A few weeks back, BookMachine posted a tweet that made me pause as I scrolled through my timeline. They asked their followers to tell them about people in publishing that inspire them the most. There are a few people in publishing who I’ve come to deeply admire and respect over the years. The people I’ve listed below have all made incredible contributions to the industry. Without them, publishing wouldn’t be the same in my opinion. Here are the publishing people that inspire me, and many others, no doubt.
Which publishing people inspire you the most? What have they achieved?
— BookMachine (@BookMachine) June 25, 2019
Black Girls’ Book Club (@bg_bookclub)
Black Girls’ Book Club was founded by Natalie Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry. I attended my first Black Girls’ Book Club brunch in 2017 and it was an affirming, soul-enriching experience that left me on a high for weeks afterwards. For me, many factors make a BGBC affair like no other. This includes the guests, the book selections, the venues, the people you meet and the conversations that take place.
What initially drew me to Black Girl’s Book Club was the fact that the founders proudly centre and celebrate black women writers in everything they do. The care and attention to detail that goes into each event to make them as joyful and memorable as possible for everyone involved are unmatched. This month, Carter and Cummings-Quarry were selected as Rising Stars of 2019 by The Bookseller, and rightfully so. If you’re a black woman who is into books, you must experience the magic that is Black Girls’ Book Club at least once in your life.
Sharmaine Lovegrove (@sharlovegrove)
I’ve mentioned Sharmaine Lovegrove on my blog before and think her story is amazing. She started selling second-hand books as a teenager before going on to open an English-language bookshop in Berlin years later. In 2017, she founded Dialogue Books, an inclusive imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. She’s a true advocate for positive change in the industry, especially when it comes to representation and diversity. Lovegrove has more than 20 years working with books in various capacities and was named 2018’s FutureBook Person of the Year by The Bookseller. I salute her. When Sharmaine speaks, we should listen.
Aimée Felone (@aimeefelone)
Another woman who has made a huge impact on the industry. In 2017, Felone co-founded Knights Of, an inclusive children’s publishing house. She is also one of the key people behind Brixton’s first permanent inclusive bookshop, Round Table Books. Round Table Books started as a pop-up bookshop in October 2018 titled #ReadTheOnePercent, following the publication of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s Reflecting Realities study. The amazing response it received from the community led to Felone and her Knights Of co-founder David Stevens starting a crowdfunding campaign to open a permanent store. The crowdfund was a huge success. In May 2019, Round Table Books opened its doors for the first time in South London’s Brixton Village.
With all her achievements in the last couple of years alone, it’s no surprise that Felone won the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2019. She and her team’s commitment to ensuring that every child can see themselves in the books they read are commendable. If you can, please pay a visit to Round Table Books in Brixton and show the team some love!
Genuinely amazed that I won the @KSWPrize tonight. Grateful for all the powerhouse women that paved the way for me in publishing and constantly motivated to make the industry better for those yet to come! pic.twitter.com/bHIK4kAoAs
— Aimée Felone (@aimeefelone) May 28, 2019
Nikesh Shukla (@nikeshshukla)
Nikesh Shukla is a writer, editor and all-around awesome human being. If you’re not familiar with him or The Good Immigrant, the award-winning collection of essays he edited… I’m high-key judging you. The success of The Good Immigrant led to Shukla co-founding The Good Literary Agency with his agent Julia Kingsford and launching The Good Journal, a quarterly literary journal showcasing the very best work by writers and illustrators of colour.
Shukla is also a big champion of diversity, representation and inclusion in publishing. He started the Jhalak Prize with fellow author Sunny Singh and Media Diversified and co-edited Rife: 20 Stories of Britain’s Youth, a new anthology published by Unbound earlier this month. Shukla has authored numerous books including Coconut Unlimited and The One Who Wrote Destiny and Young Adult novels Run, Riot and The Boxer. He also co-wrote a non-fiction children’s book titled What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions? with Claire Heuchan.
Abiola Bello (@EmilyKnightIAM)
Award-winning children’s and YA author Abiola Bello wears many hats. In addition to being a co-founder of The Author School and boutique publishing house Hashtag Press, she is the founder of The Lil’ Author Skool, a non-profit organisation supporting young writers between the ages of 5 and 21. She recently announced Hashtag BLAK, a new imprint of Hashtag Press which focuses on diversity and inclusion. She led a series of free events earlier this year in partnership with LIBRARY London, covering everything including how to get into publishing, becoming a better writer to getting your voice heard. In 2018, she was the first black person to win the London Book Fair’s Trailblazer Award.
When Bello gave a talk at last year’s Society of Young Publisher’s conference, I was blown away by how many different things she does! She’s super warm and funny and knowledgeable. Her experience in the industry speaks for itself. I’m excited to read all of her books and see what she does next!
We’d like to give a huge congratulations to our winner of London’s BIG Read 2019 ‘Emily Knight… I am… Awakened’ @abiolabello ✨ Our runners up are ‘I’m Absolutely Fine!’ & ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ Thank you to all the authors that participated and everyone that voted! pic.twitter.com/LkpSMnORjF
— LondonsBIGread (@LondonsBIGread) July 6, 2019
Who in the book publishing industry inspires you? Let me know in the comments!
*Feature image by Aung Soe Min on Unsplash