The Influencers

How do you get a bookseller's attention? What's the best way to contact a book blogger? And what is guaranteed to turn an influencer off? We asked 24 influencers these questions, and more. Scroll for all their answers, or click the names below to go straight to the influencer.

Suzanne Azzopardi, executive producer at Literary Death Match

What’s the best way for a publisher to secure an event with you for their author/title?
We sometimes do sponsored events that showcase various authors for a publisher, but mainly the key is to be in touch with us. We love hearing enthusiastic news on new books and authors.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Responsiveness and openness to meeting, chatting, planning ahead. Each publisher works differently - some we regularly correspond with, some we regularly go for coffees with. Picador have always been proactive in talking to us about plans up to a year ahead so we're able to create opportunities and share promotional ideas together.

What should publishers never do?
What we say to everyone (not just publishers) is to come to the show and see it for yourself. The words Literary Death Match can scare people when it's actually the least scary and most enjoyable night of fun. It's about exposing authors to new audiences and breaking the mould of traditional literary events. We don't mind if people aren't into it - but you can't make that decision without knowing what it is.

Damian Barr, founder and host, Damian Barr’s Literary Salon and A Book and A Bottle

What’s the best way for a publisher to secure an event with you for their author/title?
To understand what the Salon is (and more importantly, is not). To know who their author is (and more importantly, is not). Don't blanket pitch - consider each event and author individually.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher?
Granta will contact me as soon as they get a manuscript they know I'll love. Georgina Moore and Nikki Barrow at headline work closely with me to secure exclusive work-in-progress material - for example previewing Patrick Gale and Chris Cleave.

Who has recently caught your attention?
For the right reasons? Serpent's Tail.

What should publishers never do?
Eat mangoes in bed.

Rachael Beale, London Review Bookshop

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
From my ‘day job’ perspective at the Bookshop: information as far in advance as possible! We like to plan our promotions around a theme at least 3 months ahead if we can, and spotting trends and assembling interesting lists is easier with good advance info. Speaking as a reader/general noisy-person-about-books: Everyone who stocks or promotes books is first & foremost a reader who cares about getting great stories into the hands of other readers. So although it sounds obvious: PUBLISH GOOD BOOKS, and speak about them with sincerity.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Serpent’s Tail’s pre-publication campaign for Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent has been a thing of beauty, and has built great word-of-mouth enthusiasm on social media amongst ‘real’ readers as well as the industry. Early proofs (6 months in advance), a ‘one month to go’ mail-out of Essex Serpent temporary tattooes - but otherwise minimal gimmicks, and crucially an engaged author. Oh, and the finished copy is GORGEOUS.

What should publishers never do?
Blanket mailouts of titles I’m highly unlikely to be interested in is a distressing waste of effort. The best publicists & marketers are those who remember enough about who they’re contacting to match the book to the reader. Attention to detail matters to book geeks.

Hannah Beckerman, author and journalist

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
Building up a relationship (that's obviously a two-way thing) so that when a publicist or editor contacts me telling me I'll love a book, I know that they understand my tastes well enough to trust that they're right, and prioritise it accordingly.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Last year, Katie Espiner (then at Borough Press) sent me a print-out of 'The Trouble With Goats and Sheep', together with a note explaining why she and the author - Joanna Cannon - thought I might love it. I didn't know Katie or Jo at all at the time, but the way Katie pitched the book made it clear she knew my tastes and it was a targeted early mail-out to twenty reviewers. Even though it was a year to publication, the tone of Katie's hand-written note made me want to read it immediately. And she was right - I loved it.

What should publishers never do?
Persistent group emails are totally ineffective. If a publisher really cares about a title - and believes it's one you'll love too - they'll make the effort to get in touch personally. But my personal bug-bear is publicists who ignore requests for proof copies, even when you're reviewing them for the national press. If copies aren't yet available for whatever reason, just let me know - I'll always happily read a pdf or Word print-out. It sounds obvious, but communication is key.

Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
The best relationships we have with publishers are where we build strong connections with reps and folk at head office in sales, publicity, marketing and even editorial. We don’t want to hear from a publisher which book they think are going to be their bestselling books across the nation. We want to hear their thoughts on the books that we might do well with or might like and therefore hand-sell in bucket loads. And for a publisher to be able to tell us that, they need to know a little about what us, our shop and our customers; which means, of course, that it’s incumbent on us to tell them which books work for us and to keep them updated on what’s selling in our shop and being talked about by our customers. Any book promotion that begins with this high degree of understanding of what might work for us particularly, and not the market generally, is always destined for success.

What should publishers never do?
An indie business owner should never tell another business owner “never” to do something, but here are a few less ideal practices. I’m not mad keen on receiving POS packages for books that I haven’t requested or been offered. A publisher shouldn’t assume that its bestseller is going to be our bestseller. I’ve seen a couple of occasions where we’ve reported back on great promotion/sales efforts of a book that was apparently not on the publisher’s top priority list and then received a deeply underwhelming response from the publisher. That’s not great.

Francesca Brown, literary editor at Stylist

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
I always find face-to-face meetings with PRs tend to make the greatest impression on me - there are a few people I trust and if they say it's good it goes straight to the top of the pile.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Picador's Not Working came with glowing reviews from Kate Green and Lucie Cuthbertson Twiggs and I was chomping at the bit to read it (the fact they delivered it on a Saturday morning with breakfast made me think even more kindly towards it). Similarly, Poppy North at Penguin has spoken to me so passionately about Yaa Gyasi's forthcoming Homegoing, I started it on the bus on the way home from our meeting. If a press person truly believes in the book then I'm more willing to give it a go.

What should publishers never do?
I find it incredibly frustrating when someone will send me a blurb about a book but fail to mention when it's actually released and I have to go hunting into the attached word document which is always a faff. Name, author, release date, synopsis - please put them in the actual email. Also don't dismiss readerships - just because we're a women's mag doesn't mean we're not interested in politics and biographies.

Isabel Costello, blogger at The Literary Sofa

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
The best publicists invest in relationships. I always take notice of a personal email from someone who knows me/the blog saying they've got something I might like. They're often right.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
I liked the clickable widget from Harper Collins for an instant download of NEST by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. It was only valid for three days so it was a case of 'do it now or miss out'. Luckily there's no time limit to read the book.

What should publishers never do?
It's bad form for publishers not to share/retweet free exposure such as reviews or guest posts, particularly as the blogger and author are giving up their time. Most are very good at doing this but it surprises me how often it happens.

Rebecca Davies, assistant buyer media and electronics at Urban Outfitters

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
Time is always short for me, so I ask my sales reps to present an edit of their lists rather than the whole lot. This is fairly standard practice across the industry, but as what I am looking for is arguably a bit more difficult to pinpoint, the understanding my rep has of my business is key to Urban Outfitters stocking their books. If you don't get our business, you're not going to present lines I want to buy. Publishers who take feedback on book covers and make actions accordingly are always onto a winner. As a fashion brand, the cover image, colours and finish are really important and will mean I won't buy a book even if the subject and content are right. At Urban Outfitters, we love our community of customers and engaging with them as much as possible. Publishers often support us with competitions, such as winning a holiday by sending in the best travel photograph, in connection with a particular book. I love that we can do this in a way many other retailers can't, so this is a big plus for me.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
We have a longstanding relationship with Summersdale for our gifting titles. They are amazing at listening to what we want and coming up with the goods. I say 'I want a book on unicorns!' - six months later, it's being published.

What should publishers never do?
Assume they know more about your market than you do. For me, over-saturating the market with a book or range of books is a bad thing. It's the goal of the publisher to sell as many books as possible, but if a title is available everywhere, it damages my sales as my range is not unique. If a publisher tells me 'everyone is going to stock this book, it's going to be a bestseller!' - I don't want it.

Natalia de la Ossa, manager of the London Review Bookshop

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
The first thing is the relationship we have with the reps: we forge a relationship of trust, so when we are presented with a book, we hope they’re showing us what is good for our customers. For small independent shops, the value of the discounts, even when orders are small, is vital.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
All the publishers we work with are very supportive of our shop, but I am always impressed by the small publishers like Europa Editions and Fitzcarraldo. I think Europa has worked relentlessly to translate and promote Elena Ferrante’s books – a simple, straightforward campaign.

What should publishers never do?
I would like to think that all bookshops are treated equally, not only in terms of discounts but also in stock availability, so bookstores get the books at the same time. I find it very frustrating when a good title reaches the big shops before we get it.

Zarina de Ruiter, blogger at PagetoStagereviews.com

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract attention to their books?
Be creative and don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd. There are too many similar looking novels in the shops that try to capitalise on the success of a recent bestseller, I can't even count on two hands how often in the last few months I've read titles in catalogues being compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl and it is making me suffer from Girl-fatigue! Creativity and diversity is key, not just for authors but also for publishers when pitching titles to reviewers/bloggers (this includes listings within catalogues) and in blurbs and cover designs.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Publishers that go one step further than solely focusing on getting their own books in hands are the ones that truly stand out to me. In the blogging community Bookbridgr is a great example and for the general public those that bring something special to readers beyond the pages of book. A great example is Pan Macmillan's My Kinda Book Club tour taking place in June, where some of their hottest YA authors are touring Waterstones' across the country. Rather than just being about their own books and authors, Pan Mac are collaborating with Bloomsbury, David Fickling Books, Hot Key Books, Scholastic and Walker Books, focusing on the add-on for readers rather than just selling their own titles.

What should publishers never do?
Send unsolicited books that don't fall within the genres the reviewer/blogger covers, and then repeatedly chase them to request coverage (often within an unreasonable time frame too). We love books and want to shout about our favourites far and wide, but our preferences are also very personal and we know which genres we like and which we don't. It's in the interest of everyone, not in the least the publishers themselves as they only have a limited run of proofs, to make sure that books fall in the right hands. Not the influencers with the largest audiences, but the right influencers with the right audiences.

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival

What’s the best way for a publisher to secure an event with you for their author/title?
We read books as soon as we can. I talk to two or three publishers every day, and have a full catalogue meeting with publicists twice a year. The most important thing is just to have the information about what publishers are planning. Then we can work out how best to collaborate to amplify the impact and reach of the books we most love. Hay is a four-part project - there’s the event itself in Wales that runs in May for 11 days; there’s the campaign that runs in April and May in bookshops, through media partnerships, in libraries, education networks, book clubs and our own 120,000 mailing list; the broadcast element of this - and specifically the BBC partnership also informs the digital afterlife - which focuses on how we distribute audio and video; and then there are the eight international festivals we run and our sister festivals, and our Global Strategic Partnership with the British Council, with whom we work to platform people globally. The best publishers look at how to engage the full spectrum of what Hay offers.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
I have an incredibly strong and productive relationship with Kate Farquhar Thompson at OUP, who teaches me more about publishing every year.  And I have a lot of mates who are agents or publishers who are a vital and thrilling source of counsel, sneak-peak teasing, and wicked gossip. But honestly - publishers are bloody good at what they do.  There’s great work everywhere, and there’s no one model.

What should publishers never do?
Three things, but they’re all really basic: never give up pushing books you love; remember that festivals are not bookshops, that they are live events and that bookselling is vital but secondary; don’t over-hype people, it never works out well.

Naomi Frisby, blogger at The Writes of Woman

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
Tweet about them. Make sure your tweet includes a picture of the cover. I'm always looking out for them and it's a quick and easy way to get my attention. If you particularly want me to see something @ me or send me a DM.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Alison Barrow, Transworld, and Georgina Moore, Headline, are both brilliant on Twitter. They're very passionate about the books they're representing; you'd have to be very cynical not to be caught up in it. On a personal level, Isabel Blake at Bloomsbury sent me a DM recently pitching Show Me a Mountain by Kerry Young. She thought it would appeal to me and fit with #ReadDiverse2016; it's always impressive when you can see someone's considered the fit between book and reviewer.

What should publishers never do?
Pitch books to individuals which don't fit their site. I get a significant amount of emails about books written by men although I only cover work by women; it's irritating for me and a mishit for the publisher.

Cathy Galvin, founder and director of Word Factory

What’s the best way for a publisher to secure an event with you for their author/title?
Get in early. The shape, though not the fine detail, of 2017 will be planned in August this year. Throughout 2016, I curated a celebration of contemporary short writers on classic female short story writers - classes, new work and events including David Constantine, Janice Galloway, Tessa Hadley, Neil Gaiman, Helen Simpson, Tobias Wolff, AL Kennedy, David Vann, Marina Warner, Lionel Shriver and Michele Roberts. We also worked with smaller presses and newer voices including KJ Orr and Joanna Walsh.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Harper Collins, Penguin and Faber have all been pro-active. Harper Collins ensured we laid on a London launch for Tracy Chevalier's anthology inspired by Charlotte Bronte, Reader I Married Him, by contacting me a few months in advance. There were readings from Tracy Chevalier, Helen Dunmore and Evie Wylde. Joanna Briscoe, Esther Freud and Lionel Shriver joined us for a fantastic discussion. Similarly, Faber have ensured we will be doing a London launch for their Sex and Death anthology, edited by Peter Hobbs and Sarah Hall.  

What should publishers never do?
Never confuse short with small. The Word Factory not only runs acclaimed live events, it's website, films and social media reach an audience of over 20,000 a month and the numbers are growing. Though short fiction focussed, we celebrate excellence in fiction and occasionally non-fiction. So don't just think short stories - think bigger than that and remember: poets and novelists write short stories too.

Viv Groskop, writer

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
There is so much competition for coverage now that the individual, personalised approach is the only one that really stands out. If a publicist has noted who I’ve reviewed in the past and given me a good reason that the book they’re promoting fits in with a pattern of what I’m interested in, that usually works. Notice is also important: Rebecca Gray at Orion has just contacted me six months in advance of Maria Semple’s new title coming out because she knows I’m a fan.

What should publishers never do?
Blanket mailings of books that I would never review seem impossible to stop and it makes me weep for the waste of money and resources, not to mention the strain on the postman. Why are publishers still doing this? I’ve never reviewed more than six or seven books a month (now two or three is more common) and it’s not unusual to receive three hundred books a month unsolicited to my home address. I actually cut back on reviewing last year because this was driving me so crazy.

Katy Guest, freelance book reviewer, editor, writer and journalist

What's the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
Always send an advance review copy (about a month to six weeks ahead of publication was best for me) with the publication date marked clearly on the press release. Send me an email to alert me to one or two books that you really think I should look at, by all means. And if you have any good ideas for pieces that the author could write, or books diary stories that are funny and unusual, I'd always be happy to hear those. Do bear in mind deadlines. Most books sections are weekly, and most are probably planned and commissioned at least two weeks in advance. My pages for the Independent on Sunday went to press on the Thursday of each week, reviews were commissioned a fortnight ahead and interviews much further in advance. Also, when you receive books by the sack full every day, the odd striking or beautiful one does tend to stick around on the shelves and in the lit ed's mind. Please don't wrap up books to look like Christmas presents or bottles of champagne or Valentines cards, that can only lead to disappointment when they turn out to be just another book, after all!

Can you provide an example of publisher best practice?
I don't know about "best practice", but here was a good idea: when Canongate sent me the advance proof of Tasha Kavanagh's Things We Have in Common, which is narrated by a teenage girl, the publicist had copied out the first page in her best teenage handwriting, and slipped it in alongside the press release. It caught my attention, so I read it. Then I wanted to read more. I ended up championing that book all year. It helped that it was a very strong novel, of course... Or, for Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, which is coming out this November, Hodder sent a very early sample in blank covers, with a note asking the reviewer to "read without prejudice". That got my attention, I think that sort of thing shows confidence in the book itself.

What should publishers never do when trying to get you to review one of their titles?
Call it "the next Dan Brown" or "the next Gone Girl" or the next anything. I'm not interested in the latest pale imitation of the last big thing - for a journalist, that's not news. I genuinely want to make the effort to help you bring readers the next big thing - and whatever that is, it will be completely different from the last. They also shouldn't send a copy too late, or embargo it until too late, or otherwise make it difficult for a literary editor to get it reviewed. I received about 200 books every week, so I was always looking for reasons not to review something. If you give me a reason, it makes the decision not to review that book a little bit easier. (And maybe by taking it out of the picture, it allows a chance for that next big thing to get through!) Actually, any big new novel by a famous name that is so "strictly embargoed" that reviewers aren't allowed to see copies until after publication date (when readers have already pre-ordered thousands of copies), well that seems to show a complete lack of confidence in the book, doesn't it? With a couple of exceptions, when that happens you just know that the book is going to be rubbish, and I'd rather just give it a miss and try to find something that is worth my readers' attention instead.

David Headley, managing director of Goldsboro Books

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
The best relationships with publishers are built by effective sales reps who know their books and know what would work of us the customer, presenting titles efficiently and regularly, asking how help might be given to promote. Discussing plans beforehand with marketing and publicity so they bring ideas to the table when they're presenting the title in question.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
There are a number of brilliant people in publishing who work tirelessly for their books and authors. A stand out example for us is Alison Barrow at Transworld who starts the conversation early regarding featured and lead titles with ideas about point of sale, events, editions, etc. Coming up with ideas together in how to support a title that they believe will be big to start that all important word-of mouth campaign.

What should publishers never do?
Agree prices/editions and then change their mind. If a bookshop wishes to get behind a book and promote it why would you put a barrier in the way? Some publishers have actively wished to cash-in on this effectively alienating bookshops. Decisions on format need to be agreed and stuck to before publication rather that getting cold feet. Stop being risk averse. Engage better with booksellers and listen to them, they know their customers and what readers like.  

Ted Hodgkinson, senior programmer for literature and spoken word at the Southbank Centre

What’s the best way for a publisher to secure an event with you for their author/title?
At Southbank Centre we tend to programme by festival, so publishers who do their homework about our upcoming themes, or get in touch to ask, receive our undivided attention.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
I’ve been impressed by those who suggest pairings with authors published elsewhere, or even speakers from other fields entirely. Profile have taken this approach recently, and even if we don’t always go with their suggestions, it illustrates how their authors are part of a lively cultural conversation, and that they’re willing to go the extra mile to make the event distinctive.

What should publishers never do?
They should never arrange another event in London shortly before or after their event with us. Though I can understand wanting to make the most of an author’s time, multiple London events risk spreading audiences thinly, instead of making one event really count.

Daphne Lao Tonge, blogger at Winged Reviews and owner, Illumicrate

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract attention to their books?
Building up buzz far in advance of publication and even in advance of proofs being sent out. Getting the public so excited before anyone has ever read anything is always a great tactic, because you can't beat that sense of longing and want in people. When I do end up getting a proof for a highly anticipated book, I always give it priority. Ways to do this I've found effective are: having the author talk about the book in advance (during blogger events), teaser quotes, Pinterest mood boards, releasing artwork of the cover, sending teaser items before the actual proof. Also, a well packaged ARC attracts a lot of attention. I think US publishers do this really well (probably because they have more budget), but boxes, props, bespoke bookmarks/postcards, add a lot of value and personally makes me want to photograph the package and share it.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Faber do a fantastic job with this. They don't have a lot of titles so they can give the titles the time it needs. For The Graces [by Laure Eve], we got introduced to the book by the author during a blogger brunch, then a month or two later got a package with a quote and a candle, then later bloggers were asked to participate in a cover reveal, then proofs were sent out. Slow building of buzz was really great. It also helps if the author is as great on social media as Laure Eve is.

What should publishers never do?
Send books unsolicited. I know a lot of publishers still do this, and I have gotten some amazing books this way. However, the majority of books I get unsolicited, I'm not interested in. To be honest, I feel that the exercise is a waste for both them and the recipient. I know that sometimes it ruins the surprise factor and general social media excitement when they send something you're not expecting, but they know you'll love. Personally though, this approach has a very low hit rate for me. I think it would save time and money if publishers asked for requests either in the open or emailed first.

Sam Leith, literary editor at The Spectator

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract attention to their books?
For us, with our long lead times, it's to send us a bound proof or a finished copy as far in advance as possible, to the correct address, with a properly proofread press-release enclosed with publication details.  (If you haven't got material early, but it's a book you think will have a serious chance of consideration, it might make sense to drop me a line to let me know about it so I can make a plan.) Most of the work will be done for you by the book - author, subject, publisher, blurb and synopsis, sample pages I flick etc. As long as you ensure I've seen it your work is basically done. Also do bother to know the outlet you're sending to. Why send A-format paperback reissues to a magazine that only reviews first publication?

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
It's as simple as the above. Most major publishers do that. Allen Lane, Bloomsbury and Profile seem to be particularly good about getting stuff to us in a timely manner, but it's invidious to single people out. Though I do know and sympathise with smaller publishers who lack their resources, and do everything I can to make allowances.   

What should publishers never do?
I speak only for the Spectator, but sending without warning a book that you published last week is worse than useless. We work a month or more in advance. Likewise, not including a pub date -- some UPs do this - is a pain because then I have to track you down and or use the only semi-reliable Amazon. Minor irritations are endless press-releases and follow-ups. "Flagging up"; "just checking you received"; "we're all very excited"; "perfect for fans of"; "x meets y" -- most of these are mostly a waste of your time because if everyone does them it's the same as nobody doing them and if you multiply five emails (flagging up; I'm about to send; just checking you got; wanted to hear what you thought; can you let me know when a review will run) by the 2-300 books we get a week you can see how little effect they'll have. Target your efforts. Don't suggest reviewers (that's my job). And whimsical campaigns involving little packets of sweets, confetti, books wrapped like presents, glow-in-the-dark or metallic padded bags... I can't think of a single lit ed who will do anything other than sigh at those.

Cathy Rentzenbrink, author and associate editor at The Bookseller

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
Media nights are a great idea and very useful. I like inventive and playful proof design and am amused by props in the package, though would advise against glitter that goes all over the floor and packages tied up with string as they are time consuming and fiddly to open. This is very basic but I like full biblo details in a really obvious place on the proof itself and it should always include month of publication. I can get a bit grumpy when I have to look stuff up that should be to hand. (I’m aware that sounds princessy but most journalists will be working by month and on the receiving end of piles of post so anything that slows down the sorting process is annoying.) Obviously, this can’t happen with every book but I’m most impressed when I get a note that intelligently and thoughtfully recommends something because of its relationship to something else I’ve written about.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
I thought Nikki Barrow’s campaign for Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven was a thing of beauty and a pretty perfect collaboration between marketing and publicity. Kate Green from Picador showed grace under fire in the very movable feast that was the publishing journey of A Little Life. I’m continually in awe of and in love with the great Alison Barrow from Transworld and I’d like to invent a new award to present to Charlotte Bush from Cornerstone who manages global campaigns with style and aplomb.

What should publishers never do?
Publicists have to juggle their obligations to an individual book and author with the longer game of relationship building. Integrity and trust are the most important elements of the publicity toolkit and shouldn’t be compromised.

Simon Savidge, blogger at Savidge Reads

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?
Genuine passion and enthusiasm alongside matching the right book to me by looking at what I love. You can tell when a publicist is flogging you a book they ‘have’ to push to everyone rather than one that is actually right for you.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
I think Katie Espiner did a brilliant job with Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. She passionately put the book in my hands, told me to read and it said if I didn’t she would kill me. She also got people who loved it to recommend three people who loved it and look how fantastically that worked.

What should publishers never do?
1. Hound you, blogging is a passion not a job. 2. Make it obvious you are part of a mass email even if you are. I know there are lots of bloggers out there; the more focused and personal a pitch is to me the more likely I am going to rush to that book though.

Jasper Sutcliffe, head of buying at Foyles

How can publishers best work with you to stock and promote their books?
Get books into booksellers' hands. I love to receive proofs and I share as many as I can but the people who really need to see them are those guys on the shopfloor. They are the super fans and they have the contact with the customers. Get in early. Let us know as far in advance as possible that an important title is coming.  We don't mind if it's a year ahead, the earlier we start planning the better. Extra content, videos, Q&A's, blogs etc. Pre-pub author visits to shops are great but please speak with us beforehand to coordinate.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
Penguin Little Black Classics was fantastic for us last year. The combination of a very strong online and in-store presence paid off handsomely. We also worked with Jonathan Cape on a limited edition, pre-publication pamphlet of debut novelist Daisy Johnson's Fen. The pamphlet contained two short stories from the collection, 150 copies were produced and we sold them all in a matter of hours. Oneworld and their work around Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings both pre and post-Booker win.

What should publishers never do?
Send too much publicity material. Our office is small and boxes within boxes within boxes filled with packaging and only one book is not helpful. Inbox busting emails with screen grabs of publicity/review coverage - they get deleted straight away. Less is more. Don't do show cards.

Farah Taylor, manager at Alef Bookstores

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract attention to their books and stock them?
Proofs. Via showcase events, highlighting upcoming authors. Sending monthly emails about proofs available with a very short description about the book. Via Twitter. Well put together catalogues work for very small publishers.

Could you name an example of best practice from a publisher? Who has recently caught your attention?
A few of the events that have caught my attention and ended with me supporting books that I probably would not have picked up from rep visits or catalogues.
Hodder Showcase - a sit down dinner event with the publisher talking about new books on their lists followed by readings.
Picador Showcase - I couldn't attend this year's event, but Picador's events are always a great way of introducing booksellers to new authors and books.
Bloomsbury Children's Brunch - A lovely idea where booksellers were invited to go through their upcoming key children's books. IT was a two-way event where the publisher also got some feedback from booksellers about what works in children's bookselling.
Little Tiger Summer Splash - An interesting thought for an event, where buyers are invited to attend with their children. I haven't been to this yet as it's in July, but it's definitely caught my attention, as I'm sure the books on the list will too.
When there are so many books out there competing for your attention, marketing for them needs to be memorable.

What should publishers never do?
Send out proofs haphazardly without thinking about who they are sending them too. Not engage with bookshops at all and rarely provide any form of engagement or go too crazy on Twitter with incessant tweets about one or two books.

Marilyn Warnick, Mail on Sunday literary editor

What’s the best way for a publisher to attract your attention to their books?

Informative emails – which can be shared with editors on our various desks as needed – can be preferable to AI sheets in the post although the latter can be photocopied if they arrive with a proof. One A4 page is ideal with clear contact details at the bottom. Precise  pub dates are crucial information – not just the month but the day and month.

Prompt replies from publicists when we request either an interview with an author - or a piece by them  - are much appreciated. Some publicists don’t bother getting back at all and have to be chased repeatedly. A clear ‘no, thanks’ is always preferable to an unprofessional failure to answer.

Telephone calls are rarely effective… don’t tell us, show us why a book is of interest, please.

With books about previously well-trodden historical subjects –  the two World Wars, Churchill, spies, the era of Henry VIII  etc, be prepared to explain what, if anything,  is genuinely new. Have any never before seen letters, diaries or recently  opened government documents been accessed by the author?     Are there any never before published photographs? Has someone relevant who has never talked before finally given an interview? And then please explain exactly where in the book we will find the fresh information – intro?  Epilogue? Chapter 13?

With first novels – is there an exceptionally interesting back story that might be a hook for an interview? Is it autobiographical?