Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Physical Launch

This is something we don't always get involved in. We are dealing with over 200 writers in our various imprints. We do hold two special celebration events each year to which all of our authors are invited. More details about that later.


Where and how

A launch may put you out of pocket. You're going to have to sell an awful lot of copies if you're going to cover a hire of venue fee and pay for refreshments for your guests.
There are ways of making it cheaper, though. Consider the following:

  • Look out for bar or café that will give you a free space because you are bringing in a fair number of guests. Note, some venues will expect a minimum spend. Make sure you can cover that. If you get this right, the venue will be free and guests will pay for their own drinks and nibbles. 

  • Host the launch in your own home. Yes, only a few will fit in but you can often sell just as many books at these as at bigger events. Extend this idea by getting friends to host you. This could also be up and down the country.
  • Consider some of the more quirky examples mentioned on the previous page.   


Who to invite

Everyone you can think of! Do you want to open it to the general public? This might affect how you advertise it. Remember we all know about 250 people. Invite them all even if they're too far away to come. Invite your Facebook and Twitter friends but don't rely just on this group of people.
Then think of other people you know who might be interested in the book. Think locally and a little further afield. Will the theme appeal to certain people? Are there geographical locations that might be of interest? Is a certain period in history portrayed? Will your book appeal to certain experts or certain categories of workers? Is it of use to schools and teachers?


How to invite

Certainly use a Facebook Event invite. If you have a limit on numbers, use something like Eventbrite as well as they can ticket even for free places. You can also handily email all of your attendees from your Event.
However, the personal invitation is by far the best. Design an appealing invite and email, snailmail or hand-out them out.  You should also start building up an email list of fans who will be happy to hear about your work. So your invite should include the RSVP via the Eventbrite Event and an invite to join the mailing list.


Help on the day

You certainly can't do it all especially if you are providing the catering and especially if you're expecting more than twenty guests.
You'll need people to help in the following ways:

  • Setting everything up
  • Book sales
  • Marshalling guests
  • Serving refreshments
  • Introducing you
  • Tidying up afterwards


On the day

Don't be tempted to read too much from the book. Much as your guests will love the book later, listening to someone read for a long time can be quite tiring. Your total "performance" should be no more than half an hour – the launch maybe lasting a maximum of two hours.  
In that half hour:

  • Let your "host" Introduce you.
  • Tell your audience a little about how you came to write the book.
  • Read a few short passages from the book
  • Take questions and answers.  If your launch is a little more formal, you can have a set of questions and answers set up with your host and then take a few more from the floor.

A typical timetable for the two hours would be:

First half hour: mingle. Refreshments could be offered and books should be on sale.
Second half hour: author spotlight as described above.  
Third half hour: selling and signing books
Final half hour: more mingling 

Remember when you book your venue to allow enough time for setting up and clearing up.
Do be aware that you may have to regard your launch as a loss leader.  However, in the following two posts I'm going to suggest two other types of launches that are virtually free.         

Monday, 30 October 2017

Contacting bookshops and other places about possible signings


Author Kit

This is something we offer authors for the imprints we manage. If you can arrange your own book tour, we can provide you with twenty books up front. Shops can put them through their till and we'll invoice the shop. Then we'll top up your supply. Please leave at least ten days between venues. At the end of the tour, you can buy any remaining books at cost plus 10% to cover admin, or wait until you can sell them and buy them at normal author discount. We can if necessary allow this against royalties.
If you are or become a prolific seller, we can offer more books on this arrangement. 
We ask you to contact the bookshop or other venue and copy us in. We can then have a three-way conversation.   

Template letter

Here is a letter we use for our imprints:
Dear (name of bookshop owner),
I wonder whether you might consider letting one of our authors run a book singing at your shop? We operate a WIN, WIN, WIN policy for bookshops and authors. We supply the books to our author who brings them on the day. They go through your till and we then invoice you for any sold at 65% of RRP. Any unsold copies remain with the author. We normally supply about 20 but this is up for negotiation.
We promote the event and we hope that you will as well.
A little about the author. There is an example in brackets here.  (xxx is a frequent delegate at the Winchester Writers’ Festival. She blogs regularly for Chandlers Ford Today.)
I attach an Author Information Sheet.
Perhaps you could negotiate with xxx directly if this is of interest?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Author's name 

How to find bookshops

If you're an indie writer or working with a small publisher it's notoriously difficult to get into the big chain stores. However, most of them have a brief to work with local authors and its worth pushing for this. Get to know the staff. Also, it's sometimes possible to hire their events room privately.

If you are in the US try:
 The UK equivalent is:

I'm also beginning a summary of useful contacts – booksellers, media contacts, reviewers, bloggers who host others and other places that host author events. You can find this here:
      At the time of writing this is empty, but as the weeks go by I'll add to it.  So please let me know of any events that have been successful. Please provide as much information as you can and especially the name and email address of the person to approach.     

Venues other than bookshops

How do these sound?
·         A railway station
·         A beach
·         A kite festival   

These are just a few quirky ideas and have actually been used rather successfully.
If your venue has a retail outlet, you can still use the Author Kit mentioned before.
Sometimes another type of venue can be more helpful than an actual bookshop. I've run several signings in cafés very successfully.      

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.