I write this sitting in a Sydney hotel bed. I am not where the action is: at the Grosvenor Hotel in London at the British Book Awards aka the Nibbies. It’s midnight in London. It’s the beginning of my first work day here in Sydney: I am here for the Allen and Unwin sales conference. While others are quaffing fizzy wine in posh clothes (I doubt we’ll have stretched to champagne – we are independent publishers after all), I am having a cup of tea and a Kit Kat in an M&S vest.
And I am, frankly, livid.
Because Nosy Crow has just been named Children’s Publisher of the Year. AND I AM NOT THERE. This is a hugely prestigious award, and the shortlisted competition was extraordinary: we were up against Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Macmillan Children’s Books, Scholastic Children’s Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Dorling Kindersley, and Usborne Publishing. These are brilliant publishers (and I am proud to have worked for two of them), and they’re all much, much bigger than us. But we won!
As well as being livid, though, I am so proud. I am proud of the dedicated, creative team at Nosy Crow – and Camilla Reid, shortlisted for Editor of the Year, and Ola Gotkowska, shortlisted for Rights Professional of the Year at the Nibbies deserve special mention because of their shortlistings, but honestly I could bang on for ages about the qualities of everyone we employ. I am proud of our hugely talented authors and illustrators without whom we wouldn’t have a single thing to publish or anything to do all day. I am proud to have ended 2016 the 13th biggest children’s publisher in the UK based on sales to real people, and the 40th biggest publisher in the UK overall. I am proud that we have won this award as well as, for the third time in five years, the Independent Publishers Guild’s Children’s Publisher of the Year Award.
And I am grateful. I am grateful to the authors and illustrators, again, who took a punt on a start-up and continue to trust us with their babies. I am grateful to the supportive UK retailers large and small (including Tesco who sponsored the award). I am grateful to Bounce, whose wonderful reps reach UK places other rep forces struggle to reach, and to our partners and publishers around the world including our English language friends, Allen and Unwin in Australia and New Zealand and Candlewick Press in the USA, with whom we collaborate particularly closely. I am grateful to the printers in the UK and abroad who make our books look pick-uppable. I am grateful to the librarians and teachers and mums and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles who buy our books and apps in their millions (I had to stop and think about that for a minute, but, yes, books and apps in their millions), some of whom are even kind enough to tell us how positive they feel about us on social media. Oh, and I am, of course, seriously grateful to The Bookseller, for running the whole thing, and to the judges, who described Nosy Crow as “one of the most remarkable success stories of recent times”, and who said:
“Nosy Crow’s growth is incredible – but sustainable too. It’s not just cashing in on a mega author but making its publishing work across the board… Digital isn’t just an add-on but embedded… It’s got a very strong identity and sense of purpose, and it’s now firmly established among the big publishing players.”
But in the end – and I know this will sound awfully cheesy; it is, however, the thing we get out of bed for in the morning, I am most proud and grateful that children, the real children we have in our minds’ eye as the potential reader of our books when those books are just a file of unedited words, or some sketches, or the merest idea, love our books and want to read them.
So I raise my cup of tea (I’ve finished the Kit Kat), and toast the children, and their reading of Nosy Crow books in the course of our first six years of publishing, and, I hope, for many years to come.