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.

  • Digital specialists

  • Marketers

  • Editors

  • Project managers

  • Designers

  • Production specialists

  • Agents

  • Founders

  • Others


The chart below 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.

Breakdown of 2016 Nominees

Congratulations, Unsung Heroes!

The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2016

The 25 Unsung Heroes of Publishing for 2016, in alphabetical order:

Hattie Adam-Smith

Senior Marketing Manager, Michael Joseph


Fleur Clarke

Senior Digital Marketing Executive, Hodder

& Stoughton @fluerrr

John Espirian

Internet Director, Society for Editors and

Proofreaders @espirian

Katherine Haw

Senior Production Editor, SAGE Publications


Robert Lacey

Senior Editor, Fourth Estate and

William Collins

Ray O’Meara

Freelance Designer, Office of Optimism

no twitter

Rafi Romaya

Art Director, Canongate


Anna Simpson

Senior Editor, Bloomsbury Publishing


Heather Boisseau

Publishing Manager, RedDoor Publishing


Philippa Donovan

Freelance Editor, SmartQuill Editorial


Hattie Foster

Digital Producer at Penguin Random House


Gavin Hilzbrich

Freelance Marketer, MoonAge Media


Lucy Llewellyn

Founder, Head and Heart Publishing


Max Porter

Senior Editor at Granta and Author


Gareth Shannon

Contracts Director, Harper Collins

no twitter

Cathryn Summerhayes

Literary agent at William Morris Agency


Jenny Tyler

Publishing Director, Usborne

David Brimble

David Brimble

Freelance Production Specialist


David Eldridge

Freelance Book Designer, Two Asssociates


Kristen Harrison

Founder of The Curved House


Tom Holman

Head of Communications, Independent Publishers


Alice Lutyens

Audio Manager, Curtis Brown


Simon Rhodes

Senior Production Manager, Penguin


Paul Sherreard

Programme Manager, Spread the Word


Rebecca Swift

Founder of The Literary Consultancy