Friday, 13 October 2017

Creating an Advance Author Information Sheet

These can be really useful. You can send them out to media outlets, bookshops, festivals and other places that might be interested in your writing.
They should never be more than one side of A4. Get one done as soon as you have all of the details of the book. Then you can proactively send it out to people who might be interested in your work and also you can respond quickly to people who ask about your book.

Here are some tips:

The header  

Your email address
Your telephone number
Your website

In the sidebar (left)  

The Essential Details




Format: eBook – date of release
Paperback – date of release
Hard back – date of release

Available on Amazon, online & in all good book shops

Price: TBC

Release Date: xxx  (eBook) & xxx (paperback)

Book title
By Author name


In the body of the text:

‘Book title’ by ‘author name’

Introduction to the book here – around 100 words. If you had to sell your book in 100 words what would you write. This is the section that will be read by the journalist – if any – so it needs to grab their attention, demonstrate the clear hook/appeal/USP from the get-go!

Here, write a short snippet from the book’s blurb/back cover text/synopsis.

About the author
You need a bio – an about us paragraph – that you can use across your marketing and press materials. It should include the obvious like where you live, how old you are, your family status but it shouldn’t be dry and boring. You need to sell yourself as much as your book. What makes you qualified to write your book? How long did it take you to write? Was there something exciting or different about you/your life before, during or after writing? What does the journalist need to know about you more than anything else? 120 words max.

In the final 100 words you should write comments from other people (no one related to you and not your editor ideally) who have read your book. Who do you know who is the most authoritative voice from your contacts list – ask them for a favour? Do you know someone who is already in the publishing world – it could be another author (though many are not big fans of being asked to write a review for another author in truth!) or a publisher or an agent. Either way now is the time to call in a favour and get some fab soundbite comments about your book that will provide credibility and attract the attention of the journalist.

In the footer

For more information interview requests or review copies please get in touch with xx by email and telephone xxxx

For this footer you might consider having white on a dark background.

You can tinker with the layout. However, this one works rather well.

See and example here.   

Friday, 18 August 2017

Working with television

It is actually quite rare to be invited to talk on television, even local or very local, unless you're very well-known or are doing something controversial.

Creating controversy

I once invited a children's writer to come and talk to my students at the university. She immediately attracted a lot of attention. The university's TV crew came to film and interview her. They chose a spot near a fountain just off the busy A6. It was also a windy day. Fortunately, perhaps, the interview couldn't be heard at all. Not that there was anything wrong with the writer. She is excellent and writes everything form picture books up to young adult texts.

So, why all of this interest? Well, her latest book at the time was a story about three girls who become prostitutes. I always argue that it's a very moral book because it ends badly and gives the message clearly "Girls, don't go there." However, it was enough to get her banned from one school and appear on the BBC local news. She had warned the librarian that she might not want to include this book in a school visit. Knee-jerk reaction was to pull all of her books out of the school library -  and she writes about seal pups being saved and feral kittens in the Med region finding homes – as well as prostitutes. The school said there were technical reasons why they were cancelling the visit. I don't think so.

Approaching a TV Company

Now, I'm not suggesting you go to those lengths to secure an interview. Yes, she did manage to get on to the BBC but her visit to my place of work only attracted a very local TV company. Anyway, it wasn't deliberate. It's still worth sending your carefully crafted press release to TV companies. Can you find that unique selling point? Does your work tie in with something important going on locally?

Be prepared

Should you then be invited to appear in a show, you'll need some preparation for this. Think about what to wear . What are your best colours? Avoid stripes, spots and intricate patterns. Practise. Get a friend to ask you questions and record yourself answering them. Is your voice warm enough and clear enough? Do your eyes smile?  

An alternative way of being seen

If TV work really appeals and you're getting no take up from TV companies you can always make your own video and load it up to You Tube. Then, take as many opportunities as you can to embed it in web sites.          

Monday, 31 July 2017

Working with local radio



The big guys, of course are the BBC and crucial to remember here is that the BBC is not allowed to advertise. However, they'll often ask when your book is out and where it's available. The other trick is to find ways of talking about your book in such a way that it isn't advertising it. You might talk about how you came to write the book, whether it has a local connection or whether it deals with a topical subject.

It's often easier to get radio coverage for non-fiction rather than fiction though if you've had to do research for fiction there may be an angle you can find there.

Usually, the programme editor will discuss with you before the recording what s/he will ask in the interview. Sometimes they will do this well in advance, other times it will be just before the you go on air.

Being everywhere at once

Very often these days the interview will be conducted by phone so you can work form the comfort of your own home. It's an idea though to dress as if you were going to work – and this can mean casual for a writer -  but don't stay in your pyjamas. It might also be an idea to stand or sit at your desk. This immediately makes you more business-like.

Sometimes also you may be called into your local studio to be connected to another.  For instance, I was interviewed for Radio Leicester in the studio at Bangor, North Wales.

How to find who does what

The radio Times is your best friend here: Dip into it now and then to see who does what sort of programme. Ascertain the name of the producer before you approach them. Carry on building that database of contacts. (See previous posts) Your press release is important here again but do cover it with a personal note. Make it clear why they should be interested in interviewing you.

Preparing for the interview

If you've had a lot of warning, you can get a friend to play the part of the interviewer. Record your interview. It's a little shocking if you've not heard yourself before, but get used to it now. Does your voice need softening or lowering a tone? Don't go as far as Maggie Thatcher did, though. Are you humming and ahing a bit too much? Are any of your answers inadequate or too defensive?

If you don't know what you'll be asked far in advance, listen to a few interviews and use some of those questions.

Nurse your voice. No dairy just before the interview. Gargling with red wine is supposed to be good.

A few nerves are productive – they keep you on your toes – but you shouldn't be petrified. Take a few deep calming breaths before you start.  

Then just enjoy.

Other than the BBC

There are other companies who do spoken word radio broadcasts but they are more difficult to find and won't give you as much coverage as the BBC. They may nevertheless be worth pursuing if you enjoy talking to other people about your work.

Doing your own thing

You can of course simply make your own podcast. Load it up to You Tube. Embed it in all of your sites. Again, take your cues form radio interviews you've enjoyed.         


Friday, 14 July 2017

Working with the local press

You've created your very professional press release now. What should you do next? Yes you need to contact the local press. However, don't just send the press release to everyone you can think of. They get hundreds of these a day. A phone call or a personalised e-mail works better.

Build yourself a database

Keep a list of any contacts you've found and of which information was sent where. Build up your personal contacts within the media. Look out for networking opportunities. Read your local press and note which other authors they feature. Look for a by-line on the feature to find the name of the journalist. Consider pooling information with other writers you know.

Start small

You may be more successful starting off small. Is there a local online publication or even a blog? Sometimes such publications welcome you writing your own copy. If you do it really well you may even be asked to contribute regularly. Take care that that is what you really want, though, and that it doesn't take up too much of your writing time.

Your unique selling point

Journalists always want a human story. What is special about you that can also be related to your book? It may be there in your press release but you should emphasize this when you approach the press.

Back to the all-important press release

Yes it is still important to have this as polished and as professionally presented as possible. As soon as one of your contacts bites, you need to be able to give them all of the information they need in a form they will recognise.          

Friday, 23 June 2017

Creating a press release

It’s good to have one of these prepared as soon as you are ready to start marketing your book. These step by step instructions are for promoting a book written by school children, but it is easily adaptable.
1.      Start with a headline. Include something about the book and where it is created e.g. Willmonston High Create Book about Animals in Support of RSPCA
2.      N.B. If sending your press release by email, include your headline in the subject line. If sending by snailmail, remember to double space.
3.      Create a “grabber”. You might type this in a slightly bigger font than normal. What is the most exciting aspect about this project? An example might be: “Best-selling author K L Towling assists Willmonston High students with their story-telling”. 
4.      Do you want you press release to go out straight away? In which case, type IMMEDIATE RELEASE above the headline.
5.      Make sure to keep the school name in the headline and any sub-heading. Repeat it again as you start writing the text.
6.      Now on to the body of the press release.  Keep the information concise. Make sure you include and make clear:
a.       What the actual news is
b.      Why this is news
c.       Who is involved
d.      What they are doing
e.       Why you are making this news available.
  1. Include a call to action. What do you want the public to do? Buy the book? Attend the launch?  
8.      Next write something about who you are:
a.       Give this section the title About Willmonston High School.
b.      Write five to six sentences.
    1. Try to identify what is special about your school.
d.      Give your web-site address.
9.      Now mention one more fact about why what you are doing is important.
10.  Finally, give contact information:
    1. The name of the school
    2. Contact person (you may have a PR person who liaises with the media)
    3. Full address of your school
    4. Full telephone and fax numbers
    5. Contact person’s mobile number
    6. Time of availability
    7. Web address
  1. Signal the end of the press release with three # symbols, centred directly underneath the last line of the release. This is a journalistic standard.

Here is a sample press release.
Immediate release

Spooking by Gill James

Paranormal Romance for young adults by university lecturer 

Spooking tells the story of a premature death and an unfinished love affair. Yes, this is a paranormal romance but there are definitely no vampires.
It isn’t too scary and there is certainly some humour in it.
Spooking appears in paperback on 28 September 2012. It has already been out as an e-book since April 2012.
Gill will do a tour of Greater Manchester secondary schools to promote the book.

About Gill James

Gill lectures in English and Creative Writing at the University of Salford. The first draft of Spooking was written whilst on a writer’s retreat on Tenerife. Gill also writes short stories and flash fiction for adults. Her main area of expertise however is the young adult novel.

Contact Gill for interviews at  or on 0161 295 6792.