Helen Arnold - Key Account Manager
I always wanted to work in book publishing, but I realised very early on into a month or so of work experience post-university that I lacked the patience to be an Editor! I also couldn’t get used to the papercuts that are an occupational hazard of working with big manuscripts all day long. What I do have, however, is an energetic approach to organisation and the endless enthusiasm (and sharp listening skills) of a Labrador. I’ll admit I’m also ever-so-slightly ruthless and money-driven – in other words, exactly the kind of person you’d want pitching your book to retailers! Being an Account Manager in the UK Sales team I work really with High Street and Supermarket shops to get bestselling books into the hands of their customers, and I get a buzz from seeing a book that I’ve pitched finally end up on shelves at the front of stores or in shop windows – without a Sales team, those books wouldn’t get there. Not to mention seeing them climb the Bestseller Charts, and in the hands of commuters!
I show new books to retailers about 6 months in advance of you seeing them in shops, but I’m really lucky to be involved in the process of making a book long before that. It’s so exciting to be part of an author meeting, where we convince writers that Random House is the right home for the manuscript they’ve slaved over and they should chose us to bring it into being as a finished book. Reading early manuscripts is probably the biggest perk of my job, it’s a privilege to be one of the first people to read something really special that goes on to become a best-loved book for lots of people. Then starts the fun process of looking at jacket designs and working with our Marketing and PR teams to put together exciting plans for each book. With last year’s huge boom in the “adult” romance genre post-Fifty Shades, we repackaged some of the all-time bestselling erotica titles from our Black Lace imprint. At first there was a lot of blushing and laughing in meetings to the discuss cover art or the blurb, with all the BDSM terminology flying around (our poor editor having to explain some of the more “niche” phrases to uninitiated colleagues has to be in my top five moments of 2012) but we soon got comfortable with it – as did the Great British public, who pushed our books up into the Bestseller lists.
You’ve probably already heard the buzz about New Adult, which is the genre that will dominate 2013 – in a nutshell, New Adult is YA’s older, cooler, sexier sister. It’ll sneak you the odd cigarette or bottle of booze, let you tag along to parties, and you’ll have a raging crush on all the guys New Adult knows. It’s yet to hit the UK in a big way, but has been storming the American bestseller charts since Autumn last year and by your summer holiday, you’re bound to have something New Adult as your beach read. Retailers are very sharp at picking up on new trends, always hunting for the next big breakout title and this Summer they’re backing our hilarious new novel Losing It from Cora Carmack, which is out on 28th March. I’ve had members of the books buying teams telling me how they were laughing out loud reading Losing It on packed trains, and it will have you doing the same, so keep your eye out for copies in a bookstore near you very soon!
With such amazing series like Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries putting Young Adult books on the map a couple of years ago, it’s inevitable that the influence of paranormal fiction will be part of the New Adult-shaped future. Twenty- and thirty-somethings have been spending time in the company of vampires and werewolves for years, but our new obsession is set to be ghosts with the transfixing The Lost Boys. Our Commissioning Editor spotted author Lilian Carmine on the online author community Wattpad where The Lost Boys was first published, while she was racking up over 30 million hits, and quickly snapped the rights. Wattpad and other similar websites are fast becoming a new way for publishing houses to discover new authors and connect with their burgeoning fan bases. Lilian’s fan are clamouring for the physical publication of the book since it was taken down from the site to start the editing process with us in house, which is due to be re-released in Autumn 2013 – perfect timing for a Halloween romance. So many people are already fans of the book that the build-up to revealing the cover is mounting, and it puts such a cheeky grin on our faces to know how the top-secret designs are taking shape. But I’m giving away nothing, you’ll have to endure some more suspense!
We have TEN (10) copies of Losing It and TEN (10) copies of The Accidental Call Girl to give away thanks to Ebury and Black Lace. This giveaway is open to the UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and ends 31st May 2013. Please leave a comment to enter.
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