Rising Stars 2020

  • Nancy Adimora

    HarperCollins Talent and audience development manager, diversity and inclusion

    Nancy Adimora joined HarperCollins in 2017 through its BAME traineeship scheme, working across editorial, marketing and communications, after which she covered the events manager post until late 2018. Following a stint working on independent projects, including the British Library's Africa Writes Festival and content curation for Twitter, in February she returned to HC in the newly created role of talent and audience development manager, diversity and inclusion. Her remit is to find talent from diverse communities and help marketing teams reach such audiences. Adimora's passion for diversifying the publishing sector extends outside her job: at the age of 20 she founded literary platform AFREADA, which has published more than 250 stories from writers from Africa and the wider pan-African diaspora. Her long-term vision is to deepen engagement with communities that are currently underserved in publishing: "That's a very lofty goal," she says, "but I'm going to focus on my small piece of the puzzle."

  • Ore Agbaje-Williams

    The Borough Press Editor

    There is a lot of talk about publishing previously underrepresented voices; Ore Agbaje-Williams is actively going about it. One of the first things she did when she moved from HarperCollins' digital team to The Borough Press was suggest and then spearhead a BAME open submissions competition, enlisting The Good Literary Agency as a partner. That process remains a highlight, not least because the winner Sophie Jai's Wild Fires is the first book Agbaje-Williams acquired at Borough, but also because "we discovered a number of exceptional voices and led them to resources whereby they could achieve their dreams of being published", she says. Agbaje-Williams was promoted to become an editor this year, but was furloughed shortly after. It was a "strange period of peaks and troughs", but "since I've been back it's been busy and exciting, and I've been reminded of why I love to do what I do". Long-term, Agbaje-Williams aims to "have a list that reflects the society we live in" and wants to publish books that start important conversations.

  • Ashton Bainbridge

    FMcM Senior communications manager

    Ashton Bainbridge, senior communications manager at PR firm FMcM, started her career in editorial at John Wiley but was soon lured over to publicity by "the pace, building relationships with journalists, and the thrill of securing great coverage for a book". She joined FMcM in 2016, where her clients and campaigns have included the literary agency, bookshop and events business MILD Group; the London Book Fair, especially its consumer-facing Book & Screen Week; and individual books such as Joseph Stiglitz's People, Power & Profits and Elle Nash's Animals Eat Each Other. She says: "All the books I've worked on are different, but similar in the sense that they've expanded my own thinking as a reader and given me the chance to run very different campaigns." The lockdown has been difficult, but there may be lessons learned. "I hope it gives us a broader appreciation of ways we can work at a distance, and outside London," she says. "You can't replace meeting in person, but it would help productivity and reduce barriers to entry into the industry."

  • Emily Barrett

    Sphere Editorial director, non-fiction

    Emily Barrett has been in the industry for six years, and has already edited some of non-fiction's biggest brands: from Holly Willoughby and teen boyband 5 Seconds of Summer while at HarperCollins; to Fearne Cotton's huge bestselling wellness titles at Orion; and in her current role, as editorial director at Sphere, she edited what might be the hit of the autumn: Ant & Dec's Once Upon a Tyne. While celebrity titles require an enormous amount of creativity and planning, it is Barrett's entrepreneurial commissioning that truly sets her apart, with around half of her list comprising titles she proactively sourced, such as Mim Skinner's funny, moving memoir of working as a prison teacher, Jailbirds. A career highlight has been editing Parting Words, the memoir by 100-year-old human rights lawyer and the last surviving Nuremberg Trials prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz. "I am enormously privileged to be able to say I've worked with someone who has made such an incredible and necessary impact on the world stage," Barrett says.

  • Bengono Bessala

    Harper Inspire Marketing and publicity manager

    In 2016, Bengono Bessala was one of two people selected for HarperCollins' inaugural BAME Training Scheme. The programme is meant to be a 12-month rotational introduction to HC's divisions, but after only six weeks she landed a full-time marketing role at Fourth Estate and William Collins. Next, Bessala stepped up to a more senior digital marketing position at HQ, then moved across to Harper Inspire, the new HC Christian imprint, where she is marketing and publicity manager. "Being able to work on growing a new imprint has definitely been a highlight, [as has] discovering new stories that we hope will inspire a completely new and unexpected range of readers." One of the projects she is most looking forward to next year is February's publication of Unspoken, the rapper Guvna B's look at experiencing toxic masculinity as a young man. "It is going to be a big book for us...We're extremely proud to continue to bring Black voices into the publishing arena and showcase that diverse publishing can be done successfully."

  • Nia Beynon

    Boldwood Books Publishing, sales and marketing director

    In just seven years, Nia Beynon has progressed from an entry-level role at Faber Factory to becoming a founding member of Boldwood Books. In between, she helped Head of Zeus grow e-book sales by 30% and be crowned Independent Publisher of the Year at the Nibbies, and led HQ's digital-first imprint, where she published bestsellers including Faith Martin and Kerry Barnes, as well as HarperCollins' first audio-original binaural product. When Amanda Ridout was building the team to launch Boldwood, Beynon was top of the list thanks to her "entrepreneurial flair and an openness to embrace new ideas". As publishing/sales and marketing director, she oversees the indie's sales, marketing and production, as well as publishing her own list of authors. Her marketing skills ensured every book has been supported globally with digital advertising and social media, resulting in e-bestsellers in several countries. Now, Beynon is exploring ways to market audiobooks, and is looking forward to working in partnership with John Blake and Ad Lib on a digital first non-fiction list.

  • Jazzmine Breary

    Jacaranda Sales, publicity and marketing manager

    The tiny but mighty Jacaranda has been around seven years, and in that time it has published agenda-setting books and earned heaps of prizes: most recently the Small Press of the Year at the 2020 British Book Awards. Sales, publicity and marketing manager Jazzmine Breary has been there from the start, helping founder Valerie Brandes define and develop Jacaranda's list, ethos and identity. Yet Breary's job title unquestionably underplays her importance, as she has been involved in all facets of the business, including editing and acquiring titles (she has a particularly passion for commercial fiction, such as Nigerian author Obinna Udenwe's Satans and Shaitans), negotiating partnerships and drawing up contracts. A crucial behind-the-scenes project has been the implementation of a new data management system; "front of house", Breary has directed the clever publicity and marketing strategy behind Jacaranda's Twentyin2020 programme to publish 20 Black British authors in a calendar yearÑa first for any UK publishing house.

  • Matt Casbourne

    Duckworth Head of trade sales

    Matt Casbourne's entrée into UK publishing was largely unplanned, as the politics and policy postgrad moved to London from his native Montreal five years ago to take a job at the Greater London Assembly. That role did not work out, but the experience rekindled a desire in Casbourne to work in books, and he soon landed a job as a PA for then-Duckworth boss Peter Mayer. He quickly moved up, overseeing sales, marketing and publicity, before bagging his current role of head of trade sales, where he manages all of the independent's publishing operations. In addition to his Duckworth role, he consults on a freelance basis for small publishers, and since May has been the exclusives manager for Damian Barr's Literary Salon. Long-term, Casbourne hopes to be "among the most-connected people in publishing and leveraging those relationships to benefit the authors I represent. Author care is probably the most important part of my publishing experience and I'm perpetually motivated to up my game so that their books are successful".

  • Nicola Chang

    David Higham Associates Agent

    Nicola Chang has had an eventful pandemic, joining David Higham Associates (DHA) mid-lockdown: "I've just about got my feet under the table now, albeit the very same kitchen table I've been sitting at for the past three months" But she has arrived hitting the ground running at the same breakneck pace she had built up at her previous home, The Good Literary Agency (TGLA). She has sold "lots of wonderful poetry and non-fiction" since arriving at DHA, though these remain under wraps for now, continuing her form from TGLA, where she recently inked a number of big deals, including Leone Ross' This One Sky Day in a joint Faber and FSG (US) pre-empt, and Sara Jafari's The Mismatch (and a follow-up), to Arrow. She plans on continuing with TGLA's mission of representing under-represented writers at her new home, and long-term wants to "keep doing what I'm doing: discovering, nurturing and working with writers and finding them great homes in publishers, and by extension readers, here as well as around the world".

  • Jack Clark

    The Portobello Bookshop Owner

    Despite being less than a year old, Edinburgh's The Portobello Bookshop has already earned "prize-winning" status, having scooped National Book Tokens' inaugural Newcomer of the Year award. Not bad, considering owner Clark's background is in architectural photography. Things got off to a roaring start when the indie opened its doors last July, with customers queuing to enter. Clark says the highlight of running a bookshop is the people he works with, from colleagues to reps, writers and regular customers (one of whom proposed in-store). Working in lockdown has been "tough", but the bookshop has weathered it thanks to a click-and-collect service and "extremely heartwarming" support from customers, which has ensured the team has been kept on full wages throughout. Looking ahead, Clark's goal is to find safe ways to interact with customers, to develop the bookshop's online offer and to start hosting events again. Beyond that, he wants to keep integrating the business into the local community.

  • Zoey Dixon

    Lambeth Libraries Community hub library manager; development librarian: information, digital and channel shift

    There is a good argument that Zoey Dixon is one of, if not the, most influential children's librarians in the country. Locally, she manages four Lambeth community hub libraries and is also a development librarian, a strategic role that enables her to help shape the library service. Nationwide, for the past five years she has been on the selection panel for The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge and Booktrust's Letterbox Club; she has also judged the 2020 Booktrust Storytime Prize and the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway gongs for the past two years. In lockdown, Dixon managed the services' social media and online content, and she believes the pandemic experience could prove to have silver linings: "I'm excited to see what new opportunities arise from having to deliver a library service post-lockdown. With the move to virtual events, you're not restricted by who is physically available, which will allow us to reach new audiences. I'm already imagining authors for our Black History Month programme from around the world!"

  • Roxane Edouard

    Curtis Brown Translation rights agent

    Roxane Edouard joined Curtis Brown from the Paris-based Michelle Lapautre Agency as an assistant 10 years ago, and now handles translation rights in all of the agency's children's and YA novels, plus for Curtis Brown Australia, ICM, Christopher Little and Eve White. Boss Kate Cooper says Edouard "has an extraordinary flair for getting the best possible terms, while being loved by publishers and her colleagues". Successes include selling Tomi Adeyemi into 34 markets, and the Aussie author/illustrator team Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton into 39. She also prioritises authors' long-term careers: for example, at the 2019 Bologna Book Fair, Edouard organised a "Treehouse Summit" for 20 of Griffiths' and Denton's international publishers to discuss strategy. Made a full agent last year, Edouard is tapping into her background (French with Guadeloupean/Iranian heritage) to bring her list of Francophone authors to the wider world. She says: "I want to bring forth projects that challenge the status quo and allow readers to think outside the box."

  • Caoimhe Fox

    Books Ireland/New Island Publishing manager/marketing and development

    Few people are more key in the promotion of Ireland's books sector than Caoimhe Fox. She is a relatively late arrival, though, having chucked a banking job five years ago to join Books Ireland, the organisation that promotes Irish writing at home and abroad. She started in a marketing and development role, and became publishing manager when its magazine transitioned to a digital platform last year. In 2019, she also began working in marketing and publicity for New Island and her time is now split between the two roles. She is also is on the programming committee for the Dublin Book Festival, and is a board member for education charity 80:20. Career highlights include programming the literary arm for IrelandWeek in LA last year, and co-ordinating (and hosting) Irish book showcases in New York, London and California. Plans in the pipeline include a presentation of Irish writing across the UK (with fellow Star Ruth Hallinan) and a Patricia Scanlan-edited anthology to celebrate the National Adult Literacy Agency's 40th anniversary.

  • Lauren Gardner

    Bell Lomax Moreton Agent

    A hallmark of Lauren Gardner's career is that she is an agent who does not wait for the next project to come to her. For example, she reached out to blogger Daisy Upton for the idea that would eventually be the bestselling Five Minute Mum. This extends to existing clients, such as brainstorming with YA star Katy Birchall for a pivot to adult romantic comedy; the result was The Undercover Bridesmaid, recently sold to Hodder. Gardner's list is for the most part a balance between kids (Emma Read, Jenni Spangler) and agenda-setting non-fiction (paramedic memoirist Jake John; Natalie A Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry, founders of the Black Girls Book Club). Her career highlight? "Every time I go into a bookshop and see one of my authors' books on the shelves, or spot somebody reading one in the wild." Ultimately, Gardner wants to continue to focus on "empowerment, innovation and collaboration; I want to be part of a generation of young publishers who are committed to opening up our industry to everyone".

  • Hattie Grünewald

    The Blair Partnership Agent

    How's this for a first impression? After six successful years at Blake Friedmann, agent Hattie Grünewald joined The Blair Partnership last September and sold Nancy Tucker's The First Day of Spring within a week to Riverhead (US) in a massive pre-empt, 24 hours after submission. Leaving Blake Friedmann was a wrench, but Grünewald was attracted to TBP's offer to expand its fiction portfolio. She says: "It's an exciting time as we're experiencing so much growth. I'd really love our fiction list to keep building, to nurture authors who become household names alongside conversation-starting debuts." The past year has been hectic with big deals including Lizzy Dent's debut The Summer Job and Anbara Salam's second novel Belladonna. It's not all fiction, with Grünewald selling Stephanie Yeboah's "fat Black girl's guide to living life unapologetically" to Hardie Grant, and HQ snapping up Millennial Black, a handbook for young BAME women by Sophie Williams, who became a viral sensation during the Black Lives Matter protests.

  • Ruth Hallinan

    The Lilliput Press Publishing and production manager

    Though Hallinan is currently The Lilliput Press' publishing and production manager, she has accrued a range of publishing experience. Her time in the book trade began at Blackwell's Edinburgh store, followed by a stint at educational publisher EMPGi, where she was instructional designer, a role she also undertook at The Educational Company of Ireland for four years. She spent 10 months as executive editor at academic publisher UCD Press before joining Lilliput in 2017. Highlights of her time there include working on its bestseller Seamus Mallon: A Shared Home Place, and designing last year's campaign to celebrate Lilliput's 35th anniversary year, which ended with it being crowned Ireland's Small Press of the Year. She is excited about "bringing Irish-published authors further afield to a world stage", both through events and a US and Canadian distribution deal she has been working on, which ties in with her overarching aim to improve the profile of Irish publishing internationally through industry collaborations.

  • Victoria Haslam

    Audible Commissioning editor

    As a working-class kid who was the first person in her family to go to university, and whose situation did not enable her to do work experience or intern for free, it took years for Victoria Haslam to get into publishing. Looking back, she says: "There were so many times that I wanted to give up because it felt absolutely draining." She finally got a toehold at Michael O'Mara, where her dual rights and digital role enabled her to be a part of MOM's first audio list. That, in turn, led to her current commissioning editor position at Audible. Her remit is to develop audio-first content, as well as working with publishers to adapt their IP for the audio arena. A highlight of the latter, Haslam says, was working with Jacaranda on its Twentyin2020 project, in which the recent Nibbie-winning indie list is publishing 20 BAME British authors this year. Haslam's main passion "is working on innovating in the audio space... audio is such an intimate medium and the experience of listening can be so different to traditional reading".

  • Hazel Holmes

    UCLan Publisher

    "Many people wax lyrical about how the publishing industry could be improved, but very few actually do something about it. Hazel Holmes is one of those few." So says YA author Melinda Salisbury, and it's hard to disagree. After studying at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and then Oxford Brookes, Holmes returned to Preston to start her career as the children's book specialist at Borders. She moved to library suppliers Askews and Holts to work as the children's buyer, before joining UCLan Publishing in 2018, where she has attracted authors including Dan Walker, Eve Ainsworth and Bryony Pearce, and nurtured new talent. She also established new business structures, obtaining sales representation from Bounce and rights representation from Andrew Nurnberg, and worked to integrate the business into UCLan's BA and MA programmes. Holmes' passion is building an accessible Northern publishing industry, which she has notably contributed to by single-handedly founding the free-to-attend Northern YA Lit Festival, which she describes as a highlight.

  • Harry Illingworth

    DHH Agent

    Yorkshire native Harry Illingworth joined DHH seven years ago as both an agent's assistant to m.d. David Headley and a bookseller in the agency's retail arm, Goldsboro Books. He quickly progressed in retail to marketing and events manager at the bookshop, while also going to associate, then full agent. The foot-in-both-camps nature lasted until he left the shop to concentrate on agenting last year, but Illingworth believes the dual role was a perfect grounding, helping him build his commercial nous. Indeed, the first book he sold as an agent was Anna Stephens' Godblind to HarperVoyager for six figures, which became the bestselling hardback fantasy debut of 2017. The second was Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the mega-selling Costa First Novel winner now published in 32 territories. Turton's next book is out this year, and Illingworth is also looking forward to Femi Kayode's upcoming crime debut Lightseekers (Little, Brown), and Adam Simcox's gritty SFF/crime debut The Dying Squad, which Illingworth recently sold to Gollancz.

  • Hamza Jahanzeb

    Icon Books Marketing executive

    Despite some serious dues-paying⁠—an unpaid internship at Vintage while at university, another unpaid internship at PRH China when he was studying Mandarin in Beijing⁠—Hamza Jahanzeb admits he might never have landed a publishing gig were it not for the Spare Room Project. The scheme, in which industry professionals lodge publishing hopefuls from outside London for free, enabled him to move from his home in Accrington, Lancashire, to get his first position on the digital marketing team at Pan Mac. He then moved to marketing at Octopus, working on titles such as Sabrina Ghayour's Bazaar, Diana Henry's From the Oven to the Table and Florence Given's Women Don't Owe You Pretty. Just before lockdown he took a role as marketing executive for Icon and the period since has been "crazy, in a good way!", he says, with virtual campaigns for the likes of Hamed Amiri's The Boy with Two Hearts and Evy Pompouras' Becoming Bulletproof. Jahanzeb also spawned a social media hit in the #BooksellerRecommends campaign, run with indie bookshops.

  • James Keyte

    Penguin Random House Audiences and Audio Senior commissioning editor

    James Keyte joined PRH's audio team four years ago, and the senior commissioning editor has already led or worked on an armful of prize winners, including the Ladybird Audio Adventures (recipient of a 2019 FutureBook Award), Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage (the inaugural Audiobook Nibbie two years ago) and Carlo Rovelli's The Order of Time (2018's Specsavers National Book Award). Those projects are among Keyte's career highlights, perhaps led by Ladybird: "I'm immensely proud of them...think David Attenborough meets Dr Who, in terms of style! I think they demonstrate the ability audiobooks have to tell entertaining stories in an innovative and creative way." Lockdown has meant thinking creatively, not least helping narrators to approximate studio conditions at home. But production has remained on track, and he is looking forward to ramping up the kids' side: "There is a unique opportunity to create exciting and practical audiobooks for younger listeners, and it is an area of the market that I'm passionate about growing."

  • Ansa Khan Khattak

    Picador Commissioning editor

    If you look at Ansa Khan Khattak's list, it makes perfect sense that the Picador commissioning editor started her career in foreign rights, as her taste leans towards international authors and different voices. A smattering of highlights include Éric Vuillard's The Order of the Day (acquired before it won the Prix Goncourt), Toshikazu Kawaguchi's Before the Coffee Gets Cold and, slightly closer to home, the budding Irish superstar Wendy Erskine's Sweet Home. Upcoming projects she is excited about are "too many!", though she name-checks Neema Shah's novel Kololo Hill, about the expulsion of Uganda Asians under Idi Amin; and collections from American writers Mary South and Danielle Evans, "whose stories about history, race, and what it takes to correct historical memory feel so urgent". Ultimately, Khan Khattak believes "there's a real appetite for stories that represent a massive range of experiences, identities and perspectives, to either see themselves reflected there, or to learn something new. These are the books that I love to publish."

  • Deborah Maclaren

    LoveReading Managing director

    Deborah Maclaren has been a serial entrepreneur with a long track record in media and magazine publishing, but she only moved to the books world in 2018, when her business partners Rob Prime and Gavin Pearson saved LoveReading from collapse. Maclaren agreed to come on board as m.d., both because of her love of reading and as she identified what she saw as an under-used asset. She says: "When Gavin and Rob approached me about LoveReading, I was shocked that there was an incredible resource that was perfect for me, my kids and my school, where I'm a governor⁠—and that I'd never heard of it." Under Maclaren, the various platforms have been rebuilt from scratch and the content has been overhauled, with traffic increasing by a factor of 10. Overall subscribers are up by 40,000, LoveReading4Kids' numbers have doubled in the past 12 months, and the round-ups and resources (such as Green Reads, LGBT+ Literature and, during lockdown, Home Schooling Hints and Tips) have been overhauled or introduced to stay relevant.

  • Carrie Morris & Sue Porter

    Booka Bookshop & Linghams Owners

    A paired entry for Sue Porter and Carrrie Morris, owners of indies Linghams (the Wirral) and Booka (Oswestry, Shropshire). Both are here on individual merit: Porter and partner Mike King took over the shop five years ago and remarkably improved on a beloved, long-standing business, successfully ramping-up events; Morris and husband Tim opened Booka in 2009, and quickly established it as one of the south-west's best indies. Both shops are near constant British Book Awards Independent Bookshop of Year regional winners or shortlistees, and Booka won the nationwide crown in 2015. But they are twinned here for their response to the lockdown, and particularly the At Home with 4 Indies virtual events, conceived with Emma Corfield-Walters of Crickhowell's Book-ish and Helen Stanton of Corbridge's Forum Books (Rising Stars in 2019 and '17, respectively). The events were much praised and wildly successful, enabling the shops to overcome what Morris calls "a roller-coaster of shifting business models and uncertainty".

  • Joelle Owusu

    Unbound Commissioning editor

    Joelle Owusu is probably the only editor in the business who almost had a career in petroleum geology, the "more stable" subject she studied at Aberdeen University despite her love of the arts. After graduation, she decided to give the creative industries a shot⁠—aided by Creative Access⁠—with no luck. An interview with Unbound for an editorial and publicity role was a last roll of the dice; if it didn't work out, she had resigned herself to accepting a geology post. She got the job, and quickly moved up, showing a sharp commissioning eye, as well as transforming the business behind the scenes⁠—such as overhauling the submissions process. A highlight was commissioning Beth McColl's mental health guide How to Come Alive Again ("holding that beautiful book in my hands for the first time was rather emotional, because I knew it was going to help a lot of people"), and upcoming titles include Eric Buist's The Party's Dead and How to Glitter a Turd by Kris Hallenga, founder of breast cancer charity Coppafeel—and Unbound's fastest-ever funded female author.

  • Laura Pacey

    Open University Press Head of publishing

    It is no exaggeration to say that Laura Pacey's move from Palgrave to head of publishing at Open University Press a year and a half ago has transformed the press; she has sparked a massive escalation of commissioning which by 2021 will see OU triple its output against where it was in 2018. But it is not just mere numbers, as Pacey has rejuvenated the press' core, acquiring books that "retain complexity without relying on unnecessary jargon". The evolution will continue in other ways too, Pacey says. "My personal mission has always been to diversify our author base. This is important to ensure better representation of female authors, as well as get the best research from around the world, rather than just a Eurocentric view." Inspired by parent McGraw-Hill's "transparent and approachable" leadership team, she has her sights set high: "I've only ever worked in large companies with 5,000-plus employees, and as someone who is motivated by the bigger picture, my long-term goal is to lead a large publishing group myself."

  • Jessica Paul & Sam Taylor

    Max Minerva's Marvellous Books Owners

    Husband-and-wife team Jessica Paul and Sam Taylor opened their Bristol bookshop a year and a half ago, receiving an enthusiastic response: the shop quickly became a local community and events hub. Lockdown has been a struggle for even established indies, but the Pauls have adapted with online and phone ordering and a range of virtual events (the latter helped by the pair's background in media and digital marketing). As lockdown eases, they are looking to resume Covid-interrupted link-ups with local schools and sports teams for a project to get more boys reading, and are gearing up for their real-life events programme. But the goal for now is to "keep serving our community, introducing kids to the magical world of books, and adults to new varied voices. In a wider sense, the fact that the majority of our staff aren't white is apparently unusual, so if we can use our small platform to encourage a greater diversity of people into the bookselling trade, that would be brilliant".

  • Michela Pea

    Nosy Crow Senior rights manager

    It has been a rapid rise for Michela Pea to the top of her profession, with the Italy native going from interning for Nosy Crow at the 2016 Bologna Children's Book Fair to being named the indie's senior rights manager a couple of years later⁠—and she was shortlisted for Rights Professional of the Year at the 2020 British Book Awards. Her creative approach to rights sales has resulted in some staggering numbers, and is a big reason why Nosy Crow was named Indie Publisher of the Year at this year⁠'s Nibbies: in 2019, she helped conclude 695 individual coedition sales, with revenue jumping a whopping 70% year on year, and closed 169 translation deals, with sales shooting up by a third. A career highlight was "travelling to Asia to expand our customer base in China, Korea and Japan, which made me appreciate even more the specificities of each of those markets. Selling rights through Zoom can't compare to browsing in a bookshop in Seoul, or discussing books face to face with clients in Beijing," she says, clearly eager to regain the human touch.

  • Francesca Pearce

    Orion Head of publicity

    Francesca Pearce joined Orion as senior publicity manager a year ago from Bonnier, where she oversaw numerous bestsellers, achieving a PPC shortlisting for her campaign on Lily Allen's memoir and helping to create the publisher's first podcast. She now delivers campaigns across Orion's list. Perhaps her greatest coup there has been to get Chaos with Ed Miliband author (and colleague) Tom Noble on Miliband's podcast. Pearce's most recent hit has been Naoise Dolan's literary debut Exciting Times, which made the bestseller lists when it was released at the start of lockdown, and she also established a brand partnership between Orion, luxury fashion label Rixo and media website Refinery29. Orion's communications director Maura Wilding says: "I've never seen a better publicist in terms of honing messaging with absolute precision, understanding what journalists want and supporting authors to deliver." Pearce has a busy autumn, with campaigns for Vinnie Jones, Noel "The Supervet" Fitzpatrick and cult podcast "Dear Joan and Jericha".

  • Jasmine Richards

    Storymix Founder

    Jasmine Richards is one of our Rising Stars who has been on the scene for a while⁠—in her case, 15 years in children's publishing, including stints at Working Partners and The Creative Kitchen, where she specialised in IP creation, and she has also written more than a dozen children's books. But here, she is saluted for a career pivot. In 2019, Richards launched Storymix, a "children's book incubator" which concentrates on stories with inclusive characters and offers a pathway to being published for writers from marginalised communities. Partly, Storymix was born out of frustration: Richards would receive letters from readers who were looking for more books featuring diverse characters and even Richards, a long-term publishing professional, would struggle to find such titles for her own children. Having secured significant investment for the scheme, she wants to "continue to facilitate writers of colour getting published and sustaining a career. I may look at doing this in different ways as Storymix and I evolve. 'Impact' is my word for the rest of this year!"

  • Jane Riordan

    Egmont Associate publisher

    Though Riordan has worked in publishing for more than two decades, recently her career has seen rapid development following her promotion to associate publisher at Egmont last autumn. Her first publishing role was as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, where she rose through the ranks to become senior editor. She then had a five-year stint at Editions Flammarion in Paris. She is now responsible for Egmont's heritage lists, such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Thomas the Tank Engine and Tintin. It is her role to develop the strategy and programme for them, and to marry the needs of the IP owners, the retail market and young readers. She has also authored several Winnie-the-Pooh titles and spearheaded a longstanding reading programme between Egmont and a local school. A particular challenge of lockdown for Riordan has been conducting Thomas through his 75th year while bookshops have been closed and train stations empty. There are more celebrations to come for Riordan in 2021, however, with Winnie-the-Pooh's 95th anniversary on the horizon.

  • Carmen Rodriguez Balit

    Atlantic Books Designer

    When studying at Norwich University of the Arts, Cornwall-born, Spain-raised Carmen Rodriguez Balit never really considered going into book publishing⁠—until she and her fellow students were given a brief by Little, Brown for two upcoming titles. This opened her eyes: "I loved that extra artsy and creative level it added to design, and I've loved reading since I was young." She joined Atlantic in 2017 and one of her first projects was the paperback of Meena Kandasamy's Women's Prize shortlistee When I Hit You⁠—and the designer followed that up last year with Kandasamy's Exquisite Cadavers which featured on a host of "best covers of 2019" round-ups. She combines creativity and versatility, as she can stretch from Lynn Enright's taboo-busting Vagina to the rebranding of Scandi-crime author Anne Holt's backlist. Rodriguez Balit says that job satisfaction comes from translating an author's words to the visual: "When an author thinks what I've created for them is exactly right and they fall in love with it, that's the best thing."

  • Millie Seaward

    Dialogue Books, Sphere Senior publicity manager

    Millie Seaward began working in Cornerstone's publicity department in 2013 as an assistant, and then press officer. After moving to Headline in 2016, she joined Little, Brown as publicity manager in 2018, and this January was promoted to senior publicity manager. Taking charge of publicity for Dialogue Books (as well as working across Sphere's list), the past year has been a particular highlight for her. Dialogue publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove praises her for securing coverage for the list in traditional and non-traditional media, as well as her dedication to diversity and reaching readers from all backgrounds: "Millie's commitment to Dialogue allows me to push the agenda of inclusive publishing further, knowing that because of her our books will be read by the widest possible range of critics, reviewers and bloggers." Through lockdown, Seaward has found the chance to develop new ideas and ways of communicating "exciting". She says: "To see unknown authors become widely read, admired and loved is the best part of the job."

  • Tanuja Shelar

    Yale University Press/Society of Young Publishers Academic marketing assistant/Deputy chair, London

    Tanuja Shelar started her career in editorial at Vishwakarma Publications in Pune, India, but decided she wanted to get into the British industry. So she moved across the world to do a Publishing MA at Kingston University. She then cut her teeth on a one-year placement to manage an annual project cycle of The Kingston University Big Read, and had something of a damascene moment about her career when she attended a coding session at the London Book Fair. She became "hooked", and landed her current job in the Yale University Press marketing department, a role which encompasses aspects of marketing, coding, data analysis and design. Additionally, she also works tirelessly for the Society of Young Publishers, now as SYP London deputy co-chair, and during lockdown Shelar was instrumental in moving the organisation's events online. Looking to the future, she says: "Wherever I reach first, I will make sure I am not the last. I want to give back at every stage and remember those who helped me along the way."

  • Hayley Sothinathan

    Faber Faber Members manager

    Publishing has not always been the best at attracting people from outside the industry, but Hayley Sothinathan's stellar work as Faber Members manager shows why the trade should cast its net widely. Sothinanthan joined Faber in 2018 from the Labour Party fundraising team, after previously working on the Tate's patrons scheme, and has brought a fresh perspective to the venerable publisher's exclusive offers club. Sothinathan oversaw the launch of a members-only products line (which generated an extra £12,000 in revenue), curated 25 events last year and has built partnerships with the likes of the BFI and London City Sinfonia. Such moves resulted in 10,000 new members signing up to the scheme in 2019, growing the community by more than 50%. Sothinathan is driven by "the privilege of getting to talk to readers directly and shaping the programme in response to their feedback," adding: "We can get to the heart of what our readers are interested in, and what they want to know more of about our authors."

  • Neda Tehrani

    Pluto Press Editor

    Pluto was Neda Tehrani's first gig in publishing. When she joined the indie publisher to take up an internship in 2015, she assumed that she would be there for its six-months' duration. Five years on she remains, having impressed at every stage as she has moved up to her current position of editor. One highlight for Tehrani was conceiving and developing the Pluto Outspoken series of radical political books written by young people for young people, focusing on issues that matter to young people. She says: "The warm reception to the series, which launched late last year, was amazing: we had a vision and to see it come to life was a really nice feeling." Tehrani hopes to "continue developing ideas on new markets and ways to expand our reach... our industry is going through an extraordinarily tumultuous time right now⁠—before the pandemic, there was already so much change we needed to see. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to try my best to accelerate some of that change, which is ultimately my main long-term goal".

  • Madeline Toy

    Bath Festivals Head of literature programming

    Since Madeline Toy joined Bath Festivals just over 18 months ago, it has seen a 52% increase in the profitability of the literature programme on 2018, with ticket sales up 25% year on year. There was also a 20% boost in festival book sales after Toy rekindled the bookselling partnership with local indie Mr B's Emporium; a national broadcast partnership with Scala Radio; an Arts Council-funded co-commission project with Victoria Art Gallery; and work to broaden the audiences and appeal of the festivals, focusing on BAME representation as well as local and debut talent. Toy was previously in publicity at Vintage and Transworld, before moving to Bristol and working with Cheltenham Literature Festival alongside freelance publicity projects. Her career highlight to date is bringing Hillary Clinton to Cheltenham in October 2017. Though Toy is on parental leave, she is looking forward to continuing to build collaborations to take the festival to new audiences and further raise its profile and reach.

  • Angelique Tran Van Sang

    Bloomsbury Commissioning editor

    Angelique Tran Van Sang began her career at New Zealand's Te Papa Press, but moved to the UK six years ago to "access the kinds of opportunities that were not available to me in New Zealand". She took a couple of internships, the second of which was at Bloomsbury, where she has remained, progressing to commissioning editor in 2018. Career highlights include Jenny Zhang's collection Sour Heart, her first acquisition, and Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which Tran Van Sang saw through to publication after Alexa von Hirschberg went on maternity leave. The title's renewed interest in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests is "difficult to grapple with...you want those readers to have shown interest earlier. But I think it's testament to the strength, power and clarity of Reni's writing". A goal is to rebuild Bloomsbury's translation list, with Japanese author Kikuko Tsumura's "deadpan funny" There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job (translated by Polly Barton) one of the starting points.

  • Hannah Trevarthen

    English PEN Events and partnerships manager

    As English PEN's events and partnerships manager, Trevarthen is responsible for its events programme and annual prizes, and for nurturing relationships with publishers and other corporate partners. Her proudest moments include a celebration of the legacy of Nelson Mandela, and Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich's event at the British Library. In the two months last summer when Trevarthen was appointed interim director of English PEN, she managed the team, liaised with trustees, and led on a £160,000 bid to Arts Council England. Recently she has worked on an events programme for the organisation's centenary in 2021 and a network to support emerging writers. Prior to this, Trevarthen was assistant programmer at Edinburgh International Book Festival for four years, with English PEN trustee Philip Gwyn Jones calling her a "lynchpin in the UK literature events and partnerships space". During lockdown, Trevarthen set up a literature programmers peer group which now has over 150 members.

  • Gauthier Van Malderen

    Perlego Chief executive officer

    The pandemic has been a trying time for the book trade, but perhaps less so for the EdTech sector in general⁠—and c.e.o. Gauthier Van Malderen's Perlego in particular. The "Spotify for e-textbooks" business had a huge surge in publisher approaches during the first phases of lockdown, as content creators scrambled to get their titles up on as many platforms as possible. Perlego (Latin for "I read through") has thrived because "during these difficult times, conventional ways of learning are off the cards", Van Malderen says. But the growth of the business was also surging upward pre-pandemic. Belgian-born, Henley-on-Thames-raised Van Malderen launched Perlego with school friend and fellow young entrepreneur Matthew Davies in 2016 (both were aged 23). The start-up was built rapidly to a team of 55, has raised more than $15m from investors, and now has nearly 300,000 titles on its site, with the customer profile expanding out of its university student base to corporate clients and general non-fiction readers alike.

  • Christine Wilson

    Historic Environment Scotland Publications officer

    Wilson worked at Luath Press and Canongate (where she oversaw the production of Matt Haig's A Boy Called Christmas and The Outrun by Amy Liptrot) before taking up her current role as publications officer at Historic Environment Scotland. She copyedits and project-manages a range of books, with highlights including Sara Sheridan's Where Are the Women? and HES' kids' titles, published in partnership with Floris Books. For the past year, the team at HES has only been three-strong, so Wilson's responsibilities have increased vastly. Publications manager Oliver Brookes says: "She is the proactive lead in editing, researching new titles, recruiting authors and handling all aspects of programming and marketing." Wilson also participates in Edinburgh Napier University's mentorship programme and sits on the Publishing Scotland training committee. Looking ahead, she hopes to build on her commissioning and editorial work, and develop "high-quality and beautifully produced publications which appeal to a varied readership".

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