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Building book brands

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, Id briefed the text designer and written the zippy content. Easy to pitch, fast to create, a hit worldwide.


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