Rights Professional of the Year

Introduction

Rights departments have been hit harder than most by the pandemic. With travel impossible, schedules thrown into chaos and many markets nervous about spending, they have had to be more resourceful and tenacious than ever. The en masse nomination of two teams here reflects the excellent collaboration that has been shown too, while all four individuals on this shortlist appear for the first time.

The Shortlist

  • Caroline Clarke
    Canongate
    Canongate’s rights manager helped the publisher to respond nimbly to the challenges of 2020, steering dozens more deals for Matt Haig, stepping up sales in markets including Scandinavia, India and the Arab World and managing sub-agents. Developing video content from authors proved a very good support to Canongate’s virtual Frankfurt Book Fair work, and she calmly managed unglamorous but vital admin like contracts, reports and data. She has also co-founded Canongate’s new literary award for under-represented authors, the Nan Shepherd Prize.
  • Thérèse Coen
    Hardman & Swainson
    Hardman & Swainson’s Thérèse Coen flies the flag for literary agencies on this shortlist. She has single-handedly created its rights department from scratch, deftly handling big deals and auctions across a wide range of genres and proving particularly adept with debuts. As well as selling direct she handles a network of co-agents and scouts, and is active in the agency’s outreach. “Thérèse is one of the most passionate foreign rights professionals in the business, and goes above and beyond for her authors,” said one scout.
  • Cathryn Gregory
    Pan Macmillan
    Cathryn Gregory and her team gave Macmillan Children’s Books its best ever year of coedition business despite all the disruption. Deals in Germany, Italy and Turkey rocketed, and US sales across the Campbell and Two Hoots lists have risen sharply since she took on the market. Gregory has brought fresh rights energy to the backlist, especially Julia Donaldson’s catalogue, and grown non-book rights like audio and performance. A great collaborator, she plays an important role in acquisitions and promotional activity as well.
  • Nosy Crow Rights Team
    Nosy Crow
    Nosy Crow turned ten in 2020, and owes its phenomenal success over the decade to buying world rights in nearly all its content, then squeezing every last drop of sales from them. Its four-strong team—Michela Pea, Erin Murgatroyd, Nuria Marti i Pampalona and Lucy Dunnet—grew translation and coedition sales by half, focusing on its most regular partners and finding new potential in the backlist. Its flexible approach and interactive rights guide went down well with its many partners, among whom it enjoys huge respect.
  • Simon & Schuster Rights Team
    Simon & Schuster
    S&S’ rights team of seven—Stephanie Purcell, Maud Sepult, Amy Fletcher, Nino Tarkhan-Mouravi, Amy Threadgold, Ben Phillips and Filipo Bernardini—had their best ever year, excelling in coeditions, Asia and children’s fiction, where they secured more than £1m of contracts for Annabel Steadman. And it wasn’t just about the big deals: the team pursued lesser exploited rights like serialisation, large print and book club, and sealed translations into minority languages like Welsh and Gaelic. “An absolute joy to work with,” said one partner publisher.
  • Emma Thawley
    Quercus
    Hachette’s deputy rights director and Quercus’ head of rights Emma Thawley led one of the rights sector’s most creative responses to Covid disruption: a digital substitute for The London Book Fair called #lbftoyou. As well as generating sales it provided sociable connections between publishers, authors and others when they were needed, and was typical of her positivity and can-do approach. She is widely admired across Hachette and beyond. “She’s been a rock and an inspiration to all her colleagues,” said one testimonial.