Author and campaigner Kit de Waal has been named FutureBook Person of the Year, sponsored by Mosaic Search and Selection. She follows Sharmaine Lovegrove, publisher of Dialogue Books, who was 2018's recipient. De Waal will give the closing keynote of FutureBook Live, The Bookseller's publishing conference to be held on 25th November.
The author has been recognised for her commitment to improving diversity within the publishing business, both through advocacy and action. Her début novel, My Name Is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in June 2016. After securing the publishing deal de Waal used some of her advance to set up the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Fellowship to help improve working-class representation in the arts. She was also editor of An Anthology of Working Class Writers, crowdfunded on Unbound, and published in May.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: "This award is for change-agents, people who are making a difference within the sector, and going that extra mile. Kit has stood up for those who don't always have a voice in the trade, not just telling others what they need to do, but also demonstrating it herself. She's the worthy successor to Sharmaine this year."
Author and journalist Hannah Beckerman, who proposed de Waal, described her as "both a force for change and a force for good".
She added: "Some authors write books which change people’s perceptions about cultural or social issues. Other authors hold out their hand to help lift up the next generation of writers. Some authors use their public platform to campaign for greater diversity across the publishing industry. Others put their hands in their pockets to help fund courses for aspiring writers and widen access to the publishing world. A handful of authors set up new initiatives, and are entrepreneurial with their creativity. This year’s recipient of the FutureBook Person of the Year award does all those things, and so much more."
De Waal said: "I’ve only been a published author for three years, but it’s fair to say I’m making up for lost time! I’ve had five books published in that time, and have been blown away by the way the publishing community has taken me into their hearts for each book. But I know how lucky I am, and it’s fantastic that the same community is able to acknowledge that that there is so much work still to be done. This is an incredible honour, and I am very grateful."
De Waal will close the conference with her keynote, immediately before The FutureBook Awards. To book tickets for the 25th November event, visit https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook-conference.