There is one thing that all of this year’s eclectic and extensive selection of Rising Stars have in common: whatever their job and whatever area of the industry they are working in, they have all gone the extra mile. Going above and beyond the call of their nine-to-five jobs’ duties, 2015’s 39-strong list is full of movers and shakers determined to make their own way in publishing by carving out their own careers (see the full list here). The Bookseller's Rising Stars is run in association with Frankfurt Book Fair and sponsored by Inspired Selection.
Showing passion, determination and excellent entrepreneurial skills, all of the Rising Stars have given that little bit extra. Take Leilah Skelton, a Waterstones bookseller for almost a decade, who has single-handedly created her own social media buzz around certain titles by combining her two loves, books and crafting, to champion authors and titles in incredibly inventive ways—all while still managing a busy shop floor. Another Waterstones employee, Jonathan O’Brien, tweeted his way to head office from the shop floor by grasping an opportunity and running with it, turning the Oxford Street West branch’s Twitter account into an engaging and popular social media machine out of his own ingenuity.
For the marketing campaign for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (Orbit), Felice Howden hand-wrote postcards, each featuring an individual, unique piece of advice, for every single copy of the almost 4,000-deep hardback print run. Pan Macmillan’s digital comms manager Naomi Bacon has forged relationships with brands that span far beyond the usual world of books, creating bespoke communications packages off of her own back for retailers such as Topshop and The White Company that have yielded huge results for Pan Mac when it comes to discoverability.
Also on a digital note, HarperCollins technology operations co-ordinator Jay Ali combines his day job with passionately championing new technology on the side whenever he can—most recently providing demonstrations of the brand new Apple Watch for his engaged colleagues—all while undertaking tasks such as overseeing the publisher’s recent office move from a technological perspective.
All of these Rising Stars, and the rest of their 2015 cohort, represent their workplaces, their authors and their books in the best possible way. As Charlie King, group marketing, publicity and creative director of Little, Brown, says of Howden: “She is a ‘brand ambassador’ for Orbit and its authors in the truest sense of the term.” Similarly, Scribe UK editor-at-large Philip Gwyn Jones says of the indie publisher’s publicity and operations manager Sarah Braybrooke: “Her passion for ideas, communication, solidarity, innovation and egalitarianism all mark her out as one of the great engaged publicists of her generation.”
Perhaps Koukla MacLehose, when describing the latest addition to her scouting agency, Jessie Mendez-Sayer, sums it up best for all of our Rising Stars: “She is the future!”
The Rising Stars is produced in association with the Frankfurt Book Fair, and sponsored by Inspired Selection