Roly Allen

Roly Allen – Ghostwriter

A former Hachette publisher, I'll help you to write your book, and find an agent or a publisher for it.


With years of experience of all kinds of non-fiction – including memoir, MBS, food & drink, business, creativity, history, sports and more – I'll help you to write your book, and find a home for it.


I can work on the 'big picture' of your manuscript, and on the detailed nitty-gritty of your writing, helping you to:

+ develop, clarify, and organise your ideas or narrative – giving it a compelling structure
+ write clear, elegant, and powerful prose – in your own voice
+ research the vivid details that bring a story to life
+ coach you through the process, taking the pain out as you build up your manuscript in easy stages and develop your skills
+ adapt an existing manuscript (or blog posts, articles, etc) so that it reads like a real book

[We can do all this by email, by zoom, or over the phone, as you prefer. I can work with your notes or first draft, too.]

We can also create a professional, industry-standard book pitch, so you can find a publisher or an agent. I will:

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

Having written six books, published hundreds, and sold even more, I know how to craft a distinctive, commercial proposal that agents and publishers will take seriously.

So if you have a non-fiction idea that needs working into shape, then I can help.


For more than twenty years, I've created books and sold them. My start was in foreign rights, selling lifestyle books to European publishers: then I took on the US, co-publishing with houses like Harper, Abrams, Chronicle, Random House, St Martins, Thunder Bay and so on. I then became a publisher and created books that sold millions of copies around the world.

Now I write my own books, one of which, HOW TO RAISE A LOAF AND FALL IN LOVE WITH SOURDOUGH, went to #1 in's bread baking category on its release. I've also written three books about bicycles and one about marijuana.

My private clients have included people from all walks of life - parents, chefs, diplomats, refugees, teachers, missionaries, drug smugglers, and doctors. The stories I've heard have been amazing – often extremely moving – and it's been a privilege to help my clients get them down on the page. It's also incredibly satisfying to see them go on to win publishing deals.


As a writer, I'm here to help you express yourself:
+ I know how to structure and pace a book
+ I can work in any register - chatty and informal, academic and authoritative, or tense and exciting
+ I listen, and enjoy working collaboratively

As a seasoned book professional, 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 can work with nearly any non-fiction or lifestyle genre
+ I know the US, UK and European markets, and have placed literally hundreds of titles at concept stage.

As a coach, I can help you write it all yourself:
+ I'll give you structural advice about plot, story, and pace – so your readers will be sucked right in to the page
+ I can help you organise complicated material - often difficult in non-fiction.
+ I'll give you style tips and advice, so that you can develop confidence in your own writing
+ We'll work together to keep the process fun and your motivation high
Art Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits Design DIY & Crafts Photography Sports & Outdoors Writing & Publishing
English (UK) English (US)

Work experience


Feb, 2019 — Present

I write books and I'm pleased to say that one of them, HOW TO RAISE A LOAF AND FALL IN LOVE WITH SOURDOUGH, immediately went to #1 in's Bread Baking category on its release. I've written six books so far and have one more under contract.

I also write for other people, helping them to

+ develop and clarify their ideas
+ position their concept, making it absolutely clear who the readership is, and why their book will appeal
+ 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 publishers take seriously.

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

Ilex (an imprint of Hachette UK)

Jan, 2008 — Feb, 2019 (about 11 years)

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.

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.


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Roly has 14 reviews





Kathy B.

Kathy B.

Jul, 2021

5 *STARS* all the way. I would give him more if I could. Thank you Roly for a job well done!
Roly A.
Thanks Kathy, that's great to hear! Looking forward to what comes next!
John R.

John R.

May, 2021

Yep. I've worked with role before. Great service as expected.
Roly A.
Thanks John - glad you like the piece, it was fun to work on, as before! Roly
Richard I.

Richard I.

May, 2021

Very happy that I met Roly and I am really appreciative of the preparation that he makes for our meetings and the time taken to ensure I am understanding and developing through this collaboration. I feel very confident that my book is on the right path.
Roly A.
Thank you Richard! It's been such a pleasure working with you and I look forward to watching THE GIFT develop.
John M.

John M.

May, 2021

I have previously written a non-fiction book, and sought Roly's help in refining information into a draft for a sequel. Roly Allen was very prompt and professional with his proposal and product. (Sometimes alliteration happens haha.) During the process he clearly communicated and incorperated my directions. I am giving 5 stars because Roly delivered exactly what was promised, exactly when it wa...
Read more
Richard I.

Richard I.

May, 2021

I am very impressed and satisfied with the depth of knowledge, preparation and feedback I am getting while working with Roly
Roly A.
Thank you Richard! I look forward to working with you again.

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