Media

Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

Video introductions

Media

Catch up with what’s happening on our social media feeds, and find out about the latest authors to publish with The Book Guild… there’s also company news, the latest author events and a round-up of our latest reviews and media coverage.

RAC Motoring Book of the Year Award: A Review of the Evening

On Wednesday 30th October, Senior Production Controller Joe Shillito and Editorial Coordinator Hayley Russell from Matador, and Marketing Controller Philippa Iliffe from The Book Guild attended the annual Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book Awards in Pall Mall, London. Joe recounts their experience of the evening:

[From left: Joe Shillito, Hayley Russell, Philippa Iliffe]

It was a pleasure to be invited to attend the prestigious annual Motoring Book Awards at the exclusive Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in Pall Mall, London, made all the more special by the fact that two titles from Troubador imprints had been nominated for these sought-after accolades.

Alan Shattock’s RGS Atalantas (Matador), a meticulously researched and designed volume detailing the creation and development of Dick Shattock’s pioneering sports racing cars, was nominated for the ‘Specialist Book of the Year’ award, described by the RAC as being presented to a book which is impeccably researched and flawlessly written. Meanwhile, Dave Roberts’s The Blunt End of the Grid (The Book Guild), a humorous and heartwarming memoir of the author’s motoring escapades, was nominated for the coveted ‘Motoring Book of the Year award’, for ‘an exceptional book with wide appeal’.

The event saw authors, publishers, members of the media and motoring enthusiasts converging on the RAC building in central London for an evening which promised to be one of the many highlights of a week of motoring celebrations. The venue itself was magnificent; we were guided through lavishly decorated hallways beneath vaulted ceilings to arrive in the expansive Mountbatten Room, where we were welcomed to a champagne reception and the opportunity to discuss the upcoming awards with the high-fliers of the motoring book industry.

It was a pleasure as always to speak with Dennis Buckingham from Star Sales, a company that represents many of the marketed titles for both Matador and The Book Guild. A number of books supported by Dennis and the Star Sales team had been shortlisted for the two awards, demonstrating the importance of proper sales representation in achieving recognition within the book trade. An opportunity to catch up with Book Guild author Dave Roberts was also very welcome. It was gratifying to hear a number of positive comments about both our titles from industry professionals and motoring enthusiasts alike.

[From left: Philippa Iliffe, Dave Roberts]

The ‘Specialist Book of the Year’ award saw with Alan Shattock’s RGS Atalantas pitted against stiff competition from industry-leading publishers. While Simon Taylor’s John, George and the HWMs: The First Racing Team to Fly the Flag for Britain (Evro) was the successful nominee in the end, it was heartening to hear positive comments about Shattock’s volume from the judges along the lines of ‘extremely well written.’

Dave Roberts’s The Blunt End of the Grid did not go unnoticed, receiving great interest from the room, and eliciting a number of highly positive comments from both members of the RAC and industry professionals. It was also hugely encouraging to see both titles stocked by the on-site pop-up bookshop, administered by Horton’s, an industry leader in motoring book sales, even more so when we were later told that Roberts’s title had sold out.

It was overall a highly successful evening for both Matador and The Book Guild, and while it was disappointing not to have left the event with either of the prestigious awards, it was a huge accolade for both books to even be nominated. Each title was pitted against challenging competition from industry leaders, and it was heartening to receive a multitude of positive feedback for both titles, not only from a perspective of content but also of design and presentation.

The Blunt End of the Grid is available to buy from our bookshop!

Marketing Tips for Christmas

With Christmas on the horizon, now is the time to turn your sights to marketing. Our Marketing team share their top tips for marketing your book in the run-up to Christmas to help you during the festive season:

‘Tis the season to be selling – Jonathan White (Sales & Marketing Manager):

Christmas is obviously one of the best times in the year to sell your book, but it is also one of the busiest in the bookshops and one when there will be most competition from all the other books fighting for space on the shelves. When approaching bookshops around Christmas, be aware of just how busy they might be getting. Do some research and if you do want to speak to someone in a bookshop about your book, choose a time when they are at their quietest. If you are looking to sell more copies of your book in the run up to Christmas, you might find it more fruitful to spend your time approaching your readers directly, either through social media or any events you arrange. They can choose where they want to purchase your book whether online or from a bookshop as a customer order. Be as active as you can, but do not expect too much help from your local bookshop, they may well be just trying to survive the festive season.

Festive freebies and snowy sales – Alexa Davies (Assistant Marketing Manager):

Everyone loves a freebie and surely there is no better time to offer your readers a little extra than the season of goodwill! The idea of winning a prize is a brilliant incentive to get people involved. That involvement can be anything from simply following you on Twitter to browsing your website for the hidden snowman to writing a paragraph about their favourite festive story. You know your book best so get your thinking Santa hat on and come up with some creative challenges for your readers. If you can’t think of anything, consider running a simple giveaway on your social media pages or through your website – this is a great way to get people to follow you, share your posts or sign up to your newsletter. Make the prize even more irresistible with added extras like a ‘signed by the author’ copy or exclusive illustration.

Don’t forget that people also love a discount, especially when they’ve spent their book budget buying Christmas presents! Whether it’s in the run-up to the actual day, a Boxing Day sale or a little discount to help readers beat the January blues, you might be able to tempt people in with pound or two off the cover price.

Spread the joy with personalised pressies – Sophie Morgan (Matador Marketing Controller):

The sleigh bells are jingling and I’m sure I can hear Santa struggling to do up the buttons on his suit jacket. Must be almost Christmas and authors must be ready to sell, sell, sell their book at every opportunity this festive season. Whenever an author asks me what more they can do to capitalise on Christmas, I always recommend the little extras that can help even one person remember your book after you’ve given them a nudge. Whether you’re braving the cold with a booth at the Christmas fair or have a signing at the local library, being able to pass out bespoke bookmarks, postcards or business cards can make all the difference between a reader remembering your book title or not. Even better, at seasonal times such as these, you can go big and even send Christmas cards featuring your book – what better way to spread both Christmas cheer and news of your book from the comfort of your own home? Get in touch with your Marketing Controller if you’re ready to promote this Christmas – we promise, Yule won’t regret it!

Thinking outside the gift box – Philippa Iliffe (Book Guild Marketing Controller):

It’s no secret that Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year for the publishing and media industry. For journalists, they are particularly saturated so you need to think outside of the box and come up with a pitch that will catch the media’s eye. Consider the following:

Christmas Gift Guides: Gift guides including books are typically put together several months in advance of Christmas. It’s worth contacting editors of magazines that would typically feature or review your book as far in advance as possible, making it known that you feel this would be a great fit for their gift guide offering. The earlier you contact them, the more likely you are to secure something in their gifting pages.

A Christmas Hook: As the market is particularly saturated around this time of year, you need to come up with the perfect Christmassy ‘hook’ for your book. Some authors may be lucky in that their book has a Christmas theme. Others may have to work a little harder. Christmas is all about caring, kindness and giving a little back to those who you appreciate – so have a think about how your book could tie into these themes and get your pitch ready for action!

The New Year: Christmas is just around the corner, but those in the media are already thinking about their New Year features. Perhaps your book doesn’t have a suitable Christmas hook to grab their attention, but it could be perfect for the New Year. If you time it right, you can be right on the money in securing yourself an early New Year feature and getting 2020 off to a great start!

Sharing it up on snow-cial media – Emily Dakin (Customer Service & Marketing Assistant):

Social media marketing is key to getting your book out to the public! It’s a great way to shout about any book signings you have, events and rave about any great reviews you have been getting. A lot of bloggers are very active on social media these days and this is how they will, more than likely, hear about your book.

Make sure you get creative on social media over the festive period – there’s so much you can do. As you are getting all of your present prep reindeer-ready in the run-up to the big day, think about how you can use this on your pages. If you’ve decorated your Christmas tree, why not set your book up and share a festive snap on your Instagram? If you love making graphics, sneak a little Santa or snowflake into your designs for an extra festive twist. If you’ve got a festive discount lined up for your eBook, let your followers know so that they can get their copy to read over the Christmas holidays.

Don’t forget that the power of hashtags, especially on Twitter on Instagram, is key when it comes to social media. Keep an eye on the trending topics when you log in to your Twitter account – there will be lots in the Christmas season! By tapping into these trends and hashtagging key terms, you make your post (and as a result, your account) more discoverable to a wider group of people.

Celebrating Black History Month by James Rayner

It’s the month of October – which means it’s also Black History Month when we celebrate the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the UK. Although gaining ground in recent years, this annual event is still considered a bit irrelevant to many people in Britain today. However, you don’t have to be black, have black ancestors or even live somewhere with a black minority to take part.

Black History Month is an event for the whole country to celebrate as black history is a streak that runs through centuries of British history, stretching as far back as the Romans (as we discovered from David Olusoga’s ground-breaking book, Black and British). It’s also not just an urban story either, almost every part of the UK will have important connections to people of African origin… they just might not know about them yet.

Before I did my research, if you asked anyone on the Isle of Wight if the Island had any black history, they’d almost certainly say no. This diamond-shaped lump on the British south coast is not a particularly diverse place today, nor has it ever been much of a magnet for international migrants, so you can see why many would assume there’d be no black history worth speaking of.

However, my work soon uncovered that some of the most famous names in black history had visited the Isle of Wight including Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano and the African American author and former slave William Wells Brown. The Island’s southern tip also witnessed one of the most disastrous events in black African history, the sinking of the S.S. Mendi in 1917. On its way to the battlefields of France, this troop transport ship was struck by another vessel in thick fog and sunk, leading to the loss of 607 black South African lives.

In fact, the mass of information I was uncovering was quite overwhelming and included black men and women from across the world: black Britons, black Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Americans who came to start a new life, to holiday, to visit friends, to work or to perform, from the 16th century right up to the present.

It’s wasn’t just famous names either. Newspaper reports, censuses and birth, marriage and death records revealed a substantial number of ordinary people of African origin who had made the Isle of Wight their home. From the baptism of a ‘blackamore’ in 1649 to the births of a significant number of mixed-race Islanders in the Georgian era and the 19th century black servants being left money and possessions in the wills of their employers – these fascinating records weave together an incredible mix of black individuals who have contributed to Island life for literally hundreds of years.

It’s also surprising how many locations on the Isle of Wight have hidden links to black history. Many Islanders will be familiar with the former Hughes & Mullins photo studio in Union Street, Ryde (most well-known for its distinctive rooftop statues) but they’re unlikely to be aware that Prince Alemayehu of Ethiopia had his portrait taken there in the 1860s. Similarly, the ancient church in Shorwell village makes no mention of its mixed-race Jamaican vicar and Queen Victoria’s former home, Osborne House, has nothing to mark the visit of King Cetshwayo of the Zulus or the black South African choir who came to perform for the Queen in the 1890s.

If the same type of research I undertook for the Isle of Wight is applied to other areas considered absent of any notable black history there are sure to be similar discoveries. Were the Scottish Highlands home to a mixed-race laird? Did any black sailors choose to settle down in the Channel Islands? Did an African-American abolitionist finish his autobiography in a Cornish fishing village? Or were the streets of Belfast ever home to a significant black minority?

If the Isle of Wight has this much vibrancy and interest to enhance its local history, it’s certain the rest of the UK will have similar exciting discoveries just waiting to be made, and it’s up to all of us now to bring these stories to light.

 

Bringing hundreds of sources together for the first time, The Isle of Wight’s Missing Chapter tells the story of the island’s hidden international history. It examines the island’s many international visitors, including Mahatma Gandhi, King Cetshwayo of the Zulus and Queen Emma of Hawaii and uncovers some of the islands overlooked international residents, such as a Jamaican model, a Sri Lankan cricketer and a pioneering Indian doctor.

Challenging the standard view of the island’s history, this book demonstrates how there have been mixed-race Islanders for over two hundred years and explains why the island has an important place in black history.

Grab a copy here!

Troubador celebrates book prize success

Here at Troubador, we are celebrating after being shortlisted – and winning – multiple book prizes in the UK and internationally.

Firstly, the Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year Awards has shortlisted two Troubador titles for its motoring book awards. These awards are recognised as the most prestigious awards to be bestowed in the automotive publishing industry

The shortlisted titles are The Blunt End of the Grid (Dave Roberts, The Book Guild), charting Dave’s adventures in motor racing and other automotive escapades and is one of six books selected for the Motoring Book of the Year Award – which is presented for an exceptional book with wide appeal. While RGS Atalantas (Alan Shattock, Matador), is shortlisted for the Specialist Motoring Book of the Year awarded for a book which is judged to be a feat of impeccable research and flawless writing.

The winner of the RAC Motoring Book of the Year Awards will be announced on the 30th October 2019 at a ceremony in London.

“The Royal Automobile Club Motoring Book of the Year awards have become synonymous with celebrating the best automotive books, authors and publishers out there. This year the judges had an overwhelming response with entries representing 18 different publishing houses. With the outstanding quality and diversity of books published, it’s been the toughest judging year yet. I can’t wait to see who will come out on top,” said Peter Read, Chairman of the RAC’s Motoring Committee.

As well as receiving praise for its two shortlisted titles within the motoring genre, Troubador is also celebrating after Coffee and Wine (Morten Scholer, Matador) received first prize at the 2019 Gourmand International Book Awards (Coffee Category), beating 14 other titles. The Gourmand International Book awards honour the best food and wine books in the world and Morten received his award in Macao, China. Not only has this highly regarded book impressed Gourmand judges, but it was also shortlisted at the International Organisation of Vine and Wine’s book awards, receiving a special mention for its detailed examination of its topic.

The recognition Troubador is receiving in these major book awards demonstrates the editorial and design excellence of its publishing programme. These successes show why Troubador is the number one self-publishing publishing company in the UK, with its imprints Matador (self-publishing) and Book Guild (partnership and mainstream publishing).

Jeremy Thompson, Troubador’s Managing Director comments:

‘We are very proud of all our authors – but it is especially exciting when the books we help authors to publish are recognised by prestigious awards for their high standard of content and design.’

Distributing Your Book

Sam Copson our Distribution Manager, who looks after our warehouses, looks at the main questions he gets asked every day:

My newly published book is not available on Amazon, when will it be listed as available to order?

The Amazon ordering system is completely automated, we can only send them copies once they have placed an order. We receive multiple orders daily and despatch large consignments to numerous Amazon depots up and down the country for supply through Amazon’s distribution hubs.

Obviously, we can only despatch new titles once books have been received by our warehouse from the printer. 

Once the stock is available and approved for release, we tell Amazon when they will receive the copies they have ordered. Book Guild’s processing time is two working days from the initial Amazon order, while Amazon can take an additional two days to process stock once it arrives at their warehouse. So, on average it can take four to five days from the arrival of a new title into our warehouse for that title to become available and in stock with Amazon. But as with all retailers, it is up to the retailer when they decide to place an order!

What are your shipping times and where do you supply books?

We supply books directly to bookshops, wholesalers, chain stores and online retailers, and we fulfil direct orders (such as website sales and sales via our Festival Bookshop) and supply copies direct to authors for their own events and signings. 

We store books in two locations, the main one being at our main office in Leicester, the other being our distributor in Poole, who handles most of the bulk retail trade distribution. Generally, we keep 50% of a title’s stock at our Leicester warehouse and the rest with our distributor in Poole for trade sales.

For author stock shipping requests, we usually process and deliver titles to UK addresses within five working days and provide tracking information on orders. Retail trade orders are despatched as soon as invoicing and pick-and-pack are completed, again usually within a few days. 

For orders placed on our online bookshop, these are picked and shipped on the same working day for in-stock items if the order is received by 12 noon, or the following working day if received afterward.

How do I order extra copies of my book?

Book Guild authors are entitled to order additional copies of their book for personal or events use. These books can be ordered at 45% off the RRP and there will also be a shipping fee. Royalties will not be paid for these books due to the discount being applied.

If you are ordering books for an event (whether that be a book signing, festival or anything else) we need at least one weeks’ notice to ensure that we have enough books in stock to fulfil the order and get them shipped and delivered in time. We will need even longer if the books are travelling overseas.

 

These are the most commonly asked questions of Sam and his team about the distribution services that we offer. If you have any other burning questions about distribution, please do get in touch!

Books are Like People – Marketing My First Novel by Keith Anthony

It took six months to complete the initial draft of Times and Places and another twenty before it was fully polished and published. But how would the world get to hear of it? It is at this point that authors must choose whether to transform from introverts – typing alone in the privacy of their homes – to out-going marketing types. The two personalities could hardly be further apart, but for those who want their books to do as well as they can, there is little option but to give it a go.

Initially, there was lots of help from my publisher but, unless you are with a big publishing house, the budgets are inevitably tight. In my case, the Book Guild carried out trade marketing to present my novel to the buying trade and they set up the book’s metadata, which is essential for making it available through online retailers. They also carried out a six-week marketing campaign, sending out press releases and advance paperbacks to a bespoke media list of journalists from the national and local press, as well as book blogs and radio hosts.

Then I had to decide: was I happy to leave marketing at that or did I dare step out of my comfort zones, trying everything to make my novel a success? I took a deep breath and dived in.

First came social media. I chose Twitter and in hindsight, this was exactly right for me. The Book Guild helped design my banner and signed up as my first follower… before too long I hit double figures, then treble and now – some 18 months later – I have over 1,000 followers.  Still a Twitter minnow maybe, but not bad from a standing start. I occasionally tweeted about my book, but more often posted photos or very short stories and poems, hoping that as follower numbers grew so would interest in my novel.

Shortly after launch, I also signed up for a blog tour. I would highly recommend this. Over a week, twenty bloggers either reviewed my book, published extracts, posted interviews with me or hosted guest blogs I had written. I used Rachel’s Random Resources to manage the tour and it felt fantastic to receive feedback and see interest beginning to build. Twitter and blog tours, of course, can be done from the safety of home, but I had decided to step outside my front door. I began by driving around local bookshops. Walking inside with a copy of my novel took courage. It never got easy, but it did become easier. My tactic was to look as relaxed and friendly as I could, simply asking if I could leave my book with them to consider. There were three general reactions:

• 20% of cases – enthusiastic eagerness to take a look.  One Waterstones branch even ordered copies there and then.
• 60% of cases – a friendly interest which I suspected was unlikely to lead anywhere.
• 20% of cases – glazed sales assistant eyes, accompanied by comments to the effect that it wasn’t down to them what they stocked. All, though, at least took a copy.

I felt let down by some. One store manager couldn’t have been more helpful but said I’d have to contact his head office. I called them and followed up with first a letter and then a chaser (each time enclosing a copy of my book), but I never heard anything back. I tried again when I later saw the same chain on Twitter inviting authors to come forward for events at their local branches – again not even a reply.

Another shop was always on the verge of offering me an event or including my book in their book club, but neither ever quite happened. One shop assistant said, “Never heard of it!” when I asked if they had my novel in stock, while someone else put a signed copy on their shelf only for me to see it still there, unsold, three months later. To be a good author you have to be sensitive; to be a good marketer you have to pack those sensitivities away.

Other shops, though, presented happier experiences. One Waterstones branch hosted a book signing. This was the peak of me being outside my comfort zones, but I tried to look calmer than I felt, sitting next to a huge pile of my books, as people wandered around me. There were not exactly long queues, but it was wonderful whenever someone stopped to ask about my novel, and even better when a few actually bought it. After four hours I felt drained, but I had now done a book signing, another official stamp on the author’s passport, and I knew I was pushing my book as best as I could.

I also found the prospect of media interviews quite daunting, but secretly felt that I could present myself reasonably well, so took any opportunities that arose. I ended up enjoying them. The Book Guild arranged for me to appear on the ‘Writer’s Routine’ podcast and my episode is still available here.

I wrote to my local radio stations as well and, although ignored by most, I was given a half-hour slot by one, during which I was asked (Desert Island Discs Style) to choose three of my favourite songs. By now I felt I was almost a treble Z list celebrity.

Inevitably, after a while, I had done as much marketing as I could, or at least as much as was on offer. I still keep my eyes open for opportunities, but Times and Places is now settling into its place amongst the many millions of other books out there. However inspired or mundane my novel is, by comparison, I think it true that many good books barely see the light of day, while a few lesser ones are hugely successful. You need luck and to catch a wave.

However, nothing detracts from the satisfaction of having written a book, nor from the knowledge that I gave it its best chance. Beyond that I try to be philosophical: yes, of course I hope it does well, but as my main character says in Times and Places“…books are like people: a few become famous, the vast majority don’t, some might just be known by a handful of friends, some only by their creator even, but they all have value, at least if they have soul.”  

About the author:

Keith Anthony was born and brought up in the Chilterns, to where he returned after studying French at university in Aberystwyth and a subsequent spell living in west London. He has a love of nature, both in his native Buckinghamshire countryside, but also in Cornwall and wherever there is a wild sea.

Keith has been lucky enough to spend time living in France, Spain, Belgium, Serbia and Croatia, as well as being a regular visitor to Germany, and languages were the only thing he was ever half good at in school. Since graduating he has worked in government departments, but between 2005 and 2008 he was seconded to the European Commission in Brussels and, thanks to a friend from Ljubljana he met there, has travelled regularly to Slovenia, getting to know that country well.

Keith’s other great love is music and he plays classical and fingerpicking blues guitar, though with persistently limited success. He has always enjoyed writing, including attempts at children’s fiction, and in 2016 he began work on his first full book with Times and Places the end result: an accessible, observational story, mixing quiet spirituality with humour, pathos and gothic horror, and setting it against a rich backdrop of the natural world.

Copies of Times and Places are available to buy in our bookshop.

Supplementing Your Marketing

Alongside the in-house marketing that Book Guild carries out, it is important for authors to think about the many different ways in which they can market their book themselves. One cost-effective way of supplementing your marketing campaign is to produce a range of marketing materials. In this blog, we take look at the most popular types of marketing materials authors order and offer some top tips for using them.

Marketing materials are promotional items, there to help sell your products, so they need to be ‘on message’ and professionally produced. Don’t fill them with an entire synopsis or author biography, use the available space to tell people what it is about this book they will love and why they should buy it. Knowing where you will be handing out, or displaying, the marketing materials – and who you want to pick them up – should help you get the design just right.

If arranging events, bookshops or other venues might ask if you have any Point of Sale (POS) materials available to help promote a signing. It’s rare that a bookshop will produce these on your behalf, and they are far more likely to support an event if you can provide them with posters or show cards.

Posters

From A3 size for grabbing attention to A4 size to impart information, posters are a brilliant way to announce signings and events or to advertise your book to a targeted audience. Posters are versatile, but make sure you know where you will use them. If you’re advertising a signing/event, you’ll either need to print individual posters with the specific signing location, date and time printed on already or, more usefully, use a poster with blank space where event details can be added afterward, thus giving you much more flexibility.

Some venues will not be pleased if you plaster a large A1 sized poster all over their front window but would be happy to display an A3 or A4 one, so check before ordering – big is not always better!

Remember that indie bookshops are not big fans of Amazon, so if you’re hoping to hang your poster up in bookshops, don’t say ‘Buy from Amazon’ on it! Bookshop owners want to sell their own stock in their own shops, they won’t be happy advertising any other retailers on a display poster.

Postcards, Bookmarks and Business Cards

Postcards, bookmarks and business cards are great handouts at events and when networking. Some authors use postcards as book event invitations, with a book cover on one side and invitation text on the other, but they can also be used for general book promotion – again with a lovely colour reproduction of the book cover on one side and a snappy blurb on the other. Remember to always include information as to where people can find out more or buy a copy, though.

Bookmarks are the ultimate promotional item for book lovers; a free gift and an advertising opportunity all in one. Bookmarks visually look best when there is a nice balance of text to graphic – and can look a bit overwhelming if they are cramped with tiny text, so really focus on the message and cut down your blurb so it fits well within the space available.

Business cards are a cost-effective way to advertise yourself as an author – a small but practical item to carry at all times for some ad hoc marketing opportunities. And perfect for speaking events, signings or social occasions… but due to their size, they are limited in the information they can give.

Leaflets and Show Cards

Leaflets are one of the most versatile marketing materials – but think carefully about the format you want to use. We find that single or double-sided A5 leaflets work best – having enough space to promote your book and brand, but not too much space to fill. Think about how you will use the leaflets – are you mailing them out? In which case, do you want to include an order form as part of the leaflet? (If you are doing a direct mailout campaign, however, make sure you are compliant with direct marketing laws.)

A great alternative to leaflets, especially if you will be out and about at events, are show cards. These stand up on their own, making them more prominent. Show cards can be produced in a variety of sizes and shapes, but the most popular ones we produce are A4 and comprise of a full-colour display board that stands upright – perfect for POS publicity.

Other Promotional Items

There are hundreds of different promotional items available that you could use as giveaways to promote your book, but before you get carried away with freebies, think about what would give the best return on investment. Promotional pens and pencils might go well with the theme of writing, but they are limited when it comes to what you can actually print on them. Just putting your book title won’t work – how does anyone know it’s a book title? You can’t use a book cover image on a pen or pencil; these items tend to work best if you can put a web address on too.

What about T-shirts, with the book cover on the front? These can be great fun if working with children’s books and running events at schools, etc., or at genre or themed events for genre-based titles, but they are not necessarily as appropriate for adult fiction.

Over the years we’ve also produced note pads, balloons, carrier bags, erasers and mints, all branded up as giveaways – but before spending on these items, consider whether they are really going to help your brand as an author compared to the often cheaper items such as leaflets and postcards, where you have more space for your marketing message.

Top Tips

Finally, here are our top tips for getting it right!

  1. You are selling yourself as an author, so make sure your marketing materials are error-free. Spell check, proofread and get another set of eyes on them before approving them for print.
  2. Always remember to include details of where the books can be purchased from. Don’t forget key information such as ISBN, price, author name, title – all the information that a bookshop would need when sourcing a book.
  3. Your marketing materials need to reflect you in a professional light. Never change incorrect or outdated information on a leaflet, bookmark or business card by crossing it out and handwriting in the updated information. It does not shout professional. Marketing materials don’t have to be expensive to produce – and can be reprinted and updated as needed.
  4. Always check you have permission before putting up posters or handing out leaflets in public places. We’ve had complaints about authors who have filled leisure centre dispensers with their own leaflets without prior permission. Some venues actually charge to display leaflets, so don’t assume it’s free! We’ve also heard of an author who put up roadside banners – and the relevant highway agencies were very unhappy and threatened legal action… these are extreme examples, but it does show how important it is to get permission beforehand.
  5. Finally, be clear about what you’ll use your marketing materials for and make sure the design is suited to that purpose. If you choose a variety of formats (posters, postcards, etc.), don’t just assume one design will fit all – a big poster can carry more text, but a business card needs to be much more concise – each has a different purpose.

Hopefully you’ll be already using marketing materials alongside your current promotional efforts, but if not, don’t forget that at Book Guild we offer a wide range of marketing materials – from posters to show cards and everything in between. The perfect way to help you market directly to your readers. The full range of our materials can be obtained from your Marketing Controller.

Book Guild Submissions – FAQs

Our Customer Service Team is the first port of call for authors wishing to submit their manuscript to The Book Guild. Lauren Bailey manages this team and oversees all submissions and initial inquiries. Here, she talks us through some of the common FAQs so that you can ensure that your book is ready for submission (and beyond):

What should I send as my submission?
Ideally, we would like to see the whole manuscript so that we can consider it fully. We are happy to accept a minimum of three sample chapters but will ask to see the whole manuscript if we decide to offer a publishing proposal. If the manuscript contains images (photographs, graphics, illustrations) then we ask to see some of the images at the submission stage so that we can check their quality.

A synopsis and author biography are useful at the submission stage. As well as the quality of the writing, the genre and commercial appeal of the book itself, we also have to take into consideration an author’s marketing ‘angle’ and their enthusiasm for being involved in the book’s marketing campaign. For example, if an author has written about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – what is their connection to this subject? Have they suffered from it themselves? Why would a customer choose to read the author’s book over others? The more information that an author can provide about themselves and why they have written the book at the submission stage, the better.

Are all manuscripts considered for a traditional publishing contract?
We are currently considering non-fiction titles, mainly memoirs and sport-related autobiographies, for traditional publishing contracts. We are happy to consider all genres – fiction, children’s picture books, business/development, etc – but these are more likely to be considered for our partnership publishing programme.

How long will the submission/consideration process take?
We acknowledge all manuscripts within two-three working days. The full consideration process can take up to four weeks. We receive a lot of submissions and like to give each manuscript the attention that it deserves!

Can I use my own ISBN?
We do not offer this option at The Book Guild. All titles published by The Book Guild will carry an ISBN that is registered to The Book Guild, which enables us to distribute and market the book comprehensively to the UK market. This does not affect the copyright, which remains with the author.

Do I need to obtain permission to reproduce images in my book?
Permission needs to be obtained from the copyright holder if you do not own an image; it is your obligation to obtain copyright permissions and clearances where necessary – though we can advise on how to go about this. The quality of images is also very important; low quality or pixelated images make a book look unprofessional. With this in mind, we do not recommend using images that are less than 300dpi (dots per inch) in resolution, and certainly not to use images copied from the Internet (which are usually only a low 96dpi in resolution).

What is the average timescale required to produce and print a book?
We aim to have books printed and ready for publication approximately six months after receiving a signed contract from the author. This timescale allows time for the book to be marketed to bookshops months in advance of the official publication date, as this is how the UK book trade operates. It also gives plenty of time for our in-house production team to design a beautiful, commercially appealing, high-quality book.

Find out more about our publishing and submissions process here.

Author Interview – Stephen Anthony Brotherton

With the news of us taking on his third book in the ‘Shots trilogy’, we talked to Stephen Anthony Brotherton to find out more about his writing:

Tell us about your book

The Shots trilogy tell the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who fall in love when they are seventeen, separate and then meet up again thirty-five years later. Presented in first-person vignettes from both of their perspectives, it goes backward and forwards in time to show what happened in their lives together, their lives apart and what happens when they meet up again over three decades later. The trilogy asks a fundamental question: Can the untarnished passion of first love ever be reignited?

What three things do you think your readers should know about you/your writing?

  1. The books are semi-autobiographical and inspired by a first love romance I had at the end of the 1970s/early 1980s.
  2. The books contain a lot of cultural references from that time period, including music, T.V. and film, and they show day to day living in what was a completely different world.
  3. The books explore the psychological impact of earlier life relationships and events, showing how these can tarnish our view of the world and the way in which we engage, or disengage, in relationships.

When did you decide to write your first book?

These stories have been in my head for most of my adult life and it has been a cathartic experience to finally get them down on paper. I started to think more about the psychological impact of earlier life events when I began my career as a Social Worker in the mid-1990s, but the stories have always been there. The Freddie & Jo-Jo trilogy first found its way onto the page as part of a 2000 words assignment on an MA in Creative Writing at Keele University.

How do you like to write? Do you have a routine that you have to follow?

Early morning is best, but there is no structured routine. I get immersed in the flow of the stories, sometimes only realising where the stories are taking me at the end of three or four hours in front of a laptop. It’s then all about the editing. Edit. Edit. Edit. And lots of coffee. That’s a must.

What’s the most important thing you have learned while publishing your books?

Patience. It’s hard, but I’m working on it. I try to remember the reason I’m writing is for me, but it is nice to get the stories published and read by an, hopefully, ever-growing audience. And try not to take the reviews to heart, good, bad or indifferent.

What advice would you give to other budding authors?

Never give up. It’s your story and you have a right for it to be heard.

What’s next in the pipeline for you?

I have an idea for a new book, which I’m going to write as part of ‘NANOWRIMO’ in November. Fingers crossed I can keep up with the word output required.

Another Shot and An Extra Shot are out now! We have a special discount offer available from our bookshop. Enter coupon code ‘FREDDIEJOJO’ at the checkout to buy both books for just £10 (Note: Both books must be in the basket for the coupon code to work)!

IPG Autumn Conference

Our Operations Director, Jane Rowland, and Sales and Marketing Manager Jonathan White attended the Independent Publishers Guild’s (IPG) Autumn Conference in London last week. The IPG Conference is an excellent mix of independent publishers and other representatives from all areas of the UK book trade. There are general presentations and discussions about the major trends in book publishing and retailing. This year the conference was looking at books dealing with breaking rules and on the subject of dissent, but also much more focussed sessions on particular aspects of the book trade.

Here are some of the main points of information about the UK book trade that was discussed during the course of the conference, which our authors might find useful:

One of the main presentations at the conference was a session with representatives from two of the main retail chains, Waterstones and Blackwells, as well as the owner of one of the best children’s independent bookshops, Tales on Moon Lane, representing the independent sector. Blackwell’s explained that now almost a third of their business was coming from online sales and online customer orders. So even a retailer with a traditional bookshop setup is now seeing a huge amount of business coming from the internet. With this in mind, the retailers explained about the key importance of the data associated with the book (metadata) now being correct. This is now almost more important than the selling in of a new title. Because so much of their business is coming from online sales, as long as the book is correctly set up on their system, they will be able to easily order the book to customer demand. This, in turn, then shows the retailers which books they should be stocking in the shops. At Book Guil,d we pride ourselves on the completeness and accuracy of the data we are supplying to the book trade about our books. What the retailers said during this session completely backed up our belief that this accuracy of data will help generate sales of books.

It should be noted that Blackwells and Waterstones have completely different policies in the way they buy books for their chains. Almost all Waterstones buying decisions are made at head office level whereas Blackwells say almost 80% of their buying decisions are still made at branch level. Both of the chains stressed the importance of ‘local interest’ for a book’s possible selection for stocking in one of their shops. Tales on Moon Lane stressed this local interest in selecting books for the independent bookshops and made a point that, as their shops are pretty much stocked to capacity, they have to operate a policy of ‘one in, one out’ when they are making their new titles selection. So it is only worth them replacing one of their titles with a new one if that new title can be proved to make them sales. It is a sad fact that the importance of their stock selling through means they have very little leeway for taking on new books by less well-known authors until they can be sure they will sell through from their shelves.

All of the book retailers stressed the need for their offering to give them something different from the online bookstore. Whether this is the selection of their stock telling a different story, their need to tie in with and support their local community, their use of festivals, author and other events to drive their business, the traditional bookshops are having to look for every way they can to increase their business. The days when shops could wait for customers to just come in have long since passed. Now all retailers need to be as creative as possible in looking for new business. This is another reason why our parent company, Troubador has set up our own Festival Bookshop – so we can take the selling of our books directly to customers. We do not want to just wait for retailers to buy books from us, we decided that we too should be operating as a retailer, whether online or in our Festival Bookshop.

It was not just the traditional bookshop retailers who were doing presentations about their business at the conference. One of the specialist gift wholesalers, Bookspeed, also hosted a session on the differences of selling books in this market. Bookspeed is based in Scotland but does business throughout the UK in the gift and heritage markets – whether supplying the main gift retail chains or all sizes of gift shops attached to stately homes, garden centres or on the high street. They again stressed the need for ‘storytelling’ in their customers’ selection of their products and the importance of curation in selecting the right limited range of books for these shops. For these shops, the keenness of price is less important than the experience of the customer within their shops and the perceived value for their products. A higher priced item is just as good, if not better, in their market if the customer can see the value of the product, and it ties in with the style of the shop.

Several of the retailers working in the library sector explained some of the difficulties of working in this area of the book business. The library sector is one which it is extremely difficult for an independent author, or publisher, to make a success in, with spending budgets being extraordinarily tight and almost all of that budget being used for academic purchasing. With general libraries, you are dealing with many councils and bodies, all with different policies and budgets attached. If you are to be at all successful in this area with a particular title it is vitally important to have an extremely strong business plan as this is such a highly specialist and competitive market. It is still always a good idea for an author to visit their local library to tell them about their new title, but to achieve widespread sales in this area is considerably more difficult.

The BookTrust visited the conference to explain the major problem of trying to increase diversity within the children’s publishing. Although they were specifically looking at children’s publishing, it was a very common theme throughout the conference on how publishing and book retailing needs to increase diversity to appeal to the widest possible audience for books in the future. The BookTrust has identified that particularly within children’s publishing, this diversity is just not there both in the authors and illustrators working in this field but also, and as a result of this first fact, in the positive role models in children’s fiction and picture books. They are therefore taking very active steps to try and reverse this situation.

This is just some of the excellent sessions that took place during the day of this year’s IPG Autumn Conference. We always find these conferences an excellent place to enhance our own information, as well as networking with other publishers and book retailers.