Prema Raj, a rights assistant at A M Heath, has won this year’s £10,000 Deborah Rogers Foundation David Miller Bursary.
The biennial bursary is awarded to someone who has worked in a literary agency or UK rights department for at least two years. Named after Rogers, Coleridge and White (RCW) agent David Miller, who championed the idea before his 2016 death at the age of 50, it funds eight experience-broadening weeks with publishers and agencies in various countries.
Raj joined A M Heath as an intern in October 2016 before getting a permanent rights assistant role. She handles translation rights for the Baltic countries and across much of Eastern Europe, plus Greece, Israel, Russia and Turkey. Raj was chosen by a panel of judges from a 12-applicant shortlist and will now select her work placements from a range of companies.
Andrew Franklin, Profile Books m.d. and chair of the judges, said: “The winner is nothing short of amazing. We are delighted to recognise what Prema Raj has already achieved and her ambitions for her future.”
Raj plans to take up placements with Italy's Einaudi, Rosinante in Denmark, Grove Atlantic in the US and one other company. She said afterwards: "It's just an incredible opportunity. It will be amazing to have these different global perspectives."
She received her award from Lord Berkeley of Knighton, chairman of the foundation, at a 20th February ceremony in the London offices of RCW. Faber & Faber rights manager Camille Morard and Blake Friedmann rights manager Hana Murrell were named as runners-up, receiving £250 each.
Sam Coates, now foreign rights manager at RCW, won the inaugural prize in 2017 and formed part of this year’s judging panel.
The Deborah Rogers Foundation was set up in memory of agent Rogers who formed RCW and championed young talent.
Foundation director Gill Coleridge said: “One of Deborah’s defining qualities was her total commitment to supporting and nurturing those with talent, whether a new author or someone within the agent and publishing community. Selling and managing rights is at the heart of our business so we set up this bursary to help young professionals who are already working in this field develop their contacts and understanding of international publishing at a crucial point in their careers.
“We are delighted by the response to this second bursary award and I know David Miller - who helped launch it and whose name we have now attached to it - would be too. We have a very deserving winner out of a strong shortlist and I wish Prema a very exciting and rewarding time over the coming months. We greatly look forward to hearing about her experiences.”