The novels of Alexander McCall Smith (Birlinn) have been a huge success, and other famous fiction sensations have been Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Canongate), We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Serpent’s Tail), The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Gallic) and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Hesperus). The evolution of this brilliant book – which had been turned down by many major publishing houses – from one editor’s personal enthusiasm into massive sales, follows a pattern that has become very familiar to the Compass team. Firstly, we all read the book. Then we engaged fully with the publisher to ensure that the cover approach and marketing strategy were spot on. We then hand-sold the project to customers both at Head Office level and also the independent book trade. The rest is history – Hesperus sold over half a million copies.
With non-fiction titles, a quick response to breaking news stories and fast-moving trends is often what enables the Compass team to capitalise on every possible sale. Sometimes a highly topical title is published at very short notice, as with Blowing Up Russia by Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvenenko (Gibson Square); and Compass are second to none in our ability to get multiple copies into bookshops quickly.
A certain anecdote involving a pig catapulted Call Me Dave (Biteback) to fame, and we ensured it sold and went on selling! We’re all Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety by Clare Eastham (Jessica Kingsley) is a good example of a title from an academic publisher which we ensured was fully promoted and sold to the general book trade following the author’s TV appearances, and the huge rise in awareness in mental health issues. Some people thought that a £50 hardback involving a collection of stereoscopic photos and anecdotes featuring a 1970s rock band might not have much of a market. But again, colossal personal enthusiasm from the team, a close collaboration over window displays and author appearances, plus a real belief in the quality of the project, meant that Queen in 3D by Brian May (London Stereoscopic) was another winner. You Can Heal Your Life is an international and inspirational bestseller for Hay House whilst the Jason Vale Juice titles have sold in their millions for Crown House.
Quality is an all-important and consistent ingredient of our bestselling titles, and this is certainly the case with the wonderful books from Wild Things. We are proud to have been spreading the word about this inspirational publisher from the beginning, and the same enthusiasm that helped Wild Swimming become a bestseller has driven sales upwards and onwards for their beautiful books ever since.
On the academic and professional side, Kogan Page’s Retirement and Tax Guides are the top books in their field, and Compass ensure that they sell strongly, year after year. The BNF from Pharmaceutical Press is another huge title, providing up-to-date guidance on medicines and vital for healthcare professionals. Danny Dorling’s Injustice (Bristol UP/Policy Press) and Noam Chomsky’s Rogue States (Pluto) are important books on serious topics – which our team have helped to become big hits.
As everyone in publishing knows, the truly stratospheric super-seller is a rare and elusive thing. But with Compass as your partner, you can be confident that we will give every publisher and every book, the best possible chance to soar.