John Blake, Founder and Publisher, John Blake Publishing, and Rosie Virgo, Managing Director, John Blake Publishing, are stepping down from their roles with immediate effect.
After selling John Blake Publishing to Bonnier Publishing in 2016, Blake has steered a successful handover period, resulting in year on year growth of more than 60% and a record five Sunday Times bestsellers in 2017. Blake has run his eponymous business with often phenomenal results for over 28 years, with books including Being Jordan, which sold 1.3 million copies, The Guv’nor by Lennie McLean, which spent six weeks at the top of The Sunday Times bestseller list and Talking With Serial Killers which has sold more than 150,000 copies.
Following many happy years working as a show business reporter and columnist in Fleet Street on The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Sunday People, Rosie Virgo (née Ries) teamed up with Blake in 1991 to initiate an entirely new and successful genre in publishing. Known initially in the trade as ‘tabloid publishing,’ they set about using their valuable source of contacts and quick turnaround skills and achieved three top ten bestsellers in the first year. Aside from commissioning and negotiating national newspaper serialisations, Virgo took over the role of foreign rights and export director for the company and was a constant figure in Frankfurt and London for nearly three decades.
Kelly Ellis has been promoted to publishing director with immediate effect and will run the John Blake Publishing list, alongside her commissioning responsibilities for Blink. Ellis will report into Kings Road Publishing M.D., Ben Dunn. Ellis, formerly a commissioning editor at Ebury Press, has published over 25 Sunday Times bestsellers including Katie Piper’s Beautiful, Running with the Firm, Secret Slave and more recently Dynamo’s The Book of Secrets, and has particular expertise in inspirational memoir and true crime, helping Bonnier Publishing claim the number one spot in both genres last year.
The eight staff currently located at the John Blake Publishing offices on Bramber Road will relocate to Bonnier Publishing’s Chelsea offices, where they will join Kings Road Publishing’s adult non-fiction imprints Blink Publishing, Lagom and 535.
The imprint will continue its focus on mass-market paperback, genre non-fiction, including True Crime, Misery and Nostalgia as well as self-generated and fast to market publications, while focusing on its backlist and maintaining its strong e-book sales.
I am so proud to have been part of this exciting and creative industry for so long and I wish Bonnier Publishing every success for the future.
John Blake said: “It has been fun working with Bonnier Publishing, but I have a bestseller I am itching to write and the time has come for some new adventures.”
Rosie Virgo said: “Thanks to John Blake and latterly Bonnier Publishing – I have been fortunate enough to have had the most wonderful and exciting career in publishing. Whilst working, few people are given the chance to forge lasting friendships in every corner of the world and, of course, at home. I am so proud to have been a part of this exciting and creative industry for so long and I wish Bonnier Publishing every success for the future”.
I have enjoyed my time working with both Rosie and John enormously; we owe them a huge debt of thanks as they leave behind a hugely innovative and profitable list in fantastic shape for Kelly Ellis and the John Blake commissioning team to continue to build upon.
-Ben Dunn, M.D., Kings Road Publishing
Ben Dunn, M.D., Kings Road Publishing said: “John is truly a one-off in modern British publishing; a ground-breaker with a never-say-die attitude. During his extraordinary run, he has published some incredible best sellers; from Katie Price’s first autobiography (that went on to sell more than a million copies) to his focus on mass-appeal genres, such as inspirational and true crime; genres that have since been aped by every major house in the UK. John published books that helped to change UK publishing forever, while schooling many an editor along the way: including Michael Joseph’s Daniel Bunyard, Transworld’s Michele Signore and our very own Joel Simons. I have enjoyed my time working with both Rosie and John enormously; we owe them a huge debt of thanks as they leave behind a hugely innovative and profitable list in fantastic shape for Kelly Ellis and the John Blake commissioning team to continue to build upon.”
Kelly Ellis, Publishing Director, Kings Road Publishing said: “As a former journalist I’ve long been a great admirer of John with the utmost respect for everything he has achieved, and we will be working hard to protect the journalistic legacy he leaves behind. With a focus on what John Blake Publishing does best, we are set upon establishing the imprint as a destination publisher for the most exciting, newsworthy and hard-hitting books in the market as well as growing its rich heritage list and developing fresh revenue streams. We will be a nimble, pro-active publisher that moves with the times and I’m very excited to be joining the highly talented team already in place there.”