The SYP Blog - news, feature articles and SYP event insights

Applications Open for the Young Stationers’ Prize 2017

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Now in its fourth year, the Young Stationers' Prize recognises a high-achiever under the age of 40 in the communications and content industries - including but not limited to, printing, packaging, publishing, media, digital and social media, marketing and public relations, journalism, libraries, archives, and copyright.

The judges will be looking for demonstrable achievements in the nominees’ careers so far, an outstanding contribution to the sector in which they are working or success outside their immediate world of work in interesting ways which are relevant to the ethos and trades of the Stationers’ Company.

The prize, a trophy kindly donated by The Worshipful Company of Pewterers, will be presented at the Young Stationers’ Annual Dinner in Stationers' Hall, on Monday, 24 July 2017, with guest speaker journalist, political commentator and author Dr Simon Heffer.

Past winners of the Young Stationers’ Prize are:  Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods, founders of Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency; Angela Clarke, novelist, playwright, and columnist; and Katie Glass, of the Sunday Times.

To enter, the nominator or applicant should include: a brief CV; a short statement by the nominator (or a personal statement); and at least one additional letter of reference. Candidates or nominators can submit any supporting materials or specimens of work which they believe will strengthen their application.

Applications may be sent by email to, or by post to Young Stationers’ Prize, c/o Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London EC4M 7DD. If sending by post, please consider also sending us and email with your contact details.

The deadline for applications is Thursday, 22 June 2017.

Tickets to the Dinner can be purchased online:


Join Book Aid International Publisher Ambassadors Programme

Do you love books and want to use your passion to help others? Are you in the early stages of your career and want to raise your profile within your company? Join Book Aid International’s Publisher Ambassador scheme and help hundreds of thousands of people access the books and information they need to change their lives and shape their own futures.

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Book Aid International is the UK’s leading library development charity working in sub-Saharan Africa and Occupied Palestinian Territories, working to develop libraries in cities, slums, rural areas, schools, colleges and universities, prisons, hospitals and refugee camps. They understand the value and pleasure that reading can bring, and recognise that through reading, people can change their own lives for the better and shape their own futures.  Book Aid International currently provide access to books for around 35 million people each year but to do this they need the help of UK publishers. This is where Publisher Ambassors are needed!

About Book Aid International’s Publisher Ambassadors programme

Book Aid International has been supported by the UK publishing industry for many years. Over 94% of the brand new books they send to their partners in Africa are donated by publishing houses. It is thanks to the generosity of these publishers that they are able to send up to one million new, relevant and high-quality books each year.

Publisher Ambassadors help cultivate these relationships and the support they provide is highly valued.
Here are a ways in which Publisher Ambassadors can support their work:

  • Promote the work of Book Aid International to their organisation through newsletters, social media, intranets, staff presentations
  • Promote the work of Book Aid International to trade contacts
  • Organise fundraising activities to tie in with World Book Day
  • Give talks or share presentations about the charity's work
  • Seek out opportunities for fundraising within your own organisations through organising activities, promoting Give as you Earn schemes etc which engage other staff in supporting the work of Book Aid International
  • Promote Book Aid International events to staff and encourage people to attend
  • In addition, if your organisation supports Book Aid International with book donations:
    • Coordinate book donations (if appropriate) and seek opportunities for donations from other parts of the organisation not currently donating
    • Promote your company’s involvement in the charity's work to staff
    • Work with Book Aid International to publicise the work you do together (to the trade)
    • Keep Book Aid International apprised of any changes in the company’s way of working (in particular warehouse moves and digital developments) .

Benefits of being a Publisher Ambassador:

  • Take a leading role in your organisation as you help shape and develop its Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Get to know staff at all levels through CSR and fundraising initiatives
  • Enhance your CV and LinkedIn profile with details of your volunteering work with Book Aid International.
  • Gain extensive insight into the operations of an international NGO
  • The chance to gain experience in fundraising and event organisation and implementation
  • Support our work in sub-Saharan Africa. How we’ll support you as a Publisher Ambassador
  • Book Aid International will keep Publisher Ambassadors updated on news, opportunities and activities through a Publisher Ambassador newsletter (quarterly)
  • Book Aid International will provide each Publisher Ambassador with a handbook, highlighting key messages, hints, tips and case studies from Community Ambassadors to help them plan activities
  • Book Aid International will host an event once a year for Publisher Ambassadors to introduce them to the scheme (initially), update them on our work and opportunities and provide a chance to network with other Publisher Ambassadors
  • Provide support for fundraising events and planning
  • Book Aid International will provide Publisher Ambassadors with key messages, presentation templates, leaflets, T-shirts and other promotional items as required

Want to get involved? Contact for an application form.

Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2017 Awarded to Alice Curry, founder of Lantana Press

The winner of the 2017 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize was last night named as Alice Curry, founder and publisher of Lantana Press, at a prize ceremony on the gloriously sunny rooftop of Carmelite House, London.

Mary Beard gave witty and rallying keynote speech on women from poets in ancient papyri to the great women of modern day, urging the crowd to continue to push towards equality: 'outrage gets boring but wit always win'.  Alice Curry, the driving force behind Lantana was praised as a great role model for future generations starting out in publishing by judges of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, which recognises the professional achievements and promise of women who have worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years.


With a background in academia, lecturing in children’s literature, Curry set out on a mission when she set up Lantana Press as an independent house in 2014: to publish picture books with a greater equality of representation and to help facilitate a more global understanding of childhood. Given that in London, fifty-five in one hundred children identify as non-white British, yet only around five in one hundred children’s books published in the UK are written by authors of diverse cultural backgrounds about characters of colour, Curry also identified a potentially lucrative opportunity in this huge market gap.

UK Chair, Alice Geary, and SYP London team at the ceremony

UK Chair, Alice Geary, and SYP London team at the ceremony

Curry holds several roles within Lantana: editor; publisher; manager of the day-to-day business; mentor to writers from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK and around the world; director of philanthropic activity, which includes a recent donation of 2000 books to children in Cameroon. Since founding the company, Lantana has published seven picture books with five more in the pipeline, and six of which have been translated into foreign languages. There’s a new distribution deal with Lerner Publishers in the US, and then there are the accolades and awards, most notably winning the Children's Africana Best Book Award 2016 as well as a Kate Greenaway nomination for Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor and Mehrdokht Amini. Curry is also a regular keynote speaker on the subject of the need for diversity in children’s books at conferences around the world.

Co-judges Catherine Clarke and Denise Johnstone-Burt, commented:

“The need for greater diversity was a common theme in this year’s submission and we were very struck by the entrepreneurial spirit that animated our shortlist. Choosing a winner was a close run decision. Alice Curry stood out, for her radical switch from academia to starting up a publishing business that puts her passion and knowledge to practical use in a highly focused way. We applaud her success and have no doubt she will achieve much more in the years ahead.”

The judging panel comprised Professor Dame Hermione Lee CBE (biographer and President of Wolfson College Oxford); 2016 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize winner Rebecca Lewis-Oakes; Zara Markland, 2016 Chair of the Society of Young Publishers; and Peter McKay, Chief Executive of the Publishing Training Centre (PTC). The panel was co-chaired by Catherine Clarke, Agent and MD of Felicity Bryan Associates, and Denise Johnstone-Burt, Publisher at Walker Books. As the eleventh winner, Curry joins the ranks of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize alumni, including Rebecca Lewis-Oakes, Managing Editor for Fiction at Egmont; Anne Perry, founder of The Kitschies and Editorial Director of Fiction at Simon & Schuster; Miriam Robinson, programme director for The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Conference and Associate Director at The Literary Platform.

Curry receives £1000, sponsored by the SYP, and a two-day training course of her choice at the PTC.


Kim Scott Walwyn Prize Shortlist announced

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The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize today names its five talented women on the 2017 shortlist, which recognises the professional achievements and promise of women who have worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years.

Collectively called ‘forces of nature’ by the judging panel who stood out for their ‘passion and determination to effect change’, the shortlist was selected from a record high of entries, doubling from the previous year of the Prize.

Four of the candidates work at small independent houses, either founding their own businesses or leading companies, requiring business savvy, creativity and resilience. Amy Durant, as one of the youngest publishing directors in the industry, has manned the helm at digital publisher Endeavour Press for the past four years, whilst Sarah Braybrooke was instrumental in establishing the UK arm of Australian house Scribe, and is now Managing Director. Zeljka Marosevic is co-publisher of Daunt Books, the independent publishing imprint connected to retailer Daunt Books; before that, she single-handedly established and ran Melville House UK for 3 years as Managing Director.

Alice Curry made her dream a reality when she set up Lantana Press in 2014. Starting her own business was one thing, but Alice also committed to ‘open up a space for diverse voices in UK children’s publishing’, hence Lantana’s specialisation in diverse and multicultural picture books. Candice Carty-Williams has also followed her aspiration to ‘make a difference in [her] field’. In addition to her day job as Senior Marketing Executive at Vintage Books following a career change from newspapers to books, Carty-Williams is part of Write Now, Penguin Random House's campaign to find, mentor and publish new writers from under-represented communities. She also created and launched the 4th Estate and Guardian BAME Short Story Prize with a budget of £48, and is working on a screenplay and a novel.

Co-judges Catherine Clarke and Denise Johnstone-Burt, commented:
“Perhaps it’s the turbulent political climate that has galvanised people or the ever-increasing threat to the hard-won success of women from all backgrounds—but this year’s massive increase in entries for the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize felt like a collective vote of self- confidence in the award. The judges had a very hard job deciding who to shortlist from a field of young, high-achieving and self-motivated women. The five we selected are outstanding not only for how much they have achieved in a very short time, but also for their passionate advocacy of what they believe is right, their sheer hard work, their teamwork, and their willingness to push beyond the boundaries of their jobs and take risks.”

Founded in 2003, the Prize honours the life and career of Kim Scott Walwyn, who was Publishing Director at Oxford University Press and who died in 2002 at the age of 45. The Prize is run in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and the Publishing Training Centre (PTC). The winner of the Prize receives £1000, sponsored by the SYP, and a two-day training course of their choice at the PTC. Shortlisted candidates also receive a one-day training course courtesy of the PTC and a £25 book token courtesy of National Book Tokens.

The judging panel explained why each of the shortlist were selected:

Alice Curry – Founder and Publisher, Lantana
Since her return to the UK from New Zealand and Australia, where she lectured in children’s literature, Alice Curry has spotted an opportunity in the market and capitalised on it: founding Lantana Publishing, a small independent children’s publisher committed to working with members of black, Asian and minority groups in order for diverse voices to be published. Driven by the social imperative of celebrating difference and increasing representation across children’s books, she has developed a forward-thinking programme reflecting our multicultural society, and several titles have already garnered awards. As well as the challenge of running a small independent company, Alice has also developed a strong outreach element of the company, recently donating 2000 books to children in Cameroon. Although Lantana Publishing is only still in its infancy, it seems set for a strong future with Alice Curry at the helm.

Amy Durant – Publishing Director, Endeavour Press
Amy has shown significant initiative and flair throughout her progression from Publishing Assistant to Publishing Director at Endeavour Press over the last 4 years. Her dedicated leadership of the company via author acquisition, the development of beneficial industry relationships, and implementation of schemes such as the Kindle Singles, make her stand out. Her pivotal achievements so far include her launch of a virtual genre focused festival in 2015, overseeing several imprints within Endeavour Press itself, and her involvement in taking Endeavour into the print market, all of which struck a chord with the judges. Amy is currently also working on a part-time PhD where she resolves to champion giving voice to lost female writers and raising awareness of the strong female literary canon.

Candice Carty-Williams – Senior Marketing Executive, Vintage
In barely three years in the industry, Candice has shown significant initiative, noteworthy achievements, and great potential. She made a determined switch from the newspaper world to book publishing via two internships, before securing her first Marketing Assistant job at HarperCollins. Her conception and championing of the Guardian BAME Short Story competition shows great initiative. Switching to the Senior Marketing Executive role she now has at Vintage Books is a marker of the impact and difference already made, and the high regard for her work as a marketer. Candice was nominated for a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016 and for a Role Models in the Workplace award as part of the Business in the community Race Awards. In addition, she is pursuing her own creative work outside her 9 – 5, focused on her, soon-to-be completed, debut novel and a screenplay.

Sarah Braybrooke – Managing Director, Scribe UK
Sarah was instrumental in the launch of Scribe in the UK and the impact she has had in such a short space of time is hugely impressive. Sarah helped to convert Scribe's award-winning but specifically Australian profile to a UK and Commonwealth publisher with a vibrant international presence, and a member of the prestigious Independent Alliance. Not only is she a publicist, but she has proved herself capable in all areas of publishing, combining operational and editorial management with rights, representing Scribe single-handedly at Bologna Book Fair. Shortlisted for the London Book Fair Trailblazer award in 2017 and named a Bookseller Rising Star in 2015, Sarah is establishing herself as someone to watch in the industry.

Zeljka Marosevic – Co-Publisher, Daunt Books Publishing
Zeljka Marosevic has made judicious and interesting moves in the first six years of her career, from her first year as a graduate trainee at HarperCollins, to Fourth Estate as a marketing and editorial assistant working across fiction and non-fiction, to her impressive appointment at the age of 23 to set up and run the UK office of Brooklyn-based independent publisher Melville House, which meant doing everything – sales, publicity, marketing, distribution and acquiring books including Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts – on a shoestring budget. That clearly gave Zeljka the steep learning curve experience to be recognised as a Bookseller Rising Star in 2014, and to make the move to Daunt Books in April 2016 as co-publisher, where her colleagues enjoy the positive and dynamic energy and the international taste that she brings to their publishing. She has recently been named a London Book Fair Trailblazer. Achieving so much so quickly points to a great career ahead.

The judging panel comprised Professor Dame Hermione Lee CBE (biographer and President of Wolfson College Oxford); 2016 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize winner Rebecca Lewis-Oakes; Zara Markland, 2016 Chair of the Society of Young Publishers; and Peter McKay, Chief Executive of the Publishing Training centre. The panel was co-chaired by Catherine Clarke, Agent and MD of Felicity Bryan Associates, and Denise Johnstone-Burt, Publisher at Walker Books.

To mark the shortlist announcement, the seminar ‘A Career in Publishing: How to Achieve Success’ is being held at London Book Fair, at 4pm on Tuesday 14thMarch 2017. Co-Chairs Catherine Clarke and Denise Johnstone-Burt will be in conversation with former winners of the Prize: Rebecca Lewis-Oakes, now Managing Editor for Fiction at Egmont, and reigning titleholder; Anne Perry, founder of The Kitschies and now Editorial Director of Fiction at Simon & Schuster; and Miriam Robinson, now programme director for The Bookseller’s Marketing & Publicity Conference and Associate Director at The Literary Platform, formerly of Foyles.

The winner announcement will be on Wednesday 10th May 2017 at a prize ceremony on the roof terrace at Carmelite House.

Bookbrunch have a new look – and SYP members can now receive 50% off subscription!

BookBrunch is a daily news service and information site for the book industry.Every day it provides the industry with insight and perspective reliably delivered immediately to your phone or desktop.


Covering UK & international news across publishing, bookselling , libraries, festivals, prizes, opinion pieces, rights, events and jobs, BookBrunch is a concise and reliable way to keep up with industry developments. BookBrunch also publishes a limited and timely number of print supplements to coincide with the industry’s most important UK and International events: London Book Fair (14th-16th March 2017), Frankfurt (11th-13th October 2017), Sharjah (1st-13th November 2017) and Beijing (23rd-27th Aug 2017).

Having recently revamped the site, BookBrunch are making the whole site available to nonsubscribers for London Book Fair Week (13th-17th March to give you a taste of wht they offer. Like what you see? BookBrunch are offering SYP members an introductory month free, followed by a subscription at a 50% discount.

Contact for further details.


The Print Future Awards open for submissions

The Print Futures Awards were set up in 2003 to help people aged 18 to 30 years pay for courses to train for a career in printing, publishing, packaging or graphic arts, or develop their existing roles in those sectors. Courses can range from degree courses to short courses and training sessions.

People are eligible to apply for an Award if they are UK residents and:

  • intend or are studying for a printing, publishing, packaging or graphic arts qualification
  • work in print-related organisations and want to undertake short courses to develop their workplace skills
  • are apprentices or studying for NVQs in print-related organisations

The Awards are grants of up to £1,500 each.

Winners can use their Awards in the way that will best help them develop their skills. Past winners have used their Awards to pay for course fees and materials, computers and design software, work placements, speaking and presentation skills for work, professional accreditation, PRINCE2® courses, and an occupational health and safety course.

The Printing Charity plays a role in championing education and training, and the Print Futures Awards are part of its Education and Partnerships programme, to help people gain qualifications and develop their workplace skills. See for more information about The Printing Charity.

This year’s Print Futures Awards are sponsored by SAXOPRINT, The Book Trade Charity and Unite the Union GPM & IT Sector, and supported by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), the Journalists’ Charity and St Bride Foundation.

The closing date for applications is 30 April 2017. For application forms, please see

10 Tips for #SYPCONF16


If you’ve been to any of our events recently, or follow us on social media then you will have seen (or heard) us talk a lot about #sypconf16 – our upcoming, annual Autumn conference, taking place in London on Saturday 26th November.

This is the highlight in our events calendar and this year’s conference is now only a few short weeks away! We’re looking forward to an exciting event and want you to have a great time with us. To help you get the most out of the day, we’ve put together a list of handy tips for both conference newbies and seasoned regulars.


You don’t need to be an SYP member to attend the conference

While conference members get the benefit of attending at a discounted rate, non-members are of course more than welcome to join us, regardless of whether you already work in publishing, are looking to get into it, or haven’t quite made up your mind yet. Attending the conference is a great opportunity to learn about the industry, meet other young professionals, and get advice on the job-hunting and career progression process.

If you’ve been considering joining the SYP for a while, then why not take advantage of our combined conference ticket + membership offer and get both for only £40 (£60). You can find more details about membership benefits here.


Get your ticket by Friday 11th November

There is a special reward for all those keen early birds among you who buy their conference tickets before 11/11. You’ll have the chance to win a signed copy of the latest Man Booker Prize winner The Sellout by Paul Beatty. The lucky winner will be chosen at the end of the conference.

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Don’t worry about coming by yourself

You’d quite like to attend but are a bit unsure because you don’t know any fellow SYPers yet? Please don’t worry. From experience we know that plenty of people come on their own every year and are only too happy to meet and mingle with other publishing enthusiasts. If you would like to find other “single” conference goers to meet up with in the morning, you can reach out online using #SYPConfBuddies. Alternatively, why not come to our Autumn Social on Wednesday 9th November at the Punch Tavern on Fleet Street and meet people there.


Arrive early

It’ll be a day jam-packed with panels and we’ll be kicking things off at 9:30am. Registration starts from 8:45am onwards and while we absolutely see the appeal of an extra 15 minutes in bed, we encourage you to arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to register, collect your delegate bag (goodies!), plan your day and get chatting to your fellow conference goers.

This year, for the first time, we are excited to also have exhibitors with us, ranging from recruiters and career consultants to unions and book trade-related societies and charities. Take advantage of break times to check them out. Keep your eyes on our Twitter for more details about this.


Come prepared

If you’ve followed our Twitter announcements, then you will already know that there’ll be a diverse line up of speakers from all areas of the publishing industry and book trade – Sam Missingham, Catherine Burke,  Jonny Geller (if you haven’t yet seen his fantastic Tedx talk, check it out here), Karen Sullivan, Joanna Swainson, and David Shelley – just to name a few.

There will be plenty of time for audience questions on each panel and our speakers are keen to hear your questions and thoughts, so do think about what you would like to get out of each session that you’re planning to attend in advance and come prepared with questions.


The choice is all yours

Bestsellers are a monumental topic that we could (and happily would) spend days talking about. To keep things straightforward, we’ve grouped all sessions into four streams to broadly categorise them. This is just for guidance and you don't need to stick to a single one. You’re welcome to switch between streams throughout the day. Please just be aware that all seminars will be filled on a first come first serve basis and that you may need a backup plan in case certain sessions turn out to be particularly popular.


Don’t worry about missing out

You can’t decide which panels to attend? As a time-turner is unfortunately not an option (just yet – we remain hopeful), we will be live-tweeting each session under separate hashtags so that you can catch up on all seminars afterwards.


Get involved

This conference is for you and we are really keen to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share your comments, questions, and pictures on social media using the hashtag #sypconf16. Conference selfies are strongly encouraged.


Don’t worry about going hungry

Tea/coffee and a sandwich lunch will be provided. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available.


Continue the fun after hours

This wouldn’t be a true publishing event if it didn’t involve wine. Join us for well-deserved post-conference drinks and general merriment at the Grand Union in Kennington, a short 10-minute walk away from the LCC (111 Kennington Rd, Kennington, London SE11 6SF - nearest Tube stations: Elephant & Castle/Waterloo, nearest buses: 3, 59, 159, 334, 360).



The conference is kindly supported by:


SYP at the IPG Autumn Conference 2016

A few weeks ago, SYP member Jess Ballance of Daunt Books, Dodo Ink won our free ticket to the Independent Publishers Guild's Autumn Conference. Here she shares her thoughts on the day and the state of independent publishing. 

As a bookseller and manager of an independent bookshop I am used to looking at the publishing industry from a somewhat different vantage point to the majority of delegates at this year’s IPG Autumn Conference. The night before the event I scrolled through the list of delegates on my phone: there were a few names I recognised but a whole load more I didn’t, and I arrived at the doors of the Royal Society of Medicine with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation.

In my day-to-day working life, I take the greatest pleasure in recommending the best titles to each of my customers—and for me, some of the books standing out most in the past few years have emerged from independent presses. Thanks in part to their smaller size, independent publishers can be agile and adaptable in a rapidly shifting marketplace, experimenting with new publishing methods, taking risks on emerging genres and reinvigorating neglected backlists. My outside work as an associate editor for an independent press grants me a slightly hybrid status that is alive to the ambition, drive and risk of the independent publishing sector, not to mention the hard work. Perhaps it is the passion that it takes to start an independent press in the first place, or the ability to specialise and thoroughly explore certain genres and styles of writing, or the enviable ability to adapt and evolve. Whatever it is, independent presses are on the rise.

In his keynote Conference speech, Rohan Silva said he envied independent publishers, but added that they had to stay creative in order to survive. Based on the wealth of success stories that followed over the course of the day, from Head of Zeus to Profile Books and Nosy Crow to Barrington Stoke, I am not surprised by Silva’s remarks. The smaller print runs of independent presses allow for a greater degree of investment in the titles: the content is firmly at the core of their success. Given this emphasis on commissioning and the growing strength of the independent publishing scene in the UK, it is no great shock that three of the six titles shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize came from independent publishers. Their innovation extends far beyond business models to commissioning decisions, publicity campaigns and building communities of readers.

Innovation and diversity were significant undercurrents at the Conference. Nicholas Lovell, the day’s final speaker, tapped into both in a talk about how we might go about building better businesses, looking at ‘validated learning’ versus a more rigid corporate method. Lovell said that truly agile businesses continually ask questions of their data; learn how they operate and how the market is reacting to them; and adapt and reconfigure accordingly. Surrounded by publishing professionals, all specialists in their particular corners of independent publishing, I felt this was true. The Conference and its many breakout sessions showed us how far we have come, helped us take stock of where we currently stand, and made us alive to the many exciting directions that independent publishing might grow in.

Collaboration is key. So said the IPG’s president Jonathan Harris in his remarks to close the Conference. There is a great synergy between independent bookshops and independent publishers, with new enterprises like Burley Fisher Books showcasing titles from independent presses in particular, while fluidly designed and dynamic spaces like Rohan Silva’s Libreria encourage organic leaps of imagination between genres and disciplines. The variety of independent publishers attending this year’s Conference—academic and trade, big and small—and the great discussions sparked during breakouts and tea breaks, confirmed for me the core of what publishing has always been about: sharing knowledge. Be that through print or over a pint as the Conference drew to a close.

Jessica Ballance

Jess Ballance combines her work as a bookseller and manager of Daunt Books in North London
with the role of associate editor at Dodo Ink, an independent publisher of daring and diverse literary fiction

SYP shoots for the stars: Bookseller Rising Stars 2016

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On July 6th, a crowd of publishing bods from every part of the industry gathered in the bookshop event space of the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate the talents of the Bookseller’s Rising Stars class of 2016. The perfect spot for such an event, the room was buzzing with excitement and chatter, and the variety of books and art surrounding the celebrations was a perfect reflection of the variety of skills and sectors we had gathered to applaud. Spanning editors, illustrators, librarians and entrepreneurs, the Rising Star Awards were launched by Tom Tivnan, Features and Insight editor at The Bookseller, five years ago to recognise those in lower levels in the industry that are doing amazing things and have the potential to one day be on the Bookseller 100 – the leaders of the future.

The Society of Young Publishers were honoured to sponsor the awards this year alongside Frankfurt Book Fair, and were lucky enough to attend the celebration and speak to some of the people at the forefront of this ever changing industry. Particularly given the current uncertainty that is gripping the UK, the innovations and creative thinking of these stars are just what we all need to aspire to. So what makes a Rising Star?

TT B&W (1) Speaking to both Tom and some of the winners, the key message was that the Rising Stars are not necessarily a youth-based list, you can be of any age but you should be remarkably good at your job, you should also be thinking outside of the box and always expanding your role. Rising Star, illustrator Sarah McIntyre advises ‘don't always look just at the things that people in the book world put in front of [you]: keep [your] eyes open for things outside [your] field: comics, gaming, fine art, television, film, craft, etc.’

Tom explained ‘this is a submissions process, so that means hit the deadline and if you are nominating a colleague or yourself, which is about a 50/50 split of someone nominating themselves or someone else, you have to write a compelling narrative demonstrating why you/your colleague are/is amazing.’ He also went on to say that whilst similar awards have begun to spring up, the Rising Stars has a long-standing demonstrable positive effect on people’s careers.

It may seem like the Rising Stars are in an impossible league of their own, but Jonas Herriot, Academic Resource Centre Manager, advises that you should have ‘a desire to engage fully with the industry you are in, the mind-set to try out new things...[but] this doesn’t mean you have to be the most outgoing person either, as there are many ways to do these things… just make sure you are active and find the way which best suits you.’

Networking was also highlighted as a key skill in publishing. Tory Lyne-Pirkis, Associate Director at Midas PR, believes ‘as good as you are at your job, the right connections will take you and your books to the next level and working on a new book is always smoother when you have an existing relationship with other people who are contributing. You never know when that person you shared a coffee with at LBF will come back years later and help give your career a boost.’

So what’s next for the Awards? ‘We’re trying to make it bigger and better’ Tom explains. ‘Not bigger in terms of the size of the list, but how we promote our Rising Stars and feature in the magazine and website. So you’ll be seeing more and more interviews and features with our Rising Stars over the course of the year, we’ll be featuring them at our conferences and seminars making the Rising Stars a year-round thing. Also, our partner the Frankfurt Book Fair has a programme of working with a number of the Rising Stars – bringing them out the FBF, giving them networking and mentoring opportunities.’

Tom’s final piece of advice for aspiring stars: ‘Don’t be afraid to expand out of that comfort zone… Ask your line manager for training; take on a new project, create a new project... there are a lot of roles out there in publishing and don’t be afraid to expand out of that comfort zone.

We caught up with some of the Rising Stars, class of 2016, after the event and asked them a few more questions about what makes them a Rising Star and what the future holds.

Emma Smith bw    Emma Smith

Editor at Trapeze Books, Shooting Star of Rising Stars 2016 

  1. Why do you think you were chosen as a Rising Star?

For one, I think my boss must’ve written a great nomination! I also think that the selection of rising stars this year demonstrated an appreciation of those who are thinking slightly differently and those who are not just embracing change in the industry but are actually making that change happen, whether that’s to do with diversity, innovating with libraries or showcasing illustrator talent. I hope my work with Trapeze is representative of that attitude too.

  1. You were the Shooting Star to this year's Rising Stars, that's fantastic! What's next for you, what will be your next goals?

I’m very grateful to have been picked out as the shooting star – it’s a real honour and I hope to do Frankfurt Book Fair proud in October. In terms of what’s coming up for me next, I will be continuing to grow my list for the Trapeze imprint (agents, feel free to bombard me with submissions!). We’re launching this autumn so it’s all go at the moment. I have the fantastic illustrator blogger Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, coming up in November and I can’t wait for everyone to see the finished book. Trapeze are launching a podcast which I am helping to coordinate, plus we have lots of exciting events planned…so watch this space.

  1. Having been involved in the launch of the new Trapeze imprint, what would you say are the highlights of working in a small imprint, with a small team, as part of a bigger company?

We are small in number but hopefully big on results! Being in a small team allows us to be creative, focused and agile, while being supported by a large company and great resources. Trapeze is very open to ideas from all around the company (our editorial meetings are drop-in) and we hope to avoid becoming a closed off little team by being as inclusive as we can. I hope the main highlights will be in autumn when our launch list swings into action!

Karen Sulivan   Karen Sullivan
Founder and Publisher of Orenda Books

  1. Why do you think you were chosen as a Rising Star?

I started a publishing company from scratch 20 months ago, and it’s gone extremely well! We’ve had a couple of number-one bestsellers, lots of shortlisting for prizes, several ‘books of the year’ in the broadsheets and we were shortlisted for the IPG Nick Robinson Newcomer Award, which was a massive honour! I’ve made every effort to produce books that have the look, feel and quality of anything from the big houses, and worked very hard to create a brand for Orenda Books, so that readers of any of our books will actively look forward to the next one, regardless of their usual or preferred genre. In a nutshell, it’s working, and sales have been excellent, with several books purchased for TV and a number of authors from the big houses migrating to Orenda. We’ve done well in a very short space of time, and put our stamp on and carved out our place in the publishing industry.

  1. What do you think is the biggest issue/innovation/trend in publishing right now?

Brexit is clearly going to be an issue, particularly for a company like Orenda, who do so many books in translation. It’s going to mean some changes and we have no idea what the future holds. A real problem is the shortage of review coverage in the newspapers; however, again, it simply means thinking outside the box. There is good research to suggest that a huge number of purchases are made online, and tapping into that market in a creative way is definitely the future. We had a Guardian Readers’ Pick last year with a debut novel How To Be Brave and Amanda Jennings’ In Her Wake shortlisted for the Dead Good Reads Most Recommended Book (alongside Mark Billingham, Robert Galbraith, etc.), which was a massive achievement as almost all marketing was done online.

  1.  How have you found starting your own indie publishing company and how has informed your views of the industry as a whole?

I have completely and utterly enjoyed the experience and every day has been a revelation. I was so expert at the outset, but with the support of other publishers in the most general of our genre communities, friendly printers, people who were willing to give advice and support the whole way through the process, and general good will (everyone likes to see a success story, and ultimately we are not really in competition as such, but all ‘book people’ who want to get the public reading. I love this industry and it is, in many ways, unlike any others. We are all taking risks with every book we publish; we all have the same end goal.

Tory-Lyne-Pirkis   Tory Lyne-Pirkis

Associate Director at Midas Public Relations 

  1. What do you think is the biggest issue/innovation/trend in publishing right now?

For me I think it’s going to be publishing less books not more. Spending more money on fewer titles can only be a good thing for the industry rather than having a spread betting approach. I see so many publishers struggling with their lists. We all talk about the review pages shrinking, but it’s already a battle with around 200 commercial titles being sent to reviewers each week and 800 in the month of October. I also think we’re seeing the declined in the celebrity memoir, they just aren’t making the same returns as they used to and because celebrities are now more accessible than ever via Wikipedia, twitter and 24-hour media, you already know everything you need to know without buying a book. I also think that the colouring in trend has shown as that the next big book trend is likely to have design led feature.

  1. With the ever decreasing space for print reviews, where is the future of book coverage going to be? 

I see the publishing industry following the same trend as music. Since everyone started buying music online there has been an explosion in ticket sales for live music and music festivals and the same can be seen with publishing. People want to meet authors, want to learn from them and want that added extra that comes from hearing an author discuss their book. I’ve seen authors sell more copies of their books through signings and events than print reviews, so I think this is where authors have to be now out on the road doing gigs and building a brand for themselves. There’s over 200 literary festivals in the UK and many music festivals like Latitude and Wilderness have created new opportunities for authors and are changing the way we think about author events. In terms of reviews, it’s all about getting to the right audience so I’m not underestimating the importance of niche websites that cater for very specific interests whether that’s design websites such as It’s Nice That or new lifestyle websites like The Pool. Where there’s a strong connection between book and website, you’ll see online sales shoot up.

  1. What advice would you give to future Rising Stars, are there particular skills they should hone?

Good publishing is all about bravery and following your instincts. When you are starting out don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from those ahead of you with years of experience. When you are getting there, don’t be afraid to argue your case for doing something differently. Be prepared to make mistakes, there will be books that our huge flops, but they will teach you the most about what to do differently next time. Find a mentor you can use as a sounding board, someone with years of experience who can help guide you. It helps also if you can find someone in the industry whose you admire and watch how they work, learn everything you can from them and keep asking questions.

Sarah McIntyre    Sarah McIntyre


  1. Why do you think you were chosen as a Rising Star? 

I don't think it was about me as much as a show of support for the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign I started up, urging people to credit illustrators properly for their artwork on book covers, in review, in sales charts and in book metadata. The unique aspect is the campaign, and why I think it's working, is that we're not just pulling on heartstrings but arguing that it's actually in publishers' commercial interest to credit illustrators, and show how everyone in book world and in education benefits from it. (People can find out more about it at and follow progress on the Twitter hashtag.)

2. To what extent has the battle been won for the recognition of illustrators and what's next for the campaign?

It's anecdotal evidence, but I'm seeing illustrators listed on covers of books who weren't there before, even if it's the second or third book in the series where their names are introduced. And I'm seeing more writers mentioning the artists who created the artwork on their covers when they do their big cover reveal.

The one thing I'd REALLY like to see is an advance in metadata. Basically, if businesses can't quantify sales data for illustrators, it means that in economic terms, our work is worth nothing. And this is wrong; booksellers may be losing a competitive edge by not having this sales data (not to mention illustrators struggling to make a living and stay in the profession). So we need to show businesses that these figures are important, that they can help give them the edge, that people buy books partly based on the cover and illustrations, not just on the name of who's writing them.

  1. Children's Laureate Chris Riddell is urging the nation to get drawing - what does this mean for the future of illustration and can you see illustrators’ events and festivals joining the mainstream alongside the growing number of author events?

I think they are already! I'm often asked to perform at festivals as an illustrator and I see other illustrators asked to do the same. Illustrators are perfectly equipped to do school visits - kids love watching illustrators draw - and illustrators are learning that paid visits can be a great way to supplement their incomes.

I think social media makes it fun to draw together; I have an account on Twitter - @StudioTeaBreak - where I (and increasingly other people) set drawing challenges and lots of people jump in, of all ages and drawing abilities. It's a fun way to get whole families involved, and Twitter makes everything very immediate.

Jonas   Jonas Herriot

Academic Resource Centre Manager, Henley Business School

  1. Why do you think you were chosen as a Rising Star?

I think it is probably because of my involvement with the Bookseller over the last few years which helped to get me nominated. Having written articles for them (and about them), been involved with the judging of the YA prize, and being an accessible face in the library world for them to contact all raises your profile. Alongside this the work I have done as part of CILIP, and their special interest groups allow me a good view of the profession I am in, and makes me well placed to try and represent them.

  1. What do you think is the biggest issue/innovation/trend in publishing right now?

In libraries we are facing the need to learn how to do more with less. While this can be a downside it is forcing staff to be more innovative, and means resting on your past achievements is a sure fire way to fail. Alongside this we still need to work at not only increasing digital literacy in our staff, but also how we can increase it in those we serve. As librarians we also need to ensure that we promote what we do, especially to those we don’t already reach, and finding ways to do this is key to our future.

  1. As a librarian, how do think this will impact libraries? And how do you think young people, young publishers, can get involved?

I like to think that my nomination isn’t about me, but rather is about all librarians being in Rising Stars, as there are certainly many more worthwhile people in my profession who deserve this far more than me. The trick is getting them more noticed, and I hope that future years will see them being put forward for the work they do, I know I have a few nominations I will be making. As for young people across the whole industry, they are out future (as cliché as that sounds) and we need to ensure that they have as many opportunities to succeed as possible, and offer them all the support we can.


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