Sally Richardson is wrapping up her 50th year at the St. Martin’s Publishing Group (a division of Macmillan). To say she has done it all at the company is an understatement. In nominating the publicity-averse Richardson, Don Weisberg, president of Macmillan Publishers (and Richardson’s boss), and Tom Dunne, v-p executive editor and publisher of Thomas Dunne Books, proclaimed that Richardson is beyond notable. “She is legendary,” they wrote.
After Richardson had a long stint as president and publisher of St. Martin’s, Weisberg appointed her chairman in February 2018. As chairman, her task is to help chart the future of the division by continuing to acquire books and to focus on its international rights and publishing business. But that hasn’t stopped her from doing other things. In 2017, she hired Joel Fotinois to start a mind-body-spirit imprint, and she was there in summer 2018 when details about it were revealed, including its name, St. Martin’s Essentials. The imprint released its first titles this past April.
St. Martin’s Essentials is just the latest St. Martin’s business that bears Richardson’s stamp. In their nominating submission, Weisberg and Dunne called her “essential” in building the company from one that had about 30 employees when she was hired into a major player in the U.S. publishing business. In addition to being what the men called “a brilliant rights director,” she has, they said, a “keen eye for recognizing talent and nurturing writers across all categories.” Richardson was also founder and editor-in-chief of the St. Martin’s mass market paperback division and creator of the successful Minotaur mystery program.
When Richardson eventually steps away from St. Martin’s, her legacy will be not just the imprints she created, the divisions she launched, and the authors she publishers; it will also be reflected in the many employees she has helped over the years. “For years,” Weisberg and Dunne wrote, Richardson “has been a role model for several generations of book people. At St. Martin’s, she has supported and mentored scores of men and women who have become leaders at Macmillan and throughout the industry.”
While Richardson has seen enormous changes in the industry over her career—conglomeration, the advent of e-publishing, and the rise of social media—she says some things remain the same: “What’s been constant are the calibre of the colleagues in the business; the challenge of discovering, buying, and working as a team to get great books out and into the market; and, of course, being able to associate everyday with the founders of the feast, our authors.”