The first whitefox Unsung Heroes of Publishing list celebrates specialists working in-house or freelancing in and around the UK’s book publishing industry. We’ve seen list after list showcasing the CEOs and MDs within the traditional publishing industry. This year, we felt it was time for a change. The idea that the book publishing ecosystem is awash with hierarchical Devil Wears Prada autocrats shouting the odds is, frankly, outmoded. Every influential figure relies on a support cast of specialists who make a massive difference with their practical knowledge, specific skills, and talents, and they deserve to be celebrated.
Over the course of three months, we’ve received nominations from across the industry extolling the virtues of colleagues and collaborators from entry-level to established roles. A deluge of submissions came in: some simply stating names, some efficiently listing merits. Others were in essay form, lavishing praise in eloquent detail.We were pleased to see that for every nominee toiling away at a large publishing house, there was another candidate who struck out on their own within a start-up, or a freelance career providing services directly to authors. The resulting pool of nominations reflects a genuine enthusiasm for hidden talent across the board. If you think this is worthwhile, you might agree that we all need to take responsibility for spreading the word. We recognise that organisations won’t always want to unearth their hidden gems, but anything that encourages conversation about the diversity of people who make publishing work is a positive thing.
This list doesn’t claim to be perfect. It does claim to be different. It is a starting point for a conversation we hope will develop and grow as the years pass – a conversation we’d like everyone to join.
Breakdown of 2016 Nominees
The chart above shows the percentages of total nominations we received for each publishing specialism. Out of all nominations received, 24% were for freelancers, 28% for independent businesses and societies, 48% for traditional publishers or literary agencies. Women slightly outstripped men. The nominations also clearly reinforced everything that has been said recently on the issue of the lack of ethnic diversity within UK publishing. All areas which would benefit from more focus and time in the spotlight, and hopefully, something to keep in mind for 2017.
Congratulations, Unsung Heroes!
Here are this year’s winners, in alphabetical order:
Head of Communications, Independent Publishers Guild
Senior Editor, Fourth Estate and William Collins
Freelance Designer, Office of Optimism
Contracts Director, Harper Collins
Publishing Director, Usborne