Jonathan Pritchard-Barrett, Sainsbury’s ebook blog – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicola Gill, Woman’s Weekly – email@example.com
Isabelle Broom, Heat Magazine – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Taylor, The Lady – email@example.com
Jonathan Pritchard-Barrett, Sainsbury’s ebook blog
The meeting kicked off with a short introduction and powerpoint presentation from Jonathan Pritchard-Barrett, who is in charge of the Sainsbury’s ebook blog.
Sainsbury’s sells ebooks, magazines, MP3s and film and TV (both to buy and rent). Currently they have three separate online sites, but these are due to be integrated in one single site in the near future – music is being added to the ebook site at the end of November. Jonathan is in charge of the blog that runs alongside the ebooks site.
In terms of their customer demographic, 60% of their ebook customers are female, and 85% are 45 and older.
They have reading apps for android, Windows and IOS mobile devices. Reader can also download ebooks in epub format for reading on ereaders, however obviously people can’t read epub format books on their kindle.
The blog runs alongside the sales site with 3-4 posts a week, comprising mainly of exclusive content. This can mean author written articles, news stories, features, competitions, videos and reading group content.
Content in the past that has really worked for them includes…
• How Megan Lindholm became Robin Hobb
• Victoria Hislop writing about her favourite Mediterranean books.
• Jackie Collins on Hollywood manners.
• First ten pages of Grey.
The home page curates 5 most recent posts, plus 5 most popular posts so acts as a great way for people to discover new and popular content.
Jonathan would love to hear from publicists about exclusive content, pieces by authors, Q&As, essentially anything you think their readers would enjoy! He can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicola Gill, Woman’s Weekly
The Women’s Weeklies part of the meeting started – appropriately – with a talk from Nicola Gill at Woman’s Weekly. Nicola is commissioning editor at Woman’s Weekly, she also freelances and writes for the Sunday Supplements, including the Guardian, Indy, ST Style and so on. In her freelance capacity, she pitches ideas to commissioning editors at supplements or magazines based around ideas she’s come up with from looking at catalogues, and so on. However at Woman’s Weekly she is coming up with ideas and commissioning them herself – thus removing a layer of potential refusal!
Woman’s Weekly have roughly six ways that they use authors…
1) Features based around the book – if the author is very academic then they may need to get a staff writer to make sure that the piece is in a Woman’s Weekly-friendly style.
2) Piece with the book as a kernel / kicking off point – eg Nicola wrote something about consent based around Louise O’Neill’s latest novel, with these types of features it’s not based ON the book, but is more using it as a hook to discuss something timely.
3) Authors writing completely off topic – this could be a feature on a subject close to their heart, something they choose or a feature the magazine chooses for them.
4) Feature using authors as talking heads, commentators on a pre-scheduled theme. In this scenario the magazine might have something they want to discuss, and they bring an author in an “expert” on the topic.
5) A straight extract also works for them for the right book. They aren’t doing as much as they used to though.
6) Finally, a piece using a panel of authors on different opinion – for example they recently did a feature on red hair using an author who’d written about the cult of the red head, but they also got short opinion-pieces from famous red heads.
When pitching to Nicola it’s essential for to think about the typical WW reader – what authors does she read, what topics is she interested in?
She loves catalogues – they are extremely useful for forward planning so please do send / continue to send. With review copies and proofs, she prefers to request these rather than getting unsolicited stuff. Please note that she works from home (address at the bottom of the section) so send to the right address.
It’s a good idea to have an email conversation to pitch ideas, ahead of sending anything. In terms of lead times, about a month ahead is ideal. More is possible, but less is tight. Three weeks ahead of publication is getting very tight indeed!
If you want to get in touch, email is best and do feel free to chase and nag (politely!) Nicola tends to assume that the other depts in WW have their own contacts with publishers so she won’t routinely pass things through unless it seems particularly apt.
She loves parties, they’re a great way of making contact, but don’t expect it will be a direct quid pro quo of an invitation = a piece. The same goes for meeting publicists and showcases.
The best contact for rights and serials would be Nicola or the features editor.
She does do occasional stuff with children’s books, their readers are typically not parents, but they do have a lot of grandparent readers, plus the author themselves could be perfect WW territory.
132 Brockley Grove
Isabelle Broom, Deputy Production Editor / Book Reviews Editor, Heat magazine
Isabelle is Books Editor and Deputy Production Editor at Heat, plus she has a book coming out herself next year, so she straddles lots of divides!
First off, Isabelle told the meeting that the typical Heat reader is a bit older than you might think – they get approached about a lot of YA titles and they wouldn’t necessarily cover these.
They are rejigging the books pages a little bit and experimenting about what works, featuring a broader range of books (including crime and thrillers) but they do love a good celebrity autobiography, particularly if you can get them any kind of access to the celeb themselves.
Catalogues are extremely useful in enabling them to forward plan, and she loves a breakfast or a lunch to go through and highlight upcoming stuff. They are planning as far ahead as March next year.
They are somewhat drowning in book proofs and while she gives away as many unused proofs as she can, they only need one copy of the book – sometimes they get four or more of a single title! Worth keeping an eye on whether you are doubling up with colleagues or overlapping mailings to avoid waste.
Isabelle prefers to be approached by email – she does answer the phone, but she won’t always be able to talk, and finds email better for referring back to. However please do chase up if it’s something important that might have slipped between the cracks and you haven’t heard back.
She passes back to other departments if it seems to be right for them, eg passing celebrity biogs to the news team.
She loves launch parties – especially if there’s a bar! And she really likes to meet authors, particularly if she’s going to read the book.
Talking to publishers is really useful too – she’s always happy to talk to editors as well as publicists, sometimes they have a different angle.
They generally don’t feature children’s books except they will sometimes do a celebrity-themed “what would Suri read” type thing. Or of course if the author is a celebrity in themselves, eg David Walliams, that makes it an easier sell.
They don’t do dedicated books gift guides, they organise it by person / celebrity but include books in that. They are planning for that now so please get in touch with any suggestions.
Sam Taylor – The Lady
Sam has been at The Lady for about 4 years, she’s been a journo for about 25 years, working across various sections.
In terms of easy wins for them, subject-wise, The Lady loves pets! They’re also very keen on the new adult colouring books. They love historical non fiction, biographies, autobiographies. Ben Fogle’s labrador book is basically an all round winner for them – pets AND Ben Fogle. What’s not to like?
They also did a piece on the new University Challenge book, featuring some questions from the book.
Food, homes and interiors also come from illustrated books, and if they can have ready-made content with amazing photos that’s perfect for them. This week they are doing a piece about vintage homes which comes from a book.
They also have book reviews. She likes to get the book, but then get a PDF (particularly if they are quoting or extracting) as it makes it easier to work from and reduces the risk of misquoting and mistakes.
In terms of getting in touch, phone is fine, but email is better and more reliable, particularly if you have a grabby subject line like “Fantastic pet book!” or “Good looking man with pet!”
They can turn things around within a week (exceptionally), but lead times are generally two weeks plus.
She loves if publicists come in for tea to talk through catalogues – The Lady might even stretch to a Victoria sponge!
They share things between departments, passing back to the literary editor, food etc. If you want a straight up review then send to Jaunita Coulson, but for a feature or slot (eg first impressions, Q&A) then send to Sam.
Yes please to launch parties, but breakfasts don’t really work for her.
Sam is the best contact for Rights and Serials. They love children’s books, but they tend to feature them as round ups or gift guides – they don’t have a specific children’s section in the review pages. However an author that transcends the children’s category, eg Roald Dahl, might feature across any of their pages.
Gift guides are organised by theme, eg Pets, Men, so books are included in that.
She also organises the Royal Caledonian club literary lunches, readers pay, authors sit and chat and eat.