We spoke to Ed Faulkner, Deputy Publisher at the Ebury Publishing Division at Penguin Random House UK. Ed is responsible for overseeing the Vermilion, Virgin and WH Allen imprints. His authors include Sir Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, Steve Hilton, Ray Davies and Peter Thiel. He has published a wide range of bestselling books in categories including business, technology, current affairs, history and music.
Tell us a bit about your role.
I am the Deputy Publisher at the Ebury Publishing Division of Penguin Random House UK, responsible for overseeing three distinct non-fiction imprints – Vermilion, Virgin and WH Allen, which, between them, publish about 80 new titles per year. I manage a team of eight editorial staff and also acquire and publish books across the imprints.
What is the book you’ve been proudest of publishing?
It is a rare privilege to publish a book that becomes a massive cultural phenomenon and whose title becomes a phrase on everyone’s lips. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg has been a bestseller all over the world and become a modern classic that will sell for many years to come. It has changed a lot of people’s lives and I’m very proud to have published it.
How has the rise of self-publishing and indie writers affected the role of the traditional publisher?
The rise of self-publishing and indie writers is undoubtedly a good thing for readers as they have more choice than ever in what to read, and the barriers to entry have been reduced. However, I still believe traditional publishers have a strong role to play in developing and nurturing writers. By using our editorial, sales and marketing experience, we can help authors reach as many readers as possible with their work.
The bestseller lists are full of parody Ladybirds and the stars of Instagram and YouTube. Which areas of non-fiction should we be watching out for as a coming trend?
The book market is full of surprises and we make predictions at our peril. What I would say is that well-written and carefully crafted non-fiction that speaks to a dedicated and engaged audience has a good chance of being successful in whatever genre or subject area it is in.
With Frankfurt looming, tell us about what you like most and least about book fairs.
It’s always an extremely exciting time before Frankfurt each year with lots of deals being done in the run up to the fair. Once I get there, what I like most is the serendipity of seeing old friends, making new connections and hearing about new ideas and trends while walking the halls. What I like least is the lack of natural daylight in those same halls!
What should we be reading this autumn?
This is our busiest time of year and there are so many great books being published this autumn across the entire industry. From Ebury, we have new books by Rick Stein, Jamie Vardy, Guy Martin, Johanna Basford, Dan and Phil and Tim Ferriss to name just a few, so take your pick!