It is satisfying that members of The Bookseller Rising Stars this year don’t just happen to be in the Class of 2018 feature that follows, but have been prominent in our magazine and on our website recently.
This week’s UK number one, Sophie Kinsella, is edited by Transworld’s Francesca Best. A big part of Best’s Rising Stars nod was helping to bring the author to an even-wider audience. Katie Brown’s most recent acquisition was announced earlier this week, while she and her Trapeze colleagues’ tour of northern schools to promote working in publishing featured on TheBookseller.com last week. Harvill’s Ellie Steel, meanwhile, gave us her thoughts on the recent spike in horror.
This suggests to me that though we have chosen these talented individuals as exemplars of the industry’s next generation of leaders, in many ways they are already there. Just as gratifying is to point the spotlight at those whose contributions have been immense, but whose abilities might only be known within their own teams. Take Patricia Dillana Kendall, the point person for delivering a complete overhaul of Hachette’s 30-year-old rights systems. The event you enjoyed at your local Waterstones may be down to Steven Cooper, who is working with colleagues across the estate to increase the chain’s events footprint.
Get up and go
Our Rising Stars hail from every part of the industry, but a couple of things unite them. One is an entrepreneurial spirit. There are the obvious examples of those who have set up businesses with winning results, such as Jasper Joffe of Joffe Books, Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo Editions and the Tramp Press duo of Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff.
But those who work in big organisations are go-getters, too. For example, Ellen Holgate, while on maternity leave, read Jessie Burton’s adult novels and approached the author and persuaded her to write stories for Bloomsbury Children’s.
The other commonality is representation. No matter what the role, every Rising Star talked to us about the hard business case for expanding the industry and bringing stories to more people, particular those the trade has often neglected. This, of course, is an issue already under discussion and it may have to do with the list’s demographics: 25% are from a BAME background, three-quarters are women and many self-identified as being from low social-economic backgrounds.
But perhaps there is also a frustration underpinning this. I would conservatively estimate a third of the Rising Stars spoke of a difficulty in breaking into the business because only unpaid work was initially available. That model is thankfully changing, but the Rising Stars’ sometimes bruising entrée into the industry is assuredly informing what they do now. The implicit message used to be: this industry isn’t for the likes of you. But through force of will, and a love of books, they have shouldered their way in, made it their own and are remaking it from within.
Lastly, a special thanks to the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) who are backing the Rising Stars for the fourth time, and to Redwood Publishing Recruitment who have sponsored the Rising Stars for a second year in a row.
And there should be a special mention to Picador's senior commissioning editor Sophie Jonathan who is this year's "Shooting Star" is singled out - a person the judges feel achieved just that little bit more than the others on the list. FBF will be awarding Jonathan with a free trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018, including travel and accommodation, a six-day ticket to the Business Club (worth over €1,100) which allows access to all Book Fair conferences, inclusion in key Book Fair events, invitations to exclusive networking receptions and introductions to industry insiders.