Crime buyer Knobbs leaves Waterstones to pursue writing career

Crime buyer Knobbs leaves Waterstones to pursue writing career

Waterstones' crime buyer and noir novelist Joseph Knobbs is leaving the company after almost a decade to become a full-time writer. 

Knobbs - who published his first book, Sirens, in 2017 under the pseudonym Joseph Knox after signing a series deal with Transworld - joined Waterstones in 2009. He leaves on Friday 18th May. 

His career in bookselling began as a Christmas shelver in Manchester, spending most of his time in Waterstones' Manchester Deansgate and Nottingham branches. After he was offered a role on the management team based in the company's London Piccadilly store, he moved south, and soon took up the role of crime buyer for the chain. Describing himself as "a crime fiction obsessive", he said he had "jumped at the chance" when he was offered the job by fiction buyer Chris White and buying director Kate Skipper in 2013.

Knobbs told The Bookseller: "It was then, and is now, a dream job". However, he added that although his colleagues' support of his writing had gone "above and beyond expectations", the time had come to devote himself to writing full-time.

"I'd been trying to write the third book in the same way I wrote Sirens; that is to say, in mornings, lunch hours, evenings and weekends," said Knobbs. "Unfortunately, I've just run out of time for that approach." 

He began writing Sirens - which is shortlisted for The British Book Awards' Debut Book of the Year - before he started at Waterstones. His second book, The Smiling Man, which also stars detective Aidan Waits, published in March 2018 after he was able to take a six-month sabbatical in 2017 to write it while also promoting his first book. He is now leaving the retailer to work full time on the third book in the series, which is as yet unnamed. Through Nielsen Bookscan he has sold 38,705 print copies in total for £303,066, with Sirens his bestseller at 25,093 copies sold. 

White said: "Personally, I am going to miss not just an incredibly knowledgeable and able colleague, but also a dear friend. We’ve had enormous fun over the last five years and his departure is going to take some getting used to. However, I’m delighted that he’s leaving for the happiest of reasons. As you all know, he has now written two exceptional novels and he has taken the decision to pursue a career as a full-time writer. I wish him nothing but success and joy, and I look forward to buying (and selling) his books for many years to come."

Also leaving her job as a Waterstones bookseller is Leilah Skelton. She revealed on Twitter that, after 12 years in bookselling at Waterstones in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, she will be moving to London in June to work in marketing and PR for a children's publisher.