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Hachette UK has announced that Dialogue Books, which was founded by Sharmaine Lovegrove in 2017 as an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, is to become a standalone division of Hachette UK. Publisher Lovegrove will be promoted to Managing Director and join the Hachette UK Board.

Lovegrove will return from parental leave to take up her new role on 1st September and the new division will have its own management team and dedicated editorial, marketing and publicity departments. Charlie King will become Executive Chair of Dialogue, in addition to his role as Managing Director of Little, Brown.

Picture of Sharmaine Lovegrove and her quote

The new division will comprise two imprints: Dialogue Books, publishing upmarket, literary fiction and non-fiction, and a new, as-yet-unnamed imprint focusing on commercial and mass-market titles across fiction and non-fiction. Dialogue will continue its mission to champion inclusivity, publishing voices from marginalised communities and targeting consumers from audience groups not traditionally served by mainstream publishing, to reach the widest possible range of consumers. It will operate on a significantly expanded scale, growing its output rapidly with a view to publishing around 80 new titles per year by 2026. Dialogue Books will also include an Advisory Board made up of individuals from a range of sectors who have a keen interest in literature and are engaged in innovation and committed to inclusion.

As part of Dialogue’s commitment to innovation, Dialogue Books will also host a Residency scheme. Reimagining a traditional ‘Artist in Residence’ scheme, the Dialogue Residency will offer a brilliant individual a year within Dialogue Books to develop projects. Rather than offering a commissioning role to the resident, it would offer the opportunity to develop the Dialogue brand beyond the initial aim of buying inclusive books, whether this is through talent-seeking initiatives, enhancement, or something yet unthought of.

Dialogue Books has enjoyed extremely fast growth as part of Little, Brown. In 2018, Lovegrove was recognised as FutureBook’s Person of the Year, and this year she was shortlisted for Editor of the Year at the British Book Awards. Dialogue’s recent publishing successes have included Brit Bennett’s Women’s Prize-shortlisted, half a million-copy-selling The Vanishing Half and Paul Mendez’s British Book Award-shortlisted Rainbow Milk, as well as numerous other prize-winning and shortlisted titles. Dialogue’s publishing programme for 2023 includes gal-dem founder Liv Little’s debut novel, Rosewater, and This Thread of Gold: A Celebration of Black Womanhood by Cat White, recently named in the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

Sharmaine Lovegrove said: ‘I am deeply humbled and extremely motivated to take up this unique and exciting opportunity as Managing Director of Dialogue Books. The focus on the division will be on innovation, inspiration and inclusion, building upon areas we have excelled in culturally as an imprint and growing exponentially in terms of team, authors, genres and routes to readers. 

I’m excited to continue working with Charlie King, who has been instrumental in Dialogue’s ongoing success and has believed in me since we met. I am delighted that my hard work and commitment to publishing for everyone, everywhere, is the key driver for my position on the Hachette UK Board, where I hope to make a meaningful contribution to all areas of the business. 

I’d like to thank David Shelley for his inspirational vision, which invigorates me to do better and work harder and smarter, and the Dialogue team – Millie Seaward, Emily Moran and Amy Baxter – for all their work, passion, creativity and commitment to our books and authors, as well as to Clare Smith, Executive Publisher, Literary who has been an incredible support and mentor and who I shall miss working with greatly.’

Charlie King said: ‘Dialogue Books has added a huge amount to our business – creatively, culturally and commercially – over the last five years, as of course has Sharmaine herself. I am enormously proud that Dialogue is to become a separate division of Hachette. I look forward to supporting and working alongside Sharmaine and her team as they embark on this exciting new stage of their journey.’

David Shelley, CEO of Hachette UK, said: ‘Dialogue has had a spectacular first five years, and I am hugely excited about what it can achieve as an expanded division within Hachette. Sharmaine is dynamic, inspirational and keenly attuned to the tastes of readers everywhere – including those previously ill-served by our industry – and I know that she will lead Dialogue to new heights. I am also really pleased that she will be joining the Hachette UK Board, where I know she will make a terrific contribution.’

As released by The Bookseller on 11 July 2022.