Roly Allen

Roly Allen - Ghostwriter

Hove, UK

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

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Overview

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.

How?

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 published many books, and sold even more, I know how what's in a distinctive, commercial proposal that agents and publishers will take seriously. If you have a non-fiction idea that needs polishing into shape, then I can help.

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MY STORY
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 amazon.co.uk'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.

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MY SKILLS
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
Services
Short-Form Content
Languages
English (UK)
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Art
Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits
Design
DIY & Crafts
Photography
Sports & Outdoors
Writing & Publishing

Work experience

Author

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

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 amazon.co.uk's Bread Baking category on its release. I've written there books about bicycles, and one about marijuana, too.

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 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.

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 (19 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

How to Build a Bike (in a Weekend)

Anderson, Alan, Phillips, Lee John

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

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

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

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

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 13 reviews

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

John Rowe
Yep. I've worked with role before. Great service as expected.

John Rowe, May 2021

Roly Allen
Thanks John - glad you like the piece, it was fun to work on, as before! Roly

Reply from Roly Allen


Richard Ince
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.

Richard Ince, May 2021

Roly Allen
Thank you Richard! It's been such a pleasure working with you and I look forward to watching THE GIFT develop.

Reply from Roly Allen


John Mark
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...
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John Mark, May 2021


Richard Ince
I am very impressed and satisfied with the depth of knowledge, preparation and feedback I am getting while working with Roly

Richard Ince, May 2021

Roly Allen
Thank you Richard! I look forward to working with you again.

Reply from Roly Allen


Annette Cromwell
He knows where I am coming from and picks up on it. He is in-depth. Also very pleasant

Annette Cromwell, April 2021

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