An eventful year has ensured an eventful start at Gallery; Simon and Schuster UK’s new commercial non-fiction Imprint. From memoirs to wellness and popular culture, Holly Harris, publishing director of Gallery says “We have an amazing list lined up for year one, our strength is our breadth of publishing.”
Gallery began as imprint in the US over a decade ago - expanding the tagline overseas “books that engage, enlightens and entertain”, Gallery UK will have some books with American colleagues but predominantly be British home-grown talent, says Harris.
The new imprint announced late last year has already made a promising start, recently enquiring Bob Mortimer’s first memoir And Away... she says, “I have never seen anything like the response on social media and from independent booksellers, I think that’s going to be a real focus for us this and I am really excited”. Another title Harris is thrilled about is Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics written by MP for Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips. “Jess felt like that the cabinet is filled with Etonians and there’s still a huge education piece still to be done about feeling like politics is for them.” Harris added that, “it’s a really funny, engaging and accessible book that will lift a lid on what our MPs actually spend their time doing”
Harris also comments on colleague Fritha Saunders’s interesting titles for Gallery. The editorial director of S&S recently acquired YouTube and Instagram influencer Anchal Seda’s What Would The Aunties Say? Based on the podcast of the same name, it’s a coming-of-age guide book on how to navigate difficult family situations.
Gallery was established in the UK to give better identity and focus on commercial non-fiction which includes lifestyle, zeitgeist, celebrity publishing and culture - whilst S&S will retain serious non-fiction such as history, memoir, current affairs. “In order to grow, we want to focus on the more commercial end of the list. That’s why we have introduced Gallery as a kind of way of giving additional clarity and focus to us as publishers, agents and authors - who are looking for a home for their books.” says Harris. In terms of finding zeitgeist books, Harris thinks that books are a piece of the cultural landscape; “so anything that people are interested in or talking about will naturally find its home in the publishing world.”
Gallery isn’t the only thing that’s turning into lemonade - the non-fiction market had a real boom in the age of fake news says Harris. “It’s used as a trusted source and I don’t think that will go away. That’s reaffirmed readers relationships with non-fiction authors.” With many creators turning to social media to find their audiences, books like Mrs Hinch and Pinch of Nom have dominated the majority of breakout titles, reflects Harris.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that more people had time on their hands, inevitably many celebrities have turned to writing a book: “you may have noticed every celebrity who said they won’t write a book have now written a memoir. It will be really interesting to see how the celebrity market changes once the world opens up.” adds Harris.
Harris joined the publishing company last year summer. Before S&S, she worked as editorial and media development director at Penguin Random House Children’s division and prior to this she was at Headline which is owned by Hachette. Harris felt “weird” and “normal” at the same time about changing roles over the pandemic, she adds “So many people have moved jobs in the pandemic and in the non-fiction team four out of eight of us have started in lockdown.”
After completing a degree in Classics and doing work experience at a law firm, she realised she doesn’t have what it takes to work in law. “I then had work experience at a publisher and couldn’t believe it was a real job.” she reminisces. It wasn’t long before she got her first job in publishing as an editorial assistant in the non-fiction department at Headline.
What she loves most about her currently role at Gallery is the collaborative partnership between editorial and other teams - “You work with everybody in every stage of the process. From contracts, design, sales PR to marketing.” And reflecting on the past year she acknowledges that, “it’s been unfair on authors and booksellers that shops have been shut. It’s really narrowed the root to market”
She adds: “It’s hard to say how much we will be changed by this. I hope books will naturally evolve to always suit their readers to pace.”