I’m on a belated summer holiday in the Isles of Scilly – if it’s good enough for Michael Morpurgo, it’s good enough for me – but not even the prospect of a crab sandwich or iffy WiFi could stop me from watching this afternoon’s Independent Publishing Awards virtual ceremony. The awards, run by the brilliant Independent Publishers Guild, celebrate the best of the huge range of independent publishing in the UK. Delayed by Covid-19, these awards reflected our performance in 2019.
We won, astonishingly, for the fifth time in our nine years of publishing, the Children’s Publisher of the Year Award, though we were up against a very strong shortlist of Walker Books, Sweet Cherry and personalised book publisher, Wonderbly. The award is sponsored by Blackwells, and we are hugely grateful to them for their continued support. In the summary, the IPG said of us that we had “had another remarkable year of growth in 2019. The judges were impressed by Nosy Crow’s energetic marketing, international reach, dedication to new and longstanding children’s writers and illustrators and commitment to issues like diversity and sustainability. ‘It’s a consistently impressive business with a brilliant team of people across sales, rights and editorial,’ they said.”
We also won, for the fourth time in our nine years of publishing, the IPG International Achievement Award, despite a shortlist made up of last year’s winners Kogan Page and Walker Books. In the summary, the IPG said, “Its tireless team achieved more stellar international rights growth last year, with the US and China among the best performers. Export sales grew too, after it brought management of them in-house for the first time. ‘Nosy Crow’s achievements in rights and coeditions are extraordinary… it’s an international powerhouse and getting even better,’ said the judges.”
We were very proud to be shortlisted for the inaugural Sustainability Award, won by Cambridge University Press, who are well on the way to being carbon-neutral. We know that we still have a way to go to make ourselves a truly sustainable business, but we were pleased to have our efforts in moving in the right direction acknowledged in this way.
Finally, Michela Pea, Nosy Crow’s Senior Rights Manager, won Young Independent Publisher of the Year – the second Nosy Crow to have won this award in our nine years of publishing (Tom Bonnick won in 2015). In the summary, the IPG said that Michela “has made a huge impact on her company since joining in May 2016. Initially as rights assistant and now as senior rights manager, she has kept Nosy Crow’s international sales growing fast, excelling in rights and coeditions and in the Chinese market in particular. ‘Considering she’s only a few years into publishing she’s achieved an outstanding amount. She is obviously right at the heart of the business already,’ said the judges.”
To be an independent publisher is tough just now. We don’t have big corporate money to keep us afloat, and all our profits have been, over the years, ploughed into funding our growth. Though we are finding many ways to thrive in difficult times, it is hugely heartening to have our hard work, creative integrity and commercial savvy acknowledged. It means a lot. I’m personally grateful to every member of the Nosy Crow team who has managed to find a way to contribute so brilliantly in unusual and sometimes trying times. And we’re all grateful to our authors and our illustrators and their agents; to our customers at home and abroad, from the smallest indie bookshop on a UK high street to the biggest of international publishers; to our printers and distributors; and to every librarian, teacher and carer who’s bought a Nosy Crow book anywhere in the world to share with the coming generation of readers.