Sian Cain – Books Site Editor and Review – email@example.com
Abigail Radnor – Features Editor, Weekend Magazine – firstname.lastname@example.org
David Wolf – Commissioning Editor, Long Reads – email@example.com
Abigail Radnor – Features Editor, Weekend Magazine
Options for books – extract, interview, author pieces
How they cover them:
Big name authors – interview (e.g. Arundhati Roy, Martin Amis, Gloria Steinem, Jonathan Franzen) Will sometimes feature an extract alongside.
Celebs with books – likely interview + extract but will want to run first (e.g. Amy Poehler, Moby, etc) 4-7 glossy pages, potential cover – always need exclusivity
Interesting people with books – human interest stories (e.g. Sheryl Sandberg, Brendan Cox, Denise Fergus, Caroline Elton)
Sole extract – personal narrative (e.g. Alex Heminsley going through IVF story to promote her book Leap In) – look for other stories from the author that could form an interesting piece that isn’t necessarily the topic of the book (e.g. Travelling with Ghosts – a story about a woman losing her boyfriend whilst away on their travels and how she dealt with her grief in that situation)
Author pieces – can be a fiction author writing a non-fic piece (e.g. Jasmine Ward writing about raising a black son in the US, Melissa Febos writing about undertaking PR for her first book which was all about her drug addiction and being a dominatrix whilst becoming a Professor), Author of the Siri book Judith Newman – the book came from an article so it couldn’t go back to being an article again however she could write about the story of the fact that her and her husband have never lived together – this was the new angle for the piece outside of the book’s topic)
Other ways to feature – Q&A slot (household name, no photo shoot, interview over the phone, pitch to Rosanna Greenstreet)
The Balance (about how people get stuff done – work/life balance, people with interesting jobs, not necessarily a household name)
Logistics – lead time is both short and long lead, they’ll often have gaps to fill but also work a long time in advance to secure things for future, let her know about books/ideas as soon as you can.
Press days are Friday and Monday, pitching days are Tuesday and Wednesday – happy to meet for coffees on these days. When sending proofs prefers hard copies to PDFs. They do work with other sections (e.g. the Brendan Cox book was in Weekend followed by G2, Sharipova and Suarez books also covered in Sport)
The Guardian can offer a good package for all-round coverage to extend a campaign – podcast, video, events. They occasionally work with publishers on bespoke digital packages (e.g. le Carre, Harper Lee). For the Arundhati Roy and Tom Hanks books they ran extracts which were illustrated by their digital team and looked gorgeous.
Doesn’t go to press conferences but will go to launch parties. Approach via phone or email and please allow realistic timeframes.
Weekend doesn’t do reviews and doesn’t cover biographies, historical unless a new, interesting, leftfield angle (e.g. covered Selfie by Will Storr and would have loved to have covered Blitzed about the Nazi drug scandal)
David Wolf – Commissioning Editor, Long Reads
There are 3 per week that appear in the Journal section and they go online each day at 6am. 4000-6000 words.
David deals with extract and profiles. However, they rarely do profiles – they’ve only done 5 in the last 4 years. There is some overlap with Weekend.
4 types of coverage:
Yarns – (e.g. book about the dyslexic spy who stole US government data – The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell)
Extracts from books that come out of reporting a story – (e.g. Dreamer, about call centre scammers in India, these tend to be similar to original pieces)
Argument – books that make a strong one or have a provocative one
Memoir – fussy about this category, it has to fit with or be a new intellectual trend, often political (e.g. took an extract from the Xialou Gu book about living in the UK as a Chinese woman, showed the UK from another angle)
He won’t consider – history although will break his own rule as they covered a book on the first woman to run for president in the 19th century as it had contemporary relevance (send this straight to Review) (will consider v recent history like 80s or 90s). They don’t do reviews. Don’t do fiction although will consider fiction authors with a non-fiction angle – he will want to liaise directly with the author though to discuss ideas as going through the publicist as a middle-man is too difficult and disjointed.
Lead times – some long lead, some short lead. Aims to plan as much in advance as possible though so get in touch as soon as you have information. Contact on any day of the week by email, not phone. Like PDFs or hard copies. Doesn’t liaise a lot with other sections. Doesn’t go to launch parties but will go to showcases or imprint/publisher dinners. Will consider meetings in person but doesn’t feel they achieve much more than a decent email pitch would or perusing a catalogue himself.
Sian Cain – Books Site Editor and Review
Strong online presence – they have 4/5 staff members solely working on online and podcasts.
Structure of desk:
Charlotte Northedge and Liese Spencer – joint head of books
Claire Armitstead – culture editor so doesn’t really do books now. Still address books to Claire though (she’s been there for so long that it’s easier that way!)
Press day is Wednesday so don’t contact them then.
Online – dealt with by Sian and Alison Flood – books news. They don’t cover announcements unless super high profile. Mainly looking for industry news, awards, books being pulled, day to day industry stuff.
Everything goes online first – reviews, etc. Please don’t call to complain that something has only appeared online – they place equal importance on their digital offering as they do on the paper. Reviews are posted online throughout the week. Don’t pitch for interview to both Guardian and Observer as they share a website so can’t be repeated. Suggest one for interview and the other for an author piece or podcast – variation of coverage. Alert the other if also running.
Lead time – they like to come up with ideas and approach but can also pitch. They don’t really run fiction extracts but do a lot of opinion pieces from fiction authors. Everything they do tends to have a literary slant. They do run non-fic extracts (e.g. Deborah Levy memoir (literary)) They don’t run family stuff.
Main books interview – 2000 words
Cover story – 2000-3000 words
Several reviews – Justine Jordan looks after fiction, poetry and children’s, Paul Laity looks after non-fiction (he currently lives in San Francisco but is coming back to the UK soon). Send PDF and hard copies where possible.
They do share pitches with Long Reads. Lead time is 2-3 weeks and they often have spaces to fill so often things aren’t too late. Website – looking for content daily. Podcast – works roughly a month in advance but fluid – looking for interesting topics and themes from fiction and non-fiction. Doesn’t have to be starry, just interesting and the subject must be able to talk well.
Email Sian as a main point of contact across all departments – also for Comment is Free.
She doesn’t have time to reply to all pitches where the answer is a no unfortunately. Do chase after a few days though and she’ll try to get back to you. She does do launch parties and press conferences for news as they are useful for networking. Does go to preview nights and showcases. Contact is best via email, phone is ok. Face to face meetings are shared between the team. Please group catalogue highlights together in one email. If you are trying to pitch and don’t have an idea of who to pitch to, email Sian and she will tell you where would be best.
Podcasts – can they be done remotely? – YES, IN NYC OR RECORDED VIA SMARTPHONE
For main interviews and features are you only interested in hardbacks? – IF NEW OR PBK ORIGINAL THEN YES, WILL CONSIDER AUTHOR PIECES IF NEW ANGLE TO STORY OR SOMETHING NEWSY TO TIE IT TO
Do you feature e-books if e-book only? – UNLIKELY
Do you cover genre authors? – YES. OFTEN DO COMMENT PIECES WITH CRIME AUTHORS AND OTHER AUTHOR PIECES FROM GENRE AUTHORS
Do you cover photography books? – SEND TO ALEX NEEDHAM, ARTS EDITOR. WILL NEED AUTHOR TO WRITE PHOTO CAPTIONS. LONG READS – NO PHOTO BOOKS. WEEKEND DO PHOTOGRAPHY (SEND TO KATE EDWARDS OR CAROLINE HUNTER) BUT NEED TO HAVE A NEWS ANGLE
Do you cover YA and Kids’ books? – YES, IN REVIEW. ALSO YES FOR OPINION PIECES AND AUTHOR PIECES.
What should we send with books? – PROOF/BOOK, PRESS RELEASE AND A SHORT NOTE POINTING OUT THE NEW OR EXCLUSIVE OR INTERESTING CONTENT, ADDING A PERSONAL NOTE EXPLAINING YOUR PASSION FOR THE BOOK WHERE RELEVANT CAN BE REALLY USEFUL