Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago
In 2014, after two decades in academic bookselling, Deutsch took a job at the Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago. His task was to head the Seminary Co-op, which prides itself on having one of the largest academic collections in the world, and 57th Street Books, a general-interest bookstore. “It’s been an incredible challenge to re-envision [the Co-op] with the community,” Deutsch says. Under his stewardship, the Co-op has lost significantly less money while seeing topline sales increase 24%. The reason for a loss, Deutsch explains, is that “[the Co-op] is really a cultural institution disguised as a retailer.” He notes, “In addition to continuing to focus on academic books, we’re trying to serve the entire Southside of Chicago—not just the small community around the University of Chicago neighborhood.”
Bea and Leah Koch
Founders and owners
The Ripped Bodice, Los Angeles
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign that netted $91,0000, sisters Bea and Leah Koch launched the only bricks-and-mortar romance bookstore in the U.S. in March 2016. Although they initially had a clear vision for the store, Bea says, they were surprised by how flexible and changeable it turned out to be. Unexpected features have been a paranormal forest with trees and fairy lights, recently adding a section for signed books, and carrying love poetry, particularly the works of social media sensation Rupi Kaur. The store even offers classes in pie making for Valentine’s Day.
The pair have long embraced what Leah calls “the feminism of romance.” The space upstairs, where they showcase most of their used books, is called Jo’s Attic, for Jo March in Little Women. Their store dog, Fitzwilliam Waffles, takes his name from Pride and Prejudice. The sisters also produce an annual report each March on diversity in romance publishing that has drawn much attention from the industry.
Veronica Santiago Liu
Founder and general coordinator
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, New York City
What began as a one week, or maybe one month tops, pop-up bookstore as an arts event in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City in 2011, celebrated its seventh anniversary in June. Last year the nonprofit, collectively operated store hired its first paid employee, Liu, who left her position as managing editor at Seven Stories Press in to take up her full-time role at Word Up.
The bookstore typically has at least 60 diverse, active volunteers at any one time. “It’s not just race, language, or age,” Liu says. “It’s socioeconomic, housing, and literacy status. We have volunteers who aren’t used to books. It doesn’t mean they bring anything less to the place. We’re kind of a community center disguised as a bookstore. We’re all working for a space we want to have in our lives.”
Angela Maria Spring
Owner and founder
Duende District Bookstore, Washington, D.C.
After developing her bookselling chops at corporate and indie bookstores, including Politics & Prose, Spring wanted to create a mobile pop-up bookstore that would carry books by people of color and serve minority communities in the greater D.C. area. So in February 2017 this daughter and granddaughter of Central American immigrants launched Duende District Bookstore. Her passion to create a diverse bookselling community led to her appointment to the American Booksellers Association Diversity Taskforce last year; in May she was elected to the ABA board.
For Spring, mobile means a section of specially selected books—a store within a store—like those she placed inside MahoganyBooks in the Anacostia Arts Center and Walls of Books D.C., as well as a minibookstore, like one at Union Market’s Toli Moli, a Burmese grocery store and cultural hub. Duende also produces author events.
Greenleaf Book Group, Austin, Tex.
For Murphy, who joined Greenleaf in 2016, the 21-year-old hybrid publishing house is a good fit. She conceived the Ember Press imprint, set to roll out later this year, which pairs editorial tutors with authors to help each writer complete and publish a short mystery novel in less than a year.
Another service Murphy developed, which will launch early next year, is designed to help nonfiction authors verbalize their thoughts. Editors guide authors who have ideas for books through series of questions and record the responses. Then the editors use the transcripts to ghostwrite draft manuscripts for the authors to complete.
Murphy is also the mastermind behind Greenleaf’s Elite Writer’s Retreat, to help struggling authors keep their manuscripts on track, which will launch in 2019.
This self-described word nerd continues to hone her own writing. Murphy’s essays and fiction have appeared in Autostraddle, Hippocampus, and Sinister Wisdom, among other publications.
Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis
Ask Carol Hinz about nonfiction books for children, and you’re likely to hear an impassioned celebration of back matter or the essential components of well-crafted science books,” says Andy Cummings, editor-in-chief at Lerner Publishing Group. That’s a good thing, he adds, because Hinz’s commitment to excellence has helped Lerner grow its children’s nonfiction offerings, which account for a “significant” share of revenue.
Hinz joined Lerner in 2003 as editor, was promoted to editorial director of its Millbrook Press imprint in 2007, and 10 years later, took on overseeing picture books and nonfiction at its Carolrhoda Books imprint as well. Among books that she has acquired and edited are M. Caren Stelson’s Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, which was long-listed for the National Book Award and received a 2017 Sibert Honor, and this year’s Sibert Honor book, Patricia Newman’s Sea Otters: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem.
Familius, Sanger, Calif.
Sitting in classes on cash flow and price elasticity en route to acquiring a business degree from Brigham Young University, Miles was dreaming elsewhere—in the world of art. That’s where his mind had been in high school when he entered the National Written and Illustrated by... Awards for Students (the same contest that gave Dav Pilkey his start). As a 19-year-old college freshman, he won, and his first children’s book was published.
After graduating in 2013, Miles ditched balance sheets completely and worked as a graphic designer. Not long afterward, he found his way to Familius, a press dedicated to strengthening families, as a partner and publishing director, where he published Book, a picture book that celebrates literature for the three-to-five-year-old set. He has alsoillustrated multiple series and oversees all digital initiatives for the company.
Inspired by his own family, Miles in turn, “is an inspiration to the whole, albeit, small team at Familius,” says a colleague.
Roaring Brook Press, New York City
Ears perk up when Feinberg, who has been with Roaring Brook for five years, brings a submission to editorial meetings, say her colleagues, because of such successes as Elisha Cooper’s Big Cat, Little Cat, a 2018 Caldecott Honor Book, and Lily Williams’s If Sharks Disappeared.
Feinberg saw Williams’s animated film, Finconceivable, about what would happen to Earth’s ecosystem if sharks went extinct. She reached out to Williams to turn it into a picture book that combines STEM-related topics with an engaging story for children. Exemplifying Feinberg’s ability to develop authors’ careers, Williams now has three additional books with the editor, including the just published If Polar Bears Disappeared.
In addition to picture books, Feinberg is building a nonfiction list that includes a young reader’s edition of Carl Safina’s bestselling adult book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, and a memoir by ultramarathoner Samantha Gosh, whom she tracked down after seeing her in a Netflix documentary and thought of her as someone who would resonate with young women readers. Given Feinberg’s skill at publishing books that are “intelligent, clever, original and uniquely beautiful in both art and storytelling,” her colleagues have begun dubbing them “Emily” books.
Senior director, product management
Readerlink Distribution Services, Oakbrook, Ill.
At Readerlink, DeLeo oversees all juvenile book buying for major national retailers, including Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. She initially joined the company in 2007 (when it was still Levy Home Entertainment). She left in 2012 to lead sales at the Disney Book Group, returning in February 2017. In her current role, she has launched several innovations including a summer reading program at Walmart, literacy programs for special markets, and a Young Adult discovery platform called Buzz Reads, as well as planogram test programs. Sasha Quinton, senior v-p of marketing at Readerlink says, “It is rare to find someone who is so analytically focused but is equally creative with a strong sense of product and what will work across all markets.”
DeLeo also takes into account the children who will read the books she selects. “In many cases, her retailers are the only booksellers for miles,” Quinton says. “The books she chooses for, say, a rural Walmart may be all a child has access to and she wants to make sure they have the best possible experience with that book.”
Hanover Square Press, New York City
In spring 2017, when Glynn joined Hanover Square, an imprint of Harlequin, he already was a rising star in the eyes of editorial director Peter Joseph. “He’s shown his range and ability to acquire across genres and subjects,” Joseph says.
Glynn arrived from Scribner, where he acquired or edited a stream of bestsellers, such as Ethan Brown’s Murder in the Bayou and Matthew Sullivan’s Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. As one of only two acquiring editors at Hanover Square, Glynn is instrumental in developing this boutique imprint’s list of fiction and nonfiction. His Hanover Square titles range from literary fiction, like The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise, to crime fiction by forensic pathologist Judy Melinek. His nonfiction includes Linda Dahl’s Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor and Kelsey Miller’s I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends.
Little A, New York City
At Little A, Amazon’s literary nonfiction and fiction imprint where inclusivity is key, Lee is a “trailblazer,” says editorial director Carmen Johnson. “Diversity has been the cornerstone of her vision and she’s a fierce promoter of writers of color in the literary community.”
After Lee joined the company in 2013, her first acquisition was The Hundred-Year Flood by Matthew Salesses, a Millions Most Anticipated Book of 2015, which appeared on several other must-read lists. Her next acquisition, Viet Dinh’s After Disasters, the press’s first novel written by a queer writer of color, was a 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist.
Another strength of Lee’s, notes Johnson, is finding emerging Asian-American literary writers. Among those she’s published are Jimin Han’s A Small Revolution, The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves by James Han Mattson, and Cinelle Barnes’s Monsoon Mansion. Also on her list are two of Little A’s top sales successes this year: Halsey Street, a debut novel by Naima Coster, and Hell’s Princess by Edgar-nominated Harold Schechter.
Bonnier Publishing USA, New York City
Earlier this year, when the Bonnier Publishing USA kids group announced its partnership with GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, Tolia noted, “With growth comes the responsibility to produce meaningful, socially conscious books for every reader.” Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illus. by Stevie Lewis, the first book published through the partnership came out in May from Bonnier imprint Little Bee. School Library Journal called it “an illuminating fairy tale for young readers to be able to see that not every prince would like to marry a princess.” Next in the partnership is Jack (Not Jackie), a picture book by Erica Silverman, illus. by Holly Hatam, due in October.
Bonnier launched Little Bee Books in 2014, appointing Tolia as president. She was named CEO in 2016 when Bonnier Publishing formed Bonnier Publishing USA, comprising Little Bee and Weldon Owen US. Last month, Weldon Owen was sold to Insight Editions.
Glory Anne Plata
Riverhead Books, New York City
A powerhouse” is how Jynne Dilling Martin, v-p, associate publisher and publicity director, describes Plata. Her “creativity and dogged follow-through,” Martin notes, have helped break out world voices such as Helen Oyeyemi, Samanta Schweblin, and Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Martin also credits Plata’s strong media relationships and innovative campaigns for putting “esoteric and challenging nonfiction,” such as Francisco Cantu’s The Line Becomes a River and Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time, onto the New York Times bestsellers list.
“What really sets Glory apart is her creative leadership,” Martin says. Plata created the Riverhead Table program: each month, one Riverhead author joins the staff in cooking a meal inspired by their book. The team has cooked jerk lamb with Marlon James and tea snacks with Meg Wolitzer. Mohsin Hamid created a Pakistani feast. These events have earned media coverage in outlets such as LitHub, Time, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Stonesong, New York City
In the two years that Edwards has been with Stonesong—a literary agency, custom publisher, and book packager—she has “consistently impressed” agent Leila Campoli and Stonesong partner Ellen Scordato with her knowledge of publishing contracts, eye for spotting market trends, and ability to foster diverse author talent.
Edwards’s success can be attributed in part to her JD from Vanderbilt Law School; she has thus been able to find potentially problematic terms in contracts and decode the legalese for colleagues and clients. In fact, she began her career as a litigation attorney with a specialty in intellectual property law before she transitioned into publishing.
Spotting trends is an aptitude that can’t be taught in school, but Edwards has a knack for it, according to Campoli. Edwards noticed the pug obsession early on. In her previous role as an agent at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, she sold four pug-based titles. For Stonesong, she predicted the current keen interest in skin care and sold Skin Deep: The Everything Guide to Skincare to Skyhorse for publication next spring. Edwards is also building strong adult, YA, and children’s fiction lists with titles that includes Layla AlAmmar’s The Pact We Made.
Kevin J. Gray
Westchester Publishing Services, Danbury, Conn.
Before Gray joined Westchester Publishing Services in 2017 to head its newly formed K–12 publishing services, the veteran prepress vendor was unknown in the K–12 space. With 15 years of experience at the Mazer Corp., MPS, and Cenevo, Gray brought the expertise needed to launch the division.
“Immediately,” says Paul J. Crecca, WPS’s president, “Kevin developed a business strategy to position Westchester K–12, to differentiate us from the competition, specifically to focus on supplemental K–12 publishers, not the huge basal publishers.” Gray also built a team of content development executive editors for English Language Arts and STEM, K–12 production management, and project management.
Crecca credits Gray for putting together a team of top managers that is “nothing short of extraordinary.” The proof is in the numbers: Gray exceeded the sales goals for what Crecca calls a “very aggressive” business plan by 400% within nine months of joining the company. “I can attest that the significance of our successful entry into the K–12 publishing services market would not have been possible without Kevin Gray,” Crecca says.
The New Press, New York City
Grove’s background is atypical for one destined for publishing. After earning her undergraduate degree in political science, she worked with homeless families in Philadelphia as a case manager and trauma recovery facilitator. But that changed in 2009 when she landed an internship at the New Press, where she has been ever since.
Grove specializes in nonfiction that examines race, gender, the justice system, politics, and culture and has helped build the New Press’s education list with books like Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris and Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom. She worked with publisher Ellen Adler to acquire and edit Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.
“We are convinced,” Adler says, “that [Grove] will make significant contributions to both the publishing industry and to the larger world of ideas in the coming years.”
Senior fiction publicist
Bethany House, Ada, Mich.
There’s nothing like the thrill of launching debut authors,” Green says, citing her recent launch of Jaime Jo Wright’s The House on Foster Hill. But it’s not just the newbies that excite her. “I’m proud of all my authors—working and brainstorming with them is my favorite aspect of my job, alongside being the voice of Bethany House to readers through our social media and blog.”
Green’s enthusiasm for her authors translates into results. Ann Byle, a freelance writer who covers religion for PW, says, “Her authors universally love her. They consistently tell me what great work she does promoting books in a tough climate.”
Green is making her mark in Christian publishing in other ways. She is a member of the Christy Awards committee, a program of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association to honor Christian novels. She was also integral in organizing the inaugural Art of Writing Conference offered by ECPA last November. And she contributed to a chapter in Byle’s Christian Publishing 101: The Comprehensive Guide to Writing Well and Publishing Successfully—for New Authors, Editors, and Students.
New Directions, New York City
Mieke has her light on,” says New Directions publisher and editor-in-chief Barbara Epler. “She is making a huge impact here at New Directions by her brilliant ability to put our sometimes complicated books across to reviewers, booksellers, and a wide variety of literary opinion-mongers.” Epler credits Chew with bringing a level of review attention unparalleled in the press’s long history.
Among the books Chew has worked her publicity magic on are Some Trick by Helen DeWitt, an acclaimed author known for her dyspeptic attitude toward the publishing establishment, and I Am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy, about whom Sheila Heti wrote in the New Yorker, “Few writers push the reader away with the coolness, dignity, and faint melancholy of Fleur Jaeggy.”
Chew, who came to New Directions in 2014 as web editor, not only moved into publicity a year later but she has also begun editing such writers as the late Croatian novelist Dasa Drndric and Jamaican poet and novelist Marcia Douglas.
Doubleday, New York City
Shickmanter’s background as a literary scout at Bettina Schrewe Literary Scouting and as a bookseller at the Bookstore in Lenox, Mass., has served her well in her four years at Doubleday. While she was still an assistant editor, she acquired The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, which was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize after it was published in the U.K. earlier this year and is one of PW’s top 10 most-anticipated literary fiction books for the coming season. Also on her list is Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, which came out in July and was named a B&N Discover Pick, an Indie Next Pick, and a LibraryReads Pick.
Finding these bold new voices is one reason William J. Thomas, Doubleday’s publisher and editor-in-chief, says, “Margo possesses all the qualities essential for a great editor: poise, passion, and taste.”
Director of publicity and social media
Akashic Books, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Before she even graduated from New York University, Lawrence, who had interned at the press during her last year of school, had already proved herself indispensable to Akashic, says Johanna Ingalls, managing editor and director of foreign rights. After graduation in 2013, Lawrence joined the publicity department, where she focused on social media. “She nearly single-handedly created and maintained a robust social media presence for Akashic in a way we’d never had before,” Ingalls says.
Since then, Lawrence’s responsibilities have continued to grow. She spearheaded the campaign for the popular Simon’s Cats books. She oversaw publicity for Rivers Solomon’s debut novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts, which is now in its fifth printing and landed on several best book of the year lists including NPR’s, the Guardian’s and PW’s, and the newly published Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian, which garnered a glowing review in the Wall Street Journal. She has just begun promotion for Michael Imperioli’s debut novel, The Perfume Burned His Eyes, and Fame by Justine Bateman.
Annick Press, Toronto
Next week, after 10 years at Harper Canada, most recently as digital creative associate, Paul Covello will begin a new job as art director at Annick Press, a Canadian publisher of children’s and young adult books. There he will be in charge of design for the entire list, including picture books and middle grade and YA fiction and nonfiction, much of which has a focus on social issues. [em]At Harper, Covello distinguished himself by creating book trailers and a wide range of other marketing videos. He was the creator of the book trailer for Emma Donoghue’s Room that Leo MacDonald, Harper Canada’s senior v-p of sales and marketing, says “put the industry on notice: this was a book to be reckoned with.”
At heart Covello is an illustrator. For Harper he worked on several children’s books, such as Canada ABC and Toronto ABC, about which he says, “I’m thrilled that my books are helping young readers to explore and develop a love for Canada.” The good news for both Harper and Covello is that this won’t change.
Assistant director of young adult and special projects
Scholastic, New York City
Preeti is a force of nature, a supernova,” says Ann Marie Wong, managing editor at Scholastic. “She is a voracious consumer, creator, and purveyor of content dedicated to spreading awareness and joy.” Chhibber’s official responsibility is the selection and curation of young adult books, but her work reaches far beyond that role. She was the driving force behind Scholastic’s partnership with We Need Diverse Books, and she manages the collections of book lists they create together. Chhibber was also the first book club representative on the Scholastic Diversity Committee and is currently a member of the steering committee.
A champion of elevating the voices of marginalized authors, Chhibber created a list of writers from different backgrounds that she updates regularly and distributes to approximately 100 agents and editors. The list has been the catalyst for five authors receiving book deals, and several more have gotten agents.
Chhibber herself is one of those people creating inspired work. She is a pop culture writer for BookRiot, the Mary Sue, and SyFy Wire, and she cohosts regular podcasts about books and other art forms. Earlier this year, she made a foray into fiction with a short story, “Unfair & Lovely,” which was published on the Hanging Garden, a fiction site on Tumblr, and included in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, from Greenwillow.
Beacon Press, Boston
Clark began her publishing career in 2002 as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins. David Unger, who directs the City College of New York’s Publishing Certificate Program, where Rakia served as an adjunct lecturer, notes that there were barely a handful of people of color in publishing at the time Clark began her career. She joined Beacon Press in 2015.
At Beacon, Clark focuses on books that examine social justice through a pop-culture lens, like this past spring’s The Heritage by Howard Bryant, which tackles the issue of athletes and activism. “The timing couldn’t be better,” Clark says. This fall, Beacon will publish Lara Bazelon’s narrative nonfiction Rectify, about restorative justice as a tool for community healing after wrongful convictions are overturned. Next year, another timely Clark title is due out, Reclaiming Our Space by Feminista Jones, about how black feminists are using social media to change the world.
Clark is doing her part to change the world, not only through books but by her volunteer work as a writing mentor with the nonprofit organization Girls Write Now.
Serial Box, New York City
When Julian Yap, a former senior counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, and Molly Barton, former global digital director at Penguin Random House, launched Serial Box in 2015, they had a clear goal: to become the HBO for readers. The company, which operates on a subscription model, offers serialized stories in both written and audio form. Like a TV series, Serial Box relies on a team of writers to produce 10–16 episodes, in this case of a fiction or nonfiction book. The original content is then released via apps, its website, and third-party retailers.
Since its inception, Serial Box has expanded, with partnerships and collaborations with the Associated Press, Adaptive Studios, and Hachette, among others. Novelist and comics writer Alana Joli Abbott, a contributor to the Den of Geek website where she writes about serial fiction, credits Yap with being the driving force behind those expansions. She was invited to watch a writer’s room meeting and was impressed by the real community of diverse writers that Yap helped create and in which he actively participates.
In February, the company picked up $1.7 million in seed funding that should enable further expansion. Abbott says, “Yap continues to question and push boundaries for what publishing means to modern readers.”
Penguin Books, New York City
Wise—and read—beyond his years” is how Patrick Nolan, v-p, editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Penguin Books, describes Raim. “He knows all that you need to know about the trends in YA crossover, where the hot submission is going to come from—or anything important and relevant to our business,” Nolan adds.
Now in his fifth year at Penguin, Raim has built a list of more than a dozen titles. Last year, in his role overseeing media tie-ins, he was ahead of the competition in spotting an opportunity to sign Petra Hammesfahr for a book deal after reading early reports about her TV series, The Sinner, starring Jessica Biel. The book went on to become Penguin Books’ highest-selling trade original of last year with more than 70,000 copies sold.
Among Raim’s promising forthcoming titles is Nuking the Moon, from Vince Houghton, a historian and curator of the International Spy Museum.
Simon Pulse, New York City
In her ability to “spot talent, focus on seeing—and filling—holes in YA, and her deep passion for editing books that can change the lives of readers,” Ung dazzles the team at Simon Pulse, according to v-p, editorial director Liesa Abrams. Ung has edited a list of books that have won critical acclaim, as well as garnered a great deal of media attention.
Among her recent hits is When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, which became an instant New York Times bestseller and an Indie Next Top 10 selection. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman received a PW starred review and was a finalist for the Morris Award, and You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon was an Indies Introduce title and an Indie Next selection. The books on Ung’s list focus on “amplifying voices that have not been traditionally well represented, and the results have been meaningful on so many levels,” Abrams says. “It’s no wonder that Jen’s presentations in sales meetings never fail to leave the room dying to read every novel she’s discussed.”
Associate art director
Quirk Books, Philadelphia
Andie’s imaginative, stylish, and versatile design work has been a driving force behind many of our most successful titles in the past few years,” says Quirk senior editor Blair Thornburgh, citing books like Robert Schnakenberg’s Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, a retro-looking appreciation of the actor, and Sam Maggs’s geek-girl bible, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. “We at Quirk pride ourselves on having top-notch, out-of-the-box, must-have book packages, and in her years here Andie has not only fulfilled that directive but pushed it to new heights,” she adds.
Reid has created eye-catching covers such as Grady Hendrix’s Horrostör, set in an Ikea-like showroom. Because the budget didn’t allow her to buy a roomful of Ikea furniture, Reid turned to a miniaturist who used doll furniture to recreate the book’s creepy feel. For Bonnie Burton’s Crafting with Feminism, Reid enlisted Thornburgh to help her embroider Girl Scout badges.
Sarabande Books, Louisville, Ky.
Danika is a true autodidact who often leaves us wondering if there’s anything she can’t do,”says Kristen Miller, director of educational programming at Sarabande. Isdahl joined the press in 2014 as an intern and after only two years as a publishing assistant was named production manager.
One of Isdahl’s early projects was to rebuild the press’s fund-raising database, a job that required reconstructing nearly 20 years of data by hand. Miller credits her meticulous work on this project with transforming Sarabande’s donor outreach, crucial for the nonprofit press. Isdahl also implemented a four-fold expansion of the company’s internship program, and was responsible for typesetting the first nine volumes of the Sarabande Writing Labs Anthology series.
Recognition for Isdahl comes from outside as well. Her designs have not gone unnoticed by Sarabande’s authors. Sandra Cisneros praised the design for her forthcoming book in the Quarternote Chapbook series, Puro Amor, as “exquisite.”
Cofounder and chief creative officer
Encantos Media Studios, San Francisco
When Venezualan-American Jaramillo began a family, she intended to raise her kids to be bilingual and have pride in their culture, but she couldn’t find books with true cultural roots. That’s when she thought about the power of nursery rhymes to build cultural connections and their benefits for brain development in children learning to read. This idea grew into a vision for a bilingual entertainment and education company and Encantos Media was born.
Canticos, a bilingual baby and toddler brand inspired by Latin-American nursery rhymes, was the company’s first brand. Its first book, Little Chickies/Los Pollitos, written and illustrated by Jaramillo, was published in 2016. Since then Encantos has published seven bilingual English and Spanish books, as well as digital apps and animated videos. This year, Canticos partnered with Nickelodeon and its original videos stream on Nick Jr.’s website and digital apps.
Senior manager, library and educational marketing
Scholastic, New York City
Emily Heddleson has said that she sees her position as a mission “to make certain that people know we care about kids.” What this translates to in Heddleson’s day-to-day responsibilities is extraordinary work and endless attention to detail on managing seven library conferences, events, and related programming a year, says Lizette Serrano, director of educational marketing and conventions for Scholastic’s trade division.
Heddleson secured young activist author Marley Dias a place as keynote speaker at this year’s ALA Midwinter. At the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, she planned four dinners, two author events, two panels (one with Caldecott-winning artist Brian Selznick), and juggled more than 17 author itineraries.
“[Heddleson] embraces the value of our librarians as being our true advocates for literacy,” says Mindy Stockfield, senior v-p, marketing, creating and digital.
Corporate marketing manager
Simon & Schuster, New York City
I see Taylor as a brilliant marketer and an integral part of the future for Simon & Schuster’s marketing efforts,” says Wendy Sheanin, S&S’s v-p and director of marketing. This year, Noel was the driving force behind the launch of S&S’s new Book Clubs Favorite program. After months spent analyzing competitive programming, she secured a budget, onboarded publishers, designed branding, developed advertising campaigns, and created content designed to break out a key title every month. Sheanin expects it to be“a significant game changer” for the books featured.
Noel is also the associate publisher for Off the Shelf, a publisher-agnostic subscription newsletter that offers book recommendations. Here, too, says Sheanin, Noel combines both her analytical and creative skills to great effect, from producing engaging Facebook Live programming and arranging influencer events to writing high performance content. Over the past six months, Noel has more than doubled Off the Shelf’s statistics through advertising campaigns and sweepstakes.
Jennifer Abel Kovitz
V-p and associate publisher
Catapult, Counterpoint, Soft Skull, and Black Balloon, New York City
As a press, we’re consistently punching above our weight thanks to Jenn” says Andy Hunter, publisher of Catapult, which has been merged with Counterpoint and Soft Skull. “We’re small! We’re new! Every author who signs on with us may think they’re taking a risk—until they speak to Jenn.”
Kovitz was Hunter’s first hire when he launched Catapult in 2015. He notes that she has been critical to the company’s growth. Catapult’s net sales are up 197% year-over-year, and Counterpoint saw sales rise 83% year-over-year. Those big numbers earned her a recent promotion to v-p and associate publisher.
Kovitz is the one who “leads the charge,” as Hunter puts it, on successes such as their first New York Times bestseller, Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. She’s also responsible for a long list of awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award and NBCC Award for Joan Silber’s novel Improvement.
Tor/Forge, Tor Teen, and Starscape, New York City
Fennell has made her publicity mark on several high-profile books since joining Tor this year. She handled PR for The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Anger Is a Gift, the first YA contemporary fiction from Hugo Award–winner Mark Oshiro. This fall, Fennell turns her attention to Everlasting Nora, Marie Miranda Cruz‘s debut novel for young readers.
But that’s just her day job. “Saraciea’s true passion is helping her community through her love of books,” says Lucille Rettino, v-p, marketing and publicity at Tor.
A native of the South Bronx, Fennell created the Bronx Is Reading campaign, which fosters an interest in children in reading through author events and book donations. She also founded the Bronx Book Festival, held in May for the first time, which attracted such A-list authors as Elizabeth Acevedo and Daniel José Older.
And there’s more. Fennell is the director of publicity communications and outreach for Latinx in Publishing, a nonprofit organization composed of book professionals committed to supporting and increasing the number of Latin-American people who work in publishing, and promoting literature by, for, and about Latin-American people.
Assistant manager and children’s product buyer
Baker Book House, Ada, Mich.
Ann Byle, a freelance writer who covers religion publishing for PW, credits Schroeder with making Baker Book House a destination store in western Michigan with his “forward thinking and ability to see what can be in all aspects of the store.” In addition to his duties as assistant manager, Schroeder plans author events and builds community through broadcasting the January Series, a 15-day lecture series, sponsored by Calvin College in Grand Rapids. In a recent announcement about Schroeder’s selection as a Star Watch honoree in Rush to Press, an industry newsletter for Christian publishing, Sue Smith wrote, “Darron Schroeder leads the team at Baker Book House (part of the Baker Publishing Group) with a unique heart and smart synergy. His passion creates an innovative experience for book lovers while keeping the structural procedures of a large bookstore organized and communicated well.”
Ballantine Books, New York City
According to Jennifer Hershey, senior v-p, editor-in-chief at Ballantine Bantam Dell, Weiss excels in every area and at every stage of the publication process. In acquisitions, Hershey adds, Weiss shines at both bringing literary projects to the table for consideration and seeking book ideas that don’t generate from an agent. “She is able to look at any kind of story and see the possibilities of structure and shape, the emotional ebbs and flows, and the broad brushstrokes.”
Weiss’s relationships with authors are also impressive. “She is a genius at earning an author’s trust,” Hershey says, finding the particular way that will allow the best possible book to emerge. Weiss finishes off her projects by being a staunch advocate for the books and authors; she navigates smoothly between the agent and author on one side and the marketing publicity and sales teams on the other.
After beginning her editing career at Grand Central in 2007, Weiss moved to Ballantine in 2015. Among her nonfiction titles are How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh, Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, and Ask a Manager by Alison Green. In fiction, she acquired NPR host Linda Holmes’s debut novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over.
Associate director, digital strategy
Random House Children’s Books, New York City
John Adamo, senior v-p of marketing at RHCB, praises Ward for succeeding at “the herculean task of launching and growing our division’s first teen platform, called Underlined.” He adds, “Elizabeth has been at the center of every decision for the launch and growth strategy.”
When Ward began the project in March 2017, she set up a Teen Launch Committee that included members of the editorial, sales, marketing, and publicity departments, to get the teams invested in the platform. She drove email sign-ups, and the subscription base grew to 100,000 by the end of last year. It now has more than 127,000 subscribers and has received 1.6 million page views since its launch in May 2017. In its first six months, Underlined received more than 400,000 page views.
Adamo credits Ward with growing the brand at consumer shows such as YallWest and YallFest, as well as securing merchandising partnerships.
Associate art director
Kokila, New York City
In January, Rubero, who joined Penguin Young Readers as an intern in 1999, was appointed associate art director for Kokila, a new imprint that will focus on diverse books. She, somewhat literally, put her stamp on the press when she designed its logo. “The care, curiosity, and intention she demonstrated in the process was truly extraordinary,” say Namrata Tripathi, v-p, publisher of Kokila, and Lily Malcom, v-p, executive art director of Dial Books FYR.
First Rubero immersed herself in studying the koel bird (kokila is the Sanskrit for koel). She also taught herself the tenets of logo design and learned animation so that the development of the logo could be revealed in video.
At Dial, Rubero designed Junot Díaz’s Islandborn, illus. by Leo Espinosa, with whom she worked closely to develop a book authentically reflective of a diverse Latin-American culture. Other projects include Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring and the bestselling Ladybug Girl series.
Disney-Hyperion, New York City
Caldwell is the founder and fund-raising chair of People of Color in Publishing, a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting, empowering, and uplifting racially and ethnically marginalized members of the industry. The group hosts social and educational events, and professional development programs. Editor Jes Negrón at Kane Press credits Caldwell and PoC in Pub with helping her navigate the industry and praises her work for the organization: “Patrice has made a statement that diversity in the ranks of the industry is not optional.”
Diversity is also a key consideration on Caldwell’s list. Since coming to Disney-Hyperion just over a year ago, she has signed a feminist coming-of-age story following a queer Latina, a poetry collection dedicated to black girls and women, a nonfiction graphic novel about the Salem witch trials, and a biracial, gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo.
Megan Bencivenni Quinn
Senior director of sales
Charlesbridge Publishing, Watertown, Mass.
After joining Charlesbridge in 2007 as a sales assistant, Quinn sprinted up the ladder and was named senior director of sales in 2014. She oversees sales across all markets and is the key liaison with the company’s distributor, Penguin Random House. In addition, Quinn is in charge of digital distribution and e-strategy—she’s a founding member of Charlesbridge’s digital task force—and handles domestic sub rights.
Under Quinn, Charlesbridge had its best sales year ever in 2017. Yolanda Scott, associate publisher and editorial director of the press, says she regards Quinn as “an indispensable member of our senior management team.” She attributes Quinn’s success to her strong business relationships, which is where she truly shines. “[Quinn] puts her extensive network of wholesale and retail contacts to work with confidence and diligence in order to grow sales,” Scott adds.
Magination Press, Washington, D.C.
Daily, Jessica fosters the mission of the APA in every book that she works on,” says Jason Wells, marketing director of American Psychological Association Books and its imprint Magination Press. “That translates into APA’s books getting into the hands of the kids and caregivers that need them most.”
Jeffers recently built Magination Press Family, a microsite devoted to giving parents additional resources on stress and anxiety relief and mindfulness. Magination Press authors write most of the content, which is reviewed by the APA’s editorial board to ensure that it is in line with best practices.
Earlier this spring Jeffers launched Gayle Pitman’s Sewing the Rainbow, illus. by Holly Clifton-Brown, that she has found particularly satisfying, because not long after she joined the company in 2012, she worked on Pitman’s first book, This Day in June. Her efforts helped the book win a Stonewall Book Award in 2014. It was the first time a Magination Press books had won such a prestigious award. “It’s been rewarding to see many of those outlets continue to respond to Gayle’s work,” Jeffers adds.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Heddleson’s name.