A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…. Sara-Jade Virtue by SJV
2017/02/15  |  By:   |  Features  |  

There is nothing weirder I’ve done today, unless you count eating a leftover Valentine’s Day tuna maki sushi roll straight from the fridge at quarter past five this morning… than answer my own ‘A Day in the Life Of….’ questions, but here goes!

Is there such a thing as a typical day, and if so what does it look like?

I wear two hats here at S&S – I was recently promoted from Head of Special Sales to Special Sales Director, and from www.booksandthecity.co.uk Project Manager to Brand Director  (Commercial Fiction) – so, the simple answer is no, there is absolutely no such thing as a typical day – but each one starts off pretty much the same….

I get up at 5am, and stumble to the kitchen for the first of the 3 mugs of Nespresso I have before leaving home sometime before 6.15am. I’m fascinated by people who can be out of the house, clean and dressed in 20 minutes. Fascinated and disturbed if I’m honest. What’s the rush? I like a long leisurely bath in the morning to contemplate life, love and the universe. I like to watch bad infomercials, preferably Shaun T getting his insanity groove on. Or Jeremy Kyle getting his judgyMcJudgerson on.  And these excessively thick eyelashes don’t mascara themselves you know?  I need a ridiculous amount of time to fanny about NOT getting ready, whilst I’m getting ready.

I have too many commuting choices to ever be sure that I’ve made the right one, but 99% of the time, if I’m heading straight to the office I catch a bus, a train and then another bus and am at my desk with Nespresso number 4 by 7.30am regardless of the route.

Like most people I check emails constantly, so I’m never surprised by what’s in my inbox, so in the golden couple of hours before the rest of S&S HQ gets in, I can work in peace and nail a healthy chunk of the TTDT list. That could be starting on one of the hundreds of grids I’ll build, populate, submit or analyse in any given week (sales people spend a seriously unhealthy amount of time squinting at spreadsheets), creating a customer, partner, author or internal PowerPoint presentation, or forward planning for internal and external meetings.

Whilst most of my days involve this heady mix of email, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, internal meetings and regular Nespresso breaks, at least once a week I’ll be with a customer presenting our titles 3, 6 or 9 months in advance of their publication dates, or talking specific range, genre or backlist promotions.  It’s a time when all the plotting, planning, scheduling and scheming falls into place, and I get to show my passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of our books and our authors.

Despite what my twitter feed might look like, I spend only a tiny fraction of any given week reading, eating cupcakes with colleagues or drinking cocktails with authors – but with my Brand Director hat on, I do get to talk about our brilliant women’s fiction list and call it ‘work’.  I know, right?  It’s my Dream Job, and I’m fully aware of just how lucky I am, I promise!

I try to leave the office before 6pm and will either be meeting friends for cocktails or at some kind of women’s fiction event at least twice a week.  On the other couple of days it’s a repeat commute home, catching up on twitter on the way, before a dinner straight out of the microwave or sandwiches.  I do try and read in the evenings, but mostly you’ll find me slumped on my side of the sofa watching TV and playing a couple of rounds of Candy Crush….

For the record, if I was a budding debut author, faced with the dreaded blank first page, what would be your top tip to bestseller success?

I have 9 actually.  As part of our eBook #DigitalOriginals publishing programme, we run a #OneDay open submission project every year on 15th July – where we ask authors of commercial women’s fiction, either published or debut, agented or not, edited or raw – to submit their novel to us for possible acquisition by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.  It’s a really exciting time for us here at @TeamBATC HQ as we are passionate about acquiring excellent new voices – but we completely understand that it can be a really baffling and scary process, so whilst I really REALLY can’t offer any practical blank first page advise, what I say to everyone is:

Write a book you would most like to read

Make me laugh

Make it fresh and original

Make me cry

Keep the story moving

Grab me from the first page

Tell me a story I haven’t read before

Excite, engage and captivate me

Create characters I will believe in and like

I’m obsessed with other peoples TBR piles, how high is yours? And do you have 2, one for work books and one for pleasure books?

I’m very lucky in that at least 50% of my ‘work reading’ pile is also my ‘pleasure reading’ pile.  That’s not to say of course that I only have two piles.  I have many many piles.  And the height of them is constantly being investigated by Home Building Safety (AKA @MrBookMinx).

Have you got a best and worst part of the job?

There really isn’t any worst part of my job, except I suppose that no-one has invented a way of pushing a couple more hours into the day, cause there is always another book begging to be read…

Is there an author you’d sell a limb to meet?

Back in my Waterstones days I was lucky enough to meet Marian Keyes, Cecelia Ahern, Sophie Kinsella, Jenny Colgan, Veronica Henry, Harriet Evans, Adele Parks, Dorothy Koomson,  Jojo Moyes, Katie Fforde, Lisa Jewell, Louise Candlish and Mike Gayle to name but a few, and I’ve been massively lucky to get to work with many of my favourite authors whilst here at S&S – Jackie Collins, Jane Costello, Milly Johnson, Jennifer Weiner, Melissa Hill, Rebecca Chance, Santa Montefiore and Juliet Ashton for example – but I have to say, a real highlight has been meeting Maggie O’Farrell, twice!


What book do you most recommend to others?

That would have to be Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins.  Classic.

And lastly our quick fire trivia round…

Lipstick or lip gloss? Neither, I hate anything on my lips….

Thing you’d never leave home without? My trusty Filofax.  I’m old skool.

Favourite place to read? On my stoop.

Of the two Ryans on offer, would you pick Reynolds or Gosling? Can I say both?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? By water.

What’s on your current reading pile? I’m finishing a Santa Montefiore, Paige Toon and Milly Johnson at the same time as being half way (ish) through an Adele Parks, Rowan Coleman, Jill Mansell, Cecelia Ahern, Veronica Henry and Jilly Cooper and about to start an Isabelle Broom, Joanna Trollope and Sophie Kinsella.  I know right?

Staying in or Going out? Out with friends, In with @MrBookMinx.

Flats or heels? Flats, always flats.

Beach break or city break? City break. With sun thrown in for good measure.

Famous last words? It is what it is.






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