Rising Stars 2018

  • Syima Aslam

    Bradford Literature Festival Founder and director

    When you start a venture, you expect a naysayer or two. But Syima Aslam's own daughter's initial reaction to Aslam's proposed literary event was: “A book festival in Bradford? Are you mad?” This underscores some of the perceptions Aslam was facing. She says: “There has been a lot of change and regeneration in Bradford, but it still has a certain hold on the imagination nationwide—and even for some locals. I’m not originally from here, so I don’t carry that baggage. But I wanted to create a national and international destination event which the whole city could buy into.” She has succeeded admirably, growing Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) from its inaugural weekend in 2014 to 2018’s sprawling 10-day programme, with 500 participants including Kate Bush, Jeanette Winterson and Ben Okri. What sets BLF apart is its reaching out to new audiences, regardless of ethnicity or economic barriers: almost half of the attendees at the 2017 event were from a BAME background, while events are free to refugees and asylum seekers, those in social housing or people on state pensions.

  • Katie Barnes-Wallis

    Mills & Boon Marketing manager

    Katie Barnes-Wallis was a key player in Mills & Boon’s massive two-years-in-the-making rebrand, which launched at the beginning of 2018. The marketing maestro’s influence was particularly felt on M&B’s website and e-commerce platform, where she worked across the publisher’s departments and external agencies to ensure a smooth transition. She says: “The kind of rebrand we embarked on is all-encompassing. There was the overall look, but so much in the back-end, too.” Mills & Boon boss Lisa Milton has praised Barnes-Wallis for her “faultless” handling of the company’s GDPR programme this year, an unglamorous task that is of particular importance to a publisher which has massive emailing lists and close digital links with its customer base. Barnes-Wallis says: “It was actually a useful process; it helps us be transparent and have honest and authentic conversations with our readers.” Other recent highlights were Barnes-Wallis creating the Mills & Boon Insiders, a new online community of reviewers and bloggers, and the firm’s #RoyalRomance campaign: centred around the Prince Harry/Meghan Markle nuptials, it featured a bespoke microsite which hosted downloadable party assets, including a DIY tiara, Royal Wedding bingo cards, cocktail recipe cards, etc.

  • Fionnuala Barrett

    HarperCollins Audio Senior audio editor

    Audio is a boom category in the industry, and Fionnuala Barrett is one of its leading lights. She creates audio titles across both the fiction and non-fiction lists at HarperCollins, with the past 12 months proving particularly fruitful. A few pages into reading the manuscript for Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Barrett knew to cast the relatively unknown Cathleen McCarron as the soon-to-be-smash-hit’s narrator. The project went on to win a silver award at the Audio Production Awards, and it was also HarperCollins’ fastest-selling adult début of last year in audio format. Casting is key, insists Barrett. Her choice of Kenneth Branagh for Murder on the Orient Express helped the recording bag an Audiofile Earphones Award, as well as numerous rave reviews from US publications, including the New York Times. Barrett is also pushing boundaries: she published’s HarperCollins’ first audio original, Lewis Hamilton: Championship Year 2017, and experimented with audio “proofs”—Joe Heap’s The Rules of Seeing was recently sent to Royal National Institute of Blind People members. Outside the day job, Barrett is tireless in promoting the category. She is the driving force of the Publishers Association’s Audio Publishers Group, and chairs the panel for the annual pan-industry promotion Love Audio.

  • Sanchita Basu de Sarkar

    Children’s Bookshop, Muswell Hill Owner

    Taking over a beloved institution is daunting. But even more so if you are relatively new to the game yourself. That was the situation Sanchita Basu de Sarkar faced three years ago when she bought Muswell Hill’s Children’s Bookshop from the Agnew family, who had run the iconic shop for almost half of its 40-plus years of trading. (There are members of staff at the store who have worked there longer than Basu du Sarkar has been alive.) Basu de Sarkar was its assistant manager, but she’d only been working there for a couple of years after graduating from the University of East Anglia with an English Literature degree. Yet she has built upon the work of the previous owners and made the shop her own, ramping up the events programme and building even greater links with schools. Basu de Sarkar has quickly established herself as a genuine force, and tastemaker, in the trade.

  • Francesca Best

    Transworld Editorial director

    Since joining from Hodder a couple of years ago, Francesca Best has got Transworld’s commercial women’s fiction output humming, with both new talent and reinvigorated established brands. An example of the latter is Best’s work with Sophie Kinsella: a rejacketed My Not So Perfect Life, since its release at the beginning of 2017, has sold 250,000 paperbacks—more than the author’s previous two releases combined. Best also oversaw a new livery for saga stalwart Catherine Cookson’s backlist, with more than 100,000 copies sold across five titles. Fresh faces include Emma Hornby, whose A Shilling for a Wife was the bestselling saga début of 2017, and Lucy Dillon, brought over from Hodder. Best is especially proud of a pair of new releases: Raphaëlle Giordano’s Your Second Life Begins When You Realise You Only Have One is an “up-lit” blockbuster that sold more than two million copies in France; and The Reinvention of Martha Ross by Charlene Allcott, a Brighton-based single mother whom Best mentored through the WriteNow programme, which aims to champion voices underrepresented in the book trade.

  • Ain Deheb Bensenouci

    Epigeum (OUP)/Society of Young Publishers Senior academic partnerships manager/chair

    Florence-born Ain Deheb Bensenouci decided to try for a publishing career in the UK rather than her homeland, as “Italian publishing is almost impenetrable”. Yet she found it is not the easiest vocation to break into here, either: after a publishing MA at UCL, she struggled to get a position. “I had unpaid work offers, but that was not an option for me.” Her first paid work was at the Open Access publisher Ubiquity Press—"grateful to them for the help and support they gave me whilst entering publishing"—and later moved to Penguin Random House in an international sales role. PRH proved an excellent grounding, as she “got to work across the whole company’s lists, and get a good understanding of all the processes”. Two years later she moved to Epigeum, Oxford University Press’ online course division, in a multifaceted role combining sales, event management and publisher liaison. She was promoted to her current role just eight months later. She is this year’s Society of Young Publishers chair, with inclusivity and diversity on the menu: “We want to boost the regions, not be so London-centric, and make sure we are a society for all of the UK and Ireland.”

  • Niriksha Bharadia

    Faber Marketing executive

    Niriksha Bharadia started at Faber 2015 as a Creative Access intern, but so impressed that a social media marketing role was created for her, and just a year later she was promoted to her current position. Bharadia raised the publisher’s social media game, launching Faber Instragram—which she has built from scratch to a following in excess of 40,000—and establishing relationships with YouTubers and #bookstagrammers. Those links with YouTubers were struck off her own back, and that proactivity has been the hallmark of all the work she has done at Faber, such as building relationships and partnerships with some not-so-obvious bedfellows, such as Lush, Winsor & Newton and Netflix. Bharadia has been the marketing lead on some of Faber’s biggest recent campaigns, including Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, Richard Ayoade’s The Grip of Film and P D James’ Sleep No More, with some of the more outside-the-box promotions involving branded yoyos, arcade machines and deck chairs.

  • Katie Brown

    Trapeze Commissioning editor

    As a publicist at Riot Communications, and later Headline and Tinder Press, Katie Brown consistently crafted sharp, compelling campaigns and was shortlisted for annual Publishers Publicity Circle awards five times, winning for her work on Miguel Barclay’s One Pound Meals. But she recently moved to editorial—and now wants to inspire others to, too. Brown's entree into publishing is inspirational. At 16 Brown left school and went to work in the call centre of a clothing factory. She eventually went back to school, and then to Cambridge, but entering the trade proved tough. She says: “In school, I didn’t even know publishing was a job. After uni, moving to London for an unpaid internship was impossible for someone like me, from a low-SES [socio-economic status] background.” Though she loved publicity, Brown feels she can make a greater impact as an editor: “You’re more of a gatekeeper, and I want to focus on stories from outside the usual channels—especially [by] authors from low-SES and regional backgrounds.” She’s hit the ground running at Trapeze, acquiring two novels in her first three months, and is developing five in-house IP projects. This summer, Brown and her colleagues are going on a school tour to encourage students outside London to work in books.

  • Helen Caunce

    Palgrave Macmillan Senior commissioning editor

    One of the interesting things Helen Caunce has done with Macmillan’s industry-leading study guides range has been to make them not strictly about studying. Stella Cottrell’s Mindfulness for Students and Kate Joseph and Chris Irons’ Managing Stress, both released this year, were among the range’s bestsellers. “I commissioned them because mental health is being discussed more,” Caunce says. “But I’ve also talked to a lot of lecturers in the past couple of years and almost all have remarked about how much stress students are under.” Caunce caught the publishing bug while reading History at Oxford University when she undertook work experience at the then-indie academic publisher Berg. She took a John Wiley internship after graduating, before becoming an editor at Palgrave’s higher education division. She moved across the company to the study skills side in 2014. A 2018 highlight was Writing for Science Students winning the Book of the Year at this year’s Booksellers Association-backed Academic Book Trade Awards.

  • Lisa Coen & Sarah Davis-Goff

    Tramp Press Founders

    Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff set up Dublin-based literary indie Tramp Press four years ago, partially due their feeling that the industry needs more women in decision-making roles and belief that a lot of good writing was falling through the cracks. Coen (left) explains: “We saw good work being rejected for commercial reasons, and felt like there was a gap for a streamlined organisation that would not fixate on the bottom line; focus on exciting, important new work; and trust readers.” The latter theory was proven correct from the get-go, as Tramp’s first title, Oona Frawley’s Flight—which had been knocked back by a number of British and Irish publishers—earned rave reviews, was nominated for Irish Book Awards’ Newcomer of the Year award and was a hit at the tills, too. Tramp has gone on to publish emerging stars such as Sara Baume and Jade Sharma, while Mick McCormack’s Solar Bones won this year’s Dublin International Literary Award (formerly the IMPAC).

  • Steven Cooper

    Waterstones Events co-ordinator

    If you want successful high-profile events, then Steven Cooper is your man. He has presided over some of the British book trade’s biggest dos in the past few years, from a sold-out tour of social media poetry sensation Rupi Kaur, to 1,000 people seeing Michael Wolff. But it is finding something extra which makes Cooper’s handling of these events stand out. Wolff, for example, came to the UK in late February, long after the height of Fire and Fury mania. But Cooper paired him for an event with “Veep” and “The Thick of It” creator Armando Ianucci, which worked a treat. “In the end, I think we had as many people there to hear about ‘Veep’ as Fire and Fury,” he says. But while the high-profile events get the headlines, Cooper’s chain-wide project of working with shops to empower them to ramp up local events is of greater importance. Cooper says: “The idea is to try to get away from a guy in a corner of the shop, reading to 20 bored people. Not to say author talks can’t work—they can, if done well, but we have to think creatively, beyond publication-linked events, to make events part of the fabric of every shop. What better way to add to the customer experience?”

  • Rosi Crawley

    Walker Books Senior publicity manager

    Walker's publicity boss Rosi Crawley has had a number of high points in her career, with two prominent ones coming in her stint as press co-ordinator for BookTrust: working with Malorie Blackman during her children’s laureateship; and, as a result of that, working with Blackman and author and then-BookTrust colleague Katherine Woodfine to create the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC). Crawley says: “That first year of YALC, we had no idea how many people were going to turn up and when I ran to the main stage for the first event to see it was completely full, I just welled up.” Perhaps trumping them all is her all-conquering work for Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, for which Crawley and Emma Draude of ED PR won the 2018 Publicity Campaign of the Year Nibbie. Crawley says: “I was so pleased with our campaign because it felt like we really tapped into that power, and did our best to spread the word to communities who would normally feel underrepresented. But it was a truly collaborative campaign, with PR agencies and marketing working together. The book is more than just a publishing moment—it’s got a power that I genuinely believe will bring about social change.” This year is just as busy as last, with upcoming titles including Patrick Ness’ And the Ocean Was Our Sky (for which Crawley promises “oceanic venues” for events) and Laura Dockrill and illustrator Maria Karipidou’s Angry Cookie.

  • Hannah Davies

    Four Colman Getty Account director

    There’s no bigger literary gong in the English-speaking world than the Man Booker Prize, and Hannah Davies’ calm, assured handling of its PR over the past two years has ensured the awards have gone without a hitch. Well, it’s the Booker—there’s always a hitch, at least in terms of people harping on about what they believe the prize’s deficiencies to be (see: the American question). But this does not faze Davies—in fact, she welcomes it: “The prize was set up to boost literary fiction. Even if people are taking issue with the shortlist, or the rules, it shows they are passionately engaged.” It has been a busy Booker year with the International prize and the Golden Booker 50th anniversary campaign, which Davies masterminded with Four boss Dotti Irving. But the Booker in its various guises is still just part of her remit. Other highlights for the former BookTrust project manager and (full disclosure) Bookseller journalist include helping to launch the inaugural Cliveden Literary Festival and boosting the profile of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Davies’ mettle was tested this spring when she was able to sensitively manage the announcement of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize being withheld.

  • Amelia Derkatsch

    Palgrave Macmillan Commissioning editor

    Amelia Derkatsch reckons she is one of the few—or perhaps the only—full-time, dedicated commissioning editors for Gender Studies in the industry. There may soon be others, given Derkatsch’s trailblazing work and subsequent success of her Palgrave Macmillan list. She says she is dedicated to commissioning cutting-edge research, “from bisexuality in the western Christian church; to masculinity and sport; to the everyday politics of women’s rights in Russia”. Her newest project will be a potentially ground-breaking series titled Feminist Interpretations and Refusals, which strays from the normal academic publishing process in that it will actively seek out “marginalised voices, junior faculty, adjunct faculty, and activist-scholars and community educators whose voices are underrepresented in the academy.”

  • Patricia Dillana Kendall

    Hachette Rights process lead

    Is there anyone else in all of publishing with Patricia Dillana Kendall’s skill-set? Seconded from a senior rights role, she is leading a mammoth, multi-year project that will replace Hachette’s 30-year-old royalties processing system. The complicated, challenging initiative will need Kendall’s in-depth knowledge of the rights processes and contracts, IT and tech expertise, and people management skills. Kendall’s compact team includes members taken from across the Hachette business (contracts, rights, editorial, finance) and is concerned with implementing a brand-new, custom-built software programme in a complete overhaul of the company’s aged one. Catherine Cobain, the business process lead on the Hachette project calls Kendall “exceptionally generous and collaborative. I think it’s quite unusual in publishing, which can be so individually competitive, to find someone so able and ambitious but yet so able to be part of a team.” Previously, Kendall was one of the lynchpins on the Hachette Children’s rights team, working across nine imprints and the Enid Blyton estate. She still keeps her hand in, and recently completed the group’s first deal for Georgian and Macedonian translations of The Famous Five.

  • Aimée Felone & David Stevens

    Knights Of Co-founders

    Aimée Felone and David Stevens met while working at Scholastic, and decided to form their independent children’s publisher Knights Of after becoming frustrated at the pace of change around diversity, both in terms of the measures publishers were taking to create a more representative workplace, and in the type of stories that were being published. Stevens says: “This isn’t singling Scholastic out, but conglomerates are like big ships: it’s hard to turn them around quickly.” Felone adds: “It’s easy to keep talking, but change won’t come unless you stand up and do something about it.” So Knights Of was born late last year, with a focus on “making books for every kid” and commissioning writers from BAME and working-class backgrounds (the name Knights Of refers to the Arthurian round table, where everyone has an equal voice). The two ensured that there was a hard business case for their enterprise by securing funding through investors that will see them through to the end of 2019. Part of that money will be put towards a marketing spend that would make any publisher envious, with a £10,000 budget guaranteed on each book. “We wanted to do it right and make sure every book we publish has every chance to succeed,” says Felone.

  • Abbie Headon

    Freelance Indie publishing professional

    Abbie Headon spent seven years at the heart of Summersdale, with a role that encompassed commissioning, marketing and digital development. Yet early last year, she decided to reposition and take her skills to the wider industry, setting herself up as a freelance publishing professional. Headon calls herself “more of a broad-ranging kind of publisher than a focused expert”, and that is borne out by the varied projects she has taken on, including project-managing several titles for Practical Inspiration Books, doing social media for “The Extraordinary Business Book Club” podcast, mentoring for The Girls Network and the Independent Publishers Guild, and writing a number of humour titles such as Fancy Frenchies: French Bulldogs in Costumes (Ebury). She is now working four days a week with Prelude Books, and is tasked with helping to build the Farrago humour imprint.

  • Ellen Holgate

    Bloomsbury Children’s Editorial director for fiction

    Your first thought when hearing the words “Bloomsbury Children’s” is probably one J K Rowling. Yet while it still revels in its boy wizard legacy, an impressive post-Potter list has been built, with many of its successes down to Ellen Holgate’s astute editing and commissioning. The former Walker staffer and Hodderite joined Bloomsbury five years ago, with a remit to construct the list for younger readers. Since then she has built an impressive roster, particularly in the middle-grade space. Sibéal Pounder was one of Holgate’s first Bloomsbury signings—the Witch Wars author’s readership is building book by book—then there is Katherine Rundell, whom Holgate lured from Faber; there follows critical success, a Costa triumph and success at the tills (Rundell calls Holgate “a mixture of fairy godmother and straight-up saint”). Holgate’s proactive commissioning is epitomised by—having read The Miniaturist and The Muse on maternity leave—her approaching Jessie Burton about writing a children’s book. Holgate says: “I thought, ‘Here’s an amazing writer. I knew she would be perfect.” The first in a two-book deal, The Restless Girls (illustrated by Angela Barrett), is a feminist retelling of The Grimm Brothers fairytale, out in September. But before that is Cat Doyle’s middle-grade début The Storm Keeper’s Island, one of the most hotly-tipped books of the summer.

  • Sam Hutchinson

    b small Director

    Independent Publishers Guild Young Publisher of the Year Sam Hutchinson is the only member of staff at “kitchen-table micro-publisher” b small, though he works closely with non-executive co-owner Cath Bruzzone. But its sales results—turnover rose 18%, while profit climbed a massive 700% in its latest full-year results—and its reputation in the children’s non-fiction and education market, suggest that Hutchinson has the list punching above its weight. Last year, he commissioned a series of science titles, STEM Starters for Kids, aimed at tapping into a growing market for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths activity books. Though Hutchinson acknowledges that b small was up against the “big-hitters and deep discounters” in this space, the series proved a hit at the tills, particularly with retailers who could support a higher-than-average r.r.p., such as John Lewis. Crucially, it was a rights triumph: b small sold the books into 10 territories, earning a combined six-figure sum for the deals. One of Hutchinson’s goals in the past year has been to boost b small’s awards profile, though entering prizes can be time-consuming. Working with an external publicity freelancer, he drew up a shortlist of awards to enter and was rewarded when Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker’s Real-Life Mysteries won this year’s Blue Peter Book Award. Since its win, the title has sold 4,500 units—a considerable amount for a publisher of b small’s size—and has been shortlisted for the School Library Association Awards too.

  • Andrew James

    Jessica Kingsley Publishers Senior commissioning editor

    After six years as an editor at Palgrave, working on sociology and education titles, Andrew James moved to Jessica Kingsley in 2016 to head a new transgender-themed list. He began signing prominent trans and non-binary authors, commissioning a list that since launch has generated £250,000 in sales (no mean feat for a specialist subject) across 14 titles in its launch year. The list will grow to 35 titles by the end of 2018. Activist Charlie Cragg’s To My Trans Sisters was one of the highlights. The anthology of letters, written by trailblazing trans women, has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim, and was named in influential LGBTQ+ magazine Autostraddle’s top 10 queer and feminist books of 2017. One of James’ recent acquisitions, Queer Sex by Juno Roche, has been hailed as a groundbreaking text within the trans community, while other British publishing firsts on James’ list are Sabrina Symington’s groundbreaking trans graphic novel, First Year Out, and the first in-depth HR manual, Transgender Employees in the Workplace. As co-chair of the Hachette Pride Network, James has championed inclusivity in publishing and helped boost what he says is Hachette’s “leading ally status for the queer community” in the industry.

  • Jasper Joffe

    Joffe Books Founder

    Four years ago, following a career as a contemporary artist and painter, Jasper Joffe decided to change tack and launch a publisher. In that short amount of time his strategy of producing quality genre books with competitive pricing and top-notch design has made the company into one of the most successful digital publishers in the industry (it does print on demand, but the bulk of its sales are in “e”). In 2017, Joffe Books sold a whopping 1.4 million e-books with another 320 million page-reads on the Kindle Unlimited programme. It has already exceeded those sales in 2018. Joffe publishes about a book per week but does so on a flexible basis that is freed from the long lead times of traditional publishing. This has helped the east London-based indie sell a book every nine seconds and consistently have an enviable share of the Kindle Top 100 (topped at this writing by Joffe-published Joy Ellis’ Fire on the Fens, her fifth Kindle UK number one in a row).

  • Sabah Khan

    Avon Publicity manager

    After a career working in PR agencies, in 2017 Sabah Khan was approached by Avon to spearhead the HarperCollins imprint’s publicity. She’s seamlessly done so, travelling the UK on bookshop tours, orchestrating PR opportunities with the national and local press, and cementing Avon’s relationships with first-time and veteran authors alike. But it is the thinking outside the box where Khan has truly excelled, including masterminding a signing event for Bristol-based Avon star C L Taylor which saw her promote The Fear on the train journey from her home town to London, earning reams of coverage. (Khan subsequently convinced the obviously hard-working Taylor to do a 60-day tour visiting bloggers). Keen to attract new voices, Khan organised Facebook Live events for the Avon editorial team in order to solicit submissions from unagented authors—to date, the team has received more than 200 manuscripts. Additionally, Khan has set up a “Lean In” networking support group for female colleagues.

  • Simon Mackay

    Edinburgh International Book Festival Head of book sales & retail

    Simon Mackay’s career is turning full circle. After a decade in London in managerial, head-office and events roles at Blackwell’s, W H Smith and Foyles, the Scot has returned to the city in which he started his bookselling career. “It’s a dream job: I’ve always wanted to work at the book festival,” he says. Overseeing the retail side of the EIBF is certainly a step-change from his last position, running WHS’ programme of high-profile events for non-fiction authors: “It’s surreal. I’ve gone from meeting YouTubers and dealing with the tabloids on a Katie Price event, to working with literary stars and senior politicians.” Mackay says while the festival shops are open for 30 days, EIBF is “effectively one of the biggest indie bookshops in Scotland” (the retail arm shifted almost 67,000 units in 2017). It is that indie spirit—especially in the George Street shop, away from the main festival—that he wants to emulate: “I want to get somewhat away from the model of piles of books brought in just for a signing, and make the shops more of a place for people to come and browse.”

  • Caroline Maddison

    Puffin & Ladybird Head of audience development

    Caroline Maddison has been on an impressive run. In every one of her three years in the trade she’s been shortlisted for FutureBook Awards’ Best Use of Digital in a Marketing Campaign gong. The 2015 nod came for a Scrabble Week campaign for HarperCollins which saw thousands of users tweet about the board game, and dozens of HC authors play it live online. It was the Scrabble brand’s first global Twitter trend, and brought on a 50% uplift in sales of HC’s Scrabble range. Maddison moved to Penguin Random House two years ago and continued that FutureBook success with a shortlisting in 2016 for the #ByBook summer reads campaign, which aimed to get kids and adults reading together on holidays. It reached nearly two million Facebook users and got over a million video views. And in 2017, the multichannel Start a Story campaign for Puffin, which focused on different ways to inspire children to read, was also recognised by the awards. Roll on December...

  • Alexandra McNicoll

    A M Heath Rights director

    At her previous role at C+W, and her current one heading A M Heath’s rights department, Alexandra McNicoll has revelled in “the organised adrenaline” of multi-territory auctions. At C+W, she masterminded the rights strategy behind monster successes like S J Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep (sold in 40-plus territories), Daniel Cole’s Ragdoll (35-plus) and Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (15). McNicoll moved over to A M Heath late last year—she had not been actively looking to leave C+W, but the opportunity was “too good to pass up. It was a challenge, a step up, but mostly I wanted to work with the amazing colleagues, authors and estates like [that of] George Orwell and Shirley Jackson.” While the big acquisitions get the headlines, McNicoll is just as driven by the less glitzy day-to-day deals: “Getting that one translation deal for a literary novel in a smaller market that you have been working on for ages can sometimes be just as satisfying as doing 20 languages over the course of a book fair.” Some of the “smaller” recent agreements including selling Azerbaijani rights to Orwell and Kamila Shamsie’s Women’s Prize winner, Home Fire, to Iran.

  • Bethan Moore

    Penguin Random House International sales manager

    It has been “seven years and seven jobs” at Penguin Random House for Bethan Moore. This is not a restlessness but an unstinting upward trajectory, with her team-management, problem-solving and relationship-building skills being recognised by a string of promotions. She joined Random House fresh out of a King’s College London English Literature MA, working for a few years in the “slightly unglamorous but vital” e-book quality control department. Post-merger she joined the PRH sales team, first as a digital key account manager, before moving over to international sales: “I think this is where I found my home, where I could combine my love of books with travel.” She was promoted to her current role in January, with a big part of her remit being Transworld's international liaison. Keys to success in the international sales game are “trusting in our team’s expertise and maintaining of open, trusting relationships with our partners”. In her spare time Moore writes—she has had a number of short stories published, and is writing her first novel, repped by C+W's Richard Pike, a Rising Star in 2017.

  • Kate Nash

    Kate Nash Literary Agency Agent

    Kate Nash has previously worn a number of hats in the book trade: publicist; sales and marketing professional for indie Myrmidon; and setting up the York Festival of Writing. But it is in founding her agency—representing a few clients from 2009, but going full-time in 2015—where she has really hit her stride. A good case study for Nash’s spot-on author care of her now 35-strong client list is Faith Martin. The romance and crime author has been published since the 1990s—but Nash recognised the opportunties for revitalising her backlist to support new work, doing a deal with Corazon for romance titles and with Joffe Books to republish the DI Hilary Greene series. The Greene series has been a smash, shifting over 250,000 Kindle units for Joffe, which in turn helped Nash to sell a new Martin crime series to HarperCollins at auction. Other recent successes include helping to steer Mandy Baggot’s career path from self-published author, to Bookouture star, to a three-book deal with Ebury; and taking Sue Fortin to the top of the Kindle charts—and then to a deal with HarperFiction.

  • Emma Paterson

    RCW Agent

    A few years ago, Emma Paterson was at a crossroads. She loved books, yet harboured a dream to be a film critic and had offers from the well-respected magazine Film Comment as an unpaid intern and The Wylie Agency as an agent’s assistant. “I chose the salary,” Paterson says. Cinema’s loss has been publishing’s gain, as since moving to RCW after that grounding at Wylie, Paterson has, in the words of boss Peter Straus, “established herself as a leading agent of her generation: tough, fearless but also understanding and sympathetic”. Recent triumphs include Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From; in June, Paterson sold Hunter’s next two books to Picador. Deborah Rogers Foundation award-winner Sharlene Teo’s Ponti has been one of the most talked-about débuts of 2018, while Funmi Fetto’s groundbreaking beauty bible for women of colour is out in October. Paterson also acted as the UK agent for Kristen Roupenian, author of the viral short-story sensation “Cat Person”, selling her first collection to Cape on a pre-empt.

  • Jonathan Paterson

    Hodder, Headline, John Murray Press & Quercus Finance director

    Since moving from Manchester to London in 2010, Jonathan Paterson’s career has moved at breakneck speed. His first role was as a financial analyst at Transworld. After two years, he headed across town to Hachette and quickly moved up the ranks: four years later he was named finance director of Jamie Hodder-Williams’ HHQ division, the youngest person to attain such a position in Hachette history. His wide remit includes managing the divisions’ commercial financial operations, helping to identify new business ventures, overseeing and improving budgeting systems. And in his spare time is also keen to demonstrate what he calls (half-jokingly) “the fun of finance” by helping staffers across the divisions. As the first person in his family to attend university, Paterson is keen to improve industry diversity and to that end he has been appointed co-chair of a new network representing people from low-SES backgrounds within Hachette.

  • Lucy Pearse

    Macmillan Children's Books Senior fiction editor, 6+

    Some fall into a career in the book trade, but not Lucy Pearse. “I always wanted to be in children’s publishing; I even did my masters at Edinburgh on The Railway Children.” She paid some dues first, with internships at two literary agencies before landing a job as a PA to Macmillan Children's Books boss Belinda Rasmussen. That led to a couple of years as an editorial assistant at Egmont—”it was brilliant, I learned so much there”—before being lured back to Macmillan. She first worked across the business, on titles such as Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s Treehouse series and Frank Cottrell-Boyce's Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth. Her own commissioning has mostly focused on middle-grade (and some YA), with recent breakouts including Amy Wilson’s A Girl Called Owl and Muhammed Khan’s I Am Thunder. Two upcoming projects will be with a couple of MCB’s biggest heritage brands. Details are hush-hush at the moment, “but these are really big sequels; it’s exciting to find new ways to bring classics to new audiences”. Ultimately, Pearse wants to “carry on trying to find books that might slip under the radar and give them the love and attention they deserve”.

  • Carrie Plitt

    Felicity Bryan Associates Agent

    Arguably the most influential non-fiction book of recent vintage on these shores has been Reni Eddo-Lodge’s bestselling, prize-winning Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Her agent, Carrie Plitt, isn’t surprised the book has done well in the US and the UK, “but it’s amazing that we keep selling it into new territories… Reni’s becoming a global superstar.” Massachusetts native Plitt moved to the UK for a graduate scholarship at Cambridge University a decade ago. The book industry appealed and, after a stint at Penguin, she found her calling after moving to Conville & Walsh: “I loved being at the earliest stage in the whole process.” She began building her own list in 2013, joining Felicity Bryan Associates three years later. The “thoughtful” non-fiction space has been fruitful, with Plitt selling Julia Bueno’s book on miscarriage The Brink of Being to Virago and Penguin US, while BBC reporter David Robson’s The Intelligence Trap has gone in 12 territories—and was pre-empted by Hodder 24 hours after submission. In fiction, Alex Reeve’s The House on Half Moon Street—first in a Victorian crime series featuring trans sleuth Leo Stanhope—has been a spring hit.

  • Isabel Prodger

    Harper NonFiction Senior publicity manager

    Shortlisted for not one but two PPC awards in 2017, Isabel Prodger has made a serious impact on her division in her two and a half years at Harper NonFiction. She has overseen numerous projects in the past year, working with big names such as cricketer Jonny Bairstow and Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame. Her events strategy for Dickinson’s What Does This Button Do? helped it become the fastest-selling celebrity memoirs of 2017. A slightly different take was needed for Bairstow’s melancholic A Clear Blue Sky, a memoir which deals with his father’s suicide. Prodger balanced a sensitive campaign with one that still garnered a broad reach. The Bairstows certainly approved of her handling of the book: she became such a part of the family that she was invited to their pre-Ashes Christmas dinner. Up next is the campaign for one of HarperCollins’ biggest books of the autumn: heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua’s Fight. But it’s not just high-profile celebs. Prodger’s deft touch helped build a platform for Rupy Aujla to become one of the best-known authors in the health and wellbeing space: his The Doctor’s Kitchen has gone on to shift almost 40,000 units to date.

  • Gavin Read

    Foyles Digital marketing and communications manager

    Gavin Read leads Foyles’ high-tech digital marketing and communications operation, but his time as a bookseller is his foundation stone. He joined the chain’s Charing Cross Road flagship in 2009, working across subjects before becoming the buyer for the magazine department, where he dealt with suppliers from micro-publishers to conglomerates. He says: “It taught me about interacting and responding to different audiences and niches.” His current role has a wide remit, including overseeing Foyles’ social media and various digital marketing campaigns. A big part of his job is “about how we can seamlessly combine the physical with the digital”. The tone and message is perhaps the most crucial thing: “We have a point of difference—we have seven shops, we’re a mini-chain. So, if we lean into that, we can really punch above our weight.”

  • Alex Reads, Raifa Rafiq & Derek Owusu

    Mostly Lit Podcasters

    The most refreshing thing about “Mostly Lit”, the award-winning and influential books podcast, is that none of its hosts came from the book industry. Co-founders Alex “Reads” Holmes and Raifa Rafiq are a writer/actor and trainee solicitor respectively, while Derek Owusu—who joined a few episodes in—originally worked in hospitality management. But all three are book obsessed (indeed, Reads first asked Owusu to be on the podcast because of the latter’s incessant tweeting about books) a passion that comes out as they banter about the intersection of literature, the BAME Millennial experience and pop culture. “That’s the key for me to a great podcast,” says Rafiq. “Great content, consistency, but mostly a wonderful rapport between co-hosts.” In March this year the podcasters and their exec producer and manager Clarissa Pabi (herself a 2017 Rising Star) launched a year-long partnership with Waterstones to co-produce a series of recorded events and content for the bookseller’s website.. Owusu, meanwhile, is editing Safe, an anthology written by and for black British men for Trapeze, and has recently been hired by Penguin Random House to work across its podcast and audiobooks division.

  • Marilia Savvides

    PFD Agent

    Marilia Savvides’ career as a primary agent got off to a Hollywood start—or, rather, a Frankfurt one. She joined the PFD foreign rights department in 2012 and began looking to establish her own list three years later. Her first signing was a title she discovered on the slush pile, Romanian author E O Chirovici’s The Book of Mirrors. The initial deal was an Italian pre-empt, just four hours after submission on the eve of FBF 2015, and then the avalanche started, with the title becoming the book of the fair, eventually going to 40 territories. Savvides says: “It was exciting, it was overwhelming. Everybody was talking about the book, I was in the middle of intense, multiple auctions. But no one [at Frankfurt] really knew who I was.” Many of Savvides’ fiction authors write “dark, but emotional stories”, with recent blockbuster deals including James Delargy’s 55 to Simon & Schuster UK (and 14 other territories) and Hanna Jameson’s dystopian crime thriller The Last to Viking. She still keeps her foreign rights hat on, covering a broad range of territories including the Netherlands, Korea and Greece. But she has put in particularly stellar work in China, almost single-handedly creating one of the most lucrative territories for PFD’s authors.

  • Ellie Steel

    Harvill Secker Senior editor

    From working on Yuval Noah Harari’s blockbusters to publishing Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Seasons quartet, Ellie Steel has had a hand in some seminal books in translation in recent years. She came into the industry after reading English at Oxford and a publishing MA at the London College of Communication: “That may seem strategic but it wasn’t; I just wanted to work in books in some way.” A stint at Foyles led to desk editing at Cape, after which she moved over to Harvill and began commissioning in 2013. Her standouts include Édouard Louis’ fêted The End of Eddy and José Eduardo Agualusa’s IMPAC-winner A General Theory of Oblivion. It’s not just translation: a big non-fiction acquisition has been Kate Murphy’s You’re Not Listening, an examination into the effects of social media. Steel heads Harvill’s Young Translators Prize, which aids those new to the craft, with each edition focusing on a new region—this year Steel has chosen Bengali as the source language.

  • Alison Tarrant

    School Library Association Director

    Alison Tarrant’s decision to put her hat into the ring to lead the School Library Association was something of a “Lean In” moment. When the job came up in 2017, she was working, happily, as the school librarian at Cambourne Village College in Cambridgeshire. She was an award-winning school librarian, and had also been doing advocacy, training and campaigning for the SLA for years. Tarrant says: “I wanted to put myself forward as I know what [the SLA] does is really important, and I thought I could make a difference. But I was still worried about doing it. Then I happened to read an article that said men, even unqualified ones, were about four times more likely to put themselves forward for promotions than women. So I thought I would go for it.” She has hit the ground running, joining with CILIP to launch the three-year long Great School Libraries campaign which features a massive data capture to get a full picture of the sector and aims to make school libraries a statutory requirement.

  • Mel Taylor-Bessent

    Authorfy Founder

    Authorfy is the result of Mel Taylor-Bessent cannily bringing a real world scheme into the digital space. Six years ago, she launched Little Star Writing (LSW), a series of live events and creative writing programmes for children. LSW has been a smash: this year it will run 32 writing workshops, and one marquee author event a week. Unable to meet the increasing demand, Taylor-Bessent decided to roll it out online. Authorfy launched in 2017, run on an institutional subscription model which gives schools six-week video masterclasses led by authors including Danny Wallace, Abi Elphinstone and Kwame Alexander, along with downloads and cross-curriculum schemes of work. Taylor-Bessent is ambitious for the future: “Authorfy is already expanding quicker than planned. In five years’ time, I want Authorfy to become the go-to place for anything to do with children’s books in education. I’d like to arrange an Authorfy Tour (taking a group of authors to large venues around the country) and I’d like to launch the Authorfy Awards. There would definitely be scope for an adult version of Authorfy in the future, too.”

  • Jacques Testard

    Fitzcarraldo Editions Founder

    In the four years since launch, Jacques Testard has made Fitzcarraldo Editions into one of the most exciting literary presses in British publishing with a remarkable strike rate for major prizes. In 2014 he acquired rights to Svetlana Alexievich's Second-hand Time – she won the Nobel Prize a year later. In 2016, Claire-Louise Bennett notched a Dylan Thomas Prize shortlisting for Pond, and the next year Mathias Enard's Compass hit the Man Booker International shortlist. Just a few weeks ago there was more Booker International joy, with Olga Tokarczuk and translator Jennifer Croft winning the prize for Flights. Not bad for a man who founded Fitzcarraldo Editions and his first venture, The White Review literary journal, because "I was always on the margins looking in to publishing, and quite frankly found it a bit difficult to get a job". He is being slightly self-deprecating—he was a commissioning editor at Notting Hill Editions before it was more or less wound down by the owners but his experiences at NHE and The White Review provided a template for the current Fitzcarraldo Editions list, which published fiction and essays, with a 50/50 split of English and in translation titles, and an emphasis on ambitious and innovative contemporary writing.

  • Lucy Warburton

    White Lion Commissioning editor

    Smart thinking—the more intellectually rigorous end of the inspiration genre—is hot in non-fiction at the moment, and one of the most exciting recent launches in that space has been White Lion’s Build+Become list. Lucy Warburton spearheaded the January release of the first tranche of titles in the series, which focuses on how weighty topics such as sociology and philosophy can be practised in everyday life. She says: “It’s exciting as a commissioner, as we have to think about not just individual books, but the list and how the pieces fit into the brand.” Warburton has been at the Quarto-backed Aurum Press (recently renamed White Lion) for six years, cutting her teeth on the sports and illustrated lists with hits including The Atlas of Impossible Places and Federgraphica, an infographic biography of Roger Federer. She says: “I guess I’ve always been involved with ‘smart thinking’, as we have always been looking for more interesting ways to look at the world.”

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