July 23, 2018

British publishers looking to capture post-World Cup fandom


Publishers hard at work, summer 2018

Melville House is no stranger to crashing books. For anyone who doesn’t have their publishing glossary handy: to “crash” a book means to put it on an accelerated writing and production schedule, such that it (or you) could fall apart at any minute. It’s an unideal way to publish a book, but sometimes—as when a book’s contents are racing the tide of current events—it’s necessary.

The precondition for a good crash is a great news hook, preferably international, preferably surrounding a semi-rare-to-rare occurrence that will generate its own publicity.

Enter the World Cup. (You remember the World Cup, right? Like a big literature anthology filled with highly skilled feet.)

As Sian Cain reports for the Guardian’s book blog, British publishers are scrambling to be the first to publish the big post-Cup book, particularly portraits of the players and coaches enjoying their newfound celebrity after England’s impressive performance this year.

Unbridgeable cultural differences, as well as an almost complete ignorance about the international soccer scene, keep me from understanding why the face of England’s coach, Gareth Southgate, might be getting tattooed on people’s bodies, but the fact remains that a biography about the man (who didn’t even win the Cup) is being crashed for release in just three short weeks.

Zero to Hero: The Southgate Story by Rob Mason will be jointly published by G2 Entertainment and St. James’s House Publishing. It aims to chronicle how the waistcoated (I repeat, unbridgeable cultural differences) coach went from a much-maligned player (I gather he made a Bill Buckner-level biff during a match in the nineties) to a national hero at the helm of a successful team.

People love a good redemption story.

But as Cain reminds us, this three-week turnaround will not be a record-breaking crash — as evidence, she points to “the breakneck speed of Jiang Xiaoyu and Xing Han of China, who wrote an ‘instant biography’ of Michael Jackson after working nonstop for 48 hours ‘on a diet of coffee and cigarettes’. Moonwalk in Paradise was available in shops in China nine days after Jackson’s death in 2009.”

Frankly, it’s a record they can keep.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.