This year’s shooting Star—the Rising Star we choose to single out just a little bit more than others on the list—is, according to one Orion colleague, “a pop culture powerhouse with her finger on the pulse and an innate ability to spot trends”.
This is no hyperbole. In the relatively short time Emma Smith has been in the business—her first paying gig at a publisher was with Harlequin Mills & Boon in 2012—she has excelled with canny, spot-on non-fiction publishing, having a particular knack for creating her own projects. Take 2014’s Dogs Hanging Out of Windows (Orion), a humour book featuring pictures of, well, what it says on the tin. Smith wrote and developed the title, delivering £60,000 of profit. Her other successes of this ilk include 2014’s Where’s Wally?-esque Where’s Boris? and this year’s follow-up, Where’s Trump?
“I think that’s part of what we are about at Orion,” says Smith. “We’re being proactive with intellectual property as well as being active with spotting trends and commissioning in more traditional ways.”
This year, Smith moved within Orion to be part of the launch team of the Trapeze imprint. Her Rising Star status does not immediately make her stand out on the team: it is run by publisher Anna Valentine (Rising Star class of ‘11) and Sam Eades (RS ‘13) is the senior commissioning editor. Oh, and Sinem Erkas (RS ‘13) designed the logo.
Smith’s been busy as Trapeze gears up for its October launch, acquiring illustrator Ruby “Rubyetc” Elliott’s Absolutely Fine, one of its lead autumn titles. A Tumblr superstar with over 200,000 subscribers, Elliott’s book chronicles her struggles with mental health issues.
Smith believes Trapeze’s size, within a larger publisher, is a plus: “I think it helps that you can clearly define who you are as an imprint. And with a small team you can be as quick and agile as an indie.”