The Bookseller's Rising Stars 2014

The Bookseller's Rising Stars 2014


Lauren Ace
Riot Communications
Campaigns director

A failed interview—as Ace was trying to move from Waterstones to publishing early in her career— turned her on the right path. She got knocked back from a behind the scenes role by Chicken House m.d. Barry Cunningham, who said: “You’re not right for this; I see you as someone who tells people about how great books are.”

He was right. After honing her craft at Little Tiger, the publicity dynamo has hit the big league with her work at Macmillan Children’s Books, looking after Julia Donaldson, among others, and receiving rave reviews for her Guinness World Record-breaking (Longest Paper Doll Chain) campaign for Donaldson’s The Paper Dolls. In July, she moves to arts PR powerhouse Riot Communications to become campaigns manager.

Career highlight:
The Paper Dolls campaign, undoubtedly. It was amazing to be able to focus all our energy into one ultimate goal."

Lin Anderson And Alex Gray
Bloody Scotland
Authors and co-founders, Bloody Scotland

It is through the considerable efforts of Tartan Noir stalwarts Anderson (pictured, right) and Gray—Anderson writes the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series, Gray the Glasgow-set Lorimer and Brightman books—that we have Bloody Scotland, the most welcome addition to the festival scene in many a year.

Gray and Anderson co-founded the Stirling-based crime writing festival back in 2012, and since then they have built a stellar programme to rival crime fest behemoth Harrogate. Under the direction of the indefatigable festival manager Dom Hastings, Bloody Scotland has expanded beyond the festival framework itself with prizes for new writers and a coveted Scottish Crime Book of the Year award.

They say:
“It’s one thing to have an idea [for the festival], quite another to put it into practice. These two worked tirelessly, quickly winning the support of fellow crime writers, gathering together an organising committee and persuading publishers, funders and sponsors to back the idea. Plus they came up with the brilliant name of Bloody Scotland.”
Jenny Brown, agent

Alexandra Cliff
Peters Fraser & Dunlop
Foreign rights agent

Snapped up by PFD in 2010 after completing an MA at King’s College London, Cliff is an invaluable asset to the agency’s razor-sharp rights team run by Rachel Mills (who was a Rising Star herself in 2011).

Cliff has been instrumental in broadening the international appeal of PFD clients such as Jeanette Winterson and Bear Grylls (published in 30 and 23 territories, respectively); an important player in the revamp of Georges Simenon’s worldwide publishing programme, including sales into Finland and Sweden for the first time (Penguin’s rejacketing for the UK market is pictured); while her sterling work in the previously largely untapped Polish market has earned her the in-house nickname “the Princess of Polska”.

What’s next?
“Taking on my own clients. Rights agents are in a unique position in that they have a very international perspective on the market, which stands us in good stead for finding writers with the potential to be worldwide success stories.”

Nick Coveney
Hodder Children’s Books
Editor, digital and audio

After joining Hachette in 2010, Coveney was involved in many audio and digital products on the adult side, including spearheading the development of Miranda Hart’s enhanced e-book memoir Is it Just Me? and creating the “free-book” companion, No It’s Us Too!, which crowdsourced content from Hart’s fans via social media sites.

Coveney moved to Hodder Children’s last year, and his successes there to date include the audiobooks of Enid Blyton’s backlist, digitising Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series, and being in the forefront of @HodderSilver, the imprint’s new sci-fi and fantasy initiative.

They say:
“In the course of just one year Nick has been instrumental in bringing many of the digital dreams of the Hodder Children’s Books team to life . . . his input and knowledge are extremely valuable and his presence is a real strength for the imprint.”
Andy Sharp, group rights and digital director

Philippa Donovan
Smart Quill Editorial

Donovan is one of the new breed of Rising Stars who, seeing a changing book trade landscape, are carving out careers in areas of the business that heretofore have not existed. After working at AP Watt and as a children’s scout for Anne Louise Fisher, Donovan set up Smart Quill to do bespoke editing, consulting and agent recommendations for prospective writers

It has worked a treat since setting out her stall in 2011: 176 editorial reports to date for around 150 authors, a quarter of whom come back to her for regular reports and editorial work. Deals coming out of the Smart Quill stable include Mark Haysom’s Love, Love Me Do, Piatkus’ 2014 superlead title, which is agented by Eve White.

The year ahead
“Continuing to discover new and talented writers, and helping them to navigate the evolution of publishing platforms. Nothing beats the thrill of finding the perfect agent for submissions that show great promise.”

Kate Double
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
Assistant manager

A staffer at Bath-based Mr B’s since 2009, Double is the very model of a modern indie bookseller. She is well-versed in traditional bookselling, championing books and using her sales skills to hand- sell and personally shift hundreds of units.

But she is also an innovator, taking the lead on many of Mr B’s unique promotions, such as the Reading Spas (its impressive Bibliotherapy Room is pictured above) and Reading Year subscription services. She also is responsible for the design of the shop’s promotional material, runs its author events programme (one every other week in 2013) and liaises with local media.

They say:
“Kate is a shrewd businesswoman, and a real professional into the bargain. She is the real thing, and strikes me as wise beyond her (no doubt ridiculously few) years.”
Kate Gunning, Random House key accounts manager for independents

Hattie Foster
Penguin Random House
Digital project manager

To paraphrase the proverb, behind every great digital project is a great woman. Or at least there is at Penguin Random House. Since Foster joined RH in 2012, she has had a hand in the company’s most innovative digital ventures, starting with two bestselling Nigella Lawson projects—the hugely successful Nigella Quick collection for iPad, and the Nigellissima free “taster” app.

Her work on the Terry Pratchett Ankh-Morpork app included not just development, but sub-licensing the rights internationally. Foster has also been the driving force behind PRH’s flagship 2014 digital project My Independent Bookshop, and since the merger she has brought her expertise to the entire group.

They say:
“Hattie has shown the verve and creative spark one can only dream of. Her acute attention to detail, appetite for excellence and calming air have all served to give me the utter confidence in putting her straight into the frontline managing our major forthcoming digital projects.”
Nathan Hull, PRH digital product development director

Isobel Frankish
Managing editor

After working in the upper echelons of American Apparel’s European HQ and as a PA to Reading Agency boss Miranda McKearney, Frankish was “employee number one”—the first person outside of founding trio John Mitchinson, John Pollard and Dan Kiernan brought in to crowdfunding publisher Unbound (it now numbers 18 people).

Hired as commissioning editor, Frankish built the editorial team from the ground, and was made managing editor in November 2013. Her discoveries include E O Higgins and Dominic Frisby, and she was instrumental in transforming Shaun Usher’s bestselling Letters of Note from blog to book.

Career highlight:
“Helping to transform Unbound from a brilliant idea of three men in a shed into a professional, innovative publisher with an eclectic list and a following of readers who are passionate about writing.”

Ola Gotkowska
Nosy Crow
Rights executive

Gotkowska may well be the newest member of the book trade in our Rising Stars, having joined Nosy Crow in July 2012. Yet her impact on the children’s publisher has been incalculable.

Scratch that, it is calculable: sales to foreign markets surged an astonishing 34% in the first full year after Gotkowska joined the team, and she is solely responsible for opening up a score of new territories for rights and coedition sales, including Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Gotkowska has also become Nosy Crow’s contact for territories—such as Turkey, China and Japan—in which it uses sub-agents; since she has come on board, Nosy Crow has concluded almost 50 deals in those territories.

They say:
“Ola is a natural. She has enthusiasm and conviction in everything she undertakes, ensuring that the excellence in international partner relationships—the hallmark of Nosy Crow—is kept up on a daily basis.”
Christine Baker, Gallimard editorial director

Bea Hemming
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Editorial director

Hemming has been at W&N since 2006. She stepped up to the position of editorial director last year, and is arguably the top serious non-fiction editor in the business. But she has also done much to reinvigorate and broaden the venerable publisher’s list.

Hemming works with some of the company’s established non-fiction brands (Antony Beevor and Simon Sebag Montefiore, among others), and has brought in some of its strongest new voices too—such as Ben Wilson, Gordon Corera, Chris Skidmore and James Evans. Recent publishing highlights include the surprise bestseller by brain surgeon Henry Marsh, Do No Harm, and Curious, the memoir of Rebecca Front (aka Nicola Murray in “The Thick of It”).

The year ahead:
“I’m looking forward to reinvigorating our science list over the next few years. We’ve got some fantastic books coming up by scientists addressing the big questions of our times: Adam Rutherford on genetics; Tim Spector on diet; and the physicist and biologist Geoffrey West on just about everything.”

Gareth Howard and Hayley Radford

With self, traditional and hybrid publishing, lines are increasingly blurred in the trade. Luckily Howard and Radford’s consultancy—which covers everything from editorial to marketing and publicity—has leapt into the fray, guiding authors and corporate clients (such as HarperCollins, Kobo Writing Life and Faber) alike.

The pair also run agent-to-author matchmaking service LitFactor, events business International Author Fairs (which recently launched with the London Author Fair), and their new imprint, Clink Street Publishing (which offers authors a tidy 75% of net receipts).

Career highlight:
“Our first London Author Fair in February. Having successfully curated the AuthorLounge at the 2013 London Book Fair— the first time that authors had a dedicated space at LBF—we knew we could create a bigger, bolder, more forward-thinking event, uniting authors from all backgrounds and all areas of the industry. The feedback was overwhelming and very humbling; our slogan for the event, ‘Writers Unite’, inspired
a terrific sense of camaraderie, making authors feel that they were part of something special.”

Kerry Hudson

Hudson has been busy in the past few years. The native Aberdonian’s début, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma (Vintage), was published in 2012 to ecstatic reviews; her second book is out in July; she has taught creative writing; and she was a British Council writer in residence in South Korea.

But Hudson makes the list for the WoMentoring Project, which she founded after reading reports of women writers being paid and reviewed less than their male counterparts. The group has around 80 mentors, including writers and book trade stalwarts—such as Picador editorial director Francesca Main and agent Jo Unwin—who give their time, for free, to promising women writers who can’t afford to pay for development through the usual channels.

What’s next?
“My second novel
Thirst (Chatto) is out in July; alongside that I hope to see WoMentoring go from strength to strength in its first year.”

Matthias Ick
Macmillan Digital Education

Ick’s role in Macmillan’s education business is an example of an established publisher breaking out of its comfort zone. The German- born digital entrepreneur—he founded online tutoring company Tutoria in his mid-twenties—was brought into the London offices
in 2012 with a remit to search out digital start-ups for venture capital investments. Initially launched with just a small team of four, Ick's group works alongside Macmillan's other science and technology companies, but its focus is more on consumers than traditional publishing business.

In two years, Macmillan Digital Education has provided seed money and early capital investment to a number of start-ups, including mathsdoctor., an online maths tutorial service; Craml, a mobile revision apps business; and Veduca, a Brazilian website that curates educational video content.

What’s next?
“We’re looking at more ways of enabling students’ learning resources to be tailored, allowing them to interact with information in a way that supports their preferred learning style, in order to reach their learning goals.”

James Jones
Penguin Random House
Senior designer

Jones works on the award-winning design team at Vintage. After studying Graphic & Media Design at the London College of Printing, he worked for Orion for four years, before joining Random House in 2011. Jones’ designs have been a fixture on many awards’ shortlists; the Arthur Ransome series, created alongside illustrator Pietari Posti for Vintage Children’s Classics, won a V&A Illustration Award in 2013 in the Book Cover Illustration category.

As one of the founders of Vintage’s CMYK Tumblr, Jones has an online outlet for his work too. The blog hosts interviews, explanations of designs and exclusive content—a limited edition poster capitalising on Bradley Wiggins’ Sports Personality of the Year win was downloaded 2,000 times in just one week, generating extra publicity for Wiggo in the process. CMYK has had over 70,000 views, amassing 8,000 followers to date.

The year ahead:
“I’m looking forward to growing and experimenting with the CMYK and Vintage brands, as well as working on even more innovative designs for our talented authors.”

Will Jones
Founder and m.d.

What is the one thing the trade as a whole is crying out for? Arguably, it is a significant rival and competitor to Amazon. They just may get it with online bookstore Wordery, founded in 2012 by Will Jones, formerly The Book Depository’s IT director and Waterstones’ e-commerce IT boss.

In less than a year of trading (the site officially launched to consumers in September 2013) Wordery, run in partnership with wholesaler Bertrams, has gone from a standing start to a business expected to generate £20m in sales this year. This is just the beginning. Jones and his team, including redoubtable commercial manager Steve Potter, have worldwide ambitions. Watch your back, Mr Bezos.

The year ahead:
“We’ve only just started on the plan for Wordery and we expect to see significant ongoing growth. Over the next year, will be continually enhanced to provide a better offer and service to our customers, and we’ll also continue to access new customers globally.”

Louisa Livingston
Consumer insight director

Livingston knows a thing or two about working in an industry in transition. After setting up her own media research company M-Lab in 2004 (and subsequently selling it on to another concern), she joined EMI at a time when the music trade was in a time of turmoil, and applied her considerable consumer insight nous to great effect.

Poached by Hachette in 2013, she has been busy developing a plethora of tools for Hachette’s businesses both at home and abroad, and hopes to help the business “combine data with instinct” and bring consumer insight “into every level of decision making and make it a tool that guides the business at both a strategic macro level and also for day-to-day decision”.

Sophie Lambert

Conville & Walsh

Lambert has the honour of becoming The Bookseller’s inaugural Shooting Star; the Rising Star who we feel should be particularly commended for her efforts over the past year.

A former Blackwell’s and Foyles buyer, Lambert became a fully-fledged agent (after learning the ropes as an assistant at Janklow & Nesbit in New York) with Tibor Jones in 2009. She says it was “just about the worst time in recent years to try to start a new client list from scratch”.

Yet it seems that those testing times have helped her development, as the hallmark of her agenting career has been to consistently search out new talent, including proactively approaching prospective authors with narrative non- fiction ideas, or setting up the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize to find new novelists.

One of the authors unearthed by the Pageturner Prize who followed Lambert when she moved to Conville & Walsh last year was Nathan Filer, whose début novel, The Shock of the Fall, was one of the hot books of the London Book Fair in 2012— it was won by Fourth Estate after an 11-publisher auction.

Filer’s book lived up to the hype, going on to win the Costa Book of the Year 2013. Lambert says: “What I find particularly gratifying is that this book and its somewhat difficult subject matter [mental illness] has been able to find the wide audience that it deserves.”

Lambert has a stable of around 35 authors, evenly split between fiction and non-fiction. The next year or two look set to be even better for Lambert and her clients, with a flurry of recent deals for books that will be released in 2015/16.

Genetic epidemiologist Dr Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth, which aims to skewer the pseudo-science around many diets, is Weidenfeld & Nicolson’s lead popular science title for next spring (it was acquired by Lambert’s fellow Rising Star Bea Hemming). Other deals include the Guardian columnist Zoe Williams’ tub-thumping political tome Why the Left is Right (to Hutchinson), psychologist Tali Sharot’s The Opinion of Others (to Little, Brown) and performance poet Tim Clare’s début novel The Honours (to Canongate).

Career highlight:
“It has to be Nathan Filer winning the Costa Prize. It was just so thrilling to work with someone from when they were a prospective author through to them winning a major prize.”

The year ahead:
“I am excited about product innovation and how that might change the face of publishing over the next few years, and I am delighted to have joined a company with such forward- thinking digital plans.”

Alice Lutyens
Curtis Brown
Agent (audio specialist)

Here is a definition of a Rising Star: a book trade young gun who sees an underdeveloped part of the industry and goes about reinvigorating it.

While working as an assistant for Curtis Brown c.e.o. Jonathan Lloyd, Lutyens thought that the entire trade had a “’meh’ attitude towards audio . . . reactive rather than proactive”. She asked if she could take over the agency’s audio rights sales, and since then Curtis Brown has gone from doing about 20 audio deals a year to about 12 to 20 a month.

The irony? Lutyens has been profoundly deaf since birth. She says: “Even though I can’t actually hear an audiobook (which makes me truly sad), I am utterly passionate about the audio market.” Lutyens also has her own list of authors, and recently sold Kate Hamer’s The Girl in the Red Coat to Faber for a “substantial advance”.

Career highlight:
“Re-selling most of the ex-AudioGO authors [after the company’s administration] for a total of over half a million pounds within the space of a few weeks. I was so thrilled to find new homes for the brilliant titles we represent.”

Zeljka Marosevic
Melville House UK
Director of marketing

Marosevic may have the most misleading job title in the UK book trade. After excelling at Fourth Estate since graduating with a degree in English Literature from Cambridge in 2011, where she worked as part of small team that reinvigorated Fourth Estate’s digital presence, she was hand-picked in 2013 by Melville House owners Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians to set up the UK arm of the well-respected US independent.

Yes, her duties do include marketing, but they also encompass publicity, sales and editorial, and in the year she has headed up MHUK, she has spearheaded the publisher’s increased presence on retailers’ shelves and a ramped up coverage across traditional and new media.

What’s next?
“In autumn we’re launching our first UK titles, with a new novel by Lars Iyer,
Wittgenstein Jr. I’m looking forward to finding new British authors to join this list, and we’ll be announcing one of the ways we’ll be doing this in the coming months.”

Chris McCrudden
Midas PR
Head of technology and new media

McCrudden held several positions at technology PR companies since earning an MA in novel writing from Manchester University in 2003, but he had a Damascene moment when working on campaigns for the Economist and Sony Reader that convinced him “to cross over into publishing as an industry living through a period of exciting change”.

He switched to publicity powerhouse Midas PR, and has since advised the firm’s roster of clients—which range from digital start-ups to book trade household names such as the London Book Fair and Audible. McCrudden will also be letting the world in on some of PR’s trade secrets soon: he has penned a book on social media do’s and don’ts for authors, which will be released in e-book by Guardian Books later this year.

Career highlight:
“Pressing ‘go’ on our new website, because its content now demonstrates everything Midas PR has achieved in recent years within publishing and the adjacent sectors we work in.”

Sara O’Connor
Hot Key Books
Fiction digital director

Moving from Little Brown Young Readers in New York to her “dream job” as an editor at Hot Key Books in London—via Working Partners and Hodder Children’s—O’ Connor has just been promoted to her new role, which she says combines all of her passions.

O’Connor’s time at Hot Key has seen her establish the brand through social media and work with other brands (such as the Young Writer’s Prize with Kobo) to find new talent. A career highlight for her was the Maggot Moon “ibook”, “and having a hand in making that such a big book.” Her new role is primarily a marketing and digital one, which she says “is so exciting; it’s a complete career change”.

They say:
“Sara is a truly inspiring member of the Hot Key team. As a start-up publishing business, our digital profile is based on her energy, hard work, originality and sheer dedication.”
Sarah Odedina, Hot Key m.d.

Lucy Pessell
Walker Books
Head of special sales

Pessell joined Walker Books last March as head of special sales, after moving up the ranks at Pan Macmillan and Bloomsbury. Since then she has increased revenue in that sector by 40%, established clear systems to monitor margins, opened new accounts with shops such as Debenhams, and overseen a new strategy for Book Club customers for 2014 and 2015.

A few months ago, The Book People’s c.e.o. Seni Glaister described Pessell and her staff at Walker as “The Dream Team”. Pessell says she loves special sales “because you have an idea that you present immediately in front of the customer and there is a really quick turnaround; you have to be really nimble”. Her team will now be focusing on the 20th anniversary of Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You and the 25th year of Michael Rosen’s classic We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.

They say:
“Lucy engages production while bridging customer’s needs and requirements and upholding company values and policies—a rare commerical combination—and is a supportive colleague.”
Alan Lee, Walker production director

Evie Prysor-Jones
Digital publishing executive

Joining Blackwell Learning as a research project intern from an MA in Publishing Studies at City University, the quality of Prysor-Jones’ work led to her being offered a full-time position assisting a Rising Star from last year’s list, Kjell Eldor, Blackwell’s digital publishing manager.

Instrumental in the Blackwell Learning launch at this year’s London Book Fair, Prysor-Jones says the career-topping moment was “mad, but fantastic. I was thrown in at the deep end but it was such a rewarding thing to be a part of”.

They say:
“Evie has worked tirelessley within our team to achieve her goals and to help us move towards the launch of Blackwell’s new digital platform. She is definitely one to look out for.”
Matthew Cashmore, digital director, Blackwell’s

Gillian Redfearn
Publishing director

In just 10 short years Redfearn has risen from editorial assistant to publishing director; more impressively perhaps, within six months of first joining in 2004, she was commissioning for her own list. That year she signed Joe Abercrombie, which she followed up with Patrick Rothfuss in 2006— and both are now major SFF stars. In 2007, she signed Kristin Cashore, who has since sold over 350,000 copies in the UK.

In 2013 Redfearn was promoted twice, first from editorial director to deputy publishing director, and then again to the top job. A career highlight was the day that Abercrombie first reached the bestseller lists, which Redfearn describes as a “great moment—it was such a good feeling because he deserved it as a writer and the whole company had got behind him to make it happen”.

They say:
“She must be one of the youngest publishing directors in the business and has proved herself again and again as a brilliant judge of new authors and someone who runs a major, growing, profitable and successful publishing list.”
Malcolm Edwards, deputy c.e.o. and publisher of the Orion Group

Jan Reichelt
Co-founder, president

Co-founder of one of the world’s largest research collaboration platforms—a social network for academics—Reichelt is one of publishing’s new digital drivers.

Last year Mendeley was acquired by scientific, technical and medical giant Elsevier, but it is Reichelt who continues to drive the company’s growth as it integrates further into the Reed Elsevier group, maintaining Mendeley’s identity, brand and highly engaged community.

An academic himself, Reichelt has started a PhD in Information Management and lectured in Electronic Business at the University of Cologne. Before that he graduated with an MBA with a focus on electronic business, accounting and entrepreneurship, having studied at the WHU School of Management in Germany, the LUISS business school in Rome, and the University of Bath School of Management.

What’s next?
“Last year we made 14 hires, this year there will be another 30. We’ve hired our first Android developer.”

Sarah Rigby
Senior editor

An editor at Hutchinson since 2012, Rigby—who has built a strong list of fiction and non-fiction authors— describes being able to work on both sectors as “fantastic and rare”. She has acquired bestselling biographer Lindy Woodhead and bestselling historians such as Marc Morris and Matthew Parker, as well more venturesome titles by unproven authors, including Lost and Found, the début by Aussie bookseller Brooke Davis, which has now sold into 21 territories.

In October Rigby hosted the Hutchinson Proof Party at the Cheltenham Festival, interviewing Helen Dunmore and Norwegian début novelist Dea Brøvig. ”That was fantastic,” she says. “For me it just summed up what we are all here for, talking directly to readers about books.”

They say:
“A publisher who combines creativity and focus, not only is Sarah a meticulous, thoughtful editor, much loved by her authors, but she is brilliant at understanding what all parts of the business need to best sell her books.”
Jocasta Hamilton, publishing director, Hutchinson

Tom Roper

Once described as “the most dangerous man in British librarianship”, Roper is proof that no matter how well established you are in your career, you can still be an upstart. In November, after helping lead the campaign against the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals’ attempts to rebrand itself, Roper was elected by CILIP members as one of four new council members in a bid to shake it up from within. At CILIP’s AGM, Roper also seconded a motion of no confidence in Ed Vaizey.

He says: “I felt [CILIP] had lost their way and got a bit out of touch, and having said all of that I figured that I really should go and get stuck in. CILIP had suffered a serious loss of members; I wanted us to get a real grip of the situation and start recruiting new librarians.”

What’s next?
“I thought CILIP was not talking out enough and was far too inward-looking, we now have a long way to go to win members back.”

Gavin Sathianathan
blinkbox books

Sathianathan joined Tesco’s blinkbox books—its launch, which took place in March this year, he describes as a real career highlight—from Facebook, where he helped make big companies social and social companies big.

Before joining Facebook, he was part of the team that launched, a joint venture between Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House and HMV. Before anobii, he started his career at Bain & Company, and served as head of business development at Endemol, as well as being a part of a number of technology start-ups in the UK and the US.

The year ahead:
“There are a lot of things we want to do, both on the device and platform side. More and more people are reading on smartphones and we expect to see it become even more of a mainstream thing, so we’ll be focusing on that as well.”

Sarah Savitt
Faber & Faber

Joining Faber & Faber as paperbacks assistant seven years ago, Savitt began acquiring titles herself in 2009, having worked previously in publicity at HarperCollins and in agenting at David Godwin Associates.

Her authors at Faber include Maria McCann, Adharanand Finn and Louise Doughty—whose Apple Tree Yard has been a huge hit for Faber. The paperback hit the top five of the Official UK Top 50 in its first week of publication, and it has now sold almost £430,000 worth in the format. The next year will see Savitt working on two débuts—Then But Not Now by Alex Hourston and Kate Hamer’s The Girl in the Red Coat—as well as helping Faber’s digitial guru Henry Volans to develop the app and book for Arcadia, a digital novel by Iain Pears, which she describes as “great—a big learning curve”.

Career highlight:
Apple Tree Yard was my first bestseller. We took Louise on with her sixth book and this was her seventh; it proves that publishing doesn’t always have to be about the big débuts.”

Lleucu Siencyn
Literature Wales

Siencyn has been chief executive of Literature Wales since its formation in 2011, having previously worked at the Arts Council of Wales as literature officer, and as deputy c.e.o at Academi, which merged with the Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre to become Literature Wales.

Under Siencyn’s dynamic leadership, LW has played a huge part in the Dylan Thomas 100 festival, led major projects across Wales, and developed a significant new programme of wider engagement—particularly aimed at children and young people. Her team have introduced major new festivals—the Dinefwr Literature Festival and Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival—as well as new flagship projects, such as the Young People’s Laureate for Wales.

The year ahead:
“We have a young and passionate team and it has been great to engage with music festivals, comedians, spoken-word artists, a whole range of people that can show off literature in all its forms and engage with a wide range of young people.”

Dawn Sinclair
Group Archivist

Sinclair’s position is a standalone one at HarperCollins, vacant for many years before her arrival 18 months ago from the University of Glasgow’s archive services. There is a mountainous task before her, uncovering and bringing forward years of its heritage while concurrently establishing and maintaining an extensive records management operation.

In 2019 HC will celebrate 200 years of Collins; since starting at the company, Sinclair has laboured to raise the profile of Collins’ heritage, within HarperCollins and externally. She says: “It is really important to be considering what needs to be prepared so that we can celebrate a really big anniversary the best we can. It is important for us to show off our heritage.”

The year ahead:
“We are in a very digital age but without these documents there would be a black hole between the past and present. I want to bridge the gap between old print and new digital.”

Charlotte Staffer
Blackwell’s Heffers
Section manager

Staffer—who was shortlisted for HarperCollins Young Bookseller of the Year at The Bookseller Industry Awards 2014—started her career at Blackwell’s Oxford Broad Street flagship eight years ago on the books side of things, and then slowly moved over to the non-book side of bookshop life.

Jumping ship—or should that be boat?—in 2007, she joined Heffers and again took on more and more responsibility for growing its non- book sales. In November she was promoted to ground floor manager while still maintaining non-book growth—including negotiating a lucrative, exclusive deal with the Cambridge Satchel Company to sell its products (it led to £200,000 of sales) and building a relationship with jigsaw company Wentworth, which led to the creation of two special “Cambridge” jigsaws that were among the shop’s top-selling lines during December 2013.

Career highlight:
“The midnight opening for the final Harry Potter book was a hell of a moment, there was incredible energy and it was an amazing thing to be a part of.”


Emily-Jane Taylor
Little, Brown
Finance director/company secretary

When Little, Brown c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie offered Taylor the role of finance director three years ago, she “almost fell off my chair. It was just so lovely to know that she had such faith in me”.

Having joined as a junior member of the team, she has risen through the ranks in a department that is, “fantastic, always changing and never dull”. As she has gained more responsibility, Taylor has been involved in more and more key company moments: when Little, Brown was bought by Hachette; when it went on to buy Piatkus; and the recent purchase of Constable & Robinson.

The latter is something Taylor has been focusing on heavily, and will continue to do so for the next year, as Constable & Robinson integrates its accounts, processes and workflows with those of Little, Brown.

They say:
“She’s very young in a hugely responsible role [and] doing a brilliant job. She is completely unflappable, and all too often people in this sort of role just don’t figure. She has been with us her whole working life and has risen through the ranks.”
Ursula Mackenzie, Little, Brown c.e.o.

Kirty Topiwala
Wellcome Collection
Publishing director/prize administrator

Joining the Wellcome Collection in 2011 as commissioning editor after working in the editorial department of Anova Books and Duncan Baird Publishers, Topiwala had a chance to make the publishing list “her own”. Publishing a real range of books—be it the Wellcome Collections’ Death: A Picture Album or Val McDermid’s tome on the history of Forensics in partnership with Profile Books—she has done just that.

Last year she also took on the challenge of reinvigorating the Wellcome Book Prize (won in 2014 by Andrew Solomon, pictured), a task she has met with aplomb, changing its branding, increasing the prize money and growing its reach. Taking on responsibility for the prize—which celebrates health and medicine in literature—was “a very new thing for me and a real learning curve but it’s been fantastic”.

The year ahead:
“I just want to carry on building up momentum for the Wellcome Prize and also focus on the amazing books that we’ve got coming out.”

Chris White
Fiction buyer

An experienced hand on the shop floor—he joined Hatchards fresh from university in 2004—White stepped up to parent company Waterstones’ buying team in 2009, assuming his current role in 2011.

With the chain going through a series of operational and organisational changes recently, White says “one of the key things is that there is a lot more flexibility to pick books out of obscurity, like Stoner or The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul—in the past it was a bit more regimented but there is a lot of passion here.”

White champions books through promotions such as Waterstones’ Fiction Book of the Month—the latest is Don’t Point That Thing at Me, the first in Kyril Bonfiglioli’s forgotten Mortdecai Trilogy, which Penguin has recently bought back into print. White calls the first instalment a “real booksellers book—just the sort of thing we like to get behind”.

What’s next?
“Just trying to find more and more interesting titles to get behind.”

Ben Willis
Publicity & digital rights campaign manager

After learning his craft at Transworld—leading campaigns for Tess Gerritsen and Belinda Bauer, and winning a PPC award for his work on S J Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep— Willis moved to Headline in 2011. He works across fiction and non-fiction for authors including Simon Scarrow, Emylia Hall and A S A Harrison—he won a Bookseller Industry Award this year for his work on Harrison’s The Silent Wife.

He’s had a busy few months—in February, under his impetus, Headline launched, a website that lets book bloggers request books, exclusive content and author interviews directly.

Career highlight:
The Silent Wife campaign was amazing, but bookbridgr has also been a huge highlight; it was an idea I dreamed up, pitched to Headline and then worked closely with the developers to build. It has been a fantastic learning curve.”

Rachael Wing
Wallingford Bookshop

Alison Jinks, owner of the Wallingford Bookshop, describes Wing as the “Watson to my Sherlock”. Starting off in the shop as maternity cover, Wing became a full-time member of staff after finishing her degree. She has put her stamp on the Oxfordshire store with a host of initiatives, such as the children’s proof club—where kids read proof copies in return for reviews and feedback—and running the shop at the Wantage Festival. A children’s author—her Star-Crossed (Scholastic) was published when she was 16, Wing was named HarperCollins Young Bookseller of the Year at The Bookseller Industry Awards 2014.

They say:
“Rachael is staggeringly energised and achieves an incredible amount from a small shop. She’s young yet clearly has the trust and admiration of her customers. This is a person you want to buy books from.”
Bookseller Industry Awards judges

Virginia Woolstencroft
Marketing communications manager

After entering the publishing industry at Orion, Woolstencroft moved to HarperCollins in 2013, where she has quickly taken the non-fiction marketing department by storm. She secured an interview on ITV’s “This Morning” and a major interview in the Daily Mail for Paul and Terrie Duckett, the authors of inspirational memoir Stolen Voices, which boosted the book’s ranking on Amazon and in the Sunday Times bestseller charts.

Woolstencroft has also played a key role in the organisation of high-profile book signings with the likes of One Direction and Usain Bolt, and worked with TV production schedules and agents to deliver a successful Times+ event with the “Downton Abbey” cast.

What’s next?
“I will be joining in the work on the real-life imprint Harper True; I’m really excited as editorial, marketing and digital will all be working really closely together. I’m looking forward to learning lots of new things.”

Rukhsana Yasmin
Jacaranda Books
Freelance commissioning editor

Now freelancing at Jacaranda Books, Yasmin is building up a list for the independent publisher that is focused on women and urban culture, as well as acquiring some “exciting” projects—she says she is an editor who “loves working from scratch”.

Joining Saqi Books in 2007 as a trainee on the Arts Council’s Diversity in Publishing Scheme, she went on to win the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize in 2012 after returning to her first publishing home that year after a three- year stint at Profile Books. While at Profile, she acquired From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp, a seminal text on the Arab Spring that was already available on a Creative Commons licence. Seeing the opportunity of publishing it traditionally—as well as an e-book priced at 99p—it is now in its third printing.

They say:
“Rukhsana is remarkable. She is unusually entrepreneurial, creative and brimming with energy and ideas—she is someone who will make a difference to publishing in the next decade.”
Andrew Franklin, m.d. of Profile Books

Kimberley Young
Publishing director, Harper Fiction

Young’s two-year HarperCollins anniversary is approaching, and since joining as publishing director in late 2012 she has been very busy indeed.

Under her leadership the HarperFiction team has launched the innovative digital-first imprint HarperImpulse; had Sunday Times bestsellers with Josephine Cox and Kimberley Chambers; and launched its first-ever virtual Romance Festival. Working through the ranks of Harlequin for a decade before making the move to HC, Young’s experience is far- ranging; her time at Harlequin saw her launch teen fiction imprint Mira Ink, a new non-
fiction programme and the digital imprint CarinaUK.

Highlight of 2014:
“The virtual Romance Festival is really amazing for us and it’s great that it can be cross-publisher and author agnostic—it’s just a celebration of romance writing in all forms.”