The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize shortlist has been revealed following a record number of nominations.
Knights Of co-founder Aimée Felone, The Literary Consultancy director Aki Schilz and OWN IT! co-founder Crystal Mahey-Morgan made the shortlist for the £1,000 award, which recognises the professional achievements and promise of women in publishing.
This year’s shortlist demonstrates the "dynamism of the independent sector and the power of entrepreneurism whilst being the prize’s most diverse shortlist ever", said organisers. "Each of the shortlistees is notable for developing new business models and funding processes, with a clear awareness of nurturing new partnerships and widening diversity. They demonstrate the changing roles in both the traditional and non-traditional publishing landscape and offer a huge range of talents and skills sets. They are opening up publishing to new voices, increasing representation of unheard and under-represented voices and prove that the most exciting businesses don’t have to be in London."
Founded in 2003, the prize honours the life and career of Kim Scott Walwyn, who was publishing director at Oxford University Press and who died in 2002 at the age of 45. The award is run in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers.
The judging panel comprised 2017 winner Alice Curry, Ain Deheb Bensenouci and prize committee members Rukhsana Yasmin, Julia Kingsford and Emma Paterson. The panel was co-chaired by Catherine Clarke and Denise Johnstone-Burt.
The judges said Felone has made an "astonishing contribution" to the industry, highlighting the work of "vibrant and inclusive independent" Knights Of and the £30,000 crowdfunder to open Brixton’s first permanent inclusive children’s bookshop.
Schilz has "impressively dedicated herself to building on Rebecca Swift’s huge contribution to literature, not only keeping The Literary Consultancy steady after Rebecca’s sad and untimely death but building on her long legacy," said the judging panel, praising Aki's "incredible strength and vision".
Turning to Mahey-Morgan, the judging panel, said the OWN IT! co-owner has "demonstrated incredible entrepreneurism, dynamism, creativity and business management in the founding and development of OWN IT! Refusing to be bound by what others might think is the right way to do publishing, Crystal has shown time and again what true innovation looks like in creating a business with a powerful publishing core but that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of readers and authors alike whilst herself being a powerful force for change and good in the industry."
404 Ink co-founders McDaid and Jones were recognised for their "exceptional work". Judges said: "They are a fantastic example of innovative thinking and have contributed to the thriving of the Scottish publishing scene greatly, putting transparency and new voices at the heart of what they do."
The judges were "incredibly impressed" by Gotkowska's rights achievements and highlighted "the fortitude and courage with which she has adapted to her changing life circumstances" after she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2018. "It was obvious from the genuine praise she has received from all quarters that she is a joy to work with, a real and demonstrable asset to a publishing house, and an inspiring mentor to more junior colleagues," said the panel.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 28th May at a prize ceremony at Stationers’ Hall in central London.