A little note from Sarah

  • June 18, 2015 16:45
  • Sarah Thrift

Hello, hello. Sarah Thrift, Marketing Executive, here.

After just over two fantastic years at Biteback, The Robson Press & Politicos.co.uk, I am off to HarperCollins. It has been an absolute pleasure to deal with our charming customers, meet such engaging authors and make a lot of great friends. Thanks one and all for making my first 'proper job' quite so exciting and eventful. 

Particular highlights include: consuming the Parliament cake my mum made for our fifth-year party (pictured here to incite jealousy); the bold, twelve-tea tea rounds of 2014; selling books in eccentric venues without any change; persuading authors to sign 'a few books' and producing 200 copies for them... Not to mention all the brilliant non-fiction I've got to read along the way!

Thanks again for everything. 

(Photo taken by the lovely James Wharton)


June Releases from Biteback Publishing

  • June 03, 2015 17:00
  • Sarah Thrift

May is behind us, and we can *tentatively* announce that Summer has begun... Here's some great new books that we've got for you in June (WARNING: Contains political facts and figures, UKIP campaign antics, £££, a secretive institution and a good deal more). Sign up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with our new releases.

The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015:

Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results 
Edited by Tim Carr, Iain Dale and Robert Waller

An all-inclusive and essential post-election document for academics, journalists, students and political enthusiasts alike in the wake of the poll-defying 2015 general election. The ideal follow-up to The Politicos Guide to the 2015 General Election

Following Farage: On the Trail of the People's Army
By Owen Bennett

Combining a diary of by-elections, conferences and campaign events with exclusive interviews, Bennett gets to the heart of what makes the People’s Army tick – and who really gives the orders. Following Farage is full of anecdotes about the party that never fails to surprise the political establishment and public alike. A timely, revealing account of the party’s journey to Westminster, based on journalist Owen Bennett’s experiences as he and the press pack followed the People’s Army, and its charismatic leader, on the election trail.

Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets
By John Plender

Award-winning financial journalist John Plender turns his attention to the paradoxical aspects of capitalism in this critical exploration. Tackling the subject from a variety of perspectives (not just an economist's), this comprehensive book pushes us all to consider the debate surrounding a deep-rooted system which could be under threat.  

By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council - the Unknown Arm of Government 
By David Rogers

By Royal Appointment explores the history of one of England’s oldest and most secretive institutions - the Privy Council. Stretching as far back as King Cnut’s reign, right through the Middle Ages, and up to its modern embodiment and functions, Rogers reveals how the institution’s reach has spread to every area of parliamentary and public life.  

Thank You for this Moment: A Story of Love, Power and Betrayal
By Valérie Trierweiler

After the highly publicised breakdown of Valérie Trierweiler’s relationship with French President François Hollande, this unapologetic and unadulterated account made headlines on both sides of the Channel in 2014. The No 1 international bestseller returns in paperback to inform, intrigue and shock. 

Strange Intelligence: Memoirs of Naval Secret Service
By Hector Bywater and H. C. Ferraby

Strange Intelligence sheds light on the thrilling story of Hector Bywater, perhaps the British secret service’s finest agent operating in Germany before the First World War. In a world embroiled in espionage and suspense, find out how Bywater and his fellow agents deceived the enemy in order to gather vital intelligence on the German Navy. (Part of the Dialogue Espionage Classics series)

All books will be available on our two week price promise upon publication, so don't miss out! 


Biteback to Publish Against the Grain by Norman Baker

  • June 03, 2015 10:30
  • Victoria Gilder

Iain Dale, MD of Biteback Publishing has acquired world rights to Against the Grain, the memoir of Norman Baker, the former Liberal Democrat MP, and a minister for state at the Home Office. 

For eighteen years, Baker was one of the most distinctive, outspoken and campaigning members of the House of Commons, famous for uncovering scandals and exposing conflicts of interest at the heart of Westminster. In Against the Grain he writes of his investigations into the death of David Kelly, the ill-fated flight BA 149, and his exposure of MPs’ expenses, as well as his successful campaign to force the resignation of Peter Mandelson. This compelling account also lifts the lid on the workings of the coalition, revealing much that will be relevant to the new Conservative government, and of interest to the public. 

Norman Baker said: ‘I have spent my political life working against the grain: as a Lib Dem, as an opposition MP, as a minister in the junior coalition party, and very often as the champion of unfashionable causes. That was hard but made winning all the more enjoyable. I am delighted to be publishing my book with Biteback.’

Against the Grain will be published in September, and supported by a major press campaign. 

For more information please contact victoria.gilder@bitebackpublishing.com or call 020 7091 1260.


How to Make Great Radio

  • May 27, 2015 13:00
  • David Lloyd

Biteback author and radio broadcaster David Lloyd has produced a brilliant new how to guide. Here's what he has to say about the project:

Over dinner in my favourite Indian restaurant in Nottingham recently, I was rambling intolerably about 'my book' to one of my cynical but lovely radio friends.  I told him I'd learned loads whilst writing it. 'What like?', he asked, as he stuffed a naan bread in his face.

So, when the Jiffy bag finally arrived from the publishers last week, bearing ten lovely-smelling first copies of my humble publication, I thumbed gingerly through the pages, to remind myself what I hadn't known when I started to write it.

Every day in radio is a school day, not least when you're trying madly to justify, or disprove, those 'radio assumptions'.

I thought I was the only competition cynic until I stumbled across the words of legendary American programmer, Bill Drake: 'We did a lot of on-air promotions at KHJ, and we did almost none at KFRC in San Francisco. Both stations were successful'. In his opinion, 'most contests are garbage'.  He's surely right; far too many offer little in the way of witness value. They are either too demanding, too dull or too exclusive; with prizes seen as unattainable and mechanics focused on the minority taking part, not the majority listening.  Gone are the days when the radio station was the only place you could win a decent prize.  BBC Local Radio, which suspended contesting in the days when it was discredited, would likely concede that their stations are better without  many of them.  Cheers, Bill. Nice to stumble across substantiation for my prejudice.

Isn't it annoying when 'major names' pop up on radio who fail to grasp the 'one listener' thing.  That 'You' thing. They drone on about 'anyone out there' and getting my 'thinking caps' on.  For goodness sake, anyone who knows anything about our great medium knows that the most important word is 'you'.  If it's good enough for Ken Bruce: 'People respond to one person – talking to them as one person'; and Wogan: 'Radio engages because you talk to an individual', it should be good enough for the rest of us. I also cite some early crackly recordings from the 'first' disc jockey, Christopher Stone, from 1927 who said in his show: 'I know you'd like to hear some more of that, and so would I'.  Almost a century ago, and at the very beginnings of our medium, he'd nailed it.

Few candidates in the last General Election stood up to make a speech without offering an anecdote about the chap they'd 'bumped into' the night before.  We know that story-telling works.  The greatest presenters master the art on radio.  The greatest ads call upon it.  Vocabulary, pace and detail create colourful pictures.  In researching the book too, I was drawn too to the words of John Cleese, who spoke of the mental 'skip' the listener makes from the start of a tale to the punchline.  In that skip lies the pleasure and amusement. Too large, it fails, Too small it offers no satisfaction.  One word can make a difference.  Even if just a  swear-word: 'You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!'

Why do some newsreaders whine every sentence and inexplicably draw out the last word, regardless of its significance?  Accomplished voice coach, Kate Lee, suggests that great reading is often about 'sounding even more yourself'. She observes how some readers appear almost intimidated by the importance of the material. Once they say to themselves 'this is news', she believes their brain then promptly ignores all all the natural nuances of conversation. Contemporary, conversational news delivery is a real art.

Fascinated by the way the 'mood' in a studio can change what comes out the speakers the other end, it was great to hear the anecdote about a leading performer who used to play the Cagney & Lacey theme tune before starting his show.  Off on that tangent, I then stumbled across how both David Cameron, and indeed Enoch Powell in his time, observed that a full bladder kept their mind alert and their speeches powerful.  Maybe not one to try.

I stumbled across some fascinating material about the voice and how it engages so well on radio.  Including the theory that the 'disembodied voice' on the radio connects with the listener as does a mother's voice to a child in the womb.

And who would not want to know the story of the birth of tight, Top 40 format radio in a bar in Omaha, Nebraska.  Next time one of your listeners complains about hearing the same song over and over again, you'll want to know that tale too. 

And so the list goes on.  I learned a little more about mic technique; commentary; interviewing; the psychological response to words; and getting callers on-air.  I mused about dealing with over-enthusiastic listeners; spoke to some great producers; and delved into the use of social media.  I stumbled across some brilliant old research about the relative merits of male and female voices; and I counted the words per minute which Wogan deployed as he said his last breakfast farewell. 

I was persuaded to add a chapter about how to get into our medium; and I volunteered another about how to keep your job.  And some necessary caution on risk-taking, 'stunting', research, law and compliance.

Given that text books are boring and the chances of any publisher agreeing to my autobiography are slim, I've littered the book with anecdotes from my lucky time in the business.  Lest I forget the two occasions when the police have called into reception; Dale Winton's interview techniques; or the words of advice Mrs. Thatcher's daughter proffered on programme preparation.

Many thanks to the likes of Matthew Bannister, Christian O'Connell, John Myers, Ben Cooper and Nick Ferrari for offering generous early reviews.  What's useful is that they suggest it's by no means just a book for beginners. 

Radio is rarely a matter and wrong. Some of the greats break the rules brilliantly.  And those who disagree with my mad assertions or theories will hopefully concede that the debate itself is likely helpful. Or they can write their own book.

Please grab a copy (on offer at £10.49 PB, £7.47 eBook) from my friends at Biteback Publishing. Proceeds to the Radio Academy. 



Pitch Black - The Book Making Headlines Today

  • May 07, 2015 10:15
  • Sarah Thrift

Pitch BlackThe Story of Black British Footballers
By Emy Onuora

Hardback RRP: £16.99 Our Price: £13.49
eBook RRP: £12.99 Our Price: £9.99

As seen in The Guardian, Sky Sports News, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Mirror and the Liverpool Echo.

An alarming account of the racism experienced by black footballers, from the 1970s to the present day. With unprecedented access to former sportsmen –from Cyrille Regis to John Barnes – and a thorough consideration of contemporary players, FIFA's attitude as well as media coverage, this book is a fascinating read. An important, controversial look at the ugly side of the world's most popular sport. 

Read the preface to Pitch Black here. 

Find the book on twitter: @pitchblackbook

Event: The book launch takes place in Liverpool on Friday 8th May as part of the Writing on the Wall festival. Click here for details.