The pandemic has put editors’ author care and collaborative skills to the test, but they have responded brilliantly to keep the wheels of publishing turning. These ten fiction, non-fiction and children’s book editors—six appearing on the shortlist for the first time—all command intense respect from their authors, and had their loyalty richly repaid in commercial terms in 2020.
Viking publisher Katy Loftus was the driving force behind the bestselling new book of 2020: Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. Its record-smashing success was the result of a textbook publishing campaign that got everything right from the point of Loftus’ acquisition onwards. By the end of the year, the book had sold more than a million copies across all formats—including 135,000 in a single week before Christmas—and established Osman as a major-league brand for many years to come.
But Loftus’ year was about more than The Thursday Murder Club. She steered more bestsellers from William Gibson, Rosamund Lupton and Jane Corry, while her knack for e-books led to strong sales for novelists suchs as Cara Hunter and Josie Silver that teed up good print revenue too. On top of all that, Loftus has emerged as a leader in publishing’s efforts to diversify its output, including as co-founder of Penguin’s WriteNow scheme and a search for new voices from underrepresented backgrounds that led to the acquisition of British-Nigerian début writer Lizzie Damilola Blackburn.
A flood of glowing testimonials for Loftus affirms her inspirational leadership, in-house collaboration and care of authors and colleagues in a challenging year for everyone. “Katy is a passionate, tireless and brilliant editor… it is a joy to work with someone so talented but also so smart and kind,” said one grateful author.
The British Book Awards judges were similarly impressed, and said Osman’s success was no surprise given Loftus’ skilful stewardship and strategic thinking. “She doesn’t put a foot wrong,” they said. “She’s equally at home on massive authors and new talent and obviously has a genuine passion for diversity in publishing in all its forms. A phenomenal editor in every way.”
Mike HarpleyAtlantic Books
Helen MacKenzie SmithSimon & Schuster Children's Books
Camilla ReidNosy Crow