The Bookseller Rising Stars 2013

The Bookseller Rising Stars 2013

If there is a recurring theme in the three years we have compiled our Rising Stars—our annual list of the up and comers of the book trade—it is that we are spoiled for choice. The nominations showed the depth and breadth of talent throughout the industry. If those selected are indicative of the rest of the trade, then the industry is well equipped to handle future challenges.

An argument could be made that the result of the digital and economic upheavals of the past few years was an upping of the trade’s game; the book business could not survive without widening its gene pool. The 21st-century industry employee is a cut above.

The trade is now an attractive proposition for “outsiders” (Matt Haslum) and digital young guns (Kjell Eldor, Jon Salt, Lindsey Mooney). A sidebar to this, and an ongoing trend in our list, is that silos are disappearing: there are no more strictly digital people, editors, agents or publicists. Skills overlap, lines are blurred. Vintage’s Bethan Jones combines traditional publicity with podcasting; Andrew Lownie’s David Haviland agents and runs a digital publishing arm.

The Rising Star process is “opt in”; one has to be nominated by a colleague or company, or be amenable to become a Rising Star. We note this because there are no academic publishers or librarians on the list. This is not for lack of trying. We did approach several companies, libraries and individuals in these sectors, but for varying reasons none would participate. It is a shame; there is dynamism in both sectors.

The keen observer will note that the Rising Stars are overwhelmingly female; only 30% (11 of 35) are men. As we picked solely on merit this merely happened, though it perhaps reflects the gender makeup of the trade as a whole. At the end of November, we will reveal The Bookseller 100—our annual list of the most influential people in the trade—also chosen by merit. Going by past years, the gender make-up for the 100 will be the reverse of the Rising Stars. The reasons for the change are perhaps societal, but may be something for the trade to ponder.

Compiled by a Bookseller team led by Tom Tivnan and Felicity Wood.

Laura Austin
BookMachine, co-founder

Laura Austin and Gavin Summers created BookMachine three years ago, building it up from a small-scale networking event to one with events across the globe, while its website BookMachine.me is aiming to become something of a LinkedIn/Facebook for publishing professionals. Summers built the site—nominated for the Tools of Change start-up showcase this year—while Austin is in charge of its 6,000-strong Twitter feed and organises events and sponsorship. BookMachine.me will come out of beta next month with launch events on 25th September in Barcelona, Brighton, London, New York, Oxford and Toronto.
 
Career highlight “Being nominated for TOC; it was great to get some traction in the US and meet publishers there.”

Alex Beecroft
HarperCollins, international corporate strategy manager

Joining HarperCollins in 2009, Oxford history graduate Beecroft has quickly assumed a staggering amount of responsibility, including project managing the recent buyout of India Today Group’s majority stake in HarperCollins India and working alongside global c.e.o. Brian Murray to map out a future strategic plan for HC Australia. Beecroft got into publishing “because of a love of books, but it’s been really interesting to look at things both in the UK and internationally from the operational and business sides of things.” Next year sees him looking closer to home at various business strategies for HC UK.

They say: Siobhan Kenny, HC group communications director: “Alex’s razor-sharp intelligence and business acumen have made him an invaluable asset . . . he is future c.e.o. material.”

Dunstan Bentley
Dorling Kindersley, head of digital and creative solutions

Special and corporate sales, Bentley says, have “always felt like the guilty secret, but this year has seen significant growth in revenue and as such DK is embracing it.” Bentley leads a team that takes DK, Rough Guides and Brady Games content and repurposes it in creative ways. A recent success was negotiating, project managing and delivering the pan-European DK Amazing World Happy Meal premium for McDonald’s: “We created, translated and produced 23 million books, of which there were over 220 different products and more than 35 different languages.”

The year ahead: “We’re currently working with a major corporate client on a project that will put our content in the hands of parents and children across Europe online and in mobile and tablet.”

Melissa Cox
Waterstones, children’s new titles buyer

Cox joined Waterstones in 2007, working her way from the shop floor to head office. In 2011 she was promoted to the role of children’s new titles buyer, demonstrating “a superb magpie’s eye over the last couple of years” according to Fiona Allen, the retailer’s head of PR and Brand Communications. Cox herself says that, “the company has changed a lot in the last few years but it’s been great to work for someone (James Daunt) who loves books so we can all concentrate on getting the right books in the right shops.”

The year ahead “We’re planning something special for the 10th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, which I love chairing, and will try to get even more attention for children’s books and children’s authors; indentifying new talent is the best part of the job.”

Lynsey Dalladay
Random House, community manager, digital marketing

Dalladay started at Transworld in 2007 and almost immediately chalked up a string of Publisher Publicity Circle awards including Best Newcomer for her work on Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals. As Transworld’s publicity manager she took a secondment at RH in the group digital department as community manager on its Dead Good crime book community site. Dalladay is now in this position permanently and is working on the content strategy and development of RH’s first direct-to-consumer community covering Dead Good and a plethora of social networking sites.
 
Career highlight “We have smashed all our Dead Good targets and in July we took the brand offline for the first time at Harrogate, which was a great success—and continuing to work with Terry is always fun.”

Sam Eades
Headline, senior publicity manager

How’s this for going the extra mile? During Eades’ masterful recent promotion for Neil Gaiman’s newest book (record-setting signings and blanket coverage), she used her powers of persuasion to convince Portsmouth City Council to name a street The Ocean at the End of the Lane after the book title. Just another inventive twist for Eades, who
moved to Headline four years ago from Transworld. Known for her successful campaigns, Eades’ track record includes her clever work last year for Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, which led to a Bookseller Industry Award shortlisting.
 
The year ahead “I just want to continue doing the very best by my authors and their books.”

Kjell Eldor
Octopus, digital products manager

Eldor joined Octopus straight out of Kingston University in 2011, and quickly moved from a junior role to running the illustrated publisher’s digital list in just over a year. He has developed the 5:2 Diet app which has become Octopus’ bestselling app—at its height it was beating Angry Birds in the charts—and Eldor has also been responsible for running Octopus’ e-book conversion programme. One highlight is turning content from The Joy of Sex into a digital bestseller with a free digital taster A Little Bit on the Side released for Valentine’s Day last year.
 
The year ahead “We’re producing the first digital version of the World Atlas of Wine in its 42-year history; it’s very exciting because the atlas is such a big institution.”

Sinem Erkas
Designer
Two of 2013’s most memorable jackets show off Erkas’ impressive range: the cheeky and playful design for Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and the simply and stylish livery of Orion’s F Scott Fitzgerald repackage. Erkas has combined startling art with an eye for commerciality since she began in book design shortly after graduating from Central St Martins in 2008. She has worked across children’s (Sue Limb’s Jess Jordan series for Bloomsbury), non-fiction (The Pocket Bakery, W&N) and adult fiction (Piers Paul Read’s The Misogynist, Bloomsbury).
 
Career highlight “The F Scott Fitzgerald repackage. I made my own typeface for each title to be reminiscent of the era at the same time as feeling modern.”

Jane Finigan
Lutyens & Rubinstein, agent

Finigan has been with Lutyens & Rubinstein for six years, previously running its foreign rights department with aplomb (winning a Turin fellowship in 2011) before building her own stable of authors. The first writer she signed was 2012 Man Booker-longlisted Ned Beauman, while Rebecca Harrington’s début Penelope has just been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company. Finigan has also been instrumental in the setting up and ongoing success of L&R’s own bookshop.
 
Best thing about the job “Being able to sign a début based on a few chapters and work with them till the very end. Then I can hand-sell the book instore; being able to go on that whole journey with an author is great.”

Marcus Gipps
Gollancz, editor

After 10 years at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road, Gipps shifted gears, joining Gollancz in 2011 where early commissions included Saladin Ahmed’s widely praised, multi-award-winning début, Throne of the Crescent Moon. In early 2013 Gipps used crowd-funding website Kickstarter to acquire a series of tie-ins for the reboot of classic computer game Elite. Gipps also used Kickstarter for a personal project—he licensed the hardback rights from Random House for J P Martin’s long-neglected children’s series Uncle, illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake. Fans, including Neil Gaiman, stumped up £30,000 and the books will be released by the end of September.
 
Career highlight “Moving from a relatively senior role in bookselling to Gollancz, and then commissioning my first two titles within three months.”

Alex Hardy
Harbottle & Lewis, solicitor

While the digital age has been difficult for the industry, it has arguably been a boom time for intellectual property lawyers who advise publishers and retailers on the tricky and increasingly shifting landscape. Hardy, one of the sharpest IP brains in town, has been helping publishers on cutting-edge rights and legal issues from copyright to data protection to online child safety since she joined H&L from Hachette in 2011.
 
The big issue “One of the upcoming challenges will be privacy; how the trade collects and uses reader data—not least because of recent news events—will be a growing customer concern.”

Matt Haslum
Faber, consumer marketing director

Though Haslum has publishing experience—in the early 2000s he was a commissioning editor at Working Partners—mostly his background is as a digital marketer with brands like TalkTalk, Sky and The Body Shop. He joined Faber in 2012 and it has been a whirlwind year: he restructured the marketing department and has driven Faber’s brand expansion, including the FaberShop on the Book People website. Future initiatives include a possible Faber membership club and more link-ups with non-traditional partners such as cult jewellery label Tatty Devine.

They say Will Atkinson, Faber sales and marketing director: “Bringing people in from ‘outside’ has its risks, but Matt has provided Faber with genuinely new skills with which to publish more effectively.”

David Haviland
Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, agent

After a decade as a freelance for Lownie, while also working as a writer and a ghostwriter, Haviland joined full time in 2013, quickly building an impressive fiction list for the heretofore largely non-fiction agency. Haviland has also been the driving force behind the agency’s digital imprint Thistle, which he says has “been amazing for reviving backlist and getting out frontlist titles that need to be published quickly”.
 
They say Andrew Lownie says: “David arranged for the publication of over 150 backlist and frontlist titles, designed the covers, liaised with Amazon, authors and publicists and handled much of the accounting. This is the future of agenting and he is at the forefront.”

Sharna Jackson
Tate Kids, editor

Jackson is a Webby Award-winning, triple-BAFTA nominated children’s content creator. Starting out in the publication of on and offline education resources she got her “dream job” as children’s editor at Tate in 2007, “which was great, because it is great to be able to work with a brand like Tate and work on lots of different avenues for children’s content.” Recent successful projects for Jackson have included Wondermind, a series of Alice in Wonderland-related interactive games and videos to help children learn about the science of the developing human brain.

The year ahead “Publishers and museums are in the same boat with regards to how digital is viewed and it is all about re-framing content and I’m looking forward to working on exciting content for children across lots of sectors.”

Bethan Jones
Harvill Secker/Yellow Jersey, publicity director

In charge of campaigns for Vintage imprints Harvill and Yellow Jersey, Jones works with a diverse group of authors ranging from Nobel laureate J M Coetzee to Bradley Wiggins to former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan. She also heads up crime branding across Vintage for superstars like Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbø to promising young authors such as Tom Benn and Oliver Harris. Digitally savvy, Jones founded the Vintage Podcast on her own with scant resources— “£400 begged from marketing”—which is now one of the most popular features on the Random House website, and was part of the team that devised the multi-channel campaign for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.
 
The year ahead “Plans are already afoot and excitement gathering apace for our big non-fiction title of autumn 2014, Sapiens.”

Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods
DKW Literary Agency, co-founders

Last November Kahn and Woods, at the ages of 25 and 26 respectively, launched the Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency. The pair have built up a client list of more than 10 authors—covering children’s, YA, adult literary and commercial fiction. They have secured deals with a range of publishers, partnered with the Intercontinental Literary Agency for translation rights representation and taken on the UK representation of US genre publisher Medallion Press. Kahn says: “For both of us, the proudest day of our careers was the day we launched the agency.”
 
The year ahead Woods: “Our client list will probably double and we would like to diversify into non-fiction, but we want to grow at a natural pace.”

Dan Lewis
Waterstones, literary content manager

Joining Waterstones five years ago as a retail design assistant, Lewis has put his stamp on the chain by launching the Waterstones Blog virtually single-handedly with his coverage of last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He says: “I felt that in order to get people to come to our site rather than Amazon, we needed to offer them something extra.” As of August, the blog has had 727,000 page views, led by the popular Week in Books Quiz, which averages 37,000 hits. It also hosts more than 80 video author interviews, produced by Lewis.

They say Fiona Allen, Waterstones head of PR: “Dan has an extraordinary ability to take an idea from inception to completion and deliver it to a very high standard.”

Jenny Lord
Canongate, senior editor

Lord learned her craft as Juliet Annan’s right-hand woman at Fig Tree before switching to her current role at Canongate in 2011, with a remit to ramp up the publisher’s non-fiction list. She has quickly made a name as one of the trade’s best young non-fiction editors, with early acquisitions including Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud’s quirky compendium of literary remedies, The Novel Cure, and wonderfully named emerging cookery writer Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth. She also looks after some of Canongate’s biggest properties, including Karl Pilkington, David Shrigley and Simon “Simon’s Cat” Tofield.

Career highlight “Launching a small but perfectly formed cookery list last year was amazing. I can’t wait to expand the non-fiction list as a whole in lots of different ways.”

Suzy Lucas
The Folio Prize, prize administrator

Lucas, who has over 25 years’ experience working in the publishing industry, took up the position of prize administrator for The Folio Prize in February. After a seven-year stint at Bloomsbury followed by a move into literary scouting and then film scouting for the UK Film Council, Lucas says her new role at The Folio Prize feels, “like I’m coming home, back into the heart of the publishing industry. It seemed such a thrilling opportunity, writers are so dependent on prizes for recognition, and it is amazing to be able to be a part of it from the very beginning.”

The year ahead: “This year will be just about getting the prize established, but we do have a few more ambitions for further down the line.”

Amy McCulloch
HarperVoyager, commissioning editor

England-born, Canada-bred McCulloch began her career at John Blake, which was “a perfect training ground, though before I started I did have to research who Jordan and Jade Goody were”. At HarperVoyager she has uncovered new talent such as 17-year-old YA novelist Abigail Gibbs and Wales Book of the Year 2012 winner James Smythe. Another coup was acquiring the Ray Bradbury digital backlist, including Fahrenheit 451. McCulloch is a novelist, too; her fantasy YA title The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (Doubleday) was published in June.

Career highlight “I’ve enjoyed being here for the George R R Martin phenomenon, but finding Abigail Gibbs via Wattpad and seeing her take off has been a high.”

Sara Montgomery
The Guardian, head of Guardian Books

There has been a spring in the step to the Grauniad’s books arm since former OUP staffer Montgomery took over two years ago. Under her leadership, the Guardian online bookshop was reworked with increased functionality and a direct to consumer strategy which increased sales 200% year on year; the much imitated Guardian Shorts e-book programme was launched, with the list now 60 strong; and last, but not least, a joint venture with Faber created the Guardian Faber non-fiction imprint.
 
The year ahead “I’m excited about establishing Guardian Faber as a unique imprint, which we’re then able to sell directly to consumers.”

Lindsey Mooney
Kobo, vendor manager

As the first UK employee for Kobo, joining just after the deal with W H Smith was inked, Mooney has been instrumental in the e-reader’s UK growth and building Kobo’s ties with publishers. Despite her tender years, she has oodles of experience in real world bookselling (as a former BCA non-fiction buyer) and in the digital sphere, including launching Little, Brown’s e-commerce site, working with the Book Depository on B2C fulfilment for indie bookshops and helping to create Anobii’s e-book service.

The year ahead “I’m looking forward to growing Kobo further in the UK and the launch of our kids’ store.”

Hellie Ogden
Janklow & Nesbit, agent

It has been a busy couple of years for Ogden. She has racked up an impressive number of deals across fiction, cookery, pop culture and children’s, including Juliet West’s First World War-themed début to Mantle, a six-figure pre-empt for food writer Nina Parker and M J Arlidge’s thriller Eeny Meeny, won at auction by Michael Joseph and now sold into eight other territories. Amid this flurry of activity, she moved to J&N, after previously agenting and handling rights at Greene & Heaton.
 
The year ahead “I have big début projects coming up towards the end of the year including a thriller, cookery books and a couple of YA titles.”

Mark Ollard
Simon & Schuster, finance director

Ollard is one of the youngest finance directors in UK publishing, moving to the top S&S job after 14 years at Penguin. He says: “There have been loads of challenges and it’s been different in lots of ways, but it’s been exciting to move to such a great team. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work at Penguin and the aim is to take the Simon & Schuster finance team from brilliant to excellent.”
 
The year ahead “I want the company to make as much profit as it can, things can always be better. S&S has grown very quickly over the past few years and there are some processes that aren’t perfect; it’s about getting the balance right.”

Juliet Pickering
Blake Friedmann, agent

Today’s agent does not sit back and wait for the manuscripts to roll in. Pickering—who joined Blake Friedmann in 2013 after nine years with A P Watt—embodies this modern get up and go, sourcing diverse non-fiction clients including upmarket London bakers Konditor & Cook, feminist blogger Laurie Penny and Richard Littler, “mayor” of stuck in the ’70s online fictional northern English town, Scarfolk. Pickering also has an envious, and growing, fiction stable, with a particular 2013 success in Kerry Hudson’s multi-award winning début, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma (Chatto).
 
The year ahead “Lots of exciting releases, including Emer O’Toole’s Girls Will be Girls (Orion), a sort of younger Caitlin Moran.”

Adam and Chloe Pollard
The Willoughby Book Club, co-founders

Husband and wife team Adam and Chloe Pollard set up online shop The Willoughby Book Club in 2012 shortly after their marriage as something of an experiment. The model—a personalised book subscription service—proved a hit and things have really taken off: TWBC has shipped more than 3,000 books and last month went international, with customers in the US, Australia, Germany and Belgium. “It escalated very quickly,” Adam says. “We just want to get as many people reading as possible, and maybe help out anyone who is overwhelmed by just how much choice in books there is.”
 
The year ahead “There is still so much we can do here and abroad, and we’re thinking about additional product development.”

Jon Salt    
Random House, head of digital product development

Salt is one of the new breed of creative players who have entered publishing from other industries. Starting out in the TV and film world at Channel 4 and Film 4 he moved to Random House in 2009. In January he was promoted to head of digital product development and successful projects have included cookery iPad apps for “The Great British Bake Off”, Ottollenghi and Nigella Lawson as well as a Doctor Who iPad app. “The aim now is to scale up RH’s cookery content digitally, it is a big area for us.”
 
The year ahead
“Following the recent launch of The Happy Foodie (RH’s first cookery vertical and responsive design website) we’ll be joining up the dots between the app and our digital marketing, making things more of a 360 proposition.”

Claire Shanahan
Booktrust, head of arts    

Cutting her teeth at Pearson and Hachette, Shanahan moved to Booktrust in 2009, and was promoted to the charity’s head of arts in 2012. She now oversees more than 10 of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes and awards, including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, The Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Sunday Times Short Story Award. A career highlight has been joining the Children’s Laureate steering committee this January: “the Laureate isn’t just working for one organisation but for everyone in the trade”.
 
The year ahead “We’re launching an exciting new project, to be announced this autumn, so that will be great.”

Sandra Taylor
Pan Macmillan, digital publicity director

Starting out with an internship at literary agency David Godwin Associates Taylor soon moved to Pan Macmillan, rising up the publicity ranks—including a brief secondment to the sales department to look after Waterstones—to her newly created role last year. For Taylor the highlight has been “working on the publicity for Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites (Picador), and having the opportunity to help forge the digital communications strategy at Pan Macmillan and help build a really digitally focused new team.”

The year ahead “I’ll be spending some time with colleagues in New York on some new digital ventures and continuing to work on Picador publicity campaigns.”

Ame Verso
F+W Media International, craft new business manager

Working for F+W Media for close to a decade, mainly as a freelance books project manager, Verso rejoined the book and magazine publisher full-time last year as its new business manager, with the aim of finding new ways of getting F+W’s content out. Through the Creative University, she commissioned and ran the first F+W online education courses in the UK and led the launch of its first digital magazine, Stitch Craft Create, which is also available in print. She describes both as, “a real learning curve. We’re moving away from a books focus to a content focus.”

The year ahead “Continuing to find new, innovative ways for commissioning content across multiple channels; we’ve got a lot to learn about video and interactive content.”

Hannah Westland
Serpent’s Tail, publisher

Former Rogers, Coleridge & White agent Westland crossed the aisle to publishing in 2012 in order to take up her “dream job” with Serpent’s Tail: “I loved RCW, but this was the one place to look after a list that is original, creative and still rebellious.” She has put her own particular stamp on the list, with successes including Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins (selected for this autumn’s Waterstones Book Club), and The Mistress Contract, which is being made into a play by “The Iron Lady” scriptwriter Abi Morgan.
 
The year ahead “We’re publishing lots of great books , but I’m really looking forward to Clemens Setz’s Indigo and Zoe Pilger’s Eat My Heart Out.”

Rachel Williams
Templar, publisher

Williams’ career in publishing has been varied—originally joining Lonely Planet as a commissioning editor in Melbourne, she then left to complete a Masters of Publishing from RMIT University Melbourne before moving into children’s books, working at the Five Mile Press and then Templar. After a few years she moved to Phaidon to be its first ever commissioning editor for children’s. A career highlight was returning to Templar last year as publisher, and setting up its new imprint Big Picture Press, which will launch this month with partners in eight territories.
 
The year ahead “At Templar, we just want to continue celebrating the physical book, keeping the illustrations contemporary and design standards high.”

Camilla Wray
Darley Anderson Literary Agency, agent

Wray showed her star qualities immediately upon joining Darley Anderson as an assistant in 2007, finding both Chris Carter and Helen Grant in the slush pile. She continued that astute talent spotting—with a particular eye for crime—after becoming a full agent, with clients including A J Cross, James Carol and Sean Slater. She says: “It’s gratifying to progress in your career, as it takes time for crime writers to build an audience.” A particular goal for the future for Wray—and her colleague Clare Wallace—is a concerted effort to expand the agency’s children’s list.
 
Career highlight
“Today has been a good day—Tim Weaver’s Never Coming Back has just been put on the Richard & Judy Book Club.”