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Johnny Acton

Johnny Acton - Ghostwriter

London, United Kingdom

Experienced and versatile ghostwriter, author and copy-editor. I specialise in biography, sport, food and popular history. New to Reedsy.

Overview

I've written or co-authored 17 non fiction books, with cumulative sales well into the hundred thousands. The subjects have varied widely - you might almost say wildly - from mushrooms to the role of balloons in the early days of the Space Race. Nevertheless, I have definite specialities: popular history/biography, sport and food.

I have done a fair bit of ghostwriting, for people ranging from Prince Charles to Paul McCartney to a celebrity Thai Chef. I'm not a bad mimic, which comes in handy in this arena. I am also a trained Copy-editor.

Before becoming a full time author, I was a freelance journalist. One regular gig was writing obituaries for The Times, the 'newspaper of record' (I also wrote interviews and travel features for the same paper). Prominent subjects included George Best, Quentin Crisp, Clarissa Dickson Wright and the Duke of Westminster. This was an excellent training in accuracy and capturing the essence of people's characters and life stories as concisely as possible. I had regular columns in Penthouse UK (!) and the pioneering 90s foodie 'lads' mag' EatSoup. I have also had articles appear in publications including The Economist, The Daily Telegraph and the Literary Review. Having written for such diverse audiences, I am well accustomed to adapting my tone to suit the targeted readership.

Away from the world of writing, my excursions have included spells as a restaurant entrepreneur and a hobby pig farmer. It is, however, people and the written word that really float my boat.

Services
Languages
English (UK) English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs Cooking & Food Wine & Spirits History Sports & outdoor recreation Travel

Certifications

  • Copy-Editing and Proofreading course at the Publishing Training Centre in London
  • BA Philosophy and Theology, Oxford University

Awards

  • How to Watch the Olympics (2012, revised 2016) was selected by the Guardian, Independent and Observer as one of the sports books of the year.

Work experience

Copy-Editing/Ghostwriting

Johnny Acton is self-employed

May, 2007 – Present (over 9 years)

I have been regularly employed by Kyle Cathie Ltd to copy-edit and/or ghostwrite books or sections of books written by non-authors, including:

The Shed: The Cookbook (2014) – Gregory, Oliver and Richard Gladwin
Meat Free Monday Cookbook (2011) – Sir Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney
The Big Book of Thai Curries (2007) – Vatcherin Bhumichitr
Fish Tales (2009) – Tom Kime and Bart Van Olphen

In 2013, I spent several months ghostwriting and editing Chinese students’ applications to Western Universities for the web service MyDocumate.

Author

Johnny Acton is self-employed

October, 1999 – Present (about 17 years)

My books cover a wide range of subjects but can be grouped as follows:

BIOGRAPHY

The Man Who Touched the Sky (Hodder, 2002)
- The story of test pilot and super high altitude balloonist Joe Kittinger, a key but forgotten figure in the early days of the Space Race.

SPORT

How to Watch the Olympics (Profile 2012, revised edition 2016)
- A comprehensive guide to the Olympic sports and the history of the Games.

The Football Book (Dorling Kindersley, 2010)
- An illustrated volume covering all aspects of the sport.

I was also chief researcher for three editions of the encyclopaedic World Football Yearbook (DK, 2002, 03 and 04).

POPULAR HISTORY

The Time Travel Handbook (Profile, 2015)
- A cross between a conventional travel guide and a history book. It whisks you back in time to the beheading of Charles I and the Rumble in the Jungle while telling you where to eat and spend the night.

The West You Really Don’t Know (China Central Television, 2013)
- Companion volume to a pioneering Chinese documentary series about the problems facing the West.

The Origin of Everyday Things (Think Books, 2006)
- The stories behind the invention of everything from bubblewrap to roller skates.

FOOD

The Sausage Book (Kyle Cathie, 2010)
- How to make all kinds of sausages and cook delicious things with them.

The Branded Cookbook (Kyle Cathie, 2008)
- The history and culinary uses of the world's most iconic food brands.

The Duchy Originals Cookbook (Kyle Cathie, 2006)
- I co-wrote this to promote Prince Charles’s Organic Food business. I also ghost-wrote the foreword for him.

Preserved (Kyle Cathie, 2004)
- A guide to pickling, fermenting, smoking and so on.

Mushroom (Kyle Cathie, 2001)
- A book all about the culinary and other uses of fungi.

Soup (Kyle Cathie, 1999)
- Written to promote the chain of gourmet soup restaurants I co-founded in 1998.

TRIVIA

The Little Book of Big Expenses (A & C Black, 2009)
- An irreverent look at the MPs' expenses scandal.

Minted (Think Publishing, 2007)
- A perky little illustrated book about money

Kings of Comedy (Think Publishing, 2005)
- Facts and anecdotes about comedians.

The Ideas Companion (Think Publishing, 2005)
- An offbeat look at inventions and Intellectual Property.

EDUCATIONAL

Economy (DK Eyewitness Books, 2010)
- An illustrated book written to help out parents beleaguered by nine year olds asking “Mum, what’s a credit crunch?”

Founder and Marketing Director

Soup Works Plc

January, 1998 – September, 2001 (over 3 years)

This was a chain of frankly rather groovy gourmet soup bars in the West End of London.

Freelance Journalist

Johnny Acton is self-employed

May, 1995 – July, 2010 (about 15 years)

Regular gigs included:

The Times - Obituary and feature writer. Accuracy, speed of turn-around and concision particularly important in the former. Subjects included George Best, Brian Clough, Quentin Crisp and The Duke of Westminster.

EatSoup - Staff writer and columnist for this influential mid-90s foodie magazine.

IP Review - Web and hard copy columnist for this intellectual property title.

Fortnum & Mason Magazine – Feature writer.

Penthouse UK – Columnist and Interviewer.

I have also written articles for numerous publications including The Economist, The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman and The Literary Review.

Social Therapist

Littlemore Hospital, Oxford

October, 1992 – February, 1994 (over 1 year)

Working in an NHS therapeutic community for young adults with psychotic illnesses.

Mini Cab Driver

Camden Central Cars

December, 1991 – July, 1992 (7 months)

Conscious exercise in gaining experience of the 'real world' through being shut in a metal box for several hours a day with random members of the public.

Television Researcher

Various

September, 1989 – October, 1991 (about 2 years)

Researching documentary ideas for various producers at the BBC. Developing programme ideas for the acclaimed Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark.

Portfolio (14 selected works)

The Big Book of Thai Curries

Vatcharin Bhumichitr

Fish Tales: in Association with MSC: Stories and Recipes from Sustainable Fisheries Around the World

Tom Kime, Bart Van Olphen

Fishmonger Bart van Olphen and chef Tom Kime travelled to MSC-certified fisheries and fisheries in assessment all over the world in search of sustainable fish. From the wild salmon in the Yukon River in Alaska, to clams harvested from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, this book tells the stories of the beautiful fish caught at these sustainable fisheries, the fishermen that work there and their oce... read more

Fishmonger Bart van Olphen and chef Tom Kime travelled to MSC-certified fisheries and fisheries in assessment all over the world in search of sustainable fish. From the wild salmon in the Yukon River in Alaska, to clams harvested from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, this book tells the stories of the beautiful fish caught at these sustainable fisheries, the fishermen that work there and their oce... read more

The Time Travel Handbook: From the Eruption of Vesuvius to the Woodstock Festival

James Wyllie, Johnny Acton, David Goldblatt

Not many of us can claim to have dipped our handkerchiefs in Charles I's blood after his execution, or to have watched Vesuvius erupt, but that's about to change... Wyllie, Acton & Goldblatt's Time Travel Handbook offers eighteen exceptional trips to the past, transporting you back to the greatest spectacles in history. We offer the chance to join Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, ... read more

Not many of us can claim to have dipped our handkerchiefs in Charles I's blood after his execution, or to have watched Vesuvius erupt, but that's about to change... Wyllie, Acton & Goldblatt's Time Travel Handbook offers eighteen exceptional trips to the past, transporting you back to the greatest spectacles in history. We offer the chance to join Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, ... read more

The Duchy Originals Cookbook

Nick Sandler, Johnny Acton

Origin of Everyday Things

Johnny Acton, Tania Adams, Matt Packer

Preserved

Johnny Acton, Nick Sandler

Covers various techniques of food preservation. This book shows how to build a smokehouse and then smoke your own salmon, how to make sausages, infuse oils, preserve with sugar and bottle fruit in alcohol. It also explores international methods of preserving - the biltong of South Africa, Asian kim chee and the herbes de Provence.

Covers various techniques of food preservation. This book shows how to build a smokehouse and then smoke your own salmon, how to make sausages, infuse oils, preserve with sugar and bottle fruit in alcohol. It also explores international methods of preserving - the biltong of South Africa, Asian kim chee and the herbes de Provence.

The Ideas Companion: Crafty Copyrights, Tricky Trademarks and Peerless Patents (The Companion Series)

Johnny Acton

The Ideas Companion Everyone is interested in new ideas. So much so, that there is an entire industry behind every invention, trademark, design, domain name and brand that we come across every day of our lives. It's been estimated that each one of us comes across 1500 trademarks every single day (and a staggering 30,000 when we go to the supermarket!). Full description

The Ideas Companion Everyone is interested in new ideas. So much so, that there is an entire industry behind every invention, trademark, design, domain name and brand that we come across every day of our lives. It's been estimated that each one of us comes across 1500 trademarks every single day (and a staggering 30,000 when we go to the supermarket!). Full description

The Football Book (Dk)

David Goldblatt, Johnny Acton

Author: DkHardbackRevised and updated in time for the 2014 World Cup, this includes facts, eye-catching artworks and fascinating information about the biggest names in club football, match highlights and inside stories. Also features a Brazil 2014 World Cup wallchart.Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers LtdISBN: 9781409346975

Author: DkHardbackRevised and updated in time for the 2014 World Cup, this includes facts, eye-catching artworks and fascinating information about the biggest names in club football, match highlights and inside stories. Also features a Brazil 2014 World Cup wallchart.Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers LtdISBN: 9781409346975

Soup by Nick Sandler (1999-10-06)

Nick Sandler;Johnny Acton

The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

Sir Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney, Mary McCartney

In 2009, Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney launched the Meat Free Monday campaign as a simple and straightforward idea to show everyone the value of eating less meat - and to make it easier for us all to do so. The Meat Free Monday Cookbook is for everyone who shares the campaign's aims and consists of menus for each of the 52 weeks of the year. Packed with recipes such as Spiced Pumpkin Pancake... read more

In 2009, Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney launched the Meat Free Monday campaign as a simple and straightforward idea to show everyone the value of eating less meat - and to make it easier for us all to do so. The Meat Free Monday Cookbook is for everyone who shares the campaign's aims and consists of menus for each of the 52 weeks of the year. Packed with recipes such as Spiced Pumpkin Pancake... read more

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