Helen Mackenzie Smith has been promoted to the newly created role of picture books publisher at Simon & Schuster Children's.
She will take up the role with immediate effect, continuing to report to Ali Dougal, publishing director.
In a 25-year career, Mackenzie Smith has worked with picture book creators including Raymond Briggs and Oliver Jeffers. She joined S&S as editorial director in 2017 and in 2020 her list curation and author and illustrator mentoring helped the picture book list achieve 24% growth year on year in the UK, according to S&S. In 2020 she steered Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet to their best year, with estimated Total Consumer Market sales in excess of 342,000 copies, and signed a multi-book exclusive deal with the bestselling picture book duo.
Mackenzie Smith has also signed a major new deal with Benji Davies with plans in place to grow his S&S publishing significantly in the coming years. Together with art director Jane Buckley she has been responsible for what S&S describes as future classics, such as I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Halls and Steve Small, which was selected as Independent Book of the Month for August 2020 and has so far sold in 17 languages, and Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley’s The Littlest Yak.
Senior commissioning editor Polly Whybrow and assistant editor Melissa Gitari will continue to report into Mackenzie-Smith, and the team is recruiting for an editor to support further growth.
Dougal said: "Helen is a rare and exceptional talent with a gift for creating picture book magic with the authors and illustrators she works with. She has a razor sharp instincts and she knows how to get the very best out of every project, be it a commercial series launch or a beautiful future classic. It’s a privilege to work with her and we’re thrilled to be recognising her contribution with this promotion."
Mackenzie Smith added: "This is such an exciting time for picture books at S&S. Not only are we fortunate enough to work with the most astonishingly talented authors and illustrators, but I feel hugely lucky to have the fabulous in-house team we do, too. I’m so proud of everything we’ve already achieved – and there’s so much more to come."