Behind the Scenes Archive
Katie Ffforde meeting at the publishers29/01/2015|229th January 2015
Promoting Katie's novels13/03/2014|213th March 2014
Katie Fforde and I joined Random House at around the same time - I'd left a teeny independent to become the publicist for the Century and Arrow imprints just as Katie's first novel, Life Skills went on sale. I've worked on the promotion of her novels ever since; in the early days I handled Katie's campaigns on my own but as my role has changed and grown within the company I began working in tandem with another publicist and for 6 years I worked with Amelia Harvell.
Amelia has now moved and our new publicist, Rose Tremlett, is now working with me on the new hardback, The Perfect Match.
Katie has always had a very dedicated fan base so a key part of the publicity strategy has been to get Katie out and about meeting her fans and her many supporters across the book trade. We’ve had some memorable events over the years - some huge audiences in libraries across the country from Plymouth to Formby and some amazing support from the indies as well as with the high street retailers.
In the early days I would drive Katie from town to town to sign stock - it seems funny now to think that we managed without a satnav, mainly because Katie isn't the best map-reader in the world and I have no sense of direction. And yes, we have been known to follow a bus simply because it had our destination on the front! Last week, Katie nipped up to Heathrow Terminal 5 to sign stock there and over the course of the next few months she we've got various signings and festivals lined up to support the books.
Securing coverage for women's fiction can be tough - some of the newspapers just don't review it - so our focus has been to get coverage for Katie and her books in the women's magazines - places we know a lot of her potential readers will be. And a helpful hook has been Katie's support of the RNA so we've been able to pitch her as a champion of romantic fiction, something of course she feels very strongly about! When Katie's adult children returned to live with her, we were able to pitch this into the papers and magazines for a feature
and over the years we've tried all sorts of ideas to draw attention to the books, whether that be devising a recipe with a local celebrity chef to securing a spot for Katie on the shopping channel, QVC.
Local support has also been really key - from Katie's local bookshop in Stroud to the local media like BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswold Life magazine - and Katie can usually be relied upon for a good photo opportunity in support of a good cause.
What has really changed is how much opportunities have opened up for Katie as the world has become more digital. Katie was an early adopter on Twitter and I know she loves talking to her fans and friends that way. We also introduced Katie to some key bloggers at a party in Soho a couple of years ago and these have been an amazing support to Katie in covering not only her new novel each year but also her digital short stories.
With the current book, we had an early brainstorm meeting to discuss the themes in the book and possible feature ideas. Katie always does meticulous research for her books - not just on the internet! She's even been on a Ray Mears survival course. For The Perfect Match, Katie spent time out and about with an estate agent and she could also draw on her sister's recent experiences of house hunting, and Katie did reluctantly tell me that the fussy house hunters in the book are actually modelled on her sister and her husband! We also talked thought more personal things and Katie has just written a piece for one of the national newspapers about her recent cancer scare. We're busy right now speaking to lots of journalists about Katie and I'm looking forward to raising a glass to Katie and her new book. I think it is fair to say that working with Katie is never like real work and she's an author I am proud to call my friend.Charlotte BushPublicity DirectorThe Katie Fforde Team
Going once, going twice, sold!06/03/2014|26th March 2014
My name is Andrew Sauerwine and I am the Sales Manager for the UK market at Katie’s publishers, which means that I oversee a team of Key Account Managers who sell to the biggest customers in the UK, including supermarkets, high street customers, such as Waterstones, W H Smith and online.
Some people think that sales people only face away from the business at retailers, but the approach here is to ensure that the sales team is involved internally in the total strategic overview, marketing & packaging of both the hardback & paperback approaches from point of acquisition. This works in two key ways. It ensures that the sales team are able to advise on where Katie sells best and what sales pattern we expect so we’re sure we’re targeting the right type of customer & importantly that we’re targeting the retailers that will allow us to sell to that end consumer. It also ensures that when you’re working on a repeating brand such as Katie the sales team fully understand what direction we’re taking Katie in, how the consumer insight affects our positioning, packaging & advertising so we are in a position to clearly upsell ‘how’ we are going to grow Katie’s fan base further.
Our first chance to really sell Katie’s books comes at our 4-monthly presentations with retailers and both A Perfect Match and The French Affair were presented in September 2013 as they fall into the spring publication cycle for sell in. At this meeting we present only our biggest books, with the highest expectations, and as Katie’s a No.1 bestseller she certainly falls into that category! It’s our first chance to talk about how we’re launching Katie’s new book, whether there’s something topical in the story itself we’re using as a great hook for publicity, how we’ve packaged & pitched her & what the plan is to engage a wider audience & bring them through the retailers doors with their credit cards at the ready. With an author like Katie, the retailers already know & love her books, so our emphasis is less on getting them to read the books, though fans do always ask for copies, but more on what the wider opportunities are to get this book to the widest possible market. At this pitch we also lay out what promotional slots we want for Katie and any bespoke plans for in store or joint consumer activity to drive bigger sales, alongside our sales expectation for the titles bearing all these factors in mind. This topline presentation will normally have a senior member of the sales team involved plus the Key Account Manager who handles the day to day management of the account. We’ll also get useful feedback form the buyers, does the retailer buy into our positioning & message, is our pricing model something their customer will respond too? We then feedback this information if we feel it may negatively affect the performance of Katie’s books. At these presentations it’s important to bear in mind that we sometimes only have a couple minutes to pitch our books, so we have to use the time wisely!
After these presentations we have follow up meetings about 3 months before publication on average. Waterstones and W H Smith have monthly visits, supermarkets tend to be quarterly, and at these meets we spend longer talking about each title and the strategy as we have greater detail as we are a lot closer to actual publication. The Key Account Managers also have a lot of administration to do at this point, ensuring the retailers have the right pub date, isbn, prices, formats and unit cost so there’s no issue with ordering as we approach publication. Beyond this point we work closely with the individual retailers to realise the in store promotional vision we have discussed and keep them up to date on our plans, opportunities as they arise and any key publicity that will effect sales. At this juncture we won’t have deals agreed with the retailers, and with some retailers, the supermarkets in particular we won’t know until a month before publication what promotional slot we have in store (Book of the week, in the top ten in chart etc) and what volume of Katie’s books they want, so we work right to the wire.Once we know where we are promotionally, and what numbers we have out in stores on publication (which is called a sub number, or subscription number) we can advise on print runs to our logistics teams & forecast where we expect to be in terms of sales in the first few weeks so we can ensure stock levels are where they need to be. Once this is done, the main part of our sales team push is in place for Katie, and we very much hand over to our marketing and publicity colleagues to persuade the consumers to get out there and buy her wonderful books so they fly off the shelves!Andrew SauerwineUK Sales ManagerThe Katie Fforde Team
Behind the 'International' Scenes19/02/2014|219th February 2014
Hundreds of thousands of Katie Fforde books are sold all over the world; from the suburbs of Sydney and New Zealand to the thriving cities of New Delhi and Hong Kong. But how do Katie’s books make it to all corners of the globe and then sell like hot cakes in every market?
Well, it all starts at the Head Quarters of Random House UK where the masterminds in the International Sales team plot to supply the world with Katie Fforde books. As soon as we know a new book is scheduled (in this case we’re all looking forward to The Perfect Match in March 2014) then we all spring into action to tackle the global market:
One of the first decisions we have to make in International Sales is to decide whether to create a Trade Paperback (think GIANT over-sized paperback like the ones you see in WHS at the airport) which we would normally release alongside the UK hardcover edition and later on whether to create an A-format (this is like a miniature, cute looking paperback). To illustrate the formats check out the photo of my colleague Bree, holding the little and large ones!
The reason we have different formats is simply the fact that these formats sell best overseas.
We have already of course scheduled a trade paperback for The Perfect Match which will release globally on 13th March 2014.
Mission: Random House Global Offices
Random House is truly a global publisher. We have offices in Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa but it’s not simply a case of telling them ‘You must order 50,000 copies of The Perfect Match and sell them all.’ In fact I wish it was that easy!
Instead, we have to sell the books to them just as if they were a bookshop customer. Then they will decide how many copies they think they can sell in their market.
Once they’ve decided how many copies they will take, they will then devise and implement their own marketing and publicity plans.
Operation: Open Markets
We also have Area Sales Managers dotted around Europe and Asia who have established relationships with booksellers in every country. We provide our sales teams with catalogues, point of sale, order forms, presentation slides and much more so they have all the material they need to sell to their customers and stock shelves with more Fforde titles.
To sum up, we supply the world with Katie’s books and when it comes to marketing and publicity we devise tailored campaigns to attract readers from each market. Katie already has a huge fan base internationally which will continue to grow as she writes more and more. We love Katie!
International Marketing Manager
The Katie Fforde Team