The Business of UK Crime

The Bookseller has two publishing-centric features on crime & thriller imprints. Last week, they interviewed David Shelley, who refashioned Allison & Busby’s crime list before moving on to Little, Brown UK:

He’s spent the past two years as LB editorial director for crime and

thrillers, and earlier this year took on the additional role of Sphere

paperback publisher. “I’m back looking at the bottom line,” he says.

“What’s been nice here is really focusing editorially on a few authors.

But it’s also nice to have the other side—having an overview of

something, hopefully trying to make a financial difference to what

we’re doing. I get quite easily bored, so it is really nice.”


Brown c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie and publishing director Antonia Hodgson

came up with the idea of the paperback role following LB’s acquisition

by Hachette last year. “It was interesting for us to look at the other

Hachette companies and see how they operate, see if there were any

lessons to be learnt there,” says Shelley. “Obviously Susan Lamb at

Orion has had fantastic success rates, and really within the Hachette

group their paperback publishing is second to none. So I think Ursula

and Antonia felt it would be good to do something similar here.”

And today, Headline’s crime & thriller editorial director Vicki Mellor is highlighted along with her plans to take four American thriller writers and break them out in a major way:

What follows is a bold claim, even for Headline: the publisher is

promising that its four new American thriller authors—Scott Frost,

Karen Rose, Brian Freeman and Patrick Quinlan–will put £12m through

booksellers’ tills during the next two years. Headline has committed to

a “substantial” marketing spend in its quest to turn them into


Creating such brands is something Headline has

experience of, thanks to 10 years spent publishing James Patterson. “It’s all

about the firepower, the marketing power, of Headline as a publisher,”

MacRae says. “We don’t listen to people who say it can’t be done—the

gatekeepers who thought three [new Pattersons] a year was outrageous,

let alone five.” Patterson saw sales through Nielsen BookScan of £10m

in 2006.

“This is all about reinforcing the brand–it doesn’t

matter how many you do, as long as you are providing the same quality

of writing,” MacRae says. “What we recognise is that there are people

who enjoy thrillers, who hook into one or two authors and wait until

the next one comes along. We will try hard to make people look at these

new authors and, when they do, give them more product to keep them


I sure hope it works…