Arguably best known for publicising Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider novels for Walker Books. Somper came on board for Book 2: Point Blanc and is credited as playing a significant role in lifting sales per title from around 20,000 to 250,000+.
Has proved consistently innovative and focused on strategic PR delivering significant sales and increased profile. Tenaciously pursues new routes into the national press, radio and TV. Moves fast and thinks BIG, whether working with rising stars, established names or niche titles.
Sharpened his PR teeth at Puffin Books from 1992-1996, then headed to Random House for a two-year sojourn as Publicity Director. First of the new breed of niche children’s publicists, Somper established consultancy just so in 1998 and promises exciting developments in 2005.
‘Effective PR starts with a close reading of the book and research about the author/illustrator. Next it’s a question of identifying the target audience and the most compelling ways to reach them. Different authors and books require different approaches – from the grassroots to the high-gloss.’
In 2003 Byrne ensured that Judy Blume’s Forever was eclipsed forever by Melvin Burgess’s Doing It, which attracted massive media coverage. The controversial nature of the book combined with an author who makes a great media ‘ho’ was unbeatable!
YA fiction is Byrne’s preferred ‘product’ and she feels lucky to have worked with so many great names including Malorie Blackman, Kevin Brooks, Anne Fine, Cornelia Funke, Michael Morpurgo, Darren Shan and Jacqueline Wilson. She also works with the Cheltenham Festival of Literature.
Graduated in Ireland before working in a Catholic bookshop where she had many Father Ted moments. Two years later came to Penguin, eventually working as Children’s Publicity Manager. Now freelance, she lives in the East End with her husband, three children and a border terrier.
‘The trick is to keep everyone happy and to make it look easy. A good publicist might have a coke and caffeine addiction but they’ll be out there exuding calm and smiling, smiling, smiling! It becomes more of a rictus by the end of the evening…’
They don’t call her Terrier Minchin for nothing! Her savage tenacity was put to particular use recently in her ferocious campaign to ensure that no one in the British Isles escaped hearing about Meg Rosoff’s stunning debut novel How I Live Now.
Like the Pied Piper of the children’s book world, Minchin has cast her publicity spell on Eoin Colfer, Brian Jacques, Cathy Cassidy, Zizou Corder, to name but a few, and lured them to meet their expectant fans.
Minchin’s first job in publishing was at The Women’s Press. Responsible for chaperoning Alice Walker on her UK tour, she lost her at the airport. Ooops! After three years, Minchin moved to Puffin and scaled the ranks to become Publicity Manager.
‘No Puffin day is ever the same. One moment I’m organising a launch dinner for the editor of The Guardian, the next I’ll be rolling in the aisles during one of Eoin Colfer’s hilarious performances. It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it.’