to publishers

‘Susanne McDadd has all the marketing and publicity skills that authors need to call upon when confronted by the bewildering process of publishing a book. Her confident approach to the public and her knowledge of design, presentation and outlets for reviews made my Animal Rights and Wrongs, which began life as an obscure pamphlet, into the best-known book on the subject.’ – Roger Scruton

Areas of Activity

Publishing Services has evolved since its launch in June 2002. During our inception we simply provided add-on marketing services to publishers. However, since our association with Central Books and Phil Richards Sales our focus has been on helping smaller publishers grow. We provide access – both directly and indirectly – to the various functions offered by a mainstream publisher. You as publisher benefit because you do not have the financial or human expense of bringing these services in-house.

We also accept that at some stage you will wish to leave the Publishing Services ‘umbrella’, have your own contract with Central Books, and/or take on your own staff.

It is important, however, to be realistic about the level of turnover at which this is feasible. On the distribution side, this might be after turnover exceeds £150,000. On the sales side, the threshold will be higher, because key account buyers have limited slots available, and it is more time-effective for them to see key accounts managers able to present a range of books. This is not to say we believe in the accumulation of more and more lists as a way of building turnover, as this is diametrically opposed to our strategy. The key is to achieve the right balance.

Although our focus is on helping build sales (marketing being a means to an end), this encompasses other areas. For example, covers or jackets are a key selling tool, so we would ask for input into that process. And seemingly trivial matters such as the size of an inside page’s font can be disproportionately important in attracting or deterring impulse buyers. By running inside page designs past us, you build in a sales & marketing safety net.

Finally, we are committed to maintaining high editorial standards. and believe that money spent on proper editing, indexing and the like will pay off in the long run. The case of the self-published book, The Hike and the art of onedownmanship , which sold 2,500 copies in three weeks, was in part due to not having cut corners on editing.

Our Publishing Arena…

Publishing is a saturated market, where titles compete at every stage of the cycle, from ‘selling in’ (to the booktrade) to ‘selling through’ (to consumers). The emphasis is increasingly placed on the frontlist and on central deals and/or promotions. Time for the rest of a list is at a premium.

The following points are key to the way we operate:

Integration of Sales and Marketing
As we keep hammering home about, we view marketing (of which publicity is a part) not as an end in inself but a means to drive sales. So the two areas need to be meshed together from the start of the publishing process: if things like pricing, format and the cover are wrong, no amount of bolt-on publicity will result in sales.

Timing and communication between publisher and the booktrade are other vital aspects. If a publisher claims that each book is a ‘ground-breaking seminal work’, it has the effect of crying wolf.

Success-fee Component
While we take on authors for one-off projects, we prefer to take on publishers as retainer clients. To align interests, we prefer adding a success-fee component above an agreed threshold, with a lower fixed monthly retainer. The success fee element is calculated as a percentage of net turnover. If sales do not exceed this threshold, the success fee doesn’t kick in. In this way we hope to create a win-win situation for all parties.

Understanding the needs of smaller publishers
We enjoy working with smaller publishers (up to £2 million). We are used to working on small budgets and to slotting into a publisher’s infrastructure of mailings and the like.

There is no rocket science to our marketing; often it simply illustrates the benefits of extra time. Take Dr Roger Highfield’s Christmas giftbook Can Reindeer Fly?, for example, which Metro published for three years running. A key marketing decision was to abandon the US title The Physics of Christmas and Royal hardback format, prune it and bring it out in Lynne Truss format. This immediately positioned it as a book to be displayed on counters. Our publicity campaign then included the obvious device of preparing varying press releases to target different markets (human interest for the women’s weeklies; more serious for the science pages etc). This resulted in widespread coverage across a whole range of newspapers and magazines, and the book reprinted within weeks of publication.

How it Works

After an initial meeting where we discuss the book or series, the author and sales and marketing aims, we produce a written brief outlining the scope of our activities, timescale and quotation.

On your acceptance of the brief and terms we produce a contract for both parties to sign. We work closely on day-to-day matters with a designated contact and maintain detailed tracking systems, available at any time.


Key accounts and trade – Bookseller author interview, Bookseller debut crime selection, Waterstones Christmas Catalogue selection, Waterstones Online Review, Books Etc, Borders and Ottakars scaleouts, Ottakars Intranet, Ottakars The Verdict, Smiths Travel, Hammicks Online Review

National radio – Today, Start the Week, The World Tonight, World Service, Asian Network, most local BBC radio stations, 2 Irish, 1 Scottish and various foreign)

National reviews/features – Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mirror, Times, Guardian, New Statesman, Spectator

Online features and reviews – BBCi North Yorkshire Book of the Month, Bradford Telegraph & Argos Website, BBCi West Yorkshire and Bradford Website, BBCi Humber – competition and review

Specialist press – reviews and/or interviews in 20+ Christian, Jewish, Ethnic and Political magazines and newspapers; coverage in leading crime and science fiction manazine and websites – from Shots Magazine and Crime Time to SFX, Vector and Interzone, from Deadly Pleasures to The Alien Online, Crowsnest and Infinity Plus.