When I was a small child, regularly getting things on my report cards like, ‘Alexandra needs to get her nose out of books and socialise more’, (because if I did ever talk to anyone, then it was probably about the Famous Five, or some of my other literary chums), who’d have thought that one day I’d be able to say, ‘Yeah, I worked on the campaign for the fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began’?
Yup, that’s right, I’ve been working on Delia Smith’s How To Cheat At Cooking, which has even managed to keep Jordan/Katie Price and her third autobiography off the top spot. (I love having Delia and
More surprising than the fact I’m working on a book by someone my mum’s actually heard of (she called me to say she’d seen a piece on Delia in the Telegraph, bless her) is the fact that I’m working on non-fiction at all. I’ve been obsessed with novels ever since I learned to read. I was the original child that books built. I spent years working on them once I realised you could make a living out of books and get free ones while you were at it. Oh happy day! I invented the term ‘chick fic’ one day at work (that’s genuinely true – it still irritates me when people call it ‘chick lit’, because the point of it was that it was a play on ‘chick flicks’). I worked on everything from SF (science fiction for those not in the know) to proper literary stuff. And loved it. Facts? Facts were for Jeremy Vine and people who did maths.
But now I’m happily ensconced in the world of non-fiction, and I love it, mainly because you get to meet all manner of people. Just this year, I’ve met two psychics (neither of whom, disappointingly, took the opportunity to tell me they had a message from the other side for me during the meeting); Len Goodman, the lovely head judge on Strictly Come Dancing (even the male editor in the meeting went a bit wibbly); the Director of Friends of the Earth; the brand managers of Top Gear and Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles. I’ve had meetings with Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace and I’ve had a chat with Delia on the phone.
And that’s not to mention the pitches I’ve been involved with…
But I suspect I’ve reached the pinnacle of my publishing career (like talking to Delia and having a chat with the legend that is Sir David Attenborough at our conference last year wasn’t enough). Yes, I’m going to be working on former Heat editor Mark Frith’s book! I’ve been a Heat obsessive for I don’t know how long (a subscription to said mag formed the basis of my leaving present when I left a previous job; they knew nothing else would suffice) and every week I steal it from the PR department at lunchtime on Tuesday. Surely, if there were a marketing person to work on this book, I was it?
We found out a few weeks ago that we’d got it, at which point I shrieked with glee and thought, ‘in your face, poncey intellectual author who told me a while back I should “read some proper books, like War and Peace”. (I refrained from telling him I had an English degree and had spent 3 years solid reading ‘proper books’, and actually, I still do; I just hadn’t read his). I always knew that keeping abreast of Britney, Lindsay and the like would serve me well one day, and now I’ve been proved right. Ha!
Because the thing about Ebury is that our list means you do have to know about celebrities, and telly, and films, and music, and comedy, as well as history, pop science, relationships, diets, current affairs and cookery. In our acquisitions meetings, we’ll switch between the Dalai Lama and Doctor Who, then go from dieting to
So for everyone who’s yet to dip their toe into non-fiction (whether working on it, or even just reading it, as I did for years), all I can say is check out our 2008 catalogue, and get stuck in – there really is something for everyone. And because of all this new-found knowledge, you’re likely to become a much-requested pub quiz team member while you’re at it!
Alex – Marketing Manager