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The next generation
17.06.11 | Bookseller Staff
The British book trade is going through seismic changes, the most for at least a century and a half, and arguably, since William Caxton set up his Westminster printing press in the 1470s. If the industry is to survive and thrive for centuries to come, much will depend on decisions made by the heads of houses today—more still by the calibre of the next generation who will be tomorrow’s top brass.
Luckily for the trade, it can choose from a rich pool of talent. In fact, there is so much talent that we had a difficult time coming up with the final list of our Rising Stars—The Bookseller’s first annual feature on the crop of people who will lead bookselling and publishing for decades to come.
It should be underscored that the emphasis is unquestionably on new blood—but this is not a particularly age-based list. Our Rising Stars may be young or they may be someone new to the book trade, or even someone who has been in the trade for a while and has switched gears into an exciting new role.
The main criteria is that our Rising Stars will have what it takes to meet the challenges that are facing the industry, and help lead it to a prosperous future. With the varied jobs in the business, this can encompass a number of things. It may be the commissioning editor or publishing director just a few years into his or her role who has found major talents; the agent who discovers slush pile gold; the newly installed digital director leading the way for product development; or the production manager who introduces a new workflow.
But what makes a Rising Star of today? “It’s still a business that is about storytelling,” says one managing director of a publishing company. “No matter what is happening digitally, what the public want are stories that people want to read. Of course, how we deliver those stories digitally is a pressing matter, and we need talented people for that.”
Priced out of digital
The digital skills gap in the industry is an issue that has been raised for the past few years. Claire Law, director of publishing recruitment specialist Atwood Tate, says that she is seeing more and more candidates coming through with digital skills from related media industries—so the skills are there. Yet, she adds: “The issue is perhaps more that publishers are not keen to pay the salaries other industries are offering.
“Another point is that we all know publishing is a niche industry within the media and it can be hard for people to enter publishing without a prior understanding of how it works. It is important for publishers to embrace digital opportunities, to recognise that they need publishing people with digital skills. It is still important to have traditional publishing skills and experience in order to create a digital product. So the ideal would be to have employees who have both. At some point we will stop talking about ‘digital’ publishing and it will just be part and parcel of publishing as a whole.”
We divided our rising stars into six wide-ranging areas: agents and rights; bookselling; digital; editorial; production, design and supply chain; and sales, marketing and publicity. What we found when selecting the categories—and the finalists within—was how much the jobs in the trade today merge.
Editors and publishing directors can be immersed in digital, booksellers are avid tweeters, digitalists are not just involved with the technical side but also with commissioning, to name just three examples.
For those of us on the selection committee it was a difficult task. To get our candidates we canvassed the trade, asking senior managers to come up with names of people in their organisations doing outstanding jobs. Most came back with lists a mile long, not because they were puffing the people in their businesses, but because they were genuinely worthy candidates. Some companies chose not to submit anyone, because narrowing down the list proved too difficult.
The judging, therefore, was fraught and hard fought, but after much discussion and debate, we believe we have assembled a worthy list. It was ultimately a cheering exercise—because given the degree of talent we were forced to leave out, it would appear that the book trade’s future is in very good hands indeed.
Compiled by a Bookseller team led by Tom Tivnan and Felicity Wood.
PUBLICITY SALES AND MARKETING
Faber & Faber
Head of Faber Academy
Starting her career at BCA, Fincham moved across to publishing as a press officer at HarperCollins in 2005, before joining Headline Review in 2007 as publicity manager. She joined Faber in April 2008, in the same role, and after nearly two years joined the Faber Academy, where she was involved with organising its burgeoning programme of events. In July 2010, she was promoted to head of the academy and under the leadership of Fincham and director Jason Cooper, turnover has grown by over 45%. The programme continues to expand globally: new ventures include a Toronto outpost and a partnership with Allen & Unwin to start a Sydney branch.
Key accounts manager
Graduating from Oxford University in 2007, Hayes joined the Pan Macmillan graduate recruitment scheme that same year. His responsibilities have increased with each year, with Hayes making great strides in both UK and digital sales for the publisher, working on some of its key accounts. He now has been given an international role—he is on secondment with Pan Macmillan India, part of the team helping develop the publisher’s new international operation.
World Book Night
After a short stint at Random House, Kingsford joined Foyles as its promotions executive six years ago, and was later promoted to head of marketing. One of the best marketing brains in the business, she was a large part of the boutique chain’s revival, which included a return to profitability. Foyles was also named winner of the 2010 Bookseller Industry Award for General or Chain Bookseller of the Year and Time Out’s Best London Bookshop. Now heading up one of the most exciting book trade initiatives in years, she hopes to develop the success of the inaugural World Book Night to “focus on the readers and turn it into a night that works for everybody across the industry”.
Senior key accounts manager
Lewis is a graduate of this very organ, having joined the sales team of The Bookseller in 2004 before moving to Orion in 2006, where she was involved in sales for its key accounts. She was promoted to key accounts manager in 2008, with the major responsibility of overseeing Orion’s growing profile with Asda. Promoted yet again in July 2010, she became senior key accounts manager and is now responsible for some of Orion’s biggest clients, including Asda, Tesco, Reedmoor, and W H Smith Travel. Closely linked with the supermarkets, Lewis says she is looking forward to the upcoming Christmas book campaigns and breaking new authors into the market.
Hachette Children’s Books
Group deputy marketing director
Aussie native Nolan cut his teeth down under, working at the head office of bookseller Dymocks and in the marketing team of HarperCollins Australia. In 2006 he upped sticks to London, joining the marketing department of Hachette Children’s Books. He has since moved up within the company, and is keen to tap into the possibilities of digital marketing. Last August, for example, he spearheaded a four-day, 12-location digital-heavy tour with Robert Muchamore, which had the kids’ author live tweeting and interacting with fans via social media as he dashed between events. Nolan was promoted to his current position just this month, and is looking forward to focusing less on individual authors and more on wider genre marketing.
Head of adult and specialist marketing
During her two years at Hodder & Stoughton, Shipp worked in both its marketing and export departments, becoming an international marketing executive and sales representative with customers in Finland and Denmark. In 2005 she moved to Simon & Schuster, and while there she worked on campaigns for numerous high-profile authors, including Jackie Collins and Lynda LaPlante. Shipp joined Bloomsbury in November last year, working on its absorption of A&C Black’s titles and also on the launch of Bloomsbury Australia. She is intent on fulfilling Bloomsbury’s aim to focus its horizons as globally as possible—such as publishing Nick Lake’s In Darkness simultaneously in the US, UK and Australia in January 2012.
DESIGN, PRODUCTION & SUPPLY CHAIN
Senior cover designer
At some level it must be daunting to work in the hallowed halls of Penguin’s design department, but Bickford-Smith certainly does more than hold her own with her predecessors and colleagues. She started at Penguin in 2002 and has chalked up numerous awards since, including winning the British Book Design and Production Awards in 2008 for her work on the Classic Boys’ Adventure series, where she redesigned the covers for the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Highlights of this past year include last autumn’s hardback F Scott Fitzgerald editions and this year’s Great Food series.
Head of publisher account management
South African Breedt has already forgotten what most publishers haven’t even learnt yet when it comes to book sales and market shares. And he’s only 28 years old. At Nielsen, he has worked on a huge range of projects, from setting up BookScan panels in international territories (Denmark, Italy, India, New Zealand, to name just a few), to LibScan, Nielsen’s fledgling library-borrowings business. In addition, he’s also been chief analyst for numerous media clients. If you’ve seen a sales trend story or a sales statistic quoted in a newspaper or mentioned on television over the past six years, it has most probably come from him.
At the tender age of 27, Douglas handles the day-to-day production of all of Pan Mac’s adult lists, as well as e-book conversion across all divisions. She joined the company as a production assistant in 2005 after graduating from Durham University, steadily working her way up the ladder. Douglas’ team garnered design and production awards last year for Bret Easton Ellis’ Imperial Bedrooms and Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand’s The Geometry of Pasta. A production challenge this year is architect Matteo Pericoli’s London Unfurled, a 37ft pen and ink drawing of the skyline of both sides of the Thames, which will fold out like an accordion in the print form, while the innovative e-book, Douglas says, “will really stretch ourselves and our agencies creatively”.
Emma Grey Gelder
Having trained at the London College of Printing (now LCC at the University of the Arts), 30-year-old senior designer Grey Gelder has worked at three of the UK’s biggest publishing houses: Pan Macmillan, Little, Brown, and, most recently, Random House UK—where she is in the Cornerstone Design Team. Recent projects include overhauling Lisa Jewell’s jackets, while the cover for Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower is destined to become a classic. Incredibly enthusiastic, she recently worked with photographer Rankin (“something that I have always wanted to do—so that’s one tick in the box”), and has just finished working on the cover of James Corden’s forthcoming memoir. Her plans? “Simply to keep on developing and pushing. I always find it exciting to try someone new out and see a design develop,” she says.
Group creative director
After starting her career at HarperCollins, Stericker moved to Orion, where she has seen her art department team of two grow to a 10-strong unit. She now oversees all the cover design for the group, as well as the interior art and photographs on illustrated titles. Recent highlights for the team include two Gollancz projects, the Space Opera series—a redesign in stark black-and-white of 10 classic sci-fi titles, including Arthur C Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Dan Simmons’ Ilium—and the Future Classics range, which with its “special effects” like glow-in-the-dark ink and holograms enabled it to win the D&AD Yellow Pencil Award. Recent repackaging of tried and tested brand authors includes the successful rejacketing of Maeve Binchy and Ian Rankin.
Digital supply chain manager
Miah is emblematic of a new breed—the digital professional who eschews other industries to come into the book trade. After working at magazine, conference and festival media group Emap, he joined HarperCollins in 2008, and now manages all aspects of the publisher’s supply chain workflow, from e-books to print on demand, and all other digital products. Miah is particularly proud of the many digital launches HC has had over the past few years, including joining the Apple iBookstore and its massive launch of thousands of backlist titles.
Digital content developer
Arguably the most appropriately named person in all of publishing, Cannon previously worked as a marketing executive at Bloomsbury and an acting head of marketing at Headline before joining Canongate in March, when the publisher decided to expand its marketing team with a new digital focus. Since then she has been sourcing extra content for enhanced e-books and the publisher’s online presence. The Canongate website will relaunch this summer, and Cannon is working on the strategy for this, investigating creative options for a new e-commerce section— from book bundling to pricing.
Bloomsbury, digital media director and publisher of Bloomsbury Reader
Starting her publishing career in the rights department of agents Sheil Land, Duncan joined Bloomsbury in 1996 and progressed to reach the role of digital media director in 2006. Duncan made her name with Public Library Online, Bloomsbury’s subscription-based online-access offering for libraries, which launched in 2009 in the UK and is now being rolled out internationally. Duncan’s next big project is Bloomsbury Reader, a digital imprint that will publish books not available in print—where all English-language rights have already reverted to the author or the author’s estate—as either e-books or via print-on-demand.
So entrenched in digital it has become his de-facto first name, “Digital” Dan Franklin joined independent Canongate as Jamie Byng’s assistant in 2005, working his way up with authors such as David Eagleman and Hugh Ambrose and taking on Canongate’s digital plans in 2008. Digital projects during his time at Canongate include the e-book for Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro—which was created in partnership with Enhanced Editions—and apps for Phillip Pullman and “Simon’s Cat”. In January he joined Random House as its digital editor, and Franklin hopes to show that “big, corporate companies can be as dynamic as independents”. In May the publisher released its first direct-to-digital fiction title, a short work by Karin Slaughter.
Editor of Hachette Digital
Goddard joined Little, Brown in June 2008 after working in the publicity department of Random House imprint Cornerstone. He arrived as assistant editor for Hachette Digital, was promoted to editor in January 2010, and oversaw the publisher’s e-book programme. This has included innovative audio projects with authors such as Alexander McCall Smith (including a serialisation though iTunes with the Telegraph), enhanced-edition e-books for authors as diverse as Evan Davis and Rosamund Lupton, and a game-based app for comedy duo Armstrong and Miller. For Goddard the next few years will be about “providing our readers with what they want in the format they want it, and making sure that we’re innovating while keeping an eye on profitability”.
After starting in the trade with various bookselling jobs, Iain Millar made the switch to publishing as “office boy” at Michael O’Mara Books. He joined Quercus’ sales and marketing team in January 2007, moving steadily up the marketing and digital ranks before being promoted to e-book publisher this month. Having driven Quercus’ digital offering from “something small on the side of my job to something that has really taken off”, Millar saw sales of Stieg Larsson’s e-books reach hundreds of thousands. He will now be responsible for the publisher’s digital list, and expects to “see the growth that Quercus has seen in the past few years continue”.
Digital marketing officer
Joining Walker in 2008, after completing a publishing MA at UCL, Moss started in a marketing position but soon extended his role to look at Walker’s digital relationship with retailers. In May he was promoted to digital marketing officer, tackling new forms of marketing—such as QR codes and teaser trailers—head on. Big campaigns for him have included engaging with fans through social networking for Scorpia Rising, the final novel in the Alex Rider series, and launching Michelle Gayle’s first novel, Pride and Premiership, in teenage-friendly, bite-sized chunks for mobile phone users.
Faber & Faber
Head of Faber Digital
After work experience at Canongate, Volans has spent his career working through the ranks at Faber, from editorial to audio and e-books, before becoming the publisher’s digital chief with the creation of Faber Digital in October 2009. In the 18 months since Faber Digital has won a Bafta for Malcolm Tucker: The Missing Phone app and also the Futurebook-sponsored Bookseller Industry Award for Digital Innovation of the Year for its Solar System for iPad app, created with Touch Press—which last year was Apple’s top grossing book category app in over 80 countries. Volans aims to expand Faber Digital next year, but admits the digital team has created “a hard act to follow”.
Carolyn and Katie Clapham
Storytellers, Inc., Lancashire
Owner, creative director
After working in a ribbon factory, as a nurse, a court clerk and in management for the civil service, Carolyn Clapham set up specialist children’s indie bookshop Storytellers, Inc. in November 2010 with her daughter Katie—the shop’s creative director. Located in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, the shop focuses on creating a welcoming environment for its younger visitors—providing activity tables and a reading den. Six months in, and the pair already run a strong programme of creative writing and poetry workshops for children, but are also keen to get on the author event circuit and continue building a presence in the local community.
Last year, Waterstone’s said that it wanted to ramp up its children’s section, and despite its recent well-publicised travails and sale, it did just that. Some of this is the result of promotions, some down to a greater emphasis on bookseller engagement on the shop floor, some down to canny buying, and much of it driven by former children’s buyer Clarke. Major projects she has been involved in include the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, the Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, re-formatting the children’s sections in 2010, and the development of the Waterstone’s Children’s Expert Bookselling Programme. Her bookselling career began in 1996 and spans indies and multiples alike, from Dillons to the Manchester independent Daisy and Tom to Ottakar’s in Sheffield, from where she joined the Ottakar’s head office team, staying on after the Waterstone’s takeover. Promoted to range manager in February, she looks to have a big say in Waterstone’s future.
Buyer for Royal Festival Hall and St Pancras
There is quite a load resting on Hart’s shoulders. She is buyer for two of the busiest parts of Foyles’ expanding mini-empire (after the flagship Charing Cross Road branch, of course), with turnover for the Royal Festival Hall and St Pancras shops topping seven figures. Hart started at Charing Cross in 2005, before progressing though the company, moving to the role of assistant buyer at the St Pancras and RFH branches, before being promoted to buyer. In her role, Hart has to balance the two shops’ divergent customer bases, with more of an arts focus at the RFH compared to upmarket travellers at St Pancras. Hart is also responsible for Foyles’ relationship with King’s Cross arts venue King’s Place and was behind the bookseller’s 2010 Christmas Paperback of the Year Campaign.
Bob Johnston and Ann Geraghty
The Gutter Bookshop, Dublin
Having wanted to open a bookshop for years, in 2009 Johnston (pictured) and Geraghty, former Hughes & Hughes and Waterstone’s employees respectively, found the location they were after in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Despite the Irish book market being in decline, the shop has seen strong growth in turnover in the past two years. Fully embracing the marketing powers of social media—the shop has more than 2,000 Twitter followers—the Gutter Bookshop has a strong events programme, with more than 80 held in 2010, and this summer will conduct its first external event—a “picture book picnic” in July.
Children’s book buyer
It is probably an understatement to say that Sainsbury’s triumph as the Bookseller Industry Awards General and Chain Bookselling Company of the Year was not welcomed with open arms by some in the trade. Yet whatever one’s thoughts on whether a supermarket is a “real bookseller”—particularly on the shop floor—what you can’t argue with is that Sainsbury’s has assembled a sterling head office team. Sarfo has been the Sainsbury’s children’s book buyer since 2008, and helped launch the children’s book range into 200 stores—this figure has now increased to 330. Her astute buying led to a massive increase in the children’s book share, and the category now accounts for 20% of the supermarket’s total book sales.
Acting regional manager, Manchester and East Midlands
In just a handful of years, Mansfield-born 29-year-old Luke Taylor has gone from a part-time bookseller at Waterstone’s late Oxford Street branch to acting regional manager of the Manchester and East Midlands region. Twice nominated as the chain’s manager of the year, he recently spent nine months managing the Manchester Deansgate branch, and was nominated for Retail Week’s “Store Manager of the Year” after transforming the Nottingham Bridlesmith Gate store into one of the chain’s top 10 performers. A passionate bibliophile with a proven track record in turning around branches, he’ll no doubt fit in well at Daunterstone’s.
Editorial director, crime and thrillers
It must have been a difficult Crime Writers Association awards dinner last year for Adams, with two of her authors, Belinda Bauer and S J Bolton, up for the Gold Dagger. The former ended up winning, but that both writers were shortlisted so early in their careers—Black Lands was Bauer’s début and Blood Harvest Bolton’s third novel—underscores Adams’ unerring eye for discovering new talent. One of Adams’ earlier successes was the inclusion of Catherine Ryan Howard’s Love in the Present in the 2007 Richard & Judy Book Club; the title went on to sell over 135,000 copies through BookScan.
During his career at Canongate, Bickmore has acquired a reputation for his ability to unearth new- or rediscover neglected literary talent such as Scarlett Thomas, Steven Hall, Matt Haig and Waterstone’s bookseller-turned-novelist Chris Killen. Yet he has also taken on responsibility for some of Canongate’s biggest properties, including editing Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro, and the as-yet-untitled book created by J J Abrams, the producer and director of “Lost” and the most recent “Star Trek” film. With boss Jamie Byng, he acquired one of the most talked-about books of this year, Adam Mansbach’s spoof picture book, Go the F**k to Sleep.
It is difficult to win if you enter the same business as an influential parent—yes, entrée to the industry is easier, but even if you do a stellar job, your performance can be viewed with suspicion by embittered cynics. In the past two years, Nic Cheetham has gone a long way to emerging from his father Anthony’s considerable shadow. Cheetham fils has been at the helm of Corvus since launching it in 2009—and yes, his father did join the company later—but it is the younger man who has spearheaded Corvus’ impressive growth. It had one of the literary novels of 2010—Karl Marlantes’ Vietnam War epic Matterhorn—and the Atlantic imprint is building one of the finest stables of crime and thriller writers in the trade, including C J Box, Michael Ridpath and Lee Vance.
Chatto & Windus
Farmer has had a pretty good first year running the 156-year-old Random House imprint, thank you very much. Taking the helm at the beginning of 2010 after Alison Samuels’ retirement, successes include Edmund de Waal’s Ondaatje and Costa Biography Award-winning The Hare with the Amber Eyes, a return to form for Nigella Lawson (Random House’s bestselling title last year, plus one of the most successful apps on Apple’s App store), and a Bookseller Industry Awards Imprint and Editor of the Year award—all leading to the highest turnover in Chatto’s long history. In 2012 she will head the British side of Random transatlantic imprint Hogarth, a “reboot” of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s illustrious Hogarth Press.
In just over 10 years, Foley has gone from being the receptionist at Harvill Secker to its publishing director, with stops on the way at Vintage and as editorial director at Vintage Classics. In the latter post she was instrumental in revitalising the list in a crowded classics market. Harvill is, of course, a venerable, distinguished house with a strong international flavour, publishing such luminaries as Umberto Eco, José Saramango, J M Coetzee and David Lodge. Yet it also manages to balance this with high-quality crime fiction, including Henning Mankell and the newest Scandinavian superstar, Jo Nesbø, who Harvill publishes in hardback. The biggest prestige book (or books, as it comes in two volumes) for Foley this autumn will be iq84, the newest Haruki Murakami title.
The ability to tap into the zeitgeist may be the best skill for an editor of pop culture non-fiction, an attribute Valentine seems to have in spades. The first big success at Harper for Valentine—who started her career on the Orion graduate scheme in 2006—was signing Frankie Boyle when he was a little-known cult comedian; his memoir My Shit Life So Far has gone on to sell more than £3.6m through BookScan. Bagging world rights (excluding US) to Justin Bieber’s memoir has proved an astute move too—rights have been sold to 22 territories since October, and over £1m worth of copies have been shifted in the UK. And a new high-profile acquisition is Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge “memoir”.
AGENTS AND RIGHTS
Having originally trained as a barrister, Blunt abandoned law and moved into agenting with internships at both the Wylie Agency and Curtis Brown. Officially joining Curtis Brown in 2005, she began her career assisting Camilla Hornby and Elizabeth Sheinkman before building a list of her own. Covering historical, commercial women’s, thriller and crime fiction, Blunt’s authors include Booker-longlisted Tom Rob Smith—whose new novel Agent 6 (Simon & Schuster) will be out in July—and last year’s Richard and Judy pick Rosamund Lupton. Blunt hopes this year will see “the publication of Lupton’s second novel, Afterwards, match the success of [her début] Sister and that Jennifer Egan, Betty Herbert and Tamar Cohen find the audiences they deserve.”
Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency
Head of rights, deputy m.d. children’s, women’s fiction agent
A graduate of St Andrews University, Buston worked for Trojan Books in Berlin and A P Watt before joining Darley Anderson in February 2007. Handling all types of fiction and children’s authors, and overseeing all foreign rights, Buston is the primary agent for 24 authors and represents Lee Child for his foreign rights. She has seen success recently with Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s début The Guardian Angel’s Journal, which has been sold in 20 different languages, and is looking forward to Macmillan’s publication of author J J Salem’s The Strip and HarperCollins’ launch of Carrie Duffy’s Idol.
Joining United Agents in 2006, Marsh began her agenting career assisting Rosemary Canter with her list. Promoted to agent in 2010, Marsh is focused on both children’s authors and illustrators, with an emphasis on the 9-12 age group. This year Marsh will be pushing new titles from Sophie McKenzie and Rick Riordan, as well as some new talents in illustration including Elissa Elwick, Jamie Littler and Jess Mikhail. She says: “I’m looking forward to growing my list as well as working with my existing authors and illustrators.”
Peters, Fraser & Dunlop
Head of foreign rights
Prior to joining PFD this year, Mills worked as foreign rights manager for Penguin Books, which she joined in 2006, after honing her skills in the rights team at Ebury. Securing foreign rights contracts for PFD’s clients worldwide, Mills has already made a significant difference to PFD’s bottom line, and is co-ordinating tie-in reissues with Allison Pearson’s 32 foreign publishers before the autumn release of the Hollywood film based on I Don’t Know How She Does It. Mills is also eagerly anticipating the new work from Jonathan Franklin, whose The 33 was published in 20 territories earlier this year. “I’m hoping he can take Frankfurt by storm two years in a row,” she says.
William Morris Endeavour
Previously a rights manager at David Godwin Associates, Summerhayes joined WME in October 2006. At this year’s LBF she brokered a deal “pretty close” to £500,000 for Simon & Schuster US editor Karen Thompson Walker’s début The Age of Miracles, which S&S UK will publish in 2012 (“the most fun and frantic auction” she has ever been involved in). Summerhayes is also excited about new novels by Richard Milward, Joe Stretch and Deborah Kay Davie, and the publication of The Polpo Cookbook by Russell Norman, Ben Crystal’s new Shakespeare series with Arden, and the development of a film script for David Whitehouse’s Bed with Warp and Film Four. She says: “I’m over the moon at the developments with my very own rising star, Laura Dockrill, with adult non-fiction and teen fiction books in the offing, plus working alongside her and the Ministry of Stories team, with their brilliant book and fund-raising ideas, is fabulous.”
Conville & Walsh
Before becoming an agent, Unwin worked as an actor, voiceover artist, scriptwriter, bookshop volunteer and literary consultant at Aardman Feature Films (the makers of “Wallace & Gromit”). Joining C&W in August 2008, Unwin has bought in a slew of celebrity clients, as well as making a name for herself through the sale of numerous high-profile débuts—in her first 18 months she secured large advances for three young first-time authors: Rebecca James (Beautiful Malice), Stephen Kelman (Pigeon English) and Damien Dibben (The History Keepers). Unwin recently brokered a deal with Fourth Estate for début novel Someday Find Me by Nicci Cloke, a permissions manager at Faber, which will be published in spring 2012.