HarperCollins, Goldsboro Books and Kate Nash have triumphed at the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Industry Awards, which this year also presented the newly-created inclusion award.
Based on nominations from RNA members, the awards recognise and celebrate the professionals who support and promote romantic fiction.
The Inclusion Award recognises the individual or organisation that has championed inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing. Winner Laura Macdougall has worked in publishing for almost ten years, first as an editor and now as an agent at United Agents. Macdougall has built a "wide-ranging, eclectic list of both fiction and non-fiction, reflecting her own tastes as a reader," said the RNA. "The majority of her list is made up of LGBTQ writers and Laura is always keen to champion under-represented voices and stories."
HarperCollins UK editorial director Charlotte Ledger accepted the Publisher of the Year award at the RNA's Winter Party at the Leonardo Royal Hotel in London tonight. Ledger acquires for the Harper Fiction list and heads up the brand new digital-first division, One More Chapter, publishing a list of bestsellers including Glynis Peters and Zara Stoneley. She also works on authors across commercial fiction including Irish Times and Kindle bestseller Carmel Harrington, Debbie Johnson and Sue Fortin.
Goldsboro Books scooped Bookseller of the Year for promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year. Rebecca McDonnell accepted the award on behalf of the London bookshop. The RNA said: "Book collectors and friends David Headley and Daniel Gedeon started Goldsboro Books in 1999 with plans to sell exclusively online. Fast forward 20 years and the business, which is now located at 23-27 Cecil Court, has seven employees, is in proud possession of the UK’s largest signed First Edition Book of the Month Club, and boasts a turnover of £1.1m."
L-R Kate Nash, Charlotte Ledger, Laura Macdougall, Rebecca McDonnell and Anne Williams
Agent of the Year went to Kate Nash, who has striven to support, mentor, nurture and promote their authors’ careers, the genre in general and the RNA in particular. The RNA said: "This year’s winner, Kate Nash, founded Kate Nash Literary Agency in 2009, which has gone on to become one of the UK’s foremost independent literary agencies, specialising in bestselling commercial fiction and non-fiction for adults, young adults and children. She enjoys championing romantic fiction and works with authors who can make her fall in love with their characters."
Redditch Library in Worcestershire won Library of the Year for being committed to supporting and promoting romantic fiction through library events, reviews, and publicity and book blogger Anne Williams was crowned Media Star of the Year for her Being Anne blog.
As well as the Inclusion Award, this year the RNA introduced Diversity and Inclusion Bursaries for eight writers, and also supported several published authors with the costs of either membership or attending this year's conference.
In 2020, the RNA’s 60th anniversary year, the bursary scheme will be renamed the RNA Diamond Bursaries, and expanded to offer 11 bursaries to cover membership of the New Writers’ Scheme, and three bursaries to cover full/independent membership, to assist writers from groups that are currently under-represented in publishing. A further two bursaries will be granted to help writers with the costs of attending the RNA’s annual conference.
Jeanna Skinner, recipient of a bursary in 2019, said: “No hyperbole, being awarded an RNA bursary changed my life. It gave me a much-needed boost to complete my first book after almost a decade of self-doubt and a year of personal upheaval. That book has since been through the NWS, was shortlisted in a competition and I've just begun querying agents. None of this would've been possible without the generosity of my bursary sponsor and support from the RNA, and it is something I'll be forever grateful for.”
The Diamond Bursaries are open to application from anyone with an interest in writing romantic fiction. Proof of eligibility is not required, but applicants are asked to submit a statement indicating their commitment to professionally developing as a writer. Applicants for the Diamond Bursaries are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.