Susan Lamb, m.d. of Orion Fiction, is to leave the company at the end of this week.
Jon Wood, m.d. of Gollancz and deputy group publisher, will assume Lamb’s publishing responsibilities, and will report to Orion Group publisher Malcolm Edwards.
In a letter sent to authors and agents today (12th February), David Young, c.e.o. of Hachette-owned Orion, said: “After 23 years with the company that she helped to found, Susan has decided it is time to move on.
“Susan is a brilliant publisher and like all brilliant publishers she combines her passion for books and her flair for marketing and publicity with enormous energy and drive to launch new authors, to establish brands and to propel her books through the hands of journalists, reviewers and booksellers and on to bestseller lists.
“She has made a phenomenal contribution to Orion and we will miss her enormously.”
Lamb first broached the idea of leaving in October 2014, said Young. "Susan first suggested that she might leave last October and we have been in discussion with her ever since so although this news may seem sudden it has, in fact, been a long time in the planning." He added: “I am afraid that she is adamant that she does not wish to have a big leaving party so we will be marking her enormous contribution to the company privately."
Lamb became head of Orion Fiction in 2012 following a restructure of the company into two publishing divisions.
Lamb was a founding director of the Orion Publishing Group, and before that was a founding director of Penguin Random House’s Century division.
She started her career in bookselling before moving into publishing, with her first roles in publicity and then marketing. She then moved to become paperback publishing for Orion.
Jonathan Lloyd, chairman of Curtis Brown, said: “There will never be another Susan Lamb. It is a very sad day for me and the authors of mine she publishes.
“Of course she leaves a great team behind, but I will miss her bustling energy and acute attention to detail. She really cared about the job, was fiercely ambitious for her authors, and worked seemingly 24/7 in order not to miss a single trick.”
Among Lloyd’s authors, Lamb published Erica James, who she signed as a debut author.
Christine Green of Christine Green Authors’ Agent, got to know Lamb when “she first worked at Century, when an unknown writer called Maeve Binchy was about to publish her first novel, Light a Penny Candle”.
“Susan has been a force of nature in all the intervening years,” said Green. “She is astonishingly hard-working, fiercely protective of her authors and is one of this industry’s forensic thinkers. Her announcement is a huge shock if not entirely a surprise. It has been a privilege to work with her over all these years.”