding book-related excitement.
Meryl Halls – Bookseller’s Association.
Last year was the inaugural publicist/bookseller “speed dating” session at the LBF, and it was a huge success which they are keen to repeat this year. The way it works, is that they have space for 12 publicists to talk to booksellers in 7 minute slots, rotating around as with a real speed dating event. The booksellers get a chance to explain what they can offer and the kinds of authors they are looking for, publicists get to help them hone their pitches and showcase their list. Last year was a great success which resulted in a lot of ongoing collaboration, and they are planning to repeat the event for LBF 2015. Please do sign up if you are interested – more information below including how to sign up.
Meryl also explained that Independent Booksellers Week is changing its name to Independent Bookshop Week. It runs this year from 20th – 27th June, and in the middle, they present the IBW award to their book of the year. It must be a paperback.
Also, for any publicists planning a tour or looking to pitch to independent bookshops, please do remember the BA’s online resources eg www.thebookshopmap.com which is a map of independent bookshops.
Finally, the Books are my Bag campaign is carrying on in 2015.
Meryl was kind enough to send through the notes below with full details on how to apply and suggest entries for IBW award.
Connecting with Booksellers at London Book Fair
The PPC is linking up with the BA again, to bring you the BA/PPC Speed Dating session at London Book Fair on Wednesday 15th April. Building on last year’s very successful session, there is room for 12 publicists to meet as many booksellers as we can fit in. Publicists stay put, while a range of booksellers move from publicist to publicist in ten-minute slots. Whether you want to build relationships with booksellers, extend the reach of your author tours, or re-establish contact with new and exciting independent bookshops, this is the session where you can really make your author events work. If you’d like to find out more, or sign up, please contact Naomi.email@example.com
Also, check out www.thebookshopmap.co.uk to see where bookshops are across the UK and Ireland (still more to come!), and take a look at the bookshops’ portfolio of events.
Independent Bookshop Week Book Award
We are delighted to open submissions for the IBW Book Award 2015, and look forward to receiving submitted titles from publishers. Please do pass on this email to anyone else in your company who you think might be interested. Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) 2015, previously Independent Booksellers Week, will this year run from Saturday 20 to Saturday 27 June 2015.
We are now calling for entries for the IBW Book Award 2015, which plays a central role in the Week’s trade and consumer promotional activities. The deadline to enter is Friday 20 February 2015 and publishers are invited to submit their IBW Book Award entries in three categories – Adult, Children’s and Picture Book. Submitted titles need to be available in paperback at 20 June 2015, and published between 1 January 2015 and 20 June 2015.
IBW Book Award titles are promoted to, and by, booksellers taking part in IBW. The titles submitted by publishers will be voted on by all IBW booksellers to create the IBW Award shortlist which will be announced on 20 May 2015. All shortlisted titles will be supported by in-store point of sale materials that will be on display in bookshops participating in IBW nationwide. The three winners of the IBW Book Award will be announced on 20 June 2015 – the first day of this year’s IBW.
The IBW Book Award 2014 winners were – Adult Category: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Black Swan); Children’s Fiction category: Flora & Ulysses by Kate Di Camillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Walker Books) and Children’s Picture Book category: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld (Walker Books).
Full details on entering the award can be found and downloaded from the IBW website http://independentbooksellersweek.org.uk/award-page/
or email Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris McCrudden – Midas/LBF
Our final speaker was Chris McCrudden, who works with Midas, but came to the meeting to explain how publicists could get more involved with LBF and its envelope organisation, the London Book and Screen Week. This is a week long celebration of the book and its place the heart of our culture, film, games, TV and more. It is a wrapper around the LBF designed to harness the enthusiasm of the LBF and bring together as many literary and book focussed events as possible at the same time. If you have a book launch or an author event or a talk in April, please do try to programme it during the Book and Screen week as you will have a ready-made audience, and the LBF would like to work with you to promote the books, authors, and event.
As an example of some of the events already signed up, the Guardian are doing three masterclass events. The Children’s Author of the Year is doing an event at Hamleys toyshop. Foyles are holding a whole series of events including the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Even non-book organisations are getting involved – you can get £10 off your taxi fare with Hail-o if you use their partnership code when booking
If you have an event taking place that week they would like to know about it – they can get it out to their 40,000 subscribers and viewers. Let them know when, where and ticketing info – and anyone who lets them know about an event gets entered into a prize draw for eurostar tickets.
Chris kindly sent through the notes below for publicists, explaining exactly how to suggest an event and get involved.
London Book & Screen Week wants to list your events for 13-19 April 2015 – and you could win two Eurostar tickets
This April will see The London Book Fair launch the second London Book & Screen Week, which will run from 13 to 19 April. This week-long celebration of the place of the book at the heart of our creative culture will see London playing host to a programme of exciting consumer-focused book events from that will range from literary salons to book giveaways and screenings.
London Book & Screen Week is currently looking for more book events taking place in London between 13 & 19 April to list and promote on its website www.londonbookandscreenweek.co.uk. If you or any of your colleagues are planning an event – it could be an author talk, a book group, a book shop tour, even a Twitter chat or Google Hangout – we’d love to know about it and help you promote it.
All you need to do to list your event in London Book and Screen Week is visit http://www.londonbookandscreenweek.co.uk/submitting-your-event/ and follow the on-screen instructions. You could even win a prize for doing it. Every publicist who submits an event to London Book & Screen Week will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of Eurostar tickets.
We’re looking forward to hearing about your events. If you have any questions about London Book & Screen Week you can contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
T. 0207 3617877