Friday, 25 April 2014

Blog Tour: Maura Brickell of Riot Communications talks Publicity & The Year of the Rat!

The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss || Release date: April 24th 2014

I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over.

But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another.

The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…


Guest Post: Maura Brickell talks publicising The Year of the Rat 

Maura Brickell

Now, obviously, I am completely biased, but I absolutely love The Year of The Rat and feel very lucky to be part of the publishing process for such a special book.

Very briefly, my role has included securing reviews, interviews, and features across print, online and broadcast. All these things aim to raise awareness, get people talking, encourage potential readers to discover, engage with and, ultimately, buy the book.

Just as every book is different and every author is an individual, every publicity campaign is bespoke – right from ideas stage, on to planning and then securing coverage, every aspect of the campaign is carefully thought out. So, here is how we publicised #ThatRatBook:

1. THE BOOK: first step is reading the book to get a sense of key themes, understanding the plot and getting to know the characters. We’ll be telling the world about this book, so it’s important that we know exactly what we are sharing.

2. THE PLAN: at Riot Communications, we all get together and thrash out ideas so that our campaign covers all the bases in the most creative way possible. This can be anything from topics for discussion on radio, to a big stunt or even a theme for a blog tour. Then we begin planning how to make our ideas happen. Everything from who should get a proof to, what the author could talk or write about and how we make The Year of the Ratthe most talked about YA debuts of the year. Knowing that encouraging the blogging and vlogging world to take the book to their hearts would be vital, we wanted to create a hashtag to collect conversation together and, after much discussion, #ThatRatBook was born!

3. THE AUTHOR: meeting the author is always very important for me - working closely with writers is one of the main reasons I wanted to work in publishing in the first place. This process is especially important with debut novels, as it gives you a sense of why the author wrote their book, what they want the world to know about them, what they feel comfortable doing and saying and, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk them through our ideas and plan.

4. GETTING THE BOOKS OUT INTO THE WORLD: this is where we work hard to get the book into the right hands – firstly via a proof mailing to selected journalists, broadcasters, other authors and key influencers. These people get a huge number of books every day, so to ensure The Year of the Rat grabbed their attention, we gift wrapped the proofs and tied them with Pearl and Rose ribbons - inspired by the names of the characters. Hopefully, contacts felt like they were getting something special. We’ll also meet up with contacts specifically to tell them about a book and share our love for it. It will almost certainly come up in conversation at other book events and in conversations with other people in publishing. Basically, we begin championing the book and sharing our enthusiasm for it.

THE PITCH: once we know exactly what coverage we want and where, we begin to put together our pitches. This can be done in person, over the phone or on email. We’ll share an idea, details about the book and the reasoning why we think it might work for them. This process can also work both ways, once contacts know about the book they often contact us with their own ideas as to how they’d like to cover the book.

THE CHASE: with so many books vying for space in the media, sometimes you’ll need to nudge, cajoule and persuade a contact about your idea. This is more commonly known as ‘chasing’ and needs to be done very carefully and requires just the right level of enthusiastic persistence so as not to annoy anyone. Over the years, you get to know when to push and when to let something go and you also get to know media contacts much better, so that the whole process is much more enjoyable.

THE COVERAGE: Once the coverage is agreed, we are then responsible for making it happen: asking the author to write something or arranging for the author to meet a journalist. We arrange timings, transport and keep the author up to speed with what is expected of them. Often we might go along to the interview to make sure everything runs smoothly or work with an author on a feature, if they need our imput.

So, after much pitching, pushing and championing, we are really pleased to have secured The Year of the Rat some great coverage which, we hope, will launch it into the world and help it sell lots and lots of beautiful books. Oh and I'll give you an exclusive: Clare Furniss is wonderful to work with!


Maura Brickell is Campaigns Director at Riot Communications.  Follow her on Twitter @Red_Books

For more information on author Clare Furniss and The Year of The Rat

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