Head of publishing
Eight weeks ago, Atwell was promoted to the position of head of publishing at Kickstarter. It’s easy to see why. As part of a Kickstarter outreach team that helps authors, publishers, booksellers, and literary organizations to raise funds and build community around their work, she has proven herself to be “an innovator and strategic thinker,” her colleague Julie Cerick says. In May, Atwell created and led the company’s first digital conference, “The Next Page,” which featured forward-looking conversations in publishing. She also launched the Summer of Poetry, which highlighted live and previously funded poetry projects, and hosted a reading at the company’s headquarters. Atwell is in the midst of writing a book, Don’t Steal This Book: Why Paying for Words Is Radical and Necessary. “Margot is elevating the positive presence of publishing at Kickstarter both internally and externally,” Cerick says.
Director of marketing
Triumph Books, Chicago Review Press, Chicago
When Independent Publishers Group (the owner and distributor of Triumph and CRP) restructured in 2018, Baird, who joined the company in 2012, was promoted from marketing manager to director, and according to Michael Michalak, a colleague, since then “she has built and led a small team of marketing professionals to new heights.” One of the daily challenges that Baird faces is creating unique campaigns for two completely independent and very different publishing companies. While Triumph’s focus is on sports and entertainment, much of the Chicago Review list tends toward weightier topics, often in partnership with a charity. Typical of Baird’s creative campaigns is her strategy for Most of All Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat, which included her creation of a new holiday, National Tabby Day, celebrated on April 30, which raises adoption awareness for animal shelters. To make that happen she partnered with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Bidawee, the leading pet-welfare organization serving metropolitan New York.
Amanda and Rob Broder
Chief operating officer and creative director, respectively
Ripple Grove Press, Shelburne, Vt.
In the span of a year, Amanda and Rob Broder experienced a horrific tragedy and a great joy. Eleven months after the death of their first baby daughter, their second child, Eleanor, was born. Rob, then a sales rep for a chocolate company, spent much time in a car alone pondering the crushing burden of raising a child while mourning another. One source of comfort for the couple was reading to their baby daughter. So one night, after a long day on the road, he asked Amanda, “What if we start a children’s picture book publishing company?” And Ripple Grove Press was born. In October, the press that aims to create “beautiful and timeless picture books,” according to Rob, will celebrate five years. Amanda handles the business side, and Rob handles the creative side and is the main liaison with authors. The two-person operation remains small, releasing three to four titles a year with a backlist of 16. Giving back is important to both. Among their many charitable acts, they participate in book drives to benefit the Children’s Book Bank in Portland, Ore., and donate books to children’s hospitals.
Grand Central Publishing, New York City
GCP’s editor-in-chief, Karen Kosztolnyik, says that Caldwell “knows intuitively what projects are valued at and has a strong perspective on the marketplace. I am impressed with her editorial acumen and publishing instincts.” Caldwell says that she is driven by a belief in science with room “to believe (or wanting to believe) in things I shouldn’t, like astrology, ghosts, and chiropractors.” So when she stumbled upon the podcast The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe she knew it would find a readership. What she couldn’t know was that in the face of the presidential election, it became a rallying cry for truth and rationality and won praise from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. She fought hard—and won—in a competitive auction for New Yorker staffer Becky Cooper’s upcoming true-crime book, We Keep the Dead Close (Feb. 2020), about an unsolved 1969 murder at Harvard. Beyond the “pull of the macabre” that she admits, Caldwell championed the book because “it’s about finally getting justice for a crime that was covered up by a behemoth institution, and mixes true crime, philosophy and captivating character studies.”
Library marketing coordinator and YA specialist
Macmillan, New York City
After receiving a master’s in children’s literature from Simmons College in Boston, Day joined Macmillan in 2017 in the newly created position of library marketing assistant and YA specialist. At the time, the division’s two-person library-marketing team needed more firepower—particularly in light of the increasing number of YA titles from the Flatiron and Wednesday imprints. “Day is incredibly adaptable, reads everything, and completes every task with aplomb,” her manager, Talia Sherer, says. Sherer was particularly impressed last fall, a period of transition for the department, when Day “eagerly stepped in and handled projects that belonged to her superior.” Not surprisingly, she was promoted in April to her current position. A year ago, Day launched the department’s Instagram account, and it now boasts more than 800 followers. While there is some crossover with adult titles in Day’s work, she proudly emphasizes that everything she does—social media, webinars, presentations, conventions, and awards submissions—is for librarians.
President and partner
JKS Communications, New Orleans
Back in 2008 when Julie Schoerke, founder of the book-publicity firm JKS, hired DeCuir, they conducted business on the couch at Schoerke’s home, powered by a shared bowl of peanut M&Ms. In 2017, at age 30, DeCuir was promoted to president and has been running the firm, which now has three locations and 20 publicists, representing more than 700 authors and 1,200 books. Schoerke credits DeCuir’s success not only to her 16-hour days, but also to her background as a journalist. As editor-in-chief at Louisiana State University’s newspaper, she oversaw a team that reported from the front lines of catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. While still in her 20s, USA Today, National Geographic, and the Chicago Sun Times hired her as a journalist and contributor. “She’s a consummate journalist and knows how to give a reporter the hook or exclusive that is a win-win for a new book or author platform launch,” Schoerke says, “but, at her core, she’s a caring and compassionate leader for authors, publicists, and our community at-large. She makes our industry a better place to work and write.”
Hannah Oliver Depp
Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C.
During a gap year after earning an MA in English and planning to pursue a PhD, Depp surprised her friends and family, who assumed she was going to be an African-American literature scholar, by changing paths and landing at Politics and Prose, selling books for five years. From there she moved up to New York, where she managed the Word bookstores. She found her calling: “I find bookselling fascinating because it combines all of my life experience [in literature and theater], so I don’t have to divide myself in little pieces.” While in New York, she learned that the only bookstore in her old Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Petworth was closing; she wouldn’t stand for it and Loyalty was born, with a second location opening soon in Silver Spring, Md. Oliver Depp is also a founding member of Indies Forward and the American Bookselling Association Committee on Diversity and serves on its Educational Task Force, as well as a New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association board member.
Orlando Dos Reis
Scholastic Press, New York City
Right from the start of his career at Abrams as an editorial assistant, Dos Reis made his mark working on what his colleague Shelly Romero calls “nerd-terrific” properties such as Star Wars, the Flash, SuperGirl, and the SpongeBob comics, among many other graphic novels for children and adults. At Scholastic since 2017, Dos Reis is busy bringing in new talent, such as Rosiee Thor, whose queer sci-fi YA novel, Tarnished Are the Stars, will be published in October. Next June will see the release of Where We Go from Here by debut Brazilian author Lucas Rocha. Rocha’s YA novel, set in contemporary Rio de Janeiro, is about three young men whose lives become entwined in the face of HIV. It was originally published in 2018. Because Dos Reis is from Brazil and can read Portuguese, when his publisher brought it back to him after a visit to the country, he dipped in and immediately fell in love with it. “I still can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to publish this novel for the U.S. market,” Dos Reis says.
Editorial director, Thomas & Mercer/47North
Amazon Publishing, Seattle
“Gracie is the total package: dynamic leader, mad executive skills, acute editor and marketing expert, avid reader, constant champion of authors, a true connector. I actually want to be Gracie when I grow up,” says Meg Ruley of the Jane Rotrosen Agency. “Who wouldn’t?” Doyle’s perch whence she wins such praise is leading the Thomas & Mercer and 47 North imprints, which cover mystery, thriller, and true crime at Amazon. Associate publisher Hai-Yen Mura credits her with such victories for the company as procuring eight nominations and two wins of the International Thriller Writer Award, as well as the success of Robert Dugoni, whose books have reached four million readers. Doyle also successfully snatched up top authors Patricia Cornwell, Lee Goldberg, and Gregg Olsen for the press. Perhaps that is because, as Mura says, “no one fights harder for her authors, or champions them more fiercely, more loudly, than Grace.”
Digital marketing and PR manager
C&T Publishing, Concord, Calif.
Lynn Ford is a driving force for family-owned C&T Publishing, which has 30 employees and publishes a list of 40 books and 20 gift and novelty products per year in the areas of quilting, sewing, and crafts. Amy Marson, to whom Ford reports, says the small staff and conservative marketing budget has not impeded Ford’s efforts in developing programs that grow sales by using organic social media tools with minimal cost. Just in the past year, Ford has been responsible for three major efforts: she redesigned the company’s website, doubled the number of YouTube subscribers, and launched C&T’s podcast, Behind the Seams. Since she joined the company five years ago, her other Herculean efforts have included posting content on Pinterest that has generated 1.2 million views per month, and growing C&T’s Instagram account by over 1,900% and Facebook by 29%. “An innovative marketer, Lynn is consistently searching out the next great marketing opportunity,” Marson says.
Random House Graphic, New York City
Gagliano started her career in 2005 at First Second, Macmillan’s graphic novel imprint, at a time when graphic novels were relegated to the subculture of comics, rarely available in libraries and never in bookstores or schools. Gagliano was determined to change that: “I made a plan to reach out to new readers and new audiences, to new spaces and new interests, with each book campaign.” Her work paid off when Random House scooped her up in 2018 to launch its graphic novel imprint, where her mission is “to put a graphic novel on every bookshelf, in every home,” she says. One means she employs is to be omnipresent as a speaker at industry and academic conferences from Comic-Con to ALA. “There has been no stronger or more passionate advocate for comics and graphic novels than Gina Gagliano,” says Julian Yap, 2018 Star Watch honoree and cofounder of Serial Box Publishing. “She has consistently pushed the genre as something bigger than just blockbuster superhero entertainment.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York City
Since joining HMH in 2013 as an assistant editor, Gibbs has quickly risen to the position of senior editor. A look at her accomplishments explains why. After reading a number of blog posts by house author Ursula K. Le Guin, Gibbs suggested they be compiled into No Time to Spare. It went on to win the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. She worked closely with Alexander Chee on his novel The Queen of Light, and then she acquired his critically acclaimed and multiple award–winning essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. But her most noteworthy achievement, according to her manager, Helen Atsma, is the acquisition of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection, Friday Black. It garnered a starred PW review, received front-page coverage in the New York Times Book Review, became an instant bestseller, and won numerous prizes including the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Martin Literary Management, Seattle
While attending the University of Washington, where she earned a BA in English with an emphasis on creative writing, Goetz worked as an intern at Martin Literary for three years, where she received academic credit for her work. Once out of school, she worked part-time at the agency and part-time as a communications specialist at the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, Wash. But it was Martin Literary where she wanted to build her career, and she proved it to the team there by taking Columbia University’s summer intensive course in publishing. Subsequently, she won a full-time job at the agency. In her first year, Goetz attended over a dozen writers’ conferences, reports colleague Celia Gore, who adds that Goetz “has gone above and beyond what is expected of her.” Upcoming on Goetz’s 2020 slate are the picture books The Ugly Doodles by Valeria Wicker (Jimmy Patterson), The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho (Kokila), Gone Bone Gone by Kitty Moss (Page Street Kids), and Breakfast with Jesus, also by Tina Cho (Harvest House).
Penguin Random House Canada, Toronto
In 2016, Jennifer Griffiths began at PRH Canada on a design contract, and one year later she became a full-time designer. “Her quiet demeanor contradicts her fearless push of creative boundaries and her unflinching commitment to bringing beauty and craftsmanship to our books, inside and out,” her manager, Terry Nimmo, says. That commitment has won her many awards in excellence in book design from Canada’s Alcuin Society. Last year, she won for The Inviting Life by Laura Calder, Lost in September by Kathleen Winter, Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang, The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright, and The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather T. Smith. This year, the Alcuin Society awarded her for Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq and for her codesign with CS Richardson on I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya. The cover for Joanne Proulx’s We All Love the Beautiful Girls (2017) appeared in Quill & Quire as Book Cover of the Year. Calling her “a shining star with immense creative talent and a collaborative spirit,” Nimmo says that she beautifully combines business and art.
Lerner/Graphic Universe, Minneapolis
Hunter is a fast riser, moving up the ladder from intern in 2009 to his current position as editorial director of Lerner’s children’s graphic novel imprint. Editor-in-chief Andrew Cummings credits Hunter with leading an aggressive expansion that has doubled the publishing program in two years. Among the novels he has developed that feature “empathetic, adventurous work, a range of perspectives, and sense of humor,” Cummings says, are the boundary-pushing YA graphic novel Losing the Girl by MariNaomi, the Eisner-nominated 2019 Batchelder Honor book My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun, and Artur Laperla’s bestselling The Epic Origin of Super Potato. Cummings also cites Hunter’s productive and diverse relationships with global partners including the Angouleme International Comics Festival, Toronto Comics Arts Festival, and the German Book Office Editors Trip. “Greg is the reason that Lerner continues to invest and develop Graphic Universe,” Cummings says.
Founder and owner
LK Literary Agency, Chicago
In the fall of 2018, after a decade at Rodeen Literary Management, where she assembled a list of bestselling and award-winning authors, Kilkelly—with the blessing of Rodeen—opened her own shop and was joined by all of her clients in her new endeavor. Kilkelly has a knack for plucking diamonds in the rough from the slush pile and polishing them for success. One of her authors, Stacy McAnulty, describes Kilkelly as “the Green Bay Packers of the children’s publishing world,” because like the Packers, who search out unknown players with potential rather than shelling out millions for the already established, Kilkelly has “an eye for talent and a heart for nurturing writers.” McAnulty’s debut, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, was the winner of the Mathical Book Prize and selected as a best book of the year by Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Parents magazine, among others.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York City
Na Kim has risen through the ranks with “grit and verve...and a style wholly her own,” FSG publisher Mitzi Angel says. She points to the saffron-hued background of Lucia Berlin’s covers and the red-lined white billboard against the blue sky of Catherine Lacey’s Certain American States. “She has a perfect palette, like a singer who has perfect pitch,” Angel adds. Berlin’s Evening in Paradise, and other titles with Kim’s designs including Jeffrey Eugenides’s Fresh Complaint (which features a beautiful illustration by Kim herself) and Mike Roberts’s Cannibals in Love, have been highlighted on multiple Best Covers lists. In 2018, when Creative Review compiled its top book covers of the year, Kim held multiple spots. She is also a freelance illustrator for the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and elsewhere.
Blue Manatee Literary Project, Cincinnati
Earlier this year when Blue Manatee Bookstore went up for sale, both Amanda Kranias and Kevin Kushman had made inquiries to the former owner, who set them up on a “business blind-date.” “Kushman’s idea for the bookstore was one of the most unique, inspiring ideas I have heard,” Kranias says. His vision was to transform the 30-year-old bookstore into a nonprofit that would work to put books in the hands of disadvantaged readers. Kranias signed on as director, and the store reopened on April 2 with a one-to-one program—for every book purchased, one is donated to a disadvantaged reader. Among the nonprofit’s current initiatives is a pilot program with Cincinnati Public Schools. Although Kushman has another full-time job as president of the company he founded, Integral Analytics, he says that “the unique mission to deliver literature, confidence, and life-changing experiences to our at-risk young neighbors is honestly the calling of a lifetime.”
Justin Paul Lawrence
Senior director of sales and marketing
InterVarsity Press, Westmont, Ill.
In 2015 Lawrence joined IVP, a publisher of Christian books, as sales manager for academic and library markets. Less than a year later, he was named sales director, and under his leadership the company’s sales are projected to increase by more than 30% in fiscal 2019 over fiscal 2018, according to his colleague Alisse Wissman. He has expanded the company’s digital sales and has strengthened IVP’s partnerships with trade stores, notably Barnes & Noble. It was Lawrence who advocated that the company exhibit at BookExpo, and he has increased visibility there and at ALA. Lawrence, Wissman says, “encourages innovation on all levels, both within the sales department and in the company more broadly.” He is also a respected voice on both of IVP’s publishing boards (for trade and academic), she notes.
Elsevier, New York City
As publisher of Elsevier’s portfolio of cardiology and ophthalmology journals, Luciano’s name is not likely to be seen in gossip columns dotted with publishing glitterati. Luciano has made her mark laboring in the staid arena of educational publishing throughout her 11-year career, which she began as an assistant at Pearson Education, where she helped launch student and teacher resource centers that continue to be an integral part of the company’s offering. Luciano’s list of volunteer and philanthropic contributions is dizzying. At NYU, where she earned an MBA, she was the recipient of the NYU President’s Service Award; she has served in various roles for the AAP; and she is the corporate social-responsibility champion for Elsevier’s New York office and sits on Elsevier’s Women Connected and Pride Committees.
Morgan James, New York City
A self-proclaimed “entrepreneur by heart,” Marshall walked into the doors of independent publisher Morgan James while she was still a student and immediately felt at home at a company that was “created by an entrepreneurial author for entrepreneurial authors,” according to its website. Marshall joined the company in 2008 and has been an integral factor in the company’s growth from six titles per year to an average of 195 titles annually, with a backlist of 2,700 titles. At first, Marshall did everything. “She not only excelled at whatever we needed her to do, she tasked herself to learn all she could about publishing and quickly rose through the ranks,” founder David L. Hancock says. About six years ago, Marshall transitioned from the marketing side to the position of assistant publishing director, where she tamed the company’s Wild West approach of crashing books into the marketplace and mapped out a more strategic launch plan that has spurred rapid growth.
Blackstone, Ashland, Ore.
Don’t be deceived by Maturo’s title—she’s far more than a publicist. When Maturo joined Blackstone four years ago, the previously all-audiobook company was just launching its first print endeavors. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons it brought Maturo on board—it wanted her hardcover expertise from the four years she spent at Norton. Accordingly, Maturo attends acquisition meetings and weighs in with her opinions—and her colleagues listen. At Norton, having been part of the campaign for the critically and commercially successful novel Dragonfish, a noir from Vietnamese-American writer Vu Tran, she saw “the viability of diverse voices in a specific genre.” At Blackstone, she championed Cadwell Turnbell’s recently published The Lesson, a sci-fi novel told from the perspective of a writer from the Virgin Islands. “It offers a unique take on a genre trope—an alien invasion—and turns it into something completely new,” Maturo says. The book, optioned by AMC for film, a B&N “best book of 2019 so far,” and the subject of a Boston Globe behind-the-book feature, continues its momentum.
KT Literary, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
From coast to coast, editors, agents, and colleagues sing Megibow’s praises. Kate Testerman, her boss, says that though the agency is located outside of Denver, “Sara has conquered the New York publishing scene and regularly receives author referrals from editorial colleagues, which I always feel is a fantastic sign of a great agent.” On the other coast, Megibow has closed deals with several “major players” in Los Angeles, Testerman adds. From her corporate background, Megibow brings a marketing sensibility to the agent arena with particular success in commercial women’s fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and children’s books. Among her clients are bestselling authors Tiffany Reisz, Jason Hough, Margaret Rogerson, and Jaleigh Johnson, as well as newcomers Rebecca Roanhorse and Casey McQuiston, whose debut novels “have exploded onto award lists and social media like shooting stars,” Testerman says.
Director of publicity
Del Rey, New York City
You may not know David Moench’s name, but you certainly know his roster of A-list authors, including George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, Justin Cronin, Robin Hobb, Connie Willis, and Bryan Lee O’Malley, who “rely on and trust his steadfast guidance,” says Susan Corcoran, senior v-p, director of publicity at the Random House Group. “His strategic expertise has helped make Del Rey the premier science fiction/fantasy imprints in publishing,” she adds. Corcoran also credits Moench with being a significant architect in launching the careers of new talent such as Katherine Arden, Pierce Brown, Peter V. Brett, Kevin Hearne, and Naomi Novik. When he’s not making his authors the brightest stars in sci-fi and fantasy, he provides publicity strategies for Del Rey’s growing portfolio of licenses, including Minecraft, Stranger Things, World of Warcraft, the soon-to-be-launched Avatar publishing program, and the juggernaut that is Star Wars. “Shrewd, levelheaded, wickedly funny, and kind, David’s unparalleled book publicity and media expertise is matched only by his generosity to his colleagues, who cherish his wise counsel on publicity campaigns and his unflagging support and collaboration,” Corcoran says.
Manager, revisions and author care
Cognella, San Diego
In three and half years, Carrie Montoya rocketed from intern to manager by the time she was 24. She was first hired as an intern at SAGE Publications by Kassie Graves (now editorial director at Cognella), who says, “I was instantly impressed with her professionalism for a young student, and her personal drive and passion to excel in everything she did quickly, which landed her a full-time position as an editorial assistant.” When Graves moved to Cognella, she kept in touch with her and succeeded in recruiting her as a revisions editor for the academic publishing company in March of 2016. Eight months after that, and an impressive 50 revisions later, Montoya was promoted to manager. Montoya, Graves says, quickly picked up the company’s systems, internal lingo, and procedures to work with authors on revisions that “make their books better and more widely adoptable.” She is the youngest member of the management team and yet finds the time to spearhead the company’s student-scholarship program, Cognella Cares.
Children’s book buyer
Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Mosey is “an imaginative, fun, and innovative children’s book buyer,” says his manager, Darron Schroeder, but “what truly makes Josh a unicorn to the Christian book industry is that he is a big idea thinker with steadfast passion for kids, their families, and reading.” Under Mosey, Schroeder notes, the children’s department has seen an 8% increase year-over-year for the past five years. Mosey also initiated a summer-reading program and grew it from 25 kids at its launch in 2007 to a whopping 1,871 for this past summer. “It’s been awesome to see families come in and get excited about reading,” Mosey says. Another brainchild of Mosey’s is Baker’s Christian book club (similar to Scholastic’s), called Baker Bookworms. He also has successfully integrated ABA children’s books into the store alongside CBA titles. Mosey’s debut book, 3-Minute Prayers for Boys, was published in April, and he has other books in the pipeline. He is a PAL member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Harper and Harper Perennial, New York City
David Unger, the director of City College of New York’s Publishing Certificate program, has kept a close watch on his mentee Amber Oliver since she took his graduate-level classes while still an undergraduate at CCNY. After completing the program, Oliver secured internships, first at Akashic Books and then at Inkwell Management, where the Women’s Media Group, an organization committed to increasing the visibility and the success of women, chose to mentor her. Now an editor at Harper and Harper Perennial, where she has been since March of 2016, she acquires literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and select nonfiction with a particular focus on marginalized communities. Saying, “There is no doubt in my mind that Ms. Oliver will become one of the leading editors in the publishing industry: she combines intelligence and her strong work ethic with an uncanny sense of the book market,” Unger has abundant confidence in her.
Cofounder, creator, author
Black, BlackSuperPower, New York City
A former editor at Marvel, Kwanza Osajyefo is a writer and key figure in the launch of Black, a new wave superhero series about a world in which only black people have superpowers. Osajyefo (along with illustrators Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, and Khary Randolph) launched the series on Kickstarter in early 2016 and raised more than $91,000 for its publication. Since then, Black has evolved into a graphic novel series and a publishing platform (BlackSuperPower) that includes Black AF: America’s Sweetheart, Black AF: Widows and Orphans, and most recently White, all written by Osajyefo. Osajyefo and his partners are focused on diversifying the world of superhero comics. Osajyefo also writes comics full of diverse characters for other publishers. He is a key member of a newly emerging world of tech-driven indie comics publishing that is infused with the entrepreneurial drive of start-ups.
Director of operations
Books Inc., San Francisco
Nine years ago, after interning with a congressman and learning he didn’t like politics, Perham took a part-time job at Books Inc., thinking it would be a temporary stop on his career path. Instead, it became the path. Now, he oversees operations for Books Inc.’s 12 stores, one of which opened about a year ago in Campbell, Calif. On November 1, he will be named president and CEO of Books Inc., succeeding Michael Tucker at the West’s oldest independent bookseller, operating since 1851. “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to take on leadership of this 168-year-old bookselling institution,” he says. “It has been awesome to see a new generation of booksellers across the country come into positions of leadership in established stores, or starting brand new stores themselves, and all the different ideas and business models and positive energy we have in the bookselling community.”
Gallt & Zacker, South Orange, N.J.
You can’t spell #DVPit without Beth Phelan. Okay, yes, you can, but she’s the one who started the popular Twitter event that showcases book pitches from marginalized voices. The first #DVPit event was in April 2016 and became a nationally trending hashtag. The most recent was in April of this year. The result has been well over 100 creators (authors, artists, illustrators) signed by agents and dozens of book deals inked. And that’s not even Phelan’s day job. She is an agent with Gallt & Zacker, where she has been since 2017 after making her mark at the Bent Agency. At GZLA, among the books she has sold are Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing, a YA novel that sheds light on the brutal real-life war on drugs in the Philippines; Queen of the Conquered by Stonewall Award–winning author Kacen Callender; and the sci-fi adventure Midnight on Strange Street by K.E. Ormsbee.
Assistant director of publicity
Flatiron, New York City
“Amelia Possanza possesses the covetable qualities that make a first-rate book publicist: excellent communication, superb leadership, strong writing skills, and an unflappable devotion and dedication to her colleagues and authors that lead to proven sales and big cultural conversations,” her former colleague Jessica Yu says. Among Possanza’s roster of authors are Melinda Gates, Sarah Baker, Laurie Frankel, Jane Harper, Sarah Kendzior, and Shobha Rao. And while a bold-face name like Gates may be easy to win attention for, it’s not for a newish true-crime writer like Jane Harper, for whom Possanza won a feature in the New York Times, publicity’s holy grail. Her cheerleading for books doesn’t stop at the office—she reviews books and writes for the Rumpus, Electric Literature, the Washington Post, and Buzzfeed. Yu adds, “Her leadership and steadfast commitment to teamwork is demonstrated in her ability to successfully build relationships with her colleagues, authors, booksellers, and reviewers,” which was recently on display at BookExpo, when she spoke on a panel to discuss how Macmillan can further build its relationships with booksellers.
Director of rights and co-editions
Scholastic Inc., New York City
In just over three years, Powell has increased her department’s revenue by 82% and profits by 58%. Powell attributes much of the growth (which in the prior 15 years was between 2% and 5%) to her work establishing co-editions as a lucrative business model. In addition to working with coagents, her team now works directly on a co-edition basis for picture, novelty, and illustrated licensed books in major markets. “This ensures the highest possible production value to all international editions,” she explains, “guaranteeing the author/illustrator royalties up-front, and gaining access to markets which might otherwise not be able to afford to publish high-end picture, novelty, or illustrated licensed books.” Among her successes are Harry Potter co-editions (over $2 million in revenue), Klutz Lego co-editions (over $1.5 million), Dog Man translations (32 languages sold), Riverdale translations (12 languages sold), and Graphix translations (a 44% increase in sales). Powell has encouraged her team to travel far and wide for sales trips and to attend book fairs from Frankfurt to Guadalajara, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, and beyond.
Random House Children’s Books, New York City
Dominique Cimina, RHCB’s v-p, executive director, publicity and corporate communications, reports that since joining her team in June 2016, she has received praise from authors, illustrators, colleagues, teammates, editors, and agents regularly for Redlich’s “performance and truly ardent commitment.” Redlich has spearheaded the campaigns for Christopher Paolini’s The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the critically acclaimed release Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton, and the bestseller Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, published in May. He also provides “smart support,” Cimina says, on high-profile brands, including Magic Tree House, Sesame Street, and Netflix’s Stranger Things, in addition to overseeing the programming for the various conventions that happen year-round. Outside of the office, Redlich has leadership roles on multiple committees. He is currently chair of the Young to Publishing Group, overseeing a group of around a dozen individuals from across AAP member houses, and he cochairs the planning committee of the Publishers Publicity Association.
Director, literary affairs
Fox 2000 and 20th Century Fox/Disney, Los Angeles
“Clare Reeth is an exemplary book-to-film scout,” Haley Hamilton, a colleague at Fox, says. Reeth began her career as an intern at Writers House, but was quickly snapped up by Drew Reed and his team at Fox, where she has specialized in comic book adaptations and young adult literature for the past four years. According to Hamilton, Reeth has been instrumental in finding and assessing strong IP for Fox studios and has helped create positive relationships between publishing and the film/TV world. “She’s a bright and shiny scouting star who makes toggling successfully between two industries look easy as lemon pie,” Hamilton says, adding, “Bonus points are due for Reeth being part of a team that respects authors while being able to help them, their agents, and their publishers succeed.”
HarperCollins/Tegen, New York City
Rosenthal is the editor behind such books as Mindy McGinnis’s Heroine, a look at the opioid epidemic, and her Female of the Species, an examination of rape culture; as well as Tiffany Jackson’s Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, both tackling issues facing black teens. He also birthed a book that his colleague, Mabel Hsu, reports “weighs almost as much as his first-born child.” The book, Armand Balthazar’s painstakingly illustrated Timeless Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, won glowing reviews from PW and many others. Rosenthal is “someone who lifts others up,” Hsu says. When she was hired as his assistant (now a colleague), she heard that she was hired as the team’s “token Asian,” and Rosenthal was the first person she turned to. “POC in this industry can’t survive without true-to-the-bone allies, advocates, and mentors—all of which Ben has proven himself to be time and time again.”
The Lit. Bar, New York City
In 2016, the Bronx Barnes & Noble, the only bookstore serving the Bronx’s nearly 1.5 million people, shuttered its doors. Noëlle Santos, a former executive at an IT firm, refused to let her community live without a bookstore, so she decided to open one herself—in spite of knowing almost nothing about the book business. For funding, she turned to Indiegogo, where she doubled her crowdfunding goal of $100,000. To learn the business, she moonlighted at Housing Works, Greenlight, and Word Up Community Bookshop while working full-time, and last summer, Lit. Bar opened its doors. Santos’s unlikely success story has won her extensive press coverage from the New York Times and the Today show, and she won the BISG’s 2018 Industry Innovator Award. She is an ABA advisory council member, the coadministrator of the Indie Booksellers Q&A Facebook forum, and a comoderator for PW’s BXsellers Facebook group.
RosettaBooks, New York City
Shortly after she was selected as a 2016 Star Watch honoree in her role as managing editor at RosettaBooks, Hannah Bennett moved on to Start Publishing, but not before helping handpick her successor, Brian Skulnik, who three years later has now also won a rising-star spot. When Skulnik first joined the company, CEO Arthur Klebanoff remained senior editorial/production publishing executive for supervision, but that didn’t last long. “Brian was more than up to the job on his own,” Klebanoff says. “I promoted him to managing editor within a year.” Klebanoff praises his ability to guide authors who tend to be very successful in their chosen fields—but who are not writers by background—through the publishing process. He interacts closely with them to achieve the custom experience on which the company prides itself. “Brian is able to make our authors feel that they are one among ones, as opposed to one among many,” Klebanoff says. He also praises Skulnik’s talent for creating and sticking to a production schedule, and—music to any CEO’s ears—sticking to budget.
Killer Nashville, Nashville
Stafford—who wears many hats, from publisher of Stafford Books (launched in 2018) to author, actor, composer, educator, and philanthropist—is the founder of “Killer Nashville,” a mystery, thriller, and suspense writers’ conference that has made the so-called music city a literary destination as well. A few years ago, in an article about the Nashville book scene, PW said that Stafford plays “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers not only in Middle Tennessee, but beyond... into the nation’s book culture.” That hasn’t changed. In February, the Writer magazine named “Killer Nashville” one of the nation’s top writing conferences. Stafford has gone further—under the helm of “Killer Nashville,” he has established several book award competitions including the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, which recognizes the best books in various categories, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, which assists authors in getting published, and the John Seigenthaler Legends Award, which is bestowed on an individual within the publishing industry who has championed First Amendment rights. “Killer Nashville” also contributes to many charitable causes, donating books to schools, libraries, and the armed forces, as well as providing scholarships for needy individuals to attend the conference.
Ascend Comics, Los Angeles
A queer writer, comics writer, and editor, Taneka Stotts used Kickstarter to create a series of science fiction and fantasy comics anthologies focused on challenging the absence and stereotypical depiction of queer people, women of color, and other marginalized communities. She was cofounder of Beyond Press (with Sfé R. Monster and Shing Yin Khor) that published the 2015 Lambda Award–winning Beyond: The Queer Sci-fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology, centered on the fictional lives of people with diverse genders and sexual identities. While at Beyond, she created and edited Elements: Fire, an anthology of comics by creators of color based on the theme of fire, which won the 2018 Eisner Award for best anthology, prompting an inspired speech on the presence and depiction of queer lives delivered by Stotts from the stage during the awards ceremony. In July of 2018, Stotts moved beyond Beyond to cofound, with Der-Shing Helmer, a new press, Ascend Comics, with a similar mission. More anthologies are on the way, and Stotts, called “one of the most dynamic voices in independent comics today” by PW’s Calvin Reid, continues to work on other writing projects, webcomics, and more.
Triada US, Sewickley, Pa.
At 23, most people are barely beginning their careers, but according to Uwe Stender, who hired Taylor as an intern when he was just 18, “Brent has had a remarkable career.” That might be because it seems Taylor had no learning curve—he was already at the summit. “When I saw his first reader’s report he wrote in his internship role, I knew instantly that I would offer him a job the moment the internship was up,” Stender says. Lucky for both that he accepted. Stender credits him with building the company’s foreign rights program from scratch to one that works with “the crème de la crème of foreign agents.” Taylor has brokered several six-figure deals and auctions. In July he sold at auction Suzanne Park’s first adult novel, Loathe at First Sight, to Morrow in a two-book deal. Earlier, in April, he sold Park’s #OwnVoices debut YA rom-con, The Perfect Escape, which follows a Korean-American teen.
Digital product manager
Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Md.
“Emily is a driving force in the digital innovation underway at Rowman & Littlefield and is having a material effect on the fortunes of this leading independent publishing company,” says Oliver Gadsby, president of the academic and professional division. Tyler was integral to the launch of the company’s Select Collections platform, which provides access to research and provides libraries with a flexible way to build e-book collections. She handles everything including managing the RFP process, creating demos for librarians, participating in contract negotiations, and sales presentations. Gadsby also praises her “excellent people skills,” which, in combination with her understanding of digital technologies, production processes, and editorial quality, have made her a valuable asset to the company. On top of all that, Tyler never misses a deadline, always pushes her projects to completion, and “has a cheerful, open manner that persuades others to follow the course she has set out,” Gadsby adds.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCD, New York City
David Unger, director of the Publishing Certificate Program at the City College of New York, has a self-described “proud papa” attitude toward his former student Vazquez, whom he calls “a wonderful and talented young man.” Vazquez’s star was shining bright when he was accepted into Unger’s graduate Translation Seminar while he was still an undergrad, where he did translations of Dominican and Puerto Rican authors. Now he is at MCD, FSG’s imprint dedicated to publishing “the unexpected—surprising stories, unusual authors, innovative formats—with the creativity and energy it deserves,” Vazquez says. His particular interest is genre-bending narratives representing strong, diverse characters and bold, progressive ideas. His first acquisition was the Man Booker–nominated debut novel In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne. He also was behind the recently published memoir This Is Not a T-Shirt from Bobby Hundreds, founder of the streetwear label the Hundreds. Vazquez is a member of the diversity initiatives in publishing Latinx and POC in Publishing.
Ivy Noelle Weir
Publicist, marketing manager
Quirk Books, Philadelphia
In book publishing, one usually isn’t both a publicist and a marketing manager, but at Quirk, until last month, Weir wore both hats. She recently shared what she described as the “bittersweet” news that she’s moving to Boston to be closer to her family and has accepted the position of collection management specialist, at EBSCO eBooks. Before joining Quirk, she worked as a teen librarian for five years and was selected to participate in the American Library Association’s class of Emerging Leaders. Her Quirk colleague Andie Reid says, “I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone more dedicated to and immersed in the world of books than Ivy.” Weir brought her varied experience to many innovative campaigns, such as Book Pop!, which features fun kits that give convention-style experiences to bookstores. Weir calls her time at Quirk invaluable and says, “I’m beyond grateful for my time at Quirk.”
Senior analyst, sales business development
Penguin Random House, New York City
“Our cutting-edge analysis of marketplace trends provides a strong competitive advantage for Penguin Random House,” says v-p of sales Randi Rosenkranz, and she believes that Welsh has had a major impact in achieving that edge. She cites the company’s recent adoption of Microsoft’s Power BI, a business analytics service, in which Welsh played a key role. Working closely with senior v-p and COO Nihar Malaviya’s team, “he helped create a tool that provides flexible reporting, time-saving solutions, and unique insights on categories and trends,” Rosenkranz says. Welsh fast-tracked to his current position. It was only four years ago that he joined the company as a sales assistant. Two years later he was a business analyst, and last November he was named to his current position. “Reid’s enthusiasm and dedication are unmatched,” Rosenkranz says. “He has quickly become the go-to person for quick and effective analysis. There’s no project too challenging or mountain too high for Reid to climb, and it’s easy to forget that he is still, relatively speaking, a junior employee.”
Founder and owner
KGB Bar, New York City
“We do a lot of culture here,” founder and owner Denis Woychuk told AM New York about KGB Bar, the space that is far more literary venue than bar. The storied (literally) venue at 85 East 4th St. in New York City’s East Village began as a speakeasy in the 1920s and, during the Cold War, was the headquarters of Little Ukraine’s own semisecret socialist club. But for the past 20 years, the space has established itself as a literary hot spot providing a pre- and postpublication hub for writers, with events almost nightly. The bar also publishes its own literary journal. Nine years ago, Woychuk launched the Sideshow Goshko performance series curated by Leslie Goshko, a performer and musician. And while the bar’s various themed nights—including poetry, fantasy fiction, and writing by sex workers—are usually home to emerging writers, such luminaries as Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Luc Sante, A.M. Homes, and Rick Moody have hallowed its literary halls.