Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2013
Miriam Robinson, who has risen from bookseller to Head of Marketing at Foyles in less than four years, was named the winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2013.
The award, which celebrates both the professional achievements and promise of women in publishing, was announced at a ceremony packed with publishers and industry professionals at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon.
Joan Smith, human rights activist, journalist and novelist, gave the keynote speech before Denise Johnstone-Burt, co-chair of the Kim Scott Walwyn Committee, awarded Miriam with her Prize. The Prize, worth £1000, is sponsored by the Society of Young Publishers and also includes a two-day course of Robinson's choice, courtesy of the Publishing Training Centre.
Before embarking on a career in publishing, Miriam completed a degree at the University of Virginia in English and French Literature, and then taught English to University students in China. Upon her return to the States, Miriam completed a Publishing Certificate Programme in New York, before travelling again - this time to Paris, where she secured an internship at the well-reputed Shakespeare & Company.
This placement eventually brought Miriam to London, and she joined the fiction department of Foyles on Charing Cross Road in 2007. In just four years she has worked her way up to her current role, as Foyles' Head of Marketing. Within this position Miriam has been able to deploy her creativity and passion for bookselling, as well as championing original initiatives and orchestrating hugely successful debut events.
About the shortlist
A brilliant and diverse shortlist drawn from across the book trade made up this year's Kim Scott Walwyn Prize. The four talented women in the running for 2013 showcased the breadth of talent in the industry, with the shortlist featuring an agent, an editor, an entrepreneur and a bookseller.
The 2013 shortlist:
- Laura Austin -co-founder of BookMachine and ebook marketing and account manager, YUDU Media
- Juliet Mushens -literary agent, The Agency Group
- Laura Palmer - co-founder and editorial director, Head of Zeus
- Miriam Robinson -head of marketing, Foyles
The judges commended the shortlist as follows:
'Laura's stellar seven-year career in publishing started with a fairly conventional editorial role in Pearson ELT, - but even at that early stage, she showed her future networking colours by training new recruits to the company in how the editorial department worked. She moved on to work for Cengage Learning and then Oxford University Press, where she became Digital Champion, in charge of selling digital products for the UK Sales team. Her really innovative achievement, however, was to set up BookMachine, which has become an international event organisation for publishing professionals who want to network, with events all over the UK and now in New York, Toronto and Barcelona. Laura's vast energy and, more importantly, her ability to turn an idea into something real and useful for the publishing industry, convinced the judges she should be on this very strong shortlist.'
'Juliet's impressive career trajectory began in the marketing department at HarperCollins. After two years, Juliet applied her editorial passion for debut fiction and moved to Peters, Fraser & Dunlop to become an assistant to two literary agents. Within eight months Juliet ascended to the role of an agent, and two months later she sold her first book at auction. Since then, Juliet has proven to be a rigorous agent who has gone to great lengths to find the best writing. Her intuition for excellent storytelling has enabled her to establish a list of bestselling books in a very short space of time: to date, Juliet has sold thirteen fiction titles and a further ten non-fiction titles. In 2012, Juliet moved to The Agency Group as a Literary Agent, charged with the responsibility of developing the UK rostrum of authors. It is no surprise The Bookseller named her as one of the rising stars of 2012; as one referee says, "Juliet's talent, personality and drive make me confident she is one of the industries leaders of the future".'
'It is difficult to believe that Laura Palmer has only six years' publishing experience. She is now a founder director of the publisher Head of Zeus, set up in 2011, but she started as an editorial assistant at Quercus in 2007-where her early championing of an obscure Scandinavian book called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo helped move it into worldwide success. Swift acquisitions and ruthless attention to detail in all aspects of design and production and marketing marked out the books she worked on at her next publisher, Corvus, part of Atlantic. Her late nights multitasking to get books published fast and effectively stood her in good stead for her next move, to help set up Head of Zeus. The founding team of four has already expanded to 15, publishing 200 books a year. It is clear that Laura has already achieved a great deal as an all-rounder in publishing, and has a bright and important future.'
'Miriam impressed the judges with her passion and dedication to bookselling. She is creative in how she approaches her work and has achieved a remarkable amount on a tight budget. Her innovative Bookshop Workshop open-source project called upon the industry to look at ways that the bookshop can survive in the era of Amazon and eBooks. She was also an integral part of the Charing Cross Road Festival, which turned the negative impact of the Crossrail works on Charing Cross Road's bookshops into a unique and successful festival that promoted both Foyles and Blackwells. Miriam's genuine enthusiasm for the industry was evident throughout her application, but more than that, she demonstrated the desire, intelligence and creativity to take this passion and create successful projects and campaigns that elevate the entire book trade and support readers.'
About the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2013
The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize, which honours the life and career of Kim Scott Walwyn and recognises the achievements of women in publishing, was founded in 2003 and has been awarded seven times to outstanding women publishers.
In 2011, to reflect developments in the publishing world, the prize committee and Booktrust -which has managed the Prize since its inception- partnered with the Society of Young Publishers and the Publishing Training Centre in order to recognise not only achievement but also promise amongst women in the industry. Because of this, the Prize of £1000 sponsored by the SYP, and a two-day training course at the PTC is now open to any woman who has worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years.
For updates on the Award follow @Booktrust and #ksw on Twitter.
2012 Rukhsana Yasmin
2011 Kay Peddle
2010 (prize did not run)
2009 Kathy Rooney
2008 Clare Alexander
2007 Annette Thomas
2006 (prize did not run)
2005 Penelope Hoare
2004 Lynette Owen
Prize Advisory Committee
- Professor Dame Gillian Beer DBE, FBA, FRSL, (King Edward VII Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge)
- Catherine Clarke (Literary Agent, Managing Director at the Felicity Bryan Agency)
- Nicola Crossley, SYP Vice-Chair 2010
- Denise Johnstone-Burt (Publisher at Walker Books)
- Kate Jury (Garden and Landscape Designer, Oxford Garden Partners; formerly a marketing director for Oxford University Press)
- Hermione Lee CBE (writer, English Literature Professor and President of Wolfson College Oxford)
- Fiona Maddocks (Chief Music Critic, the Observer)
- Francine Stock (novelist and broadcaster)