RNA Conference 2008: the Business

One of the best aspects of attending a Conference of Professional Writers – published and yet to be published, is having the opportunity to hear Professionals from other aspects of our business talking about what they do best.


And then comes the impossible challenge – how do you choose which sessions to attend when they are all SO useful and informative, and you have limited time?


So here, in broad categories, are the notes from the sessions I attended – starting with;


Business and Promotion:

  • MIDAS: “Fully Booked” Secrets of a successful Publicity Campaign

  • Mark Thornton: “Shelf Secrets” Want to get your book stocked? Think like a bookseller.

  • Kate Walker: “Get Yourself Out There” – a discussion on keeping an Internet Presence.


MIDAS: “Fully booked” – Secrets of a Successful Publicity Campaign


Speaker: Steven Williams, Managing Director, and career PR specialist, has worked with a number of eminent and successful authors and publishers. In addition to his work at Midas, Steven is a Trustee of The Arvon Foundation and advises many literary organisations on PR activity.


The current State of Play.

Publisher Marketing and Publicity Departments are always over stretched and need to focus on the major books each month.

Every day of the week, the major media outlets are bombarded with hundreds of e-mails, faxes and telephone calls asking them to review and promote their books.

Example? The Book Editor of the Daily Mail receives an average of 120 novels in the post, every week, from which they may print reviews of 3 to 10 books.


How to give yourself the best chance of publicity for YOUR book?


The Media need a unique selling point to appeal to the researchers/ their audience.

*Ask yourself – WHO Is going to read this book? What are the target demographics? What is the best way to reach your potential readership?

*Consider what type of Media would be best for your book. Radio might not be the best option for Young Adult, while websites and blogs – BEBO comes to mind -could well be.

*What are the angles and hooks you can use to sell the idea of your book to the media? Think about possible headlines you could come up with. E.g ‘150 Romance Writers descend on Chichester’ or ‘I started Internet Dating when I was 60’.

*Booksellers of all types. Brick and Online. Could you write an article or work with them to increase sales?


National Print Newspapers and Magazines.  Weekend Supplements and Give Away Supplements often have short slots to fill, such as ‘A day in the Life’ or ‘Writing Rooms’ etc.

What kind of Articles could you write which link to you and your book? Could you link it to a Topical Issue in the news?

Proviso – Many print Women’s Magazines have a lead time of 4 to 5 months, so you need to plan ahead. Online Magazines can turn these around faster.


Regional TV, Radio, Newspapers and Magazines. What kind of Feature Articles do they run? Fiction/Non-Fiction.

  • Who is going to stock your book? Independent and chain booksellers – what can YOU give THEM to help them sell more?
  • Can you give local radio interviews, and develop a longer term relationship with the local media?
  • What are local journalists interested in? What can YOU offer THEM? Articles. Fill in short pieces. Regular features? Don’t forget to follow up any meeting.
  • Research all the print material that you come across in your daily life. Could you write something for them?


Online Magazines and Newspapers.

  • The Daily Newspapers have online versions, which receive millions of hits each day. AND they can offer more pages of book reviews.
  • Booksellers have their own magazines in print and online. Independent booksellers may have their own newsletters online. They all need copy.
  • Reading Groups and Libraries.
  • What online magazines do YOU read? BookTrade Press? Womens Magazines? Life style Magazines? E.g. ivillage.co.uk
  • Does your book link to a Specialist subject which has its own Interest Group and Magazine? Wedding planners, florists, coffee shops etc.
  • Personal Blogs and Book Review sites by people in publishing are increasingly powerful.


When you have carried out your research- then you PLAN your publicity campaign

  • Allow for the lag time of a couple of months for newspapers and magazines.
  • Send your proof and press release -always include an author photograph. Your pitch should have all of your hooks and interesting points.
  • Use any personal contacts with journalists who might be interested in articles and short pieces.


Case Studies. MIDAS supported Freya North when she won the RNA Award this year, and the current Mills and Boon Centenary Celebrations.


For more information go to the company website: http://www.midaspr.co.uk/


 Part Two from Mark Thornton tomorrow. 🙂