Notes from June PPC meeting – Radio 2
Joe Haddow – Mayo and Book Club, Joe.email@example.com
John Dutton – Steve Wright, John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Thomas – Arts Editor, Chris Evans and Arts Show with Jonathan Ross
Guest booker for Steve Wright, Fearne Cotton, Mayo drivetime and Chris Evans Breakfast Show
For Drivetime he books the non-book club guests – 2 guests per week across all fields. Simon Mayo is choosy about having authors in non-book club slots. The guests must be the biggest names possible.
Steve Wright in the Afternoon. 10 – 15 guests per week. Celeb memoirs and very high profile authors. Guests are booked as much on their comms skills as well as their subject area/profile – they must be good interviewees. Needs a strong talking point, aspirational, topical. Recent topical guests include Julia Shaw, William Sitwell, Matthew Syed, Unmumsy Mum – no common theme as such but all interesting. It is possible to get a guest on with their personal story – Jason Matthews, CIA.
Chris Evans – 4 guests on a Friday. Recent names include David Walliams, Chris Hoy, Chris Packham. There is also a phone-in slot at 8.15 and 8.40am – this is also a good slot for authors and recent guests in this slot include Elizabeth Gilbert and Lars Mitting. Send suggestions to John and he’ll pass them on to the relevant producers. The phone-in slot is for conversation starters and must have a strong talking point.
Fearne Cotton and Martin Kemp – show starts 9th July. 2 guests per show. Saturday breakfast slot.
Getting in touch – pitches preferred by email first. Can follow up by phone for logistics and plans. Email shouldn’t be too long as John does all Arts, not just books so he has a lot to get through. Some pitches will get rejected straight away, some get taken to the individual presenter to gauge their opinion. Nail your elevator pitch and why each pitched guest is perfect for the show – tell John why they should be covering the topic or author with enough information for John to take the pitch to the presenter.
Lead times – roughly 6 weeks ahead but do send last minute pitches. John does share information with other producers and presenters.
Meetings – likes receiving catalogues and coffee meetings to go through key authors. Do send finished copies or proofs of relevant titles. The general rule is that John would rather know about something and turn it down that not know at all.
Arts Editor for Radio 2. Oversees Chris Evans Breakfast Show, Arts Show with Jonathan Ross and Drivetime with Mayo. She also looks after the arts strategy for Radio 2 of which books are a very important part. She also looks after the 500 word short story competition and Book Club.
Book Club – headline stats: biggest book club in the UK, runs once a fortnight on a Monday, 6 million listeners, 15 million overall for the station. They see an instant effect once a book/author has been featured – Amazon Movers and Shakers. The slot involves a 20 minute discussion which definitely drives sales.
BBC’s Year of Books – launching in October: #lovetoread. In July there will be activity around children’s books and then there will be another spike in activity in October. Mary Sackville-West is looking after the campaign. They’ll have Desert Island Books throughout October – high profile authors talking about the books they love/the books that made them. Send ideas for authors to take part in DIB to John Dutton..
Another facet to the R2 Book Club – Fact Not Fiction. They are expanding the brand to include non-fiction. This sits within the Jonathan Ross Arts Show which is on Thursdays from 10pm – Midnight. When pitching, think about the interview – the author must be a good interviewee. Recent examples – The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, My Old Man by Ted Kessler. Send ideas to John D – he has a good idea of what Jonathan will want.
Defining a book club book – this is hard as of course it includes fiction and non-fiction now. Fiction-wise, there isn’t such a thing as a ‘book club’ book but:
- An exciting, original idea
- Even if a great book if it repeats a genre recently covered they won’t go for it (always look at previous titles when pitching/submitting)
- Part of a series is difficult unless first in the series or a standalone
- Nothing too literary – needs to be well written commercial fiction
- They do cover YA but not children’s – eg. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Bear the time slot in mind – 6pm so a family slot. Can’t be too gory/horror/gruesome. If it’s mentioned within the book that’s ok but can’t be the main theme
- Love great fantast novels
- Books that have worked really well are:
- The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker
- Us by David Mitchell
- Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins
- Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
- Shtum by Jem Lester
- Book Cub can really add to the shelflife/second edition of a book – for example the paperback of Black Eyed Susans was stickered with the BC logo – they were then able to give the book another push on the show
Fact Not Fiction:
- Quirky, original narrative non-fiction. No celebrities, no memoirs unless quirky topic. E.g. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot or Redeemable by Erwin James.
- Must be books that make you interested in a subject and make you want to find out more.
- The books are chosen by the Reading Agency, same as the fiction, each quarter. The librarians read all the books and form a longlist. There is then an in-house discussion to put the shortlist together.
- When submitting to the Reading Agency, drop Joe an email to list what has been sent (for both Fact Not Fiction and Book Club).
- Make your pitch compelling and use bullet points to make the email easy to read. Include information about the author as well as the book – include what the audience will learn from the interview with the author.
- Send proofs, catalogues, email pitches – no max lead time, send when the info is ready!
Other R2 opportunities:
They occasionally feature authors on the Jeremy Vine Show – ‘what makes us human’, etc. Big thinkers, philosophers, someone who has had an amazing experience to share
BBC 6 Music:
All of the daytime shows have book guests – books about music or by musicians. They also do big thinkers/philsophers – for example, The Path by Michael Puett.
6 Music is celebrating libraries season. Paperback Writers. High profile authors pick the books they love – it’s a one hour show so great airtime and coverage. Email Joe with suggestions.
Questions and Answers:
Q: Must the author be available for interview in the studio or can they do down the line?
- For Chris Evans: Yes, must be in studio except for phone-in slot
- For the biggest names they will consider a down the line for other shows but the overall interview and exposure is so much better if in studio so they try to avoid if possible
Q: How many books are submitted for book club and make up the shortlists?
- 100 – 120 fiction titles submitted
- Shortlist of around 50 titles
- 12 – 15 final titles
- Roughly the same for non-fiction but the initial submission total is less