Natalia from the LRB bookshop
Sean Carrigan/Rebecca Selby – Times Plus email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Celia Duncan – Times Magazine email@example.com
Robbie Millen – The Times literary editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Harriet Addison – Weekend – email@example.com
London review bookshop – Natalia spoke about their author events and launch parties. In terms of events, they feel that what makes them special is their thoughtful programming – they are keen to create real dialogue and think hard about finding great co-speakers. Recent events have included Sheila Heti speaking with Adam Thirlwell, and Owen Jones with a senior LRB editor. They can do outside venues (they have a beautiful church round the corner) so don’t discount them for bigger names who might overflow the shop. They also hold cookery events. In terms of their events promotion, they have a loyal customer base and their newsletter reaches over 70,000 people.
They also do very successful book launches, and can provide drinks and catering inhouse for a seamless service.
They recently refurbished the downstairs and can hold meetings and media events there. Publishers can hire the space for presentations and events and press days.
Times Plus – Sean Carrigan and Rebecca Selby
Sean and Rebecca spoke to the meeting about Times Plus events.
Times Plus is run on a membership model and they really seek to reward reader loyalty – they are looking for something exclusive and bespoke for their members.
They have 400,000 subscribers who are very engaged with Times Plus and the paper, and Times Plus aims to bring the content in the paper to life – they want to feature the people in the news, writing the news, making the news. If you’re doing a serialisation or editorial in the paper then consider a tie-in event for a really big splash.
In terms of logistics, they source the venue, they film the event, they runs the ticketing, and handle all aspects of the logistics including booksales, which are usually healthy as their members are big readers.
Events are run on a Q&A format – 45 minute Q&A, usually with a Times journalist, followed by audience questions.
They are looking for big names but in return they can offer great coverage through their times plus channels and newsletter, as well as coverage in the paper itself and all important books sales.
Celia Duncan – Deputy Editor, Times Magazine
Celia is deputy editor at the Magazine – she has been there about 5 years and really values her relationship with PRs!
The Magazine loves books as do their readers – Celia told the meeting that Times readers buy more books than any other broadsheet newspaper readership. Consequently a large percentage of coverage is book related – in fact this month the cover is a books story with Graham Norton, with a related “behind the scenes” video hosted on The Times website.
Celia ran through the various book opportunities and slots in the Magazine including:
• What I’ve learnt – a high profile interview spot up front in the mag.
• Contacts picture page – this pictorial feature is usually celebrity led but can have photographic book content.
• Book extracts/serial – this month they have an interview and book extract with Reeva Steenkamp’s mother. The initial extract/interview in the Magazine will be followed by further extracts in the weekday newspaper.
• Interview – they frequently use headline interviewers, eg Deborah Ross or Caitlin Moran, who can bring their own audience to the piece.
• Food section – they love food and do a lot of food-related content (extracts and recipe features). The best person to send food books to Tony Turnbull (firstname.lastname@example.org) He looks after food across the whole of The Times.
Celia then ran through a couple of myths she felt needed debunking.
First of all the vexed question of the firewall – contrary to perception their online readership is very good, and they support stories on their website with a lot of social media activity. They have 1.8 million followers across Times listed social media accounts, including 1.75 million followers at Times Fashion alone.
First interview – although they LOVE first interview, contrary to popular belief they can occasionally follow for the right author, so do check.
They have correspondents all over the world so can usually find a local photographer/stringer – so don’t write off a feature just because your author is not UK based.
Fiction is problematic for them – they can cover it but it needs to be sold on the author’s personal story, they have to have a really strong first person story they can be interviewed or write about. Or something else related to them personally – like an amazing home that can be photographed.
And a few general tips on pitching: Celia loves autobiographies but not so much biographies – again, they tend to need that first person angle.
Things that do really well for them are anything photographic/image related – they love a story with really strong pictures, anything related to animals, strong personal stories, and men’s health is doing well for them at present.
NDAs are really problematic and they have to jump through all sorts of legal hoops so please avoid them if you can.
And please don’t send unsolicited PDF books or catalogues. Celia values PDFs for use in serials but will request these – she prefers to receive physical copies of books or bound proofs initially.
Robbie Millen – Times Literary Editor
Robbie essentially wants to hear about books that make good, interesting reviews and can sustain a piece of around 1000 words+
He loves to receive print catalogues he can flick through for inspiration, and finds rounds ups and “what’s coming up” style updates very useful for jogging his memory about particular books.
He doesn’t mind if you email or call, but he needs about a month’s notice, minimum – he therefore finds early proofs valuable. And yes – he enjoys launch party invitations!
He drew publicists’ attention to the Monday book review which is 500 words and suits current affairs books that are easy to sum up.
One point to note – they are now in partnership with the Sunday Times to sponsor the Cheltenham Books Festival – their ambition is for it to be bigger than Hay. So please remember them for tie-in coverage and related content. Obviously they cannot do “advertorial” but they do like to support the festival as much as they can, so it may be an opportunity to get an unusual author into the books pages, or do something once publication has passed.
His particular bug bears – he hates gimmicky packaging that shower you in glitter or something equally annoying. He finds it a waste of time and money and it doesn’t influence him to cover a book. The speakers all agreed on this point, although the meeting was divided about whether chocolate was a positive or not…
Harriet Addison – Assistant Editor, Weekend
Weekend always starts with a celebrity interview – usually someone English, although occasionally the subject can be US with an English twist.
They tend to steer away from “artsy” subjects which are well covered elsewhere in the paper. They lean towards lifestyle, health/fitness and topics best summed up as “Things that inspire guilt” – eg parenting, or fitness. They are doing well on men’s issues at the moment.
Their leadtimes are quite short so they can turn things around quite quickly – a few weeks for example. Celebrity interviews are generally programmed in about 4-6 weeks in advance but for buzzy stuff they can sort it at shorter notice. They share information across the team so if something isn’t right for Weekend they will pass it onto a colleague.
Like Celia, Harriet dislikes emailed PDF proofs which clog up her inbox and get lost. She prefers physical review copies.