Roly Allen

Roly Allen - Ghostwriter

Hove, UK

Former Hachette publisher, I write non-fiction books and pitches: any topic: memoir, sport, self-help, food, history, cycling, even cannabis

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Overview

I can help you write your book, or help you find an agent or a publisher for it. Or both!

How?

Firstly, I can help you write a book in your own authentic voice - starting off with a conversation, or your own notes, and producing a fluent, compelling whole. Together, we can:

+ develop, clarify and organise your ideas or narrative
+ copy-edit your language so that it's clear, elegant, and professional (as well as grammatically correct!)
+ research the background to find the extra details that can bring a story alive

Secondly, I write professional, industry-standard book pitches, so you can find a publisher or an agent. I will help you to:

+ position your book, so it's absolutely clear who the readership is – and why your book is better than the competition
+ review your query letter
+ research the market and find the best potential home for it

Having published many books, and sold even more, I know how to make a distinctive, commercial pitch that agents and publishers will take seriously. If you have a non-fiction idea that needs polishing into shape, or want a ghostwriter, then I can help.

Check out my reviews if you want to learn more about how I work!


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MY STORY
For more than twenty years, I've sold, and created, books. As a publishing professional, my start was in foreign rights, selling lifestyle books (food & drink, health, wellness, gardening...) to European publishers: then I took on the US, selling the Ilex list of books about creativity (art, photography, activity books, film, etc) to houses like Harper, Abrams, Chronicle, Random House, St Martins, Thunder Bay and so on. I became publisher of the imprint when it was acquired by Hachette UK, and in those years took Ilex to its biggest sales, creating some amazing global best-sellers.

I write books myself (four in the last year) and I'm pleased to say that my latest, HOW TO RAISE A LOAF AND FALL IN LOVE WITH SOURDOUGH, immediately went to #1 in amazon.co.uk's Bread Baking category on its release. I've got another book coming out in 2020, two more in 2021, and one more in 2022. I write under my own name and a couple of pen names.

MY SKILLS
As a ghost-writer or collaborator, I'll help you express yourself clearly and elegantly
+ I know how to structure and pace a book
+ I can write in any register - chatty and informal, academic and authoritative, or tense and exciting
+ I'm flexible, and enjoy working collaboratively

As a seasoned book salesperson and publisher I know what makes a strong pitch:
+ I can turn your non-fiction idea into a compelling business proposal, so stands out in a challenging marketplace.
+ I'll can work with nearly any non-fiction or lifestyle topic
+ I know the US, UK and European markets, and have placed literally hundreds of titles at concept stage.


My clients include chefs, diplomats, refugees, teachers, agents, and publishers. The stories I've heard have been amazing - and it's been a privilege to help get them down on the page.
Languages
English (UK)
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Art
Cooking & Food Wine & Spirits
Design
DIY & Crafts
Photography
Sports & Outdoors
Writing & Publishing

Work experience

Writer

Self-employed
February, 2019 – Present (almost 2 years)

I write books and I'm pleased to say that my latest, HOW TO RAISE A LOAF AND FALL IN LOVE WITH SOURDOUGH, immediately went to #1 in amazon.co.uk's Bread Baking category on its release. I've got another book coming out in 2020, two more in 2021, and one in 2022 - all on different non-fiction topics.

I also write for other people, helping them to

+ develop and clarify their ideas
+ position their concept so it's absolutely clear who the readership is, and why it's better than the competition
+ copy edit their language so that it's elegant, clear and professional

I've published many titles in my time, and sold even more, so I know how to make punchy, commercial book presentations that agents and publisherstake seriously.

If you have a non-fiction idea that needs polishing into shape, or need a ghost-writer, then I can help.

Publisher / Rights Director / Licensing Director

Ilex (an imprint of Hachette UK)
January, 2008 – February, 2019 (about 11 years)

2008-2014 RIGHTS DIRECTOR / EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER
I joined Ilex as Rights Director, responsible for placing our titles with US publishers, and I also oversaw our own UK and Export sales, via T&H. I assumed publishing responsibilities over time, with a formal promotion to Executive Publisher in 2011. As well as conceiving titles of my own and managing two commissioning editors I maintained long-term relationships with a wide variety of US publishers including Random House, Abrams, Chronicle, Focal Press, Harper, Princeton Architectural Press, Readerlink, F&W, Wiley, Barron’s, Running Press, St Martin’s, Sterling, Rizzoli, Chicago University Press, Smithsonian Institution, Lark, Reader’s Digest, Firefly, Andrews McMeel, Hampton Roads, etc.

Other achievements included:
• Managing consistent year-on-year trade sales growth via our distribution partners, Thames & Hudson
• Conceiving and implementing Ilex’s brand and market positioning in creativity and practical photography publishing
• Launching our US publishing programme, managing its sales and distribution via Ingram Publisher Services

2014-2018 PUBLISHER
Following Hachette UK’s acquisition of Ilex in 2014, I was made Publisher, responsible for the integration of Ilex’s list and personnel, the rapid subsequent growth in sales, and origination of up to 50 new titles each year. I retained responsibility for US rights sales, and worked closely with Hachette’s in-house sales, press, publicity and marketing teams in order to develop our international and domestic markets.

Particular achievements included:
• Turning first-time authors into category best-sellers (like Jake Spicer) or multi-million-copy international phenomena (like Thomas Pavitte) and maintaining the sales of Ilex’s historic best-seller, Michael Freeman.
• Securing our first licensed publishing deals with Marvel, the National Gallery and Tate.

2018 - 2019 LICENSING DIRECTOR
With both sales and commissioning budgets, I was responsible for building OPG’s licensed publishing, securing new licensing and sub-licensing contracts with top-tier entertainment licensors. These included Peanuts, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Netflix, The Cartoon Network, Ubisoft and Disney. At the same time, I sold US co-edition rights in the Ilex list to a growing customer base, and worked closely with the Hachette sales forces.

Portfolio (24 selected works)

Muck, Sweat & Gears: A Celebration of Cycling

Alan Anderson

Whether your idea of cycling is a relaxed meander along a towpath on a summer's evening, the exhilaration of racing through the Rockies, or the satisfaction of biking to work, this witty, lively, and informative book is sure to inspire and entertain. Packed with fascinating facts, quotations, statistics, stories, personalities, advice, and trivia, Muck, Sweat & Gears is the ultimate guide to b... read more

Whether your idea of cycling is a relaxed meander along a towpath on a summer's evening, the exhilaration of racing through the Rockies, or the satisfaction of biking to work, this witty, lively, and informative book is sure to inspire and entertain. Packed with fascinating facts, quotations, statistics, stories, personalities, advice, and trivia, Muck, Sweat & Gears is the ultimate guide to b... read more

1000 Dot-to-Dot: Animals

Thomas Pavitte

Connect the dots in these puzzles with pizzazz and watch as sophisticated, stylish portraits of twenty different animals emerge.Beautiful animal portraits are revealed as you complete each section of dots—so intricate you’ll want to display your finished work! The twenty puzzles in this book are much more sophisticated than the one-dimensional images created in childhood. Tonal shading and exp... read more

Connect the dots in these puzzles with pizzazz and watch as sophisticated, stylish portraits of twenty different animals emerge.Beautiful animal portraits are revealed as you complete each section of dots—so intricate you’ll want to display your finished work! The twenty puzzles in this book are much more sophisticated than the one-dimensional images created in childhood. Tonal shading and exp... read more

You Will Be Able to Draw By the End of this Book

Jake Spicer

This book is for anybody who wants to draw more, whether you are learning from scratch or developing existing skills. When you're learning to draw, the most important thing you'll own is a sketchbook, and this is a sketchbook with training wheels. Let go of your fear and unlock drawing skills that you never believed you could have with this expertly guided sketchbook. Not your ordinary art boo... read more

This book is for anybody who wants to draw more, whether you are learning from scratch or developing existing skills. When you're learning to draw, the most important thing you'll own is a sketchbook, and this is a sketchbook with training wheels. Let go of your fear and unlock drawing skills that you never believed you could have with this expertly guided sketchbook. Not your ordinary art boo... read more

The Photographer's Handbook: Be your best photographer

Michael Freeman

To take photos you need to get your settings right.To take good photos you need to understand how your camera works.To take great photos, you need to think about what you're shooting.This book will show you how to master all three.Divided into three definitive sections; Technology & Hardware, Shooting Skills and Subjects & Style, professional photographer Michael Freeman explores these topics ... read more

To take photos you need to get your settings right.To take good photos you need to understand how your camera works.To take great photos, you need to think about what you're shooting.This book will show you how to master all three.Divided into three definitive sections; Technology & Hardware, Shooting Skills and Subjects & Style, professional photographer Michael Freeman explores these topics ... read more

If You Are Bored With WATERCOLOR Read This Book

Veronica Ballart Lilja

Are you bored of painting tasteful landscapes, light seascapes and delicate still-lifes? Or are you laboring under the misconception that that is simply all watercolor is good for? Maybe you're so bored of looking at watercolor paintings that you've never even tried it!Whether you're at the beginning of your artistic journey, stuck in a rut and in desperate need of some inspiration or simply l... read more

Are you bored of painting tasteful landscapes, light seascapes and delicate still-lifes? Or are you laboring under the misconception that that is simply all watercolor is good for? Maybe you're so bored of looking at watercolor paintings that you've never even tried it!Whether you're at the beginning of your artistic journey, stuck in a rut and in desperate need of some inspiration or simply l... read more

Querkles: Masterpieces

Thomas Pavitte

There are numbers of ways to create a masterpiece!Enjoy a renaissance in coloring books from the best-selling author of the 1000 Dot-to-Dot series! Unveil twenty of the world's most famous artworks within the circles using pencils, paints, markers, or any coloring medium you choose. These classic art treasures can be removed and displayed when you're finished. Monochrome or multicolored, the c... read more

There are numbers of ways to create a masterpiece!Enjoy a renaissance in coloring books from the best-selling author of the 1000 Dot-to-Dot series! Unveil twenty of the world's most famous artworks within the circles using pencils, paints, markers, or any coloring medium you choose. These classic art treasures can be removed and displayed when you're finished. Monochrome or multicolored, the c... read more

Art of Neil Gaiman: The Story of a Writer with Handwritten Notes, Drawings, Manuscripts, and Personal Photographs

Hayley Campbell

Now in paperback, the utterly comprehensive, lavishly illustrated, and fully authorized account of the life and work of one of the world’s great storytellers, Neil Gaiman.Novelist, comics writer, scriptwriter, poet, and occasional artist, there are few creative avenues Neil Gaiman hasn’t ventured down—from unforgettable books like The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods to groundbre... read more

Now in paperback, the utterly comprehensive, lavishly illustrated, and fully authorized account of the life and work of one of the world’s great storytellers, Neil Gaiman.Novelist, comics writer, scriptwriter, poet, and occasional artist, there are few creative avenues Neil Gaiman hasn’t ventured down—from unforgettable books like The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods to groundbre... read more

The Little Book of Coloring for Calm: 100 Mandalas for Relaxation in Minutes

Madonna Gauding

Color yourself relaxed with this compact collection of mandala designs! Coloring designs as intricate as mandalas demands mental focus, similar to the concentration you can develop during meditation. This collection of 100 designs by respected mandala expert Madonna Gauding will help you silence your mental chatter and achieve a kind of mindfulness that will leave you refreshed, calm and focus... read more

Color yourself relaxed with this compact collection of mandala designs! Coloring designs as intricate as mandalas demands mental focus, similar to the concentration you can develop during meditation. This collection of 100 designs by respected mandala expert Madonna Gauding will help you silence your mental chatter and achieve a kind of mindfulness that will leave you refreshed, calm and focus... read more

Alan Moore: Storyteller

Millidge Gary Spencer

The definitive book on Alan Moore, renowned as one of the most important talents in contemporary comics and graphic novels, and his trailblazing works of visual storytelling. Alan Moore is one of the most important creative forces in the history of comics. His innovative works, which include V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, have become enduring features of t... read more

The definitive book on Alan Moore, renowned as one of the most important talents in contemporary comics and graphic novels, and his trailblazing works of visual storytelling. Alan Moore is one of the most important creative forces in the history of comics. His innovative works, which include V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, have become enduring features of t... read more

The World According to Rick (A Rick and Morty Book)

Rick Sanchez

A must-have gift book: the wit, wisdom, and frequent diatribes of mad scientist Rick Sanchez of Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, the Emmy-winning, #1 animated series on TV.Finally, from the self-appointed "Most Intelligent Being in the Multiverse" Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty: a mind-bending collection of his innate and acquired wisdom. Each season, Rick and his grandson Morty embark on thrillin... read more

A must-have gift book: the wit, wisdom, and frequent diatribes of mad scientist Rick Sanchez of Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, the Emmy-winning, #1 animated series on TV.Finally, from the self-appointed "Most Intelligent Being in the Multiverse" Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty: a mind-bending collection of his innate and acquired wisdom. Each season, Rick and his grandson Morty embark on thrillin... read more

Book of Ornamental Alphabets: Ancient & Mediaeval

F. G. Delamotte

Whether you're a type nerd, an illustrator or a professional designer, The Book Of Ornamental Alphabets is the perfect sourcebook. Find scores of thoughtfully selected royalty-free alphabet fonts within, as well as numerals, monograms and more.An iconic Victorian book, re-published for the first time in over 150 years, The Book Of Ornamental Alphabets is an unbeatable resource and a must-have ... read more

Whether you're a type nerd, an illustrator or a professional designer, The Book Of Ornamental Alphabets is the perfect sourcebook. Find scores of thoughtfully selected royalty-free alphabet fonts within, as well as numerals, monograms and more.An iconic Victorian book, re-published for the first time in over 150 years, The Book Of Ornamental Alphabets is an unbeatable resource and a must-have ... read more

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga

Helen McCarthy

Osamu Tezuka has often been called “the god of manga” and “the Walt Disney of Japan,” but he was far more than that. Tezuka was Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator, changing the face of Japanese culture forever. Best known for Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Tezuka was instrumental in developing Japanese animation an... read more

Osamu Tezuka has often been called “the god of manga” and “the Walt Disney of Japan,” but he was far more than that. Tezuka was Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator, changing the face of Japanese culture forever. Best known for Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Tezuka was instrumental in developing Japanese animation an... read more

Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997

Karina Longworth

There is a voyeuristic thrill in contact sheets, the direct prints used by photographers of the pre-digital age to edit their work. You look directly through the photographer's eyes as each photo gets closer to that perfect shot. And yet, it's often the photos not chosen that best capture the true spirit of their subjects and the life they lead after the director yells cut. This was never true... read more

There is a voyeuristic thrill in contact sheets, the direct prints used by photographers of the pre-digital age to edit their work. You look directly through the photographer's eyes as each photo gets closer to that perfect shot. And yet, it's often the photos not chosen that best capture the true spirit of their subjects and the life they lead after the director yells cut. This was never true... read more

Pring's Photographer's Miscellany: Stories, Techniques, Tips & Trivia (Ilex Miscellany)

Roger Pring

Pring's Photographer's Miscellany is a priceless compendium of the history, techniques and trivia of photography. Meet the mad, genius, daring (and sometimes fraudulent) pioneers and practitioners of all things photographic, Find out how ravenous soldiers jeopardised the success of pigeon-cam in the first world war, and learn how to take photographs on wood and even apples. Discover that the p... read more

Pring's Photographer's Miscellany is a priceless compendium of the history, techniques and trivia of photography. Meet the mad, genius, daring (and sometimes fraudulent) pioneers and practitioners of all things photographic, Find out how ravenous soldiers jeopardised the success of pigeon-cam in the first world war, and learn how to take photographs on wood and even apples. Discover that the p... read more

Create Your Own Website The Easy Way: The complete guide to getting you or your business online

Alannah Moore

Whether you need a personal site to showcase your work, or a complex webstore with customized features, you can build it yourself without having to code, design or spend a lot of money.Alannah Moore made a name for herself by demystifying website creation and enabling non-technical people to get themselves up and online using the powerful tools available today - the 'Do-It-Yourself' way. She g... read more

Whether you need a personal site to showcase your work, or a complex webstore with customized features, you can build it yourself without having to code, design or spend a lot of money.Alannah Moore made a name for herself by demystifying website creation and enabling non-technical people to get themselves up and online using the powerful tools available today - the 'Do-It-Yourself' way. She g... read more

Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana

Danny Danko

This is the most accessible, attractive, and easy-to-use beginner’s guide to growing marijuana. In only 144 illustrated pages, High Times editor, Danny Danko, covers the basics of successful pot cultivation. This book is a primer that covers:The basics of setting up a grow roomGenetics and seedsGerminationSexingCloningBuilding budsHarvestingPest, fungi, molds, and deficienciesConcentrates, edi... read more

This is the most accessible, attractive, and easy-to-use beginner’s guide to growing marijuana. In only 144 illustrated pages, High Times editor, Danny Danko, covers the basics of successful pot cultivation. This book is a primer that covers:The basics of setting up a grow roomGenetics and seedsGerminationSexingCloningBuilding budsHarvestingPest, fungi, molds, and deficienciesConcentrates, edi... read more

Marvel: The Amazing 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book

Thomas Pavitte

These dot-to-dot puzzles are simply marvelous!Your favorite Marvel superheroes are presented in 20 dot-to-dot puzzles that are amazing enough to display when you're finished! More sophisticated than the one-dimensional dot-to-dots you knew as a child, these puzzles take about 30 minutes to complete. Expressive line work builds as you join the dots, and each page is easily removed when you're f... read more

These dot-to-dot puzzles are simply marvelous!Your favorite Marvel superheroes are presented in 20 dot-to-dot puzzles that are amazing enough to display when you're finished! More sophisticated than the one-dimensional dot-to-dots you knew as a child, these puzzles take about 30 minutes to complete. Expressive line work builds as you join the dots, and each page is easily removed when you're f... read more

Practical Hdr

David Nightingale

HDR - High Dynamic Range - photography enables photographers to combine multiple exposures and to show scenes as we perceive them with our own eyes. 'Practical HDR' tells you everything you need to know about the topic, with an overview of the technicalities, step-by-step advice, and a global showcase of exceptional HDR images.

HDR - High Dynamic Range - photography enables photographers to combine multiple exposures and to show scenes as we perceive them with our own eyes. 'Practical HDR' tells you everything you need to know about the topic, with an overview of the technicalities, step-by-step advice, and a global showcase of exceptional HDR images.

The Collier-Campbell Archive: 50 Years of Passion in Pattern

Susan Collier, Sarah Campbell, Emma Shackleton

For nearly fifty years, sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell have been at the forefront of textile design. Collections for London’s Liberty department store made their name, with designs like Bauhaus (1972) deemed a significant turning point, paving the way for a vibrant new aesthetic. Their work at this point included prints, furnishing and dress textiles, and famously Liberty’s noted sca... read more

For nearly fifty years, sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell have been at the forefront of textile design. Collections for London’s Liberty department store made their name, with designs like Bauhaus (1972) deemed a significant turning point, paving the way for a vibrant new aesthetic. Their work at this point included prints, furnishing and dress textiles, and famously Liberty’s noted sca... read more

What They Didn't Teach You in Design School

Phil Cleaver

With record numbers of design and advertising students graduating into the job market each year, it makes more sense now than ever before to be fully armed to succeed. This book helps new designers make the transition from design school to work, giving them the ammunition they need for a successful start. Here the reader will learn how to get that all-important first job, and how to impress th... read more

With record numbers of design and advertising students graduating into the job market each year, it makes more sense now than ever before to be fully armed to succeed. This book helps new designers make the transition from design school to work, giving them the ammunition they need for a successful start. Here the reader will learn how to get that all-important first job, and how to impress th... read more

The Creative Person's Website Builder: How to Make a Pro Website Yourself Using Word Press and Other Easy Tools

Alannah Moore

Your website is the face that your creative endeavours show to the world, and you owe it to yourself to make it the most inviting and user-friendly site on the web. With The Creative Person's Website Builder, you'll learn how to create a site from scratch, or massively improve what you already have, quickly and economically.Tailor-made for creative professionals, artists and entrepreneurs, thi... read more

Your website is the face that your creative endeavours show to the world, and you owe it to yourself to make it the most inviting and user-friendly site on the web. With The Creative Person's Website Builder, you'll learn how to create a site from scratch, or massively improve what you already have, quickly and economically.Tailor-made for creative professionals, artists and entrepreneurs, thi... read more

Roly has 5 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Penny Gardiner
I have found working with Roly to be an absolute pleasure. He is thoroughly professional, while at the same time being so helpful and understanding. He was happy to have a phone conversation with me, which made me feel so much more comfortable about talking to him about anything at all. I couldn't recommend him more strongly.

Penny Gardiner, January 2021

Roly Allen
Thank you Penny! It's been fantastic to get to know you and to work on your memoir. What a collection of stories and characters it is: it's been a privilege to help you pull it into shape and fill ...
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Reply from Roly Allen


Annette Cromwell
I have enjoyed working with Roly. He gets back to me quickly. He is thorough and patient. He encourages me. That's a tremendous help. I believe it is a good fit. Annette

Annette Cromwell, December 2020

Roly Allen
Thanks so much for this review, Annette! It has been a pleasure working with you, and I hope to do so again.

Reply from Roly Allen


Rasha Alkhadra
Good listener , who corporate and also confidential .keeps listening and coming up with the best outcome He does lots of research to be accurate

Rasha Alkhadra, November 2020

Roly Allen
Thanks Rasha! It was great to work with you.

Reply from Roly Allen


Haroon Kalim
Roly is the best editor I've ever worked with and I've been privileged to write four books (including with a big six publisher) and seen every type of senior editor and writer. Roly is whip smart, quick to get deep into your material and always goes above and beyond in getting things right. He is a magician with words and his visual corkboards (with post it notes and organizing/storyboarding ...
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Haroon Kalim, November 2020

Roly Allen
Thanks Haroon! It was a real pleasure working on your fascinating titles, and I cannot wait to see them in print!

Reply from Roly Allen


Lula Tilahun
Roly was great to work and collaborate with. He understood my vision and goal and made it come to life. He is very quick with his responses and his work is fast and efficient. It was great pleasure working with him!

Lula Tilahun, May 2020

Roly Allen
It was a pleasure to work with Lula on her cookbook pitch. She had a really clear idea of what she wanted to accomplish, and in one call she gave me all the stories, ideas, and raw materials that w...
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