Rising Stars 2017

  • Nick Ackland

    I Am A Bookworm M.d.

    Here's an interesting negotiating tactic: in early 2011, when approached by a Bristol-based company to head up new children's publisher and packager i am a bookworm, Nick Ackland essentially replied, "You may have the wrong guy." He explains: "I was just being honest - I'd only previously had design and production management experience." But Ackland's now boss, Claire Menzies, saw something in the then 25-year-old and convinced him to lead the start-up. Seven months later, Ackland was launching the company at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Ackland says: "The first year was a slog and it took months to get our first order. But then we signed up [Italian kids’ giant] De Agostini - once someone that big came on board, others started to notice." And how. Six years later, i am a bookworm's 180 titles have sold around 1.5 million units in 30 territories, working with the likes of Panini, Barnes & Noble and Scholastic. And 2017 will see a début on home soil, with i am a bookworm selling in the UK under its own imprint for the first time.

  • Ailah Ahmed

    Little, Brown Commissioning editor

    A theme of Ailah Ahmed's career has been raising the volume on previously barely heard voices - and helping make them commercial hits. A first big success while at Canongate was acquiring (with Jamie Byng) Ruth Ozeki's Booker-shortlisted A Tale for the Time Being. Joining Little, Brown in 2014, Ahmed has worked across the L,B, Abacus and Virago imprints - and has really hit her stride. A point of pride is the international authors she is bringing in: "It's really exciting when you can get translated fiction from outside Europe or unusual places," she says. These include Korean writer Y J Jeong’s thriller Beautiful Demon, and Greelandic-language novelist Niviaq Korneliussen’s queer-themed Homo Sapienne. Ahmed has also brought an impressive range of fresh talent to Virago, including C N Lester and June Eric-Udorie. Ahmed frequently speaks at industry and consumer-facing events, while she also has a passion for encouraging more BAME representation in publishing, which includes her mentoring interns on Hachette's Fresh Chapters scheme.

  • Karen Ball

    Speckled Pen Consultant

    Equal parts terrifying and exhilarating: that's how children's publishing veteran Karen Ball describes chucking in the warm embrace of an in-house job to start her Intellectual Property consultancy Speckled Pen. Since last year, the former Little, Brown for Young Readers publisher and Working Partners editorial boss has been helping licensors and content-creators to connect with publishers, while providing a range of editorial services to develop clients' ideas into fully fledged stories. She has hit the ground running, with clients including OUP, Hachette Children's and Parragon. Speckled Pen, Ball explains, aids publishers with projects that sometimes overlap between various in-house roles. She says: "From experience, I know there are a lot of practical things which make some IP difficult to get off the ground - not least because editors are so very busy - and we can bridge that gap." Her many years at the publishing coalface helps to bring IP rightsholders into the industry. "There are a lot of licensors from outside the trade who want to engage with publishers, but it helps to have someone who can speak the language," she says.

  • Natasha Bardon

    Harper Fiction Publishing director

    Six years after joining Harper Voyager as an editorial assistant, Natasha Bardon is now publishing director, working with SFF megastars such as Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie and Jay Kristoff. Since she was promoted to her current role seven months ago, Bardon's remit has expanded to commissioning beyond SFF. A career highlight came with the widening of her role, as she persuaded Sarah Pinborough - who had written 20 books in the horror/supernatural genre, but hadn't broken through - to "write what you know". Bardon bought two books on proposal, the first of which, psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes, took the Original Fiction number one and charted 15th in the New York Times bestseller list. Working with "publishing phenomenon" George R R Martin, whose appeal transcends genre, is another highlight. "Even my mum's read A Song of Ice and Fire,” she says. Bardon also co-organised last November's virtual science-fiction literary festival BFIVoyager, which "very much started the trend for online festivals", and was so popular that it even out-trended Christmas on Twitter.

  • Christopher Bone

    Hay Festival Publicity director

    Let's be serious, not many of us get to achieve our dreams. But Whitby-born Chris Bone is one of the lucky ones. He visited the Hay Festival in 2010, shortly after graduating from Edinburgh University and the experience was "transformative". His goal from then on was to one day work within the organisation. He paid his dues with PR firms in Scotland before heading down to London in 2014 to work for FMcM. He says: "Anyone who tells you they really want to get into PR is probably lying, because you do end up having to work for a lot of clients you aren't really passionate about." But FMcM appealed because of its arts and books focus, including its work with Hay. Some standouts for Bone at FMcM included generating scads of coverage for the Wellcome Book Prize and the launch of East London indie bookshop Libreria. Then in January 2017, the call came from Hay and he leapt at the chance to become its head of publicity. Launching the festival's 30th anniversary programme was "a dream". Long-term he wants to help Hay "change the world" with its platform that champions the arts and sciences.

  • Sophie Brewer

    Pan Macmillan Associate publisher, editorial management

    In the mid-2000s, Sophie Brewer was ensconced as group rights director at Penguin (hired aged 26, she was the youngest rights boss in the company's history). "I loved doing deals, loved the travel, but I needed a different challenge," she says. "So I saved up some money and jumped off a cliff." Metaphorically. She earned a post-graduate degree in coaching and mentoring at Oxford Brookes, then became a consultant, advising a variety of companies - in and outside of publishing - on strategy, management and HR issues. Brewer was lured back to in-house publishing in 2015 by Pan Macmillan in a new position that was created specifically for her. The role, she explains, is akin to a magazine managing editor, overseeing and supervising the publication of the 450-plus books Pan Mac puts out annually, ensuring that all departments are focused on the path to publication. Pan Mac adult publisher Jeremy Trevathan says Brewer has "added to Pan Macmillan’s competitive advantage in a time of much change in the industry".

  • Grainne Clear

    Little Island Publishing manager/art director

    Gráinne Clear has not hit her fourth anniversary in the trade, yet she is already a major figure in Irish and international children's publishing. While finishing an MPhil in Children's Literature at Trinity College, she emailed RTÉ to tell the broadcaster that it was neglecting children's books. She was called in for a chat, and got a little more than she bargained for. "I thought they wanted some consulting, but they offered me a job." The radio shows she founded helped to raise the profile of kids' books in the country and led to her joining Little Island, the publisher headed by Siobhán Parkinson, Ireland's first children's laureate. Clear's role now encompasses all facets of Little Island's output and her energetic work for both the list and the kids' sector as a whole is astounding: she is a Publishing Ireland board member (in charge of running training courses) and she regularly performs as a storyteller.

  • Therese Coen

    Hardman & Swainson Rights director

    Thérèse Coen is on what you might call a roll. While heading up the rights department at Madeleine Milburn, she orchestrated a number of headline-grabbing deals, including selling C J Tudor's The Chalk Man into 38 territories and Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine into 28. The Belgian emigrée didn't lose pace when she moved to Hardman & Swainson in January to take up the newly created role of rights director. Recent triumphs include increasing Sarah "The Unmumsy Mum" Turner's international reach while notching up a raft of deals for S R Mastrantone's The Killer You Know. Coen says the opportunity to build an in-house foreign rights team was one of the attractions of the Hardman & Swainson role, as was the chance to agent in her own right. She recently sold Alex Bell's novel The Polar Bear Explorers Club to Faber in a three-book pre-empt, and YA author Christine Lehnen's Touch that Fire to Random House Germany for a six-figure sum.

  • Jennie Condell

    Elliott & Thompson Publisher

    Four years ago, Jennie Condell made a pretty big leap, going from a freelance editor and project manager with no commissioning experience into a role as publisher of non-fiction at indie Elliott & Thompson. She says: "It was a massive challenge, but a massive opportunity. I was sure I was up for the task, but it was less a learning curve... more a vertical." She certainly learned fast, steering the company through consecutive years of growth, with 2016 a banner year. TCM revenue was just under £1.8m in those 12 months, up a whopping 168% on 2015. The rump of this was Tim Marshall's smash hit Prisoners of Geography, which has gone on to shift more than 180,000 copies in the UK (E&T also has world rights and has sold the book into 16 territories). But this didn't come out of the ether. Condell commissioned Marshall's début, Dirty Northern B*st*rds, in 2014, and has worked with him ever since. She says: "As a small indie you have to have a bit of luck [to have a breakout]. But if you find talent and nurture it, you can make books happen."

  • Johanna Coulson

    UCA Library Events producer

    Johanna Coulson has wilfully and joyfully gone into the family business. Both her parents are librarians and "reading and being in libraries have always been a huge part of my life". Coulson's career among the stacks has taken her across public, school and academic institutions. Between leaving school and attending the University for the Creative Arts, she did an apprenticeship in Maidstone Library. Following graduation, she returned to Maidstone, where she eventually led events across 11 branches. She then became school librarian at Rainham Mark Grammar School, where her initiatives included forming a manga club and an English intervention group for students with learning difficulties. Now at her alma mater's library, she runs the communications and events across the institution's four campuses. "When I was at UCA, I knew a lot of students who didn’t even know where the library was. By putting on creative events, it helps make everything else we do more visible," she says.

  • Kris Doyle

    Picador Senior commissioning editor

    Noticing a copy of McSweeney's, the literary journal of the eponymous publishing house headed by Dave Eggers, on a bookshop shelf propelled Kris Doyle into publishing. So taken that someone could publish such a beautiful object, Doyle went to San Francisco to intern for the publisher. Returning to the UK in 2009, he worked at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop as Caroline Michel's assistant before moving across the aisle to Picador as an editorial assistant. "The fun part for me is finding new authors and producing beautiful books," he explains. "There are elements to that in agenting, but on the publishing side I felt I really had a stake in every book we put out, even as an assistant." Doyle has had an enviable strike rate since he began commissioning. One of his first buys, Takashi Hiraide's The Guest Cat, was an out-of-nowhere Christmas 2014 smash - it's sold around 180,000 units. He edited Richard House's Booker-longlisted The Kills, while Garth Greenwell's recent What Belongs to You bagged the 2017 Début Book of the Year Nibbie.

  • Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo

    Digitalback Books Founder and director

    Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo had worked in tech and academic publishing (including for Pearson and Macmillan) since graduating with an Information Systems MA from LSE in 2007. But a few years ago, while at a discussion on African writers and the difficulties of publishing and bookselling in the region and for the African diaspora - a lack of distribution, piracy, high production costs - she realised there could be a technological solution. "That," she says, "was the lightbulb moment." So two and a half years ago, Digitalback Books was born - an online platform dedicated to African writers. In the intervening time, she has secured partnerships with more than 30 publishers, including Zed Books, Peepal Tree Press and New Internationalist. She says: "In some ways the technology was the easier part... Getting the content has taken a bit of time, because in some instances we are talking about classic books whose contracts are so old that the publishers don't have digital rights."

  • Ariella Feiner

    United Agents Agent

    Ariella Feiner came into the industry at an interesting time. She joined PFD as Simon Trewin's assistant... just as he and other staffers were leaving to form United Agents. The next 12 months were full of ructions as Feiner helped build the new agency. But whatever doesn't kill you. "In retrospect, I was lucky starting when I did. I probably learned more in that first year than I would have in 10 years at a 'normal' agency," she says. She became a fully-fledged agent in 2014, establishing a list of breadth and depth in a short time, repping the likes of Danny Wallace, YA prize-winner Laura Jarratt and indie author turned Headline star, Daniela Sacerdoti. The keys to agenting, she says, are "putting yourself out there, being aware of trends and ready to act on them, and knowing what to look for in the slush pile". The latter was where Feiner found débutant Elle Croft, whose thriller The Guilty Wife was one of the big hits at LBF 2017.

  • Sam Fisher

    Burley Fisher Books Co-founder

    These are strange times for indie booksellers. There are the annual gloomy Booksellers Association membership numbers, evidencing the winnowing of the herd, yet paradoxically the sector is in many ways stronger than it has been in many a year, with new, innovative shops popping up. One of the brightest and most successful entrants is Haggerston, east London's Burley Fisher, co-founded by Sam Fisher and backed by long-time Camden Lock Books owner Jason Burley. Burley Fisher set its stall out as a shop that supports independent presses and one that caters to the local community. But while the latter means there will inevitably be a horde of Hackney gig-economy creative types pecking away at laptops in the café, Fisher cautions that his shop is not in a traditional middle-class book-buying enclave and must be proactive to bring in custom. He says: "We are definitely a destination shop. Our events are what bring people in." As such, Fisher is looking to expand that part of the business - a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year raised £9,000 (20% above its target) to renovate the basement into a permanent events space.

  • Esther Harris, Aimee Coveney, Helen McCusker

    Bookollective Founders

    Editor/publicist Esther Harris, designer Aimee Coveney and PR specialist Helen McCusker joined forces in 2016 to provide a "one-stop shop" publishing and editorial consultancy. The idea was to provide a service to help polish manuscripts, provide design ideas, dream up marketing strategies and get favourable media coverage - essentially, as Harris says, to help people "navigate a complicated and constantly changing publishing landscape". The trio's blend of talents and experience means they immediately attracted clients, long-standing traditional publishers and authors, indie and legacy-published among them. Some standout recent PR campaigns include securing acres of coverage for Azi Ahmed's Worlds Apart: A Muslim Girl in the SAS (Biteback) and long-time ghostwriter/author Andrew Crofts' novel The Secrets of the Italian Gardener (Red Door). Bookollective's model is not just client relationships, but community building, too. It hosts weekly Twitter Q&As for prospective authors and quarterly networking events at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Harris is also involved in the mentoring scheme WoMentoring. There is also a concerted effort to reach people who are outside the book industry's London bubble. This is partly because, Harris says, "Helen and I live in unfashionable Portsmouth, Aimee is in deepest, darkest Kent". But this also dovetails with the company's community-building ethos. An example is a link-up with the Northern Fiction Alliance - a network of indie publishers championing writers from the north. Harris says: "We are passionately interested in helping open the publishing doors to people outside London - talented people who are shy, who might not find it easy to do small talk and break into the usual writing circles and book groups, who might find themselves at a disadvantage."

  • Rebecca Hill

    Usborne Editorial director

    The UK's biggest indie children's publisher only got fully into the fiction game in the last decade or so. But the reputation of Usborne's boutique list, which had grown year by year, truly blossomed when Rebecca Hill became the division's editorial director in 2010. In the past few years, she has presided over an imprint which has impressive sales rises (its TCM sales doubled from 2015 to 2016) and critical success (such as Carnegie and YA Book Prize shortlistee Holly Bourne and Peter Bunzl's Waterstones Children's Book Prize runner-up, Cogheart). Hill is passionate about finding stories that "challenge and change" people’s perception of the world. She namechecks several of her authors, ending with Bourne, whose writing she defines as "so real, so relevant and so raw". New finds Hill enthuses about include a middle-grade fantasy series from video-game programmer S A Patrick and Sophie Anderson's The House with the Chicken Legs. "Ultimately," Hill says, "I work with some of the greatest authors and I am trying to get their books the recognition they deserve. It's the best job in the world."

  • Craig Hillsley

    Saraband/Contraband Editorial director

    Craig Hillsley's path into publishing was not a usual one. Points along the way include a journalism postgrad, working for the Press Association, a stint heading up media relations at the University of Reading, and even owning and running an eco-tourism lodge in Malawi. However, books were his first love and when he was hired by Saraband, a large part of his remit was to build the non-fiction specialist's fiction list. The breakout was via Contraband, the crime list Hillsley launched in 2014. The imprint published Graeme Macrae Burnet's first novel that year, hitting pay dirt with the follow-up, the Booker-shortlisted His Bloody Project. Hillsley says: "Graeme came to us as an unknown début writer, but when I started reading, it was one of those goosebumps moments. I knew we had to buy the book." Though Macrae Burnet garnered the bulk of sales, Saraband would have doubled its revenue without him last year anyway, with Karen Lloyd's The Gathering Tide and Catherine Czerkawska's The Jewel among its top performers.

  • Rachel Kenny

    HQ Senior commissioning editor

    It's been a whirlwind nine months for Rachel Kenny since she was brought back to the HarperCollins fold to head up non-fiction at Lisa Milton's new HQ division. From a standing start, Kenny has created an acquisition strategy and built an exciting, dynamic list under the ethos of "books for bold, curious, smart women". Only launched in November, she has notched up two bestsellers: Tom's Daily Plan and Four Mums in a Boat. As one would expect with a new list, Kenny has been on an acquisition spree, snapping up actress and podcaster Anna Faris' memoir and cookery book Bosh! following a hotly contested eight-publisher auction. For the moment, HQ non-fiction is a smallish team, and Kenny aims to publish 25–30 books a year. "The worst thing would be to overstretch," she says. "We've made promises to authors and agents to publish the hell out of these books, and that's what we're going to do."

  • Sharmaine Lovegrove

    Dialogue Books Publisher

    Sharmaine Lovegrove has been in the book industry for more than 20 years, but says she's "always been an outlier". The reason for that was simple. "I'm not saying this in an angry way, but it was almost impossible for a young black woman to get a job in publishing back then," she says. The way around that was for Lovegrove to do it on her own terms. She moved to Germany and set up Dialogue Berlin, a bookshop that became a sort of de facto hub for touring English-language and international authors. Contacts made there helped form her next business (co-founded with Tobi Coventry), the hugely successful firm Dialogue Scouting. "It's all about a dialogue," Lovegrove laughs. Another string to her bow was added when she became Elle's books editor. But she is an outlier no more - mainstream publishing is coming to her. In July, she takes the reins at Dialogue Books, a Little, Brown imprint focused on writers from BAME and LGBTQ backgrounds and on those with disabilities.

  • Laura Macdougall

    Tibor Jones Agent

    Laura Macdougall says her move in 2015 from Hodder to Tibor Jones came at the right time in her career. She explains: "At the end, I was becoming a bit frustrated by the corporate machine - there are more chances you’ll be told 'no'. Of course, there are checks in place as an agent, but you are more of a sole trader and are freer to explore your own interests." She has had an astonishing hit rate in her two-plus years as an agent. One of the first successes was slush pile find Ruth Hogan, whose The Keeper of Lost Things was a Frankfurt 2015 smash (sold into 15 territories to date, the German deal was a Tibor Jones record) and was on the W H Smith Fresh Talent promotion. Macdougall's list includes celebs (Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent), politicians (Labour MP Jess Phillips) and she has an eye for talent-spotting too, selling six début novelists to date, plus new non-fiction such as C N Lester's Trans Like Me to Virago. The latter reflects Macdougall's passion for building a diverse list: more than half of her clients identify as LGBTQ.

  • Florentyna Martin

    Waterstones Children's new titles buyer

    Flashback to a decade and a half ago, to Waterstones' Kettering branch. It was there and then that an 11-year-old Florentyna Martin decided to become a bookseller. "It seemed so fun and exciting," Martin laughs. "You got to work with books all day - I realised that bookselling was the only thing I wanted to do." She followed through on her dream, joining Waterstones Petersfield in 2010, and has risen up the ranks, joining the head-office buying team in 2014. There is a solid argument that Martin is one of the most influential people in UK children's books. She directs the buying for the resurgent Waterstones' 280 shops, chairs the bookseller's Children's Book Prize (with sales rising 27% year on year with its 2017 winner, Kiran Millwood Hargrave) and her many pan-industry appointments include being on the World Book Day advisory panel.

  • Manisha Matharu

    Penguin Random House Resourcing advisor

    Manisha Matharu joined the trade in a key accounts role at Little, Brown, but even then she was passionate about helping others progress in their careers. She spent her spare time volunteering to help those from BAME backgrounds hoping to get into publishing - so effectively that she won a Creative Access Networking award. A career pivot saw her retrain and move into HR, joining Penguin Random House - prior to a brief stop at Network Rail - where a big part of her resourcing advisor role is steering the publisher's inclusivity drive. "I think a key is looking at what we are doing first," Matharu says of PRH's recruiting and retention policies. "In order to reach out, we've had to change some internal processes." Part of reaching out for Matharu means getting out and speaking to prospective hires, especially outside the London publishing scene. A career highlight was her involvement in Write Now, PRH's scheme to encourage and attract writers from diverse backgrounds.

  • Katie McCalmont

    Maria B Campbell Associates UK Director

    Katie McCalmont, director of scouting agency Maria B Campbell's UK outpost, is described by Campbell as "one of the brightest people that has ever worked with me". McCalmont previously started with the company at the agency's New York HQ, and when Campbell established the London arm in 2013, she felt "[in McCalmont] I had found another entrepreneurial spirit with the necessary chops to launch a new company". As well as scouting the UK market for nine international territories, McCalmont was also recently appointed the exclusive UK book scout for Netflix - the first streaming agency to hire a scout. Commenting on exciting times in publishing, with boundaries blurring between formats, McCalmont says "it's still books, it's still stories - authors are still at the very centre of everything." In the future, McCalmont aims to "continue to build the company - and also to find excellent UK books for our clients".

  • Olivia Mead

    Quercus Publicist

    If you are looking for an indicative case study for Olivia Mead's energetic and cutting-edge campaigns, look to her work on Andrew Caldecott's Rotherweird. The title, on the SFF Jo Fletcher imprint, is a cross-genre book - a difficulty for some publicists. But Mead made it a virtue with pinpoint social media targeting, and secured heaps of media coverage. Mead joined the trade as a bookseller, working at award-winning London indie Tales on Moon Lane for eight years before jumping into publishing with Hot Key. Mead moved to the adult side when Quercus came calling in 2015, working across fiction and non-fiction, with a particular remit for the Jo Fletcher list - for whom she has been lauded for her #Greatcoats Twitter campaign for Sebastien de Castell's series of that name. There's no magic formula, she says, but publicists "need a clear strategy across all departments - but most of all, you need to be to be passionate about your authors".

  • Ellis Moore

    W F Howes Acquisitions editor

    Ellis Moore became Leicester-based audio and large-print specialist W F Howes acquisitions editor two and a half years ago, and in that time she has snapped up rights to 483 audiobooks and 178 large-print books. She works closely with authors to choose narrators and define tone - Paul Beatty's Man Booker Prize- winner The Sellout, Val McDermid's UK number one Out of Bounds and Philip Pullman's upcoming The Book of Dust are some of her recent standout acquisitions. Her decision to acquire the large-print rights to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child "really put us on the map", she says. She produced the large-print and dyslexic readers’ edition of ...Cursed Child, which sold in 10 months what the entire company usually shifts in large print in five years. Moore repeated the trick with the large-print edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them later in the year, too.

  • Fiona Murphy

    Penguin Random House Ireland Publicity director

    PRH Ireland's m.d. Michael McLoughlin says Fiona Murphy is "the key reason" that sales of Random House and Transworld titles are up 20% year on year. Murphy started her career with notable successes at Vintage and Quercus - bagging two Publishers’ Publicity Circle gongs - and moved across the Irish Sea in 2016. She has relished the chance to champion Irish talent and attract authors from around the world, including behemoths Jo Nesbo and Robert Harris. Donal Ryan's All We Shall Know and Emma Cline's The Girls have soared up the bestseller lists after being backed by her campaigns. She organised the Dead in Dun Laoghaire Crime Writing Festival in July, with big-name authors such as Paula Hawkins and John Banville, and up-and-coming native talent such as Liz Nugent. She persuaded the Irish Times to sponsor it and aims to make it a staple in the literary calendar.

  • Keshini Naidoo

    Bookouture Associate publisher

    After finishing her degree in English and Classical Literature at Leeds, Keshini Naidoo took a job at Waterstones, where she had something like a Damascene moment. Seeing the bulk of customers gobbling up bestsellers, "I thought, 'Oh, most people don't want to read Raymond Carver or Caesar's The Conquest of Gaul." It is a principle Naidoo has retained throughout her career, in which she has unabashedly embraced commercial titles, first as a buyer at BCA then at Avon, where she was present from the very start of the imprint. But it is for her stellar work at Bookouture for which she makes this list, taking those lessons learned and applying them to the digital marketplace. Her, and Bookouture’s, first real breakout success has been Angela Marsons, whose Silent Scream Naidoo brought to the company. The author has gone on to shift an eye-popping two million units. Naidoo loves the "democratisation" the firm has brought about for its authors: "We don’t have to wait (or pay) for space in W H Smith or Tesco - we're always there for our customers."

  • Tom Noble

    Pan Macmillan Senior digital marketing manager

    If you think of some of the most clever digital campaigns Pan Macmillan - one of the savvier publishers in this area - has executed in the past couple of years, odds are Tom Noble had a hand in them. He was the key player in two projects Pan Mac had shortlisted for Marketing Strategy of the Year at the 2017 Nibbies: for Joe Wicks' Lean in 15 (Bluebird) and the company-wide Wrapped with Love Christmas campaign. Noble's role also involves running the company's overall social media and helping with acquisitions, applying a range of digital tools to measure a title's potential readership. Noble enthuses about Wicks: "He's a digital marketer's dream as he's in that space already. He has such committed fans, so there are so many things you can do." But he approaches social media campaigns for Wicks with the same underlying principle he applies to any project: "You have to do it organically and find a way to pivot the book without going for the hard sell."

  • Clarissa Pabi

    Ebury Senior marketing executive

    After graduating from Oxford with an English Literature degree, Clarissa Pabi decided against the more obvious move into editorial. She says: "I've always been passionate about reading, but my mission has been to get books into as many people’s hands as possible. I thought marketing would be where I could do that." She has certainly done that - and then some - in the circa four years she has been at Ebury, planning and implementing clever, innovative campaigns across the publisher's lists. In 2015 she won a Book Marketing Society award for her standout work on vlogger duo Dan and Phil's The Amazing Book is Not on Fire, which included the marketing of the hardback, audiobook and a 20+ date theatre tour. She has been particularly adept at bringing publishing into new spaces and has demonstrated clever use of digital, such as the first ever book-branded pop-up art exhibition at YouTube's London Creator's Store, and a book-cover hacking app that trended on Twitter in 2016 above the Olympics opening ceremony.

  • Richard Pike

    C+W Agent

    Though a voracious reader and an English Literature graduate, Richard Pike didn't initially consider the book trade as a career: "I'm from a Kent farming family, I went to uni in Southampton... [Publishing] just seemed distant and far away." Yet a stint after graduation at an investment bank convinced him to go into publishing, with a brief stop at Orion before joining Hodder as a rights manager. He enjoyed the cut and thrust of contract negotiation, but decided to move to agenting because "I felt I was getting a bit too far away from the books and authors." Pike joined Curtis Brown in 2012 as Gordon Wise's assistant, spearheading several of the agency's digital initiatives, such as its self-publishing arm and Discovery Day Online. Pike became a fully-fledged agent in his own right a couple of years ago (and is now at CB's sister company, C+W), building a distinctive client list and inking a string of major deals, including lifestyle brand Clean Beauty Co's "natural beauty DIY" title to Square Peg, and YouTuber/YA novelist Connie Glynn’s Rosewood Chronicle series to PRH Children's.

  • Sarah Plows

    Jessica Kingsley Marketing manager

    When she joined academic and professional indie Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2015, Sarah Plows knew she and her team could really ramp up the creativity. She says: "We have so many niches, there was so much room to really grow and expand what we do." Plows cites examples such as the Qigong Festival, a two-day online event on the Chinese martial art, which publishes under the Singing Dragon imprint: sales were up 60% over the festival, website visits leapt by 111%, and the list's Twitter followers were trebled. But it's not all consumer-facing; Plows has done much behind the scenes to improve on the bottom line, including an SEO and metadata project to boost discoverability. She also produced JKP's first ever children's books catalogue and implemented a targeted approach to secure reading list recommendations for its textbooks. In the coming year, Plows says she is excited about the new gender issues list, and she and her team of seven (five of whom she hired) will "focus on growing our audiences, wherever they are".

  • Nicola Price

    Wide Eyed Editions and Frances Lincoln Senior designer

    Many would assume that being a designer at a list such as Quarto's lavishly illustrated kids' imprint Wide Eyed Editions would be easy, that its talented illustrators would do the heft of the work - and they would be mistaken. Its illustrated non-fiction focus relies on concise, navigable layouts and canny manipulation of dense data - enough to engage young readers, but not too much to daunt them. Far from easy, it is, in fact, a skill few designers in the trade have in such abundance as Nicola Price, as the young designer's colleagues Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom - both Rising Stars alumni - vouched in a recommendation backed by a number of others in the field. It's not the only facet of her role: a string of eye-catching covers and laudable art-direction credits pepper her portfolio - which features work from stints at DK and Ladybird - including the expertly executed, kaleidoscopic tricolour title Illuminature. The best may be yet to come, too: her stunningly accomplished lift-the-flap collaboration with editor Broom and awardwinning illustrator Tom Clohosy-Cole - think Murder on the Orient Express meets "The Grand Budapest Hotel" - looks to have plenty of the attributes of a big crossover hit.

  • Francesca Riccardi

    Atlantic Books Digital and information manager

    At Atlantic, Francesca Riccardi's appointment to digital and information manager - a role created for her in 2015 - has transformed sales across "e" and "p". By implementing an e-book pricing structure, overhauling the metadata system to include data from editorial staff and authors, and implementing market reviews to help editors make informed buying decisions, Atlantic's e-book sales rose 10% in 2016, as the rest of the digital market fell. As a result of Riccardi's market analysis, using algorithms to pin down e-book trends, Atlantic began publishing sagas for the first time. They proved hugely successful in print, with Patricia Falvey's The Girls of Ennismore becoming one of the publisher's bestselling books for several months. Riccardi names her career highlight as winning the BIC Basic Product Excellence Award for what Atlantic boss Will Atkinson describes as turning around "a shambles in terms of quality of data, systems and culture, and establishing us as a company whose data works for it, in order for us to sell more books."

  • David Sherwood

    Bibliotech C.e.o.

    Australia-born Dave Sherwood's idea for Bibliotech was borne out of his own frustration with the difficulty of accessing, and the discoverability of, e-textbooks while he was studying as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He thought the obvious solution would be an e-textbook subscription service, a sort of - to use what is already becoming a hoary phrase - "Spotify for books". The platform was perhaps the easy part, and investors are keen - in three years the start-up has raised £1.1m in venture capital funding. The difficulty, Sherwood says, was persuading publishers to come on board. "But the great thing about publishing is everyone is polite - even if you are a start-up people will at least hear your ideas," he says. But once OUP signed, other academics piled in and Bibliotech has partnerships with the likes of Wiley, Elsevier and Springer Nature. The coming year will see a focus on institutional sales, with deals already inked with Oxford, Bath, UCL and Manchester universities.

  • Laurel Sills

    Bloomsbury Reader Editorial production manager

    Laurel Sills has been at Bloomsbury Reader, the e-book-first reissue imprint, since joining part-time as a QA (quality assurance) reader four years ago while finishing her MA at Goldsmiths. She stayed on after graduating, and her role now involves "whatever needs doing" for a title - she copyedits, proofreads, designs jackets, markets, publicises, runs the social media and takes care of invoicing and sales reporting. Her boss and mentor, Stephanie Duncan, enthuses: "There isn't an aspect of the publishing process that Laurel hasn't been responsible for and hasn't excelled in doing." Alongside her day job(s), Sills is also part of indie band Totally, and runs her own online magazine, Holdfast, which won the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Magazine in 2015, an achievement she ranks as her career highlight. Coming up next is Train to Nowhere, the memoir of Second World War ambulance driver Anita Lesley, whom Sills says was "way ahead of her time - everyone should read this book".

  • Jack Smyth

    Simon & Schuster Senior designer

    Jack Smyth's Rising Stars nod comes with the blessing of the book-cover design brigade... literally. Along with a batch of vouches from that cohort, Smyth took home two Academy of British Cover Design awards this year (from a field-leading four nominations) for his work on Robin Wasserman's Girls on Fire and Jennifer Ackerman's The Genius of Birds; the awards are divvied out by book designers themselves. The Dubliner's hot streak at Little, Brown last year - it included a numbered, 360-different-coloured cover for David Owen's The Fallen Children - caught the eye of Simon & Schuster's art desk, which snapped him up, and he's hit the ground running: his jacket for F Scott Fitzgerald's I'd Die For You..., an art deco-esque foiled number, is among this year's standout designs. His freelance work includes spells moonlighting for Tower Records and Cath Kidston, and that eclecticism arguably shows through in a portfolio notable for its breadth of style.

  • Paul Stark

    Orion Senior audio manager

    Paul Stark has been at Orion for a decade, and in his first six years he impressed in various roles in rights, e-books and digital distribution. But he has truly come into his own since his move to Orion's audio team four years ago. He was hooked on the format and its opportunities from the very start: "On my second day in the department I went to a recording session and was utterly transfixed; audio is such a powerful way to tell stories," he says. An early project was spearheading the drive to ramp up Orion's audio production in SFF, an area in which the publisher continues to be a step or two ahead of the competition (working on Patrick Rothfuss' titles was a personal highlight for Stark, who is a huge fan of the writer). His creative approach to building Orion's audio backlist has been saluted by colleagues - Orion Fiction publisher Harriet Bourton calls Stark "the most engaged audio person I've ever encountered" - but there have been attention-grabbing frontlist titles too, such as Julian Fellowes' serialised Belgravia and Alan Partridge's Nomad, which was named the 2016 Audible Members Book of the Year. Stark is always looking to bring new audiences to the format, too, as evidenced by his work on YouTuber KSI's KSI: The Best Bits.

  • Helen Stanton

    Forum Books Owner

    Corbridge's Forum Books has been the North England regional winner in The Bookseller’s Independent Bookshop of the Year category in 2016 and 2017, and much of that success is down to the store's energetic and inspirational owner, Helen Stanton. The former Waterstones Glasgow Sauchiehall Street bookseller took on Forum in 2011 from its previous long-term owners and has really put a bit of welly into the shop, renovating the premises, revitalising the stock range and ramping up the events programme. The latter has become a particular focus, making Forum a plum destination stop on many an author tour. Although, Stanton admits with a chuckle, the run-up is not the most pleasurable part of her job: "I love events when someone else runs them. The ones I organise... I love them after they are over." Her demurs aside, the ethos of Forum since she has taken over is defined by proactivity, getting out in the community bookselling. There will be some changes - for the better - for Forum in the autumn, with plans afoot for a new premises in an old chapel in the middle of the town.

  • Emily Yau

    Ebury Commissioning editor

    Winning a seven-way auction for Riley Sager's Final Girls, which has gone on to sell in 14 territories (Stephen King is a huge fan), ranks as a career highlight for Ebury's Emily Yau. Yet her talent for discovering "self-published gems" has helped her rack up a series of other successes, in keeping with imprint Del Rey's tradition of formerly indie-authored hits - most famously Andy Weir's The Martian, which Yau worked on. Last year's The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker sold 60,000 copies, and became the first Ebury title to feature in Simon Mayo's "Radio 2 Book Club". Yau has also acquired the "laugh-out-loud funny" Gone Viking, the first novel by The Year of Living Danishly author Helen Russell, tapping into the Scandi lifestyle trend that has done so well in non-fiction. She has been involved in PRH’s Write Now programme too - it aims to develop authors from diverse backgrounds - providing feedback on manuscripts and helping to whittle down the "huge shortlist" to 12 mentees. She says: "Coming from a diverse background myself, this is something I find incredibly important."

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