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Publicists: A few things your authors would like you to know

I have been working as a publicist for… well, let’s just say that it turned out to be a rather horrifying number of years when I added it up, but I recently gained a new insight into the author’s experience. I had edited a handful of poetry anthologies for which I handled the publicity myself, but in 2018 my latest – She is Fierce – was published by Macmillan’s Children’s Books. Thanks to their excellent publicity team, especially my publicist Amber Ivatt, it was a brilliant experience being on the other side of the campaign and underlined for me several points that were hugely valuable to me as an author. So, publicists, here are some things your authors would like you to know:

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Publishing job

Senior Publicity Manager [JOB POSTING]

Trigger publishing is a young independent and ambitious publisher, wholly dedicated to mental health welfare. We publish accessible self-help books in our Pullingthetrigger range, as well as remarkable stories of recovery from mental illness in our Inspirational series. Our forward program is growing rapidly, as is our profile in the global mental health community.

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5 tips for getting yourself PR-ready

Congratulations, you’re writing a book. You’re probably thinking, ‘I just need to get this finished and then I’ll begin to think about how to promote it.’ My advice would be, start thinking now. It’s never too early! Here are my top 5 tips to get your book and yourself PR-ready:

1) Book your publicist early

If you’re planning on hiring a professional publicist, bear in mind that they’re likely to want to start thinking about the campaign about 4 months ahead of publication. Good PRs get booked up, so start your research early.

2) Have a clear idea of ‘what’ your book is, and who your target audience is

When the project is close to your heart it can be hard to stand back, be objective, and accept that your book won’t be for everyone and to really pin down who it is you’re trying to reach. Your publicist will read your book, of course, but your help here is invaluable too.

I can’t stress how crucial it is to nail your audience – in order to create a targeted campaign (meaning one that results in book sales) your publicist needs to identify the media consumed by the audience you most want to reach. Are they the well-heeled, middle classes in the Home Counties who might enjoy their subscription to the Times or Telegraph; are they ‘heat seekers’ looking for their next beach reads; are they urban types who want to be ahead of any new trend?

3) What is the USP – what is it that makes the book, or your personal story, original?

Is it a non-fiction book that contains brand new research?  What are the most salient, newsworthy points?

Are you uniquely qualified as an author on this particular subject? For example, bestselling crime writer Kathy Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, so you always know that the science in her books is going to be spot on. That is her USP.

4) It’s all about the angles…

A publicist will be trying every avenue to get you publicity, so give them as much info as possible.

  • Be honest with yourself, and know what you’re happy to talk about.
  • Do you have an interesting career, or hobbies?
  • Do you live in a particularly stunning house that would lend itself well to photoshoots?
  • Are you well connected? For example, maybe you have a famous brother, and your publicist could pitch you to ‘Relative Values’ in the Sunday Times.
  • Do you have local connections – always handy for regional media.
  • Are you a police officer who could write about all the things that police procedural novels normally get wrong? Are you a Doctor who sees countless mistakes in medical dramas? Your publicist will be able to place a piece on this that will in turn link to your book.

5) Utilise social media platforms and begin to build relationships

Twitter can be a godsend for authors, enabling them to engage with like-minded souls who might be interested in hearing about their book. Don’t be all ‘plug plug plug’ – let your PR do that for you – instead, find people talking about books that you like and join in.

Lots of book bloggers are very active on twitter and engaging with them early can be hugely beneficial when the time comes for your book to be pitched. Everyone remembers the person they had a lovely back and forth with about a shared interest.

Your publicist is there to do everything they can to get your book to the widest audience possible. Have an open discussion at the outset about your hopes for the campaign, and find out what their plans and their vision is, so that everyone is working to the same goal.  Good luck.

Emma Finnigan has been promoting books for almost 20 years, at both the Orion Publishing Group, Penguin Random House and most recently as Director of Emma Finnigan PR Follow her on twitter at @EmmaFinnigan.

A day in the life of a publicist

Claire Maxwell works at Icon Books as their Publicity Manager. She has previously worked in journalism and bookselling, and she blogs at www.ithinkijustbloggedmyself.com. Claire is also on the newly-formed BookMachine Editorial Board.

I should preface this piece by saying that there is no typical day in the life of a book publicist. As with many roles in publishing, some days you’re out and about meeting authors and journalists and scouting out event venues, and some days you’re trawling through email after carefully-worded email, just trying to keep your head above water. What I will also say, though, is that being a book publicist is the best job in the world. I know I may be biased, but what a privilege it is to work with creative and inspiring people day after day, helping in some small way to share their story with the world.

7.30am – My alarm goes off.

7.39am – My alarm goes off again.

7.48am – My alarm goes off again. I should probably get up.

9.30am – I arrive at the office*, make a cup of tea and start going through emails that I didn’t have a chance to deal with yesterday, or that have come in overnight.

10.30am – Meeting time! Once a month everyone in the company gets together for a few hours to go through the finances, the budget for the year, how the PR effort is going, feedback from sales reps and booksellers, and changes that might need to be made to the upcoming catalogue. Coffee is made, biscuits are bought, and we all gather around the table to start.

11.30am – *mid meeting* It’s my turn to give my colleagues an update on how publicity for the current list I’m working on is going. This is a good opportunity to let editors know if I might need text early, to send to interested journalists, or to highlight any issues that have arisen. Mostly though, it’s good news. Just that weekend we’ve had a great review of one of our front list titles in The Guardian so I’m feeling rather jovial.

12.30pm – Meeting finishes and my lunchbreak commences. There are literally no nice places to get food in the nearby area (a Sainburys and a sad looking Costa that always smells like toilets are just not cutting it), so I trudge to a Waitrose about 15 minutes’ walk away for an okay sandwich. Side note: why are there no good sandwich options for vegetarians?

1.15pm – Emails, emails, emails. Mostly authors who want updates or have just had a terrific feature idea.

2pm – Three boxes of books arrive in the office – it’s our latest release. I print out labels and press releases and (politely) ask the intern if they would help me package them up.

3pm – I have a meeting with a journalist at a swanky little café in Kings Cross, so I hop on the tube (grabbing some time for a little read on the way) and then spend an hour talking about our upcoming releases and gleaning which might be of interest to this particular media outlet.

4pm – I head back to the office.

4.30pm – More emails to respond to. I swear between approximately 2pm and 4pm the most emails in the WORLD are sent.

5pm – I have a Skype call with our publicity manager in the US, who looks after the books we’re publishing out there. We chat all things books and launches. I kind of wish I was in New York…

5.45pm – I print out my work credit card statement, just sent to me by our accounts manager, so I can go through my receipts (mostly tasty lunches) when I’m working from home tomorrow.

5.55pm – I’m out the door and heading home to an evening of The Walking Dead and a big bowl of pasta.

*I don’t actually work in the office every day, I quite often work from home, but for the purposes of this exercise I think a day when I’m in the office and out-and-about would be more interesting than one where I’m squirrelling away at my laptop in my pyjamas.

Why small publishers sell more books with Nielsen Book2Look

ralph-moellersSmall independent publishers and self-published authors need to maximize the impact of their books and ensure they are easily found on the Internet. Ralph Möllers, the founder of a children’s publisher based in German decided to develop his own book widget, Book2Look, that would enable book buyers, both trade and consumer, to look inside the book before they purchase. The Internet makes content readily available for free. Ralph felt by offering easily digestible free content as a hook would encourage readers to want to read on and most importantly to click ‘buy’. Making the point of discovery the point of purchase.

As a starting point before any book campaign, publishers should think about whom their current readers are and what is happening in the marketplace. Here are some of Ralph Möllers’ latest observations, together with how this led to the development and continuing enhancement of the Book2Look widget.

Your Readers are web savvy

According to BBC research, young people now spend an average of three hours online a day. This seems quite a conservative estimate really, and professionals must spend more than double this amount. Tech savvy millenials are wise to advertising and many use ad blockers to protect them from the ‘lure’ of online shopping ads, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated. According to eMarketer, about a quarter of all U.S. internet users, nearly 70 million people will use technology to block online ads in 2016. Publishers therefore need to develop respectful ways of promoting to these readers, as a result of this.  Nielsen Book2Look is therefore an ideal option that lets you share sample content, video, audio clips and other promotional material via the internet on social media sites, on your own site, author site or with retailers, bloggers and reviewers.  Each version can be tailored to meet your audience needs.

Shelf space is decreasing

Despite books such as the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, which achieve huge sales, shelf space for the average book in traditional book stores has been decreasing and this makes discoverability of new books extremely difficult for publishers. Author James Patterson launched an admirable initiative to help indie bookshops survive and thrive – however, in the UK in 2014, almost twice as many bookshops closed down as new ones opened. Between 2009 and 2016*, the number of independent booksellers in the UK and Ireland, has fallen by 25%. With fewer options to browse books in-stores, publishers need to replicate the ability to browse books online, and that’s where Nielsen Book2Look can help you reach a wider audience for your books.

The social media frenzy continues

Trends in Social Media usage are changing. Many Facebook users have migrated to Instagram or Twitter away from parental observation. Groups of friends prefer to communicate via closed groups on Path or What’s App. Professional networks such as Yammer give work colleagues a valid reason to chat online. Nothing remains constant but the one thing all forms of social media have in common is that they give their users the opportunity to share. Nielsen Book2Look lets your readers share sample content. It gives them a valid reason to communicate on their preferred social channels, and you can add a link to your preferred retailer, ensuring that you achieve sales.

Nielsen Book2Look is a tool that encourages readers to share and spread the word about the books they like. A tool that supports your local retailer by offering customised sample content. And lastly but not least, it’s a tool that gives you great analytical data about the performance of your book content that can be connected to your existing Google analytics account.


Today Nielsen Book2Look is helping thousands of publishers of all sizes worldwide to promote and sell their books. Nielsen Book2Look has achieved millions of book views, last year the figure was 20m, and we expect that to increase this year.  Ralph Möllers says: “As a developer and as a publisher I am really proud of this contribution to our industry and I am delighted that so many publishers around the world can take advantage of this remarkable book widget. Even better news is that Nielsen Book has launched its new ISBN Store which enables publishers not only to purchase their ISBNs online but the Book2Look widget too – what could be simpler than that?”

*2016 is seeing a number of new independent bookshops starting up, which might lead to a resurgence of high street retailing, but this is still a hugely competitive market with customers being offered a huge of point of purchase.



Snapchat for publishers

Although Snapchat has been around since 2011, it has recently become one of the top ways young people communicate. However, Snapchat is not exclusively used by YA tweens and it is time that publishing took note of the platform. The latest data reveals that 71% of Snapchat users are under 34, and Snapchat has potential to reach far more audiences than the YA market.

With new features such as live video and chat boxes, Snapchat has revolutionised the way hundreds of millions of people communicate with friends, and celebrities, every day.

The ability to share visual content through a Snapchat story, rather than directly to friends in your address book, allows it to be the perfect social platform for forward thinking brands and bloggers alike. Followers can view images and videos as many times as they like over 24 hours before it disappears. Snapchat can help you create a personal relationship with your followers while keeping content fun, fresh and interesting.

So, how can publishing use it?

1) Bloggers

@officialzoellaTop bloggers become personalities, and even celebrities, in their online communities. Brands such as Kylie Jenner (@kylizzlemynizzle) and Zoella (@officialzoella) have made an art form of promoting themselves through their Snapchat accounts. Why not do the same? Posting video and picture content is an easy way to advertise your bookish lifestyle.

Posting images to your Snapchat story is a great way to announce the publication of a new post as it only lasts 24 hours. It is also a great way to forge connections to other bloggers by promoting other blogs and Snapchat accounts.



2) Publishing professionals

Already managed to create a hype around a new book? Intensify it by allowing fans to witness every stage of the publishing process: from the arrival of proof copies to publicity coverage and bookish events. This is particularly effective for sequels or books coming out as part of a series.

3) Recruitment

Credit: Penguin Random House Work Experience

It makes sense to recruit dynamic, diverse and creative social media experts from their natural habitat – social media. Penguin Random House revolutionised publishing recruitment when they announced the introduction of ‘The Scheme’ an 18 month paid training programme via Tumblr.

The decision to launch ‘The Scheme’ was clearly designed to reach a more diverse, and younger, cohort to the entry-level scheme. Many publishers also use Facebook to advertise work experience placements. While some brands are clearly utilising social media to reach the talent they want, no publishing house has yet managed to create an entirely social recruitment process. Snapchat would be a perfect way to keep applicants up to date with the latest developments in the application process.


demelza griffithsDemelza Griffiths is an English Literature finalist and social media enthusiast who can’t wait to escape the ivory towers of university to seek a career in book publicity. Her blog, Books feat. Politics covers the latest and greatest in political non-fiction and literary fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress.

4 tips for hitting #1 on Amazon’s Best Seller list

This is a Guest Post by Angela Clarke on building author brands, social media and Amazon’s algorithm. Angela is the Amazon Fashion Chart bestselling author of Confessions of a Fashionista. Her first crime novel, Follow Me (Avon), is out this December.

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