Rising Stars 2016

  • Martha Ashby

    HarperFiction Commissioning Editor

    For someone who came to publishing partly because of a last-minute decision not to move to France after completing a French and Spanish degree, Ashby has done pretty well. She joined HarperFiction’s commercial women’s fiction team from Orion in 2012, working with big names such as Mhairi McFarlane and Lindsey Kelk, as well as acquiring New Adult books. The past year or so has been highlighted by triumphing in two “Book of the Fair” six-figure auctions. At this year’s London Book Fair, Ashby bested five other publishers to snap up Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women, and on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015, she won a “frenzied” eight-publisher fight for Glaswegian début author Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant. Of the latter auction, she says: “I was in a fevered state for about a week and a half. But it’s the most excited I’ve ever been after being just a few pages into a manuscript. It’s commercial fiction, but with something to say; it transcends genre.”

  • Nelle Andrew

    Peters Fraser & Dunlop Agent

    The running joke at PFD is that Nelle Andrew had to be forced into becoming an agent. There is a kernel of truth in that. Andrew got into the industry—first at Pan Mac, then moving to PFD, initially as c.e.o. Caroline Michel’s assistant—to be close to books and pay the bills while pursuing her dream of being a novelist. She did get published, with The Legacy of Eden (Mira) in 2012, but she says: “Strangely, I wasn’t satisfied. I discovered I preferred being an advocate for writers to writing.” Encouraged by Michel to start her own client list, Andrew slogged through the slushpile and went to writers’ conferences, literary festivals and “any opening of an envelope” to find authors. And it paid off. One of her first clients was Gilly Macmillan, whose début Burnt Paper Sky was a Piatkus superlead and sold into 17 territories, while Catherine Chanter’s The Well won the Lucy Cavendish Prize and was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Andrew now reps over 30 clients, including bestsellers Bryony Gordon, Sarah Winman and Elizabeth Day.

  • Rebecca Bader

    Quercus and Headline Sales development manager

    After five years of rapid progress while at Pan Macmillan, rising from admin support to senior key account manager, Rebecca Bader now seems certain to rise further up the ladder at Hachette. Since joining last August, she has looked after Headline and Quercus’ vital W H Smith High Street and Travel accounts. “She’s brought a new energy and vigour to dealing with a retailer that publishers rely so much on and yet don’t always understand,” says one Hachette colleague. Bader has proved a fresh thinker on retail partnerships and she also showed at Pan Mac that she has a knack for breathing new life into old books. “I’m a big fan of mining the backlist for sales as new opportunities present themselves,” she says. Hachette has recognised her talent, tasking her with growing contract sales to US customers, and she has a brief to develop strategies for Quercus’ women’s fiction, too. She is animated rather than fazed by the future. “I’m excited to be a part of a publishing world that keeps innovating while also continuing to support our bookshops and libraries.”

  • Yassine Belkacemi

    John Murray Press Publicity manager

    Yassine Belkacemi is one of the notable success stories of the Creative Access programme to get more people from BAME backgrounds into publishing—and he is determined he won’t be the last. The scheme opened up an internship at John Murray, leading to a permanent position and rapid promotion to publicity manager. “Creative Access’ success depends on its interns’ success, and I want to help promote diversity in any way I can,” he says. “The energy for it is there, and we’re starting to see pockets of it [in publishing], but it needs to be industry-wide. We’ll get there.” Belkacemi’s standout hit has been Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, named Book of the Year at May’s British Book Industry Awards. He was instrumental in breaking it into the mainstream and has enjoyed the challenges of working on hugely diverse books. “You really have to pull your weight. There are no hiding places in a small team and none of the gimmes you might get with big authors. You have to work hard for every success, and it’s definitely accelerated by knowledge.”

  • Ruth Bennett

    Stripes Publishing Commissioning editor

    Children’s publishing is out in force on 2016’s Rising Stars list, and Ruth Bennett is a fine example of how talented young editors are driving this vibrant part of the market. Bennett has been a dynamic force behind the Stripes Publishing imprint of Little Tiger Press since joining four years ago. At a relatively small publisher she has more scope than many children’s editors, proactively developing new series and concepts and co-ordinating apps and events as well as commissioning. She is finely tuned to her sector’s trends and has shaped Stripes’ Young Adult list in particular, breaking out homegrown voices at a time when US authors often seem to dominate. “First and foremost I’m motivated by stories. I take pleasure in being a part of the craft of developing a story and presenting it to readers,” Bennett says. “I want to publish books that will be remembered as childhood favourites into adulthood.” She is ambitious and constantly learning her craft. “This isn’t a job where you can ever sit back and think you know everything there is to know.”

  • Lara Borlenghi

    Pan Macmillan Finance director

    Lara Borlenghi is an example of how eyes that are fresh to the industry can do wonders for a publisher. She had carved out an impressive career in finance before joining Pan Mac in 2012, including stints at BBC Worldwide, Emap, Warner Music and Deloitte—but she is thrilled to have ended up in publishing. “I can’t believe I left it so long to work in the book industry, but I’m extremely lucky that I got here in the end,” she says. “I’ve definitely found my spiritual home.” Pan Mac has reason to be pleased too. Borlenghi has been an enabler for the company, helping tee up the launch of its new Bluebird list and improving the way it works on big author brands. She is quick to credit success to great teamwork in finance—another instance of the togetherness that has served the company so well lately. “In my experience, when finance works collaboratively with the creative and commercial functions it is more likely to lead to growth—and that is what we have seen at Pan Mac.”

  • Fiona Brownlee

    Brownlee Donald Associates Founder

    Striking out on your own after a steady rise through the ranks of publishing must be daunting, but Fiona Brownlee is finding that the gamble is paying off. After time at Midas, Pavilion and Mainstream, she went her own way in 2014 with a hybrid consultancy that sells international rights, as well as help with PR and marketing. The Donald half of the firm is husband Tim, formerly of the Scotsman. Clients on the rights side of the agency include fast-growing Glasgow publisher Freight Books and Jenny Brown Associates, while the Bloody Scotland festival, Freight and Canada-based Greystone Books have been among those benefiting from her PR flair. She also sits on the board of Publishing Scotland, for which she helped set up the new International Publishing Fellowship. Brownlee is happy for her agency to stay boutique for now, but is ambitious to grow in due course. “I’d like to keep Brownlee Donald small for the time being, as clients pay for senior-level experience. But my dream is to make them so successful they can afford to pay me more.”

  • Candice Carty-Williams

    Fourth Estate and William Collins Marketing executive

    Candice Carty-Williams is quickly forging a reputation in book marketing, but she’s proud to be flying the flag for a cause that goes far beyond her own career. She joined HarperCollins in 2014 on a work experience programme—and the company never let her go. Now she works across the William Collins and Fourth Estate lists, steering campaigns, handling online content and plotting new ways to get titles discovered. “I’m always thinking about visibility—how to reach communities and how to get books in people’s hands.” She is one of too many people from a BAME background who felt publishing was not a viable career—“I didn’t think it was really open to me”—but is determined that others will get the chance to follow her. “The industry is doing some great things, but lots more can be done and I want to contribute to that,” she says. “It’s not about shoving change down people’s throats. People are open to it, and I want to help do it in as gentle and inclusive a way as possible.”

  • Emma Cheshire

    Faber Permissions, literary estates and performance rights manager

    Years ago, literary estates and permissions teams may have laboured in a dusty corner of most houses. Even now, as publishers mine and reinvent estate backlists with digital initiatives, most in the industry might not fully appreciate the value these departments can bring—though that has probably never been the case at Faber, which boasts an enviable list of estates including T S Eliot, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney. And it definitely has not been the case in the five years Emma Cheshire has been at the publisher, during which she has streamlined systems and grown revenue. Cheshire excels at strategy and the nitty gritty, exemplified in her conceiving and implementing the Faber permissions portal, which automated what had been a lengthy, time-consuming process. She also loves the challenges of finding new revenue streams for estates: “There are different dynamics to each estate and there are a lot of opportunities now to think outside the box—but you have to find the project that’s the right fit.”

  • Imogen Cooper

    Golden Egg Academy Founder and director

    Imogen Cooper’s initial meeting with a new influx of would-be children’s authors at her Golden Egg Academy (GEA) writing school seems counter-intuitive: “We give them an overview of the book industry, about how difficult it is for writers. Then I tell them not to do the course.” Most stick with it, however, as GEA students are curated; they may not have honed their craft, but they have the raw talent to be writers. Cooper set up GEA, after a long stint as Chicken House editorial director, because “it was needed. That traditional old-fashioned editing, bringing along someone with potential, is being done less and less.” It’s worked a treat. In two years of courses, the students from the programme (which has a team of authors and publishers as mentors and workshop leaders) have inked an astonishing 22 book deals, including Lisa Williamson’s The Art of Being Normal (David Fickling Books) and M G Leonard’s Beetle Boy (Chicken House).

  • Jasmine Denholm

    Wenlock Books Bookseller

    Indie bookshops are places where young talent can flourish—and the rise of Jasmine Denholm at Wenlock Books in Shropshire has been particularly inspirational. Like many booksellers, she joined her local shop as a Saturday staffer and never left. But she has endured adversity along the way, having combated ill health during her A-Levels. “I suffered with depression and agoraphobia for a long time,” she says. “So I really try hard to make the most of every day that I am able to work at a job that I love.” The shop gave her the fresh start she needed and helped her through an apprenticeship in retail. Since finishing that, Denholm handles the day-to-day running of the shop, as well as its website, social media, children’s storytime sessions and book clubs, and counts organising some very successful Books Are My Bag celebrations as among her highlights. Denholm readily admits that her personal demons remain—but she also believes that her flourishing bookselling career helps her to overcome them.

  • Louise Drake

    Pan Macmillan Insight and data manager, publishing operations

    Louise Drake’s role—which Pan Mac created for her in 2015 after she had been in its insight team for a couple of years—is essentially taking sales data, analysing it and then disseminating it to the rest of the team. She says: “What we are really doing is looking at the data and making judgements—such as, is something a trend, or just one book?—and then giving it back in small, bitesize, easily accessible ways.” That is done in specific reports, through staff training and via her weekly Stats for Sharing internal bulletin. That Drake is at the heart of the decision making processes of an increasingly insight-led Pan Mac is remarkable given her career path. A voracious reader from a non-bookish, working-class family, she never dreamed that she could work in publishing. Instead she managed bars and worked on cruise ships, and it was during a year spent working in Australia, as an office manager for a publisher, that it clicked that she could marry her love of books with a career.

  • Cecily Gayford

    Profile Books Commissioning editor

    Here’s a good example of Cecily Gayford’s can-do commissioning. In January, Gayford noticed the pre-Oscar buzz for the film “Spotlight”, which had not been released in the UK. “I thought there was no way the book [Betrayal by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team] hadn’t been bought in the UK,” she says. “But it hadn’t been. I first looked into it on the Tuesday, bought it on the Friday and we published it the next Friday.” The result? A Best Picture Oscar for the filmmakers and a bestseller for Profile. The non-fiction specialist (though she is editing a “labour of love” cosy crime anthology, due in bookshops this Christmas) has progressed through the ranks at Profile since joining in 2011, and now takes the lead on some of the indie’s prestige projects, such as its partnership with the Wellcome Collection, which has led to hits such as Gavin Francis’ Adventures in Human Beings and Val McDermid’s Forensics. One of her highlights for the coming year is a book on deafness by Bella Bathurst, who lost her hearing for some 12 years before it was restored by an operation.

  • Frankie Gray

    Transworld Editorial director

    Frankie Gray joined Transworld to work primarily on crime and thrillers a little over two years ago from Headline, where she had been looking after the Young Adult crossover list, and she has certainly hit the ground running. Her first acquisition was Fiona Barton’s début The Widow, a hardback bestseller when released in January this year. “I was really pleased with that,” Gray says. “It was such an honour and a privilege working from the very start with an author and getting that level of sales.” It would appear that Gray is pretty good at working with up-and-comers: a big acquisition of hers this year was Shari Lapena’s début The Couple Next Door (out 14th July), while she and boss Bill Scott-Kerr won a 10-publisher auction for the first book from Ruth Jones, best known as the “Gavin & Stacey” actress and creator. But it’s not all newbies: a recent coup of hers was buying the backlist of classic American hardboiled crime author James Crumley, with his 40-year-old The Last Good Kiss being picked as a Waterstones Thriller of the Month and going on to shift 36,000 units.

  • Kirsty Greenwood

    Bookoutre;Novelicious Associate editor; founder; author

    Kirsty Greenwood’s route into the trade is atypical, but perhaps one to be emulated in an industry crying out for a diversity of voices. A love of commercial women’s fiction started when she was growing up on a council estate in Oldham, a passion which eventually led to her launching her blog, Novelicious, in 2009. In seven years she has built the site into the UK’s premier place for commercial women’s fiction fandom. Novelicious led Greenwood to self-publish her first book in 2012—“running the site helped my writing and I decided to self-publish because I had really gotten obsessed with content marketing and selling books digitally”—which led to a three-book deal with Pan Macmillan. An author/blogger connected with fans was a perfect fit for feisty digital women’s fiction publisher Bookouture; she was hired in January as associate editor and a recent coup was signing up Katie Fforde to publish some of the author’s books in the US.

  • Jane Griffiths

    Simon & Schuster Children's Editorial director

    The children’s department has been a real strength for Simon & Schuster over the past few years, with Jane Griffiths a vital cog in the team. One of her biggest successes was winning an 11-publisher auction for writer Danny Wallace’s first children’s book, Hamish and the Worldstoppers. Griffiths paired him with up-and-coming illustrator Jamie Littler. The book went on to become the bestselling children’s début of 2015, with over 50,000 units sold through the TCM. Griffiths has a knack of working with adult-turned-children’s authors, recently winning rights to Simon Sebag and Santa Montefiore’s The Royal Rabbits of London, due in October. Spotting and developing talent is a particular passion—in 2015 she had two authors (Clare Furniss and Rupert Wallis) on the shortlist for the Branford Boase Award, which recognises début authors and their editors. This year she had another two authors longlisted: Wallace and Abi Elphinstone. But she is just at home with established kids’ brands. She is the UK editor for Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries series, and helped to lure YA superstar Cassandra Clare over to S&S from Walker.

  • Arthur Heard

    HarperCollins Senior legal advisor

    Modern publishing has thrown up a number of complex challenges in recent years, not least legally. With the shifting marketplace, top-notch legal advocates are essential, especially for a global player such as HarperCollins. A key man for HC is Arthur Heard, who joined the publisher from a law firm, lured in part by his love of reading. He says: “The sheer variety of work means the role is always engaging and, of course, I get to work with some brilliant authors.” Digital generates a “huge amount of work, not just on contracts but in contemplating new business models”. But Heard says the regulatory side is undergoing the biggest change: “There has been increased focus in all industries on areas such as data protection, anti-bribery and competition law, which has had a big impact on the legal function and the business as a whole.” Over the next year or so, HC’s continued global expansion is a focus. “We now have 18 offices worldwide and working in these new markets is the most exciting project on the horizon,” Heard says.

  • Jonas Herriot

    Henley Business School Academic resource centre manager

    Jonas Herriot didn’t start working in libraries until his late 20s, but he has rapidly become a passionate and distinctive advocate for their value. After several years as manager of Richmond Library, he has just taken up a new role at Henley Business School, helping students and academics find the information they need, and developing new digital initiatives. He has made a wider impact as chair of CILIP’s London Youth Libraries Group, and helped judge The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize this year. People like Herriot will be vital if libraries are to fight back against savage ongoing cuts, and he is adamant that the profession is needed more than ever. “The skills librarians have learned over the years are easily adapted to the digital world, and we’re trusted by the public. But budgets are shrinking and there’s a lack of respect in the political sphere—and we don’t shout loud enough about what we do.” He is up for the challenge. “I love reading and love helping others, and having a job where you can share these passions is amazing.”

  • Gemma Hersh

    Elsevier Policy director

    Gemma Hersh’s role is to advise STM giant Elsevier on its company policies on a range of topical issues—including Open Access, Open Science, text and data mining and MOOCs—and to bring the policies to the general public, stakeholders (such as researchers and academic institutions) and governments. “One of the key [tasks] is building relationships and getting the point of what we are doing across,” she says. “Obviously these can be some quite challenging areas, but I think we need to show we are helping researchers and that what we do as a business is not incompatible with what they are trying to achieve.” Most of Hersh’s working life has been at the intersection between creative industries and government. She started in the civil service (including a stint at the Department of Media, Culture & Sport) before moving to the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment, the trade body for the gaming industry. While working there she met former PA boss Richard Mollet, who offered her a job at the trade body, where she spent a couple of years working on policy projects, before being snapped up by Elsevier.

  • Caroline Hogg

    Pan Macmillan Editorial director, fiction

    Here’s a surprising stat: in 2015, Pan Macmillan fiction—probably more renowned for Picador prizes and Archer/Follett-esque bestsellers—was the third-biggest UK publisher in the commercial women’s sector. That is in no small part a result of the work of Caroline Hogg, whose blend of author care and making, rather than spotting, trends have been hallmarks of her career. Since joining Pan Mac from Avon in 2013, she has made big acquisitions (luring Miranda Dickinson over to the publisher, snapping up Kate Thompson’s The Secrets of the Singer Girls in a six-way auction) and brought established Pan Mac authors such as Lucy Diamond and Karen Swan to new heights. One facet of the job that particularly drives Hogg is what she calls “backquisitions”: coming up with “concept novels” and finding authors to bring the titles to fruition. Past successes in this vein include Vanessa Green’s The Vintage Tea Cup Club (Sphere), and at Pan Mac she worked with author Claire Sandy to devise What Would Mary Berry Do? and A Very Big House in the Country.

  • Emily Labram

    Bibliocloud Publishing technologist

    If you are a reader of The Bookseller’s digital coverage, you may be well aware of Labram. While at HarperCollins, she won the FutureBook Best Adult Digital Book Award for the Game of Thrones app—the first app that she project managed—and she was also shortlisted for the FutureBook Digital Achiever Award 2015 (along with her current boss, Bibliocloud founder Emma Barnes). Labram enjoyed her time at Harper, but leapt at the chance to work at Bibliocloud—the rights, royalties, contracts and metadata management system for publishers—enticed by its can-do start-up mentality and a genuine opportunity to use tech to devise new working systems and make publishers’ lives easier. Labram says she has been pleased to see the industry really switching on to the importance of improving infrastructure: “Things like having the proper metadata mean so much more now, and I think the recognition of this is because we are seeing a revolution in the junior ranks.” This year has, and will, be about Bibliocloud’s customers: “The priority earlier in 2016 was getting our interface to be more user-friendly, and now I am going to be focusing on measuring how our customers interact with it and what their experience of it is. And I think we will look to grow the team a bit.”

  • Tory Lyne-Pirkis

    Midas PR Account director

    What do Bryan Adams, Umberto Eco, Conchita Wurst and Amanda “The Yorkshire Shepherdess” Owen have in common? They have all been the beneficiaries of the PR wizardry of Tory Lyne-Pirkis, whose creativity and flair works for literary heavyweights, débutants and celebs alike. But single book campaigns are just a fraction of what Lyne-Pirkis does: she leads the teams who work for a number of Midas’ publisher clients, which include Laurence King, the AA, Historic England and John Blake. Bringing books to festivals has been a passion, notable in her work with Latitude’s arts and literature programmer Tania Harrison. Her work comes amid a time of upheaval for book PR. She says: “Even in the relatively short time I’ve been at Midas [since 2008], everything is different. In print the coverage has been reduced and the competition is fierce; your pitch has to be perfect. Publicists, and authors, have to work harder than ever before for coverage. But there are new ways to reach audiences, with digital engagement and the explosion of literary, and other, festivals. In a way our scope as book publicists has expanded.”

  • Sarah McIntyre


    Rarely has a one-person campaign brought so much change in the industry as illustrator/author Sarah McIntyre’s Pictures Mean Business. Frustrated by a lack of recognition for her fellow illustrators (and herself: she was ignored on a Carnegie shortlisting for Oliver and the Seawigs, OUP, though fellow co-creator Philip Reeve was listed as the author), she embarked on a drive to ensure that industry players—including publishers, Nielsen BookScan, literary prizes and, ahem, The Bookseller—credited illustrators along with children’s authors. The campaign has largely been a success because McIntyre has stressed the economic case: “I keep saying it’s mutually beneficial; it’s another way for publishers and creators to make more money. If it’s a simple case of adding some metadata so kids and parents can search for, say, books illustrated by Axel Scheffler, why wouldn’t you do it?” There is still a lot of work to be done, which McIntyre argues is crucial for developing new talent: “It’s so hard to crack into the industry for illustrators, and even when you do, the pay is low and it is hard to make a living. Illustrators making a name for themselves is part of how they can make a living.”

  • Crystal Mahey-Morgan

    Own It! Founder

    When launching her new initiative Own It! last year, Crystal Mahey-Morgan wanted to shake up the very foundations of being an indie publisher. It started with the authors, as Own It! offers a complete 50/50 profit share in its contracts—even on sales of print books. But the ethos extends beyond that, as Own It! is more of an entertainment entity, telling stories across books, music, fashion and film. Take one of the first titles, Cuba and Ewan Green’s Don’t be an Alien, which has been published in book form and as an enhanced e-book with animation and soul/pop songs. Mahey-Morgan says: “I think we have to be creative with technology and look at different ways to tell stories, and open up more revenue streams.” Own It! also collaborates with its authors on events, such as an upcoming variety show at the Hackney Empire, and its clothing line of six-word-story T-shirts, the sextet taken from its authors’ books, are a smash: “All the things we do are about trying to take our books out to different kinds of people and find new audiences.”

  • Toby Marshall

    DK Product development

    If production is the engine room of publishing, then in Toby Marshall the trade has someone with the vision to drive it beyond the boundaries of books. A Publishing MA graduate, he worked for Sweet & Maxwell, Ryland, Peters & Small and Egmont before landing at DK in 2013. Having cut his teeth in standard book production, he is now responsible for DK’s product development, working up ideas for leveraging and repurposing its vast archive in new and exciting ways. Results have included various electronic items and Slip Sliders—interactive slipcases that make children want to pick books up—as well as special sales formats and custom publishing. “I’ve always been drawn to the more unusual, non-standard products wherever I’ve worked—they always seemed to be a natural fit,” he says. It’s a direction publishing needs to take, he thinks. “Globally we’re selling books into shrinking areas in many retailers. My job is to help tailor what DK does to fit those retailers’ needs.”

  • Isheeta Mustafi

    RotoVision Editorial director

    A young visionary in visual publishing, Isheeta Mustafi seems destined for big things in the illustrated sector. Mustafi moved to the UK from India 10 years ago, joining Ilex Press in 2008 and a year later switching to RotoVision, the division of The Quarto Group focused on art, design and photography. She has been editorial director for three years, developing coedition books in-house and notching up hits, such as the Trianimals colouring titles. “Working on illustrated coeditions means no two books are the same. You never stop learning,” she says. This corner of the market—with books that have distinctive design, high production values and tactile appeal—has undoubtedly contributed to the revival of print books, and Mustafi has been thrilled to see some of her subjects move from the niches to the mainstream. “A few years ago the mood was more cautious, but print has rallied,” she says. “I think there’s never been a better time for us to try new things, to experiment and be bold.”

  • Clara Nelson

    Michael O'Mara Head of communications

    Clara nelson crossed over from large multinational to small independent publishing last year when she transferred from Penguin Random House to Michael O’Mara Books, and was immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the adult colouring-book phenomenon. After nearly nine years at PRH, it was a secondment to the firm’s far smaller India office that prompted her to seek new challenges. “I loved the immediacy of the work in India and I wanted to do something completely different. O’Mara is relatively small but very commercial, and it was the perfect opportunity for me. It’s been a huge learning curve but hugely satisfying too.” Nelson put O’Mara at the heart of the crowded colouring market, securing acres of media coverage, organising events and pushing its range of books hard in the trade. Now she is helping to prepare a revamp of O’Mara’s website, and she’s on a mission to build the O’Mara and Buster Books brands. Enthusiasm for books clearly permeates everything she does. “It’s easy to forget we’re in such a creative industry—I love it.”

  • Leena Normington

    Pan Macmillan Creative producer

    For the past year, Leena Normington has brought the fun, engaging and knowledgeable style of her influential literature-focused YouTube channel Just Kiss My Frog (35,000 subscribers) to Pan Mac, where she scripted, shot, edited and produced over 30 episodes of the publisher’s BookBreak web series. After four months she quadrupled its subscriber count and increased the channel’s views by 167%—all while continuing to freelance for other publishers, such as HarperCollins and Icon, where she was once publicity manager. In mid-July Normington will shift gears, becoming business development manager of the Telegraph’s online bookshop. “It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the e-commerce side of the industry,” she says of an experience that she hopes will aid her long-term goal: launching a publishing house of her own.

  • Brittany Poulin

    IPR License Account manager

    Brittany Poulin admits that a big part of her job early on at IPR License was explaining to publishers and authors just exactly what IPR was (for the record, it is an online trading platform for books’ intellectual property, where users can search for titles, authors or subjects, and then contact rightsholders). She says: “This really hadn’t been done prior to when the company launched in 2012, so a good portion of my role has been an educational one.” Frankfurt Book Fair, however, bought a percentage of the company in 2014, then became majority stakeholder in the business early this year, which Poulin says has ramped up the profile of the company. "The largest part of my job currently is to develop the rights buyers' audience on behalf of our publisher members," Poulin says. "This includes reaching out to different territories and markets, as well as developing the marketplace on IPR License to ensure it is as active as possible."

  • Mandy Powell

    CILIP Cymru Wales Director

    Mandy Powell’s assured performance and forceful advocacy for the sector has a lot to do with her time spent working at the library coalface. Much of her career in the Welsh library system (mainly in Monmouthsire and Newport) has been spent in development, working to increase usage rates and ensuring her libraries were meeting the needs of their patrons. She was made the boss of CILIP Cymru Wales in January 2015, after being a policy officer for the past four years. Her time at CILIP, of course, has coincided with a challenging time for UK libraries, but Powell points out that Welsh libraries have sympathetic ears in Cardiff: “Libraries are a devolved matter and we’re lucky that we have access to Welsh ministers who have been listening to us, have been receptive, and understand the value of libraries.” Still, she misses the “shop floor [because] taking a policy role does mean you can get a bit removed from the reasons why you became a librarian... But then I tell myself that working hard for our members and institutions means that I am doing my best for library-goers.”

  • Joel Richardson

    Twenty7 Publisher

    Richardson was the first hire of Bonnier Publishing’s adult fiction imprint Twenty7, having caught the eye of boss Mark Smith when the two worked together at Quercus. And it has been a momentous 12 months. The high point has unquestionably been publishing L S Hilton’s Maestra, the hugely hyped erotica début which has sold around 500,000 units for Bonnier Publishing worldwide, and sold into 40 territories. Yet Maestra is not the only success: David Young’s Stasi Child was a paperback bestseller; and G J Minnet’s The Hidden Legacy topped the Kindle charts. But Richardson says his happiest moment of the past year may have been acquiring and republishing the backlist of 85-year-old saga author Sheila Newberry, and getting her Bicycles and Blackberries in the Fiction Heatseekers chart, “nice validation for a great author”. Setting up Twenty7 has been his career highlight: “I was here from day one, I was literally the only person. Since then we’ve built the team and there’s a really exciting start-up mentality.”

  • Rafaela Romaya

    Canongate Art director

    After stints in the design teams at Faber & Faber, Pan Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, Rafaela Romaya’s ascent to the position of art director at Canongate has brought with it a remarkable, prize-winning purple patch of creative output. The job of an art director is arguably more curatorial than illustrative, something she relishes, stating that she loves “sourcing and developing new talent and working with other creatives from a range of disciplines”. It’s a role which she is clearly suited to: her elaborate, foil-finished collaboration with illustrator Yehrin Tong for Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things was a particular highlight of 2015: yielding column inches in design bible Creative Review, a shortlisting at both the Academy of British Cover Designers’ and the Kitschies’ annual awards, and taking home the coveted V&A Illustration Award. The work was also shortlisted for the British Book Design & Production Awards, an accolade Romaya won back in 2012 for her direction of Oscar Wilson on Gil Scott Heron’s memoir The Last Holiday. Romaya is part of a three-strong art team at Canongate, which is issuing some of the most distinctive covers in the UK today; and her enthusiasm shows little sign of abating. “The book as an object was pretty much perfected in the 15th century,” she says, “but the invitations to pick it up and take a closer look are endless, which is part of the fun of being a book designer.”

  • Nikesh Shukla


    One thing that prize-winning author and diversity campaigner Nikesh Shukla does not want to be known as is “the angry brown man”. He says: “I don’t really want to spend my time advocating for equal opportunity. And the diversity conversation is not a new one, but I do get pissed off by the lack of movement.” Shukla, therefore, is helping to move things along. Catalysed by the World Book Night 2016 list, which featured no black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writers, he crowd-funded BAME author anthology The Good Immigrant through Unbound, with the title due out in September. In February, he and fellow author Sunny Singh launched the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour, and he has also opened himself up to submissions from BAME authors, and will try to help them to connect with agents. All this while being incredibly busy on his own writing. He’s working on a new novel, as well as being part of the team which is adapting his second novel, Meatspace, for TV. “Working on TV is a bit strange for a novelist,” he says. “It’s collaborative and of course we are adapting it for a new medium. There was a point where I said to myself, ‘Hang on, how much of my novel is actually still in this show?’”

  • Emma Smith

    Trapeze Editor

    This year’s shooting Star—the Rising Star we choose to single out just a little bit more than others on the list—is, according to one Orion colleague, “a pop culture powerhouse with her finger on the pulse and an innate ability to spot trends”. This is no hyperbole. In the relatively short time Emma Smith has been in the business—her first paying gig at a publisher was with Harlequin Mills & Boon in 2012—she has excelled with canny, spot-on non-fiction publishing, having a particular knack for creating her own projects. Take 2014’s Dogs Hanging Out of Windows (Orion), a humour book featuring pictures of, well, what it says on the tin. Smith wrote and developed the title, delivering £60,000 of profit. Her other successes of this ilk include 2014’s Where’s Wally?-esque Where’s Boris? and this year’s follow-up, Where’s Trump? “I think that’s part of what we are about at Orion,” says Smith. “We’re being proactive with intellectual property as well as being active with spotting trends and commissioning in more traditional ways.” This year, Smith moved within Orion to be part of the launch team of the Trapeze imprint. Her Rising Star status does not immediately make her stand out on the team: it is run by publisher Anna Valentine (Rising Star class of ‘11) and Sam Eades (RS ‘13) is the senior commissioning editor. Oh, and Sinem Erkas (RS ‘13) designed the logo. Smith’s been busy as Trapeze gears up for its October launch, acquiring illustrator Ruby “Rubyetc” Elliott’s Absolutely Fine, one of its lead autumn titles. A Tumblr superstar with over 200,000 subscribers, Elliott’s book chronicles her struggles with mental health issues. Smith believes Trapeze’s size, within a larger publisher, is a plus: “I think it helps that you can clearly define who you are as an imprint. And with a small team you can be as quick and agile as an indie.”

  • Karen Sullivan

    Orenda Books Founder

    Owner-run indie lists are often multitaskers par excellence—and Orenda founder Karen Sullivan is definitely one such example. She started in 2014, after stints at Sidgwick & Jackson and Arcadia. Acquisitions, editing, design, production, marketing, publicity—she turns her hand to all the tasks that in bigger companies are the work of whole departments. “I do absolutely everything...no day is the same,” she says. As if that were not challenge enough, much of Orenda’s list is translated fiction by little-known authors. Critical acclaim, prize shortlistings and reprints have followed, and Sullivan says: “Doing everything on a shoestring is a challenge but there are opportunities for small publishers. We can be nimble and flexible, and take risks.” Her energy is indefatigable. “I firmly believe that fabulous, readable books will sell, regardless of their provenance. I love my job and my authors—it’s a pleasure to go to work.”

  • Liza Thompson

    Bloomsbury Academic Senior commissioning editor, philosophy

    In a little over three years, Liza Thompson has worked tirelessly to grow and transform the Bloomsbury Academic philosophy range. She says: “One of the things I’ve done on the list is tried to expand and broaden the perception of what a philosophy book actually is.” Outside of traditional monographs, this strand of commissioning and acquisitions includes biographies, poetry, plays and more popular titles. She had a hit with Gary Cox’s Deep Thought: 42 Quotes that Define Philosophy, and upcoming titles of this ilk include Michael Serres’ illustrated coffee-table book Eyes, and Antigone, a reworking of the Greek tragedy by philosophy superstar Slavoj Zizek. Part of Thompson’s reshaping of the list includes outreach: she co-founded Why Philosophy Matters, a series of monthly debates and an annual conference that tries to bring philosophy to the wider world. She is also keen on promoting women in philosophy. “Women have obviously been underrepresented in the field historically, and that does continue still,” she says. “So I’ve done a lot of events and workshops with female academics on getting published, and participated in the In Parenthesis women in philosophy archive project.”

  • Felicity Trew

    Agent Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency

    Talent-spotter, advocate, counsellor and co-conspirator are the four words Felicity Trew chooses to describe her work, and the authors and illustrators on her list can pay testament to her proficiency in all of them. Trew started out as an assistant to Caroline Sheldon in 2012 and was made a literary agent in her own right last year. Since then she has been building her own list in both adult and children’s, with her signings including the acclaimed writer Joseph Coelho and Waterstones bookseller Mitch Johnson, whose Ticks and Stripes will be a lead title for Usborne in 2017. Trew aims high for her authors but she is realistic too, carving out opportunities beyond traditional publishing so they can build long-term careers. “One of the biggest challenges is simply getting clients—outside of the top bestsellers—to earn a liveable income,” she says. “But it’s also much tougher for agents too—there are lots of us and it’s not uncommon to find yourself battling over clients. The market is tough and the fight is on.”

  • Phil Turner

    Meze Publishing Managing director

    Phil Turner is an entrepreneur whose model of sharing cost and risk with his books’ contributors is making other publishers sit up and take note. He first set up his publishing business in 2003, but initially specialised in free magazines—or, as he puts it, “the dirty underbelly of publishing”. Meze’s first books came three years ago, mimicking magazine advertising by asking contributors—in Meze’s case, restaurants, cafés and chefs—to pay for inclusion. It means Meze has cash in the bank before a book is even published—and by selling the books themselves, those contributors can soon be up on the deal too. As he points out: “A lot of publishers cross their fingers and hope for a return—but we can be in profit before we go to print.” Getting to grips with the complex book supply chain has been a challenge after magazine distribution. But Meze already has 20 titles, and Turner thinks there is room for at least 50 regional cookbooks in all. “There’s still a lot of scope and lots of work left to do.”

  • Laura Venning

    The Reading Agency Evaluation and impact manager

    It’s all well and good to have programmes aimed at improving literacy, but not if those projects do not work as effectively as they should. Step forward Laura Venning, who was hired by the Reading Agency (TRA) in 2014 to assess the impact of reading schemes. Her first major project was a groundbreaking work on reading for pleasure, which veered away from most previous reports in that area, which tended to focus on case studies or what was happening in schools. Venning says: ”I think [the report] has helped and made a difference. The idea is that it can be used by various organisations across the sector as a means of collaborating. And it may have helped put a necessary spotlight on some areas—adults, for example, have been somewhat neglected when it comes to the benefits of reading for pleasure.” Venning came to TRA after stints at BookTrust and the Department for Work & Pensions. Both jobs have helped her vision for TRA, as they were about “using research as a framework to think strategically”. She feels there is “hope in a lot of areas” around literacy, but warns that reading for pleasure with kids is still a challenge, given the curriculum changes.

  • Sarah Williams

    Sophie Hicks Agency Agent

    A good example of Sarah Williams’ author care is in her work with cookery star Signe Johansen, who came to Williams when she wanted to move away from recipe books. The two put their heads together and devised How to Hygge, one of the first tomes of the Scandinavian lifestyle phenomenon, which they then sold to Bluebird. Williams uses that sort of inventive author care with her client list, which ranges from literary fiction up-and-comers (Sarah Bannan) to serious non-fiction writers (Times science editor Tom Whipple) and even a Twitter parody account (“Queen Elizabeth II” @Queen_UK, whose Gin O’Clock Williams sold to Hodder). Canada-born Williams joined her old Ed Victor colleague Sophie Hicks when the latter set up her eponymous agency in 2014. “The chance to help build something from the ground up was irresistible,” Williams says. Her remit also includes handling film and TV rights for the entire agency.

  • ?>