7x Questions with Sharmaine Lovegrove
What's the MD of Dialogue Books looking to acquire for her new division?
Photo credit: Robert Rieger
A trailblazer and instigator in the publishing industry, one of the things I find most inspiring about Sharmaine Lovegrove is that she’s held a role in almost every sector of the business. She’s been a publicist, agent, bookshop owner, literary scout, books editor, publisher and now, most recently, a managing director.
Having worked in publishing for more than two decades, she first set up her own book shop in Berlin back in 2019 before co-founding the first UK-based Book to TV and Film consultancy. She went on to set up her own imprint at Hachette UK, Dialogue Books, and has just been announced as the Managing Director of a brand-new division under the same name and with the remit of Inclusion, Inspiration and Innovation.
Dialogue Books is renowned for illuminating those voices often missing from the mainstream and Sharmaine has published over 45 titles across fiction, non-fiction, commercial and literary genres. Notable books include The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett which was shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez which was listed in the Observer’s Top 10 Debuts and Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie which was the winner of the AKO Cain Prize. And excitingly it’s the home of two debut novels I represent: Rosewater by Liv Little and This Love by Lotte Jeffs
Sharmaine has been listed as a Bookseller Rising Star, is the recipient of the Future Book Publishing Person of the Year 2018/19 and was formerly the literary editor of ELLE magazine. She serves on the boards of The Black Cultural Archives, The Booker Prize Foundation, The Watershed and Bookshop.org UK and is a founding organiser of The Black Writers Guild.
So needless to say I couldn’t wait to ask her about the newly-launched division and the sorts of authors and books they’re looking for. She shares some great advice for writers who are struggling to get their work published, tells me exactly what a book needs to evidence to her before she can take it forward to acquisitions and answers my question about diversity in publishing and what we all need to be doing better.