In my past life I was lucky to dream up big ideas for beautiful gift books for my day job. My brief as a non-fiction commissioning editor was to publish
on-trend books for gift retailers.
I faced one problem: colourful, shiny books are costly to make.
So how did I solve a commissioning conundrum that left most ideas
hibernating in the top drawer?
Poems for a World
Gone to Sh*t
The solution? To find an idea that would shine on the shelves, without the top-dollar razzle-dazzle.
By working from the problem, I could outline my priorities for the product:
a bold title and cover on the outside, minimalist b&w goods on the inside.
A dose of data-crunching and market and merchandising research later, I took two trends as a jumping off point: Instagram poetry, and sweary self-help and stationery. I created Poems for a World Gone to Sh*t, an antidote to our f*cked-up times in the form of restorative poems old and new.
Target gift retailers Oliver Bonas and Urban Outfitters put in repeat orders – and its success led to a follow-up book being published.
Brand author Sarah Knight
If you don’t live under a rock, you’ll have heard of the overlord of tidying, Marie Kondo. You may even have heard of the parody book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by author Sarah Knight.
When Knight’s second book, Get Your Sh*t Together, took her sales into the millions, a brand was born: The No-F**ks-Given Guides.
As commissioning editor at the series’ UK publisher, I put my brand-publishing thinking cap on. Why not blend the bestselling IP on our hands and the latest self-care trend, wellness journalling?
Cue the Get Your Sh*t Together Journal.
Within a matter of weeks, the idea had the seal of approval, I’d briefed the text designer and written the zippy content. Easy to pitch, fast to create, a hit worldwide.