Kim Scott Walwyn Prize #KSWPrize
Last night, Suzy and Helen attended the 2019 Kim Scott Walwyn Award Ceremony in the beautiful and traditional Stationers’ Hall. This is a fantastic prize that recognises the professional achievements and promise of women in publishing and is open to any woman who has worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years.
Deborah Frances-White, stand-up comedian, podcaster (The Guilty Feminist), screenwriter and corporate speaker, was the keynote, and refreshingly observed how male an environment we were in. There are paintings and stain-glassed windows all beautiful but barely any depicting women. Deborah wanted to advocate the awards and said that the great thing about the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize is that is it asking women to be the creators and innovators and reshape the space.
Founded in 2003, the Prize honours the life and career of Kim Scott Walwyn, who was Publishing Director at Oxford University Press and who died in 2002 at the age of 45. The Prize is run in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers (SYP). The shortlist was an amazing group of women and change-makers who show tremendous talent and bravery in their career paths so far. It is a fantastic achievement to be shortlisted and the judges had a hard job choosing a winner. This year’s judges include: Denise Johnstone‐Burt, Executive Editorial Director and Publisher at Walker Books; Catherine Clarke, Literary Agent at Felicity Bryan; Alice Curry, Founder of Lantana Publishing; Rukhsana Yasmin, Deputy Editor of Wasafiri; Julia Kingsford, literary agent and marketing consultant; Ain-Deheb Bensenouci, Senior Academic Partnership Manager at Epigeum and Emma Paterson, Agent at Aitken Alexander Associates.
The winner of this year’s prize is Aimée Felone, co-founder of Knights Of, an independent publisher focussed on publishing quality content for children with as many perspectives as possible. It is so important to celebrate Aimée’s achievements as she is passionate about increasing diversity in the books our children read and therefore championing #BooksMadeBetter by ensuring that every child can see themselves reflected in the books they’re reading. She has also spearheaded the opening up of an inclusive bookstore, Round Table Books, with her business partner in Brixton with a very successful crowdfunded campaign.
This win was so well-deserved, although the others on the shortlist are also individuals to champion: Aki Schiltz, Director at The Literary Consultancy, is doing amazing things in terms of pay transparency with her #bookjobtransparency Twitter campaign, building on Rebecca Swift’s long legacy. Crystal Mahey-Morgan, co-owner of Own it!, makes things happen and is a powerful force for change in the industry. Heather McDaid and Laura Jones, co-founders of 404 Ink, didn’t wait around for jobs in a Scottish publisher to come up but started-up their own hugely successful and innovative publisher. Ola Gotkowska, Contracts Manager at Nosy Crow, has tremendous courage and amazing success in her position and is a role-model for us all.
Deborah Frances-White powerfully reminded us that we make assumptions on what we should do and how we should behave based on what’s already happening around us in the workplace and society, but that this doesn’t need to happen. These shortlisted women have been brave to create, innovate and build new paths. The young generation of women and individuals coming through want to be heard, and will follow in the footsteps of such impressive women to create a space that enables women to achieve and celebrate that success. Thank you to the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize and the SYP for an inspiring evening.