Kim Scott Walwyn Prize Shortlist Announced

Five talented women working in diverse areas of the publishing industry – from academic publishing to children’s books – have been announced as the shortlisted candidates for the 2015 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize.

The Bookseller’s books and media editor Anna James, editor at Faber Rebecca Lewis-Oakes, literary agent Jo Unwin, archivist at Taylor & Francis Brianna Corbett and commissioning editor for Cambridge University Press Nisha Doshi, are the five candidates in the running for this year’s Prize.

This year the national Prize, administrated by reading charity Book Trust and run in association with the Society of Young Publishers and Publishing Training Centre, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a timely announcement during London Book Fair. Catherine Clark and Denise Johnstone-Burt, co-chairs of the judging panel, said: ‘We would like to commend everybody who applied, and the choice was not easy. But after lively discussion we have selected a shortlist of five outstanding women. Their roles are all quite different, but they all in different ways reflect the new realities of an industry adapting to the challenges and excitements of our digital age. In the end, we chose them for the extra mile they go to enhance their jobs, for their ability to seize opportunities, and their great promise for the future.’

The Prize was established in memory of Kim Scott Walwyn, a publishing director at Oxford University Press who died at the age of 45, and is open to any woman who has worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years. It is the only award to recognise the professional achievements and promise of women in publishing.

Book Trust Chief Executive Diana Gerald commented: ‘The judges have selected an impressive list of shortlisted candidates. All of these women have grown up with a love of books and understand the importance of reading for pleasure, which no doubt has contributed to their successful careers in publishing. Books open doorways.’

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at the Free Word Centre in Central London on Wednesday 20 May 2015 and will receive £1,000 sponsored by Society of Young Publishers and a two-day training course at The Publishing Training Centre. This year’s keynote speaker will be international bestselling author Kate Mosse OBE.

The 2015 shortlist is:

  • Brianna Corbett – Production Archivist, Taylor & Francis Group
  • Rebecca Lewis-Oakes – Associate Editor, Faber & Faber Ltd
  • Anna James – Books News and Media Editor, The Bookseller
  • Nisha Doshi – Commissioning Editor, Cambridge University Press
  • Jo Unwin – Literary Agent, Jo Unwin Literary Agency

The judges commended the shortlist as follows:

Brianna Corbett
‘Brianna has impressed with the passion and resourcefulness she shows in her role as Production Archivist. In this newly created role, Brianna’s clear enthusiasm for organisation has resulted in a carefully managed archive system. But more impressively, Brianna’s tenacity for detail has had a direct impact on workflow for the company – Brianna evidently understands the important role metadata plays in the modern publishing process. In some part, Brianna’s passion for quality control has enabled her company’s publishing to run more efficiently, and it’s for such dedication to detail that Brianna has made the shortlist for the prize. Much like Kim herself did, she shows fantastic potential and clearly thinks beyond the requirements of her role.’

Rebecca Lewis-Oakes
‘Rebecca joined Scholastic as a junior desk editor at 22, and was selected for The British Council’s Future Leaders in the Creative Industries programme, which took her to China on a cultural leadership exchange in 2009. She joined Faber Children’s Books in 2010, and was one of the first editors to approach a YouTube star, Sprinkle of Glitter, before vloggers became the rage. She has looked after the children’s books for the major estates at Faber, including T S Eliot, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, which as she says ‘requires no less diplomacy and author care than with a living author’. As a member of the Faber Technology committee, she has been instrumental in many of Faber’s digital initiatives across the company, recognizing that systems and training are as vital to the publisher’s success as the more glamorous publishing activity. She is held in great esteem by her colleagues and authors alike, and will clearly be a driving force in the future of our publishing industry.’

Anna James
‘Anna James is the Book News and Media Editor at The Bookseller and all-round champion of books. The judges were impressed not only with her 9-5 work: building a YouTube presence, launching the YA Book Prize and consistently and creatively reporting on the weekly industry book news, but also, her personal blog “Go Book Yourself” and contributing editorial work for both Elle UK and Soho House Magazine. She takes to initiative to get involved and go above and beyond her remit and this year she was asked to judge the Blue Peter Book Awards.’

Nisha Doshi
‘Following an impressive student career at Cambridge, both as an undergraduate and then as an MPhil student in archaeology, Nisha quickly established an exciting reputation on the forefront of not just academic publishing but publishing in general, working tirelessly to not only modernise medical and academic publishing but to push it into the future. Since becoming a commissioning editor in pathology in 2011, she rebuilt Cambridge University Press’ dormant pathology list, despite having no background in the field, and consistently surpassed her commissioning targets. Nisha has been an innovator in the digital publishing field, as well; her work developing apps and a self-assessment website studying for certification exams are only part of her ongoing efforts to replace out-of-date DVDs and CDs – still too often seen as a critical component of academic publishing – with dynamic online solutions, and she created the Cambridge Medicine blog, which has since become a model for other academic marketing teams at Cambridge University Press. Although she has only worked in the publishing industry for a few years, Nisha is clearly a publisher with a remarkable career ahead of her.’

Jo Unwin

‘Changing your career is never easy, but Jo has certainly made it seem so. We were very impressed with Jo’s achievements in the last six years; particularly the rostrum of clients she has built and the relationships she has developed in such a short space of time. We echo Patrick Walsh in saying that Jo has taken to the industry incredibly well – the fact that she has managed to successfully set up her own agency, as well as a prestigious client list, is a fantastic achievement. We have no doubt that she will become one of the industry’s agents to watch, if she hasn’t already.’

The full line-up of judges for the 2015 Prize is:

  • Denise Johnstone – Burt – Publisher, Walker Books (Co-chair of judges)
  • Catherine Clarke – Literary Agent and Managing Director, Felicity Bryan Associates (Co-chair of judges)
  • Nicki Crossley – SYP Vice-chair 2010 and Commissioning Editor for Coronet, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton
  • Professor Dame Hermione Lee CBE – biographer and President of Wolfson College, Oxford
  • Anne Perry – KSW Prize 2014 winner, Editor at Hodder & Stoughton and Founder of The Kitschies
  • Helen Youngs – SYP Chair 2014 and Publishing Recruitment Consultant (Trade), Inspired Selection


Keep up-to-date with the Prize at and on Twitter: #kswprize

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