Bonnier Zaffre has been publishing adult and children's fiction in the U.K. for three years and is part of Bonnier Publishing, the fastest-growing major publisher in the world with revenues of $180 million. Now Bonnier Zaffre is making a foray into the U.S. with an unusual publishing model: it's focusing on publishing brand authors whose books are blockbusters around the world, particularly in the U.K. and the Commonwealth, but are less well known in the U.S.
The first two are Lynda La Plante, the prolific English author best known for creating and writing the beloved Prime Suspect TV series, and Wilbur Smith, the internationally bestselling author of several bestselling, long-running adventure/thriller series, including the Courtney series, which traces the saga of one family over several centuries, starting in the early 1700s, and the Egyptian series, set in ancient Egypt.
"The idea is to concentrate on bestselling authors, put them on top of the list, and do everything for them, focusing on them 365 days of the year, rather than just two weeks after a new book comes out," Mark Smith, CEO of Bonnier Zaffre, explains. "If we put them front and center, they will do a lot better here than in the past."
Bonnier Zaffre has already had great success with these authors in the U.K., and publishing them in a new, stronger way in the U.S. is "an additional service we can provide," Mark Smith adds. Bonnier Zaffre plans to add similar brand-name authors to its U.S. list. "Our job is to find the market here for them."
Bonnier Zaffre's U.S. publishing program launched at the outset of the year, when the company released 31 titles by Wilbur Smith in e-book format. Many more titles will be released in print this year, including the 31 Smith titles; a new Courtney hardcover, Courtney's War; Smith's memoir, On Leopard Rock; three titles by La Plante set early in the career of Jane Tennison (the main character of Prime Suspect); a new Tennison title, Murder Mile; and an expanded version of Widows, which is the basis of the Hollywood blockbuster directed by Oscar-winner Steve McQueen scheduled for November (see below).
There will be major marketing campaigns for both authors' books. La Plante, who has a home in New York, will visit the U.S., tour, and attend ThrillerFest. The opening of the movie version of La Plante's Widows will also be a focus for publicity and marketing. For Wilbur Smith, the release of On Leopard Rock and Courtney's War will be high points.
Bonnier Zaffre aims to appeal to the groups that either already know the authors or who should be most interested. In La Plante's case, that includes mystery, thriller and true-crime fans, as well as the many readers drawn to tales about challenges women face in the workplace. For Wilbur Smith, Bonnier Zaffre will target family saga, thriller and adventure fans. The message for Smith will be that his books are "great stories set in exotic, international locales, with strong female leads, and that he is one of the best adventure writers in the world who writes great family sagas," Mark Smith said. "He's been entertaining and thrilling readers for 54 years."
Simon & Schuster is making sure the books get to booksellers and librarians. (S&S handles all Bonnier Publishing USA imprints, which include Weldon Owen, little bee books, IglooBooks, Blue Streak Books and Sizzle Press.)