Liz Gough, publisher of Yellow Kite and lifestyle at Hodder & Stoughton, talks the latest trends in the self-help and wellness market, the non-fiction book that created the biggest buzz at the London Book Fair and what’s currently on her reading pile.
Is the lifestyle market still growing?It’s booming! We launched in 2014 and in the past few years most of the major publishers have started their own non-fiction lifestyle imprints. Our strapline at Yellow Kite is ‘books that help you live a good life’ so we cover everything from wellbeing, healthy eating and exercise to mindfulness, work, parenting and relationships. This part of the market has really grown as people are looking for experts and for inspiration to help them to maximise their free time – whether that’s with quick and simple recipes, workouts, meditation or a holistic approach to health.
What are the trends we’re going to be seeing this year?Nature is a big one. Both ways to get in touch with nature and the power of nature as a healing method. We’re publishing a book in May called ‘Walk With Your Wolf’ by Jonathan Hoban who is a pioneer of walking therapy. He takes clients outdoors as you get a very different perspective when you’re outside walking rather than cooped up in a room. Meditation is still very current. People have read about how it can change their life but are often nervous or reluctant to try it. ‘A Monk’s Guide to Happiness’ which we publish in June is an accessible guide to meditation that makes it feel less daunting. Another trend is spirituality. People are more open to the idea of looking within and seeking ways to feel more empowered or in touch with their spiritual selves.
The environment is also a big theme in the publishing world. People have been really affected by plastic and want to create less waste and buy less ‘stuff’. Cleaning and decluttering is a big trend too. As the political world is so out of control and people feel powerless, they want to control the things they can like their homes and environment and try and find some sort of order. We’re all seeking simplicity. If you keep things simple you have more time to focus on the important things in life and also use that time to learn new things. It’s very telling that the non-fiction book that created the biggest buzz at the London Book Fair was a memoir about a Swedish father and son who go on eel fishing expeditions together. It’s about simple pleasures, a mutual love of nature and gaining understanding of a mysterious fish!
What about food trends?In 2015 we published ‘Deliciously Ella’ which was the biggest-selling debut cookbook and helped spark a healthy eating revolution in the UK. People still want these kinds of books but it’s less about specific trends. So they might not be fully vegan but there’s a definite movement towards eating less meat and eating more vegetables and people want books that will give them inspiration and easy ways to do that.
Do you ever approach authors directly? There’s a big leaning towards expertise so often we will spot a trend and find someone who is an expert in that area. Social media is still relevant but it’s more about engagement and having a unique voice rather than necessarily having a huge amount of followers. We’re looking for people who are saying something in a different way to everyone else.
What’s on your reading pile? I’m currently reading ‘Bookworm’ by Lucy Mangan which is reminding me of so many lost and much-loved children’s books. I recently finished ‘The Salt Path’ which was very powerful. It’s a love story and a story of loss and new beginnings as well as an interesting take on the fine line between having it all and having nothing. It’s very worthy of all the recognition it’s had. I’m about to start reading ‘Sweet Sorrow’ the new one from David Nicholls which is Hodder’s big summer read – I’m lucky to have a proof copy.
Which books do you wish you’d published?‘Mindfulness’ by Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman. It outlined a new and effective model of self-help that’s gone on to sell more than 100k copies – it’s what we call a ‘category killer’ in the trade. I also would have loved to publish Marie Kondo – an incredible and unexpected phenomenon.