London: 12 November 2020: We are delighted to announce the winners of our annual Industry Awards, recognising and celebrating the many professionals whose work supports and promotes the genre of romantic fiction. The categories recognise the best Bookseller, Agent, Publisher, Library and Media Star of the year, and the Inclusion Award recognises an individual or organisation that has championed inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing. The RNA Industry Awards are decided by the membership, with every member eligible to nominate within each category.
The winners were announced in a video presentation on 12th November 2020.
This award recognises the individual or organisation that has championed inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing.
Winner Julie Cohen is an award-winning and Sunday Times bestselling novelist whose work has twice been selected for the Richard and Judy book club. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages and have been optioned for film and television. Together won the Contemporary Romantic Novel Award and The Two Lives of Louis & Louise was longlisted for the Polari Prize. She is Patron of literacy charity ABC to Read, a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder of the RNA’s Rainbow Chapter, for writers who identify as LGBTQIA+ and/or who write novels featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, and allies who wish to learn more. Her latest novel is Spirited.
Since being formed, the Rainbow Chapter collectively has forged links with other LGBTQIA+ writing organisations and professionals and worked to welcome LGBTQIA+ writers to the RNA. They have taken steps to make events more inclusive and to raise the profile of LGBTQIA+ relationship fiction both within the RNA and in the wider industry. They offer support and share professional advice with LGBTQIA+ writers. Their message is LOVE STORIES ARE FOR EVERYONE.
Library or Librarian of the Year
This award recognises the important work that libraries and librarians do in supporting the romantic fiction genre, and the Association in particular.
The winner is Liz Gardner, Burton Library, Staffordshire Libraries, for being a proactive supporter of the RNA and the Romance genre, creating promotional material to support author events and sharing them with all libraries.
Burton-upon-Trent is a large market town in east Staffordshire with a culturally diverse mixed urban and rural community, pocketed by areas of socio-economic deprivation. Burton Library is the largest of the 43 static libraries in the county (27 of which are managed by community organisations) and 2 mobiles which make up Staffordshire Libraries. As well as providing a wide range of library and information services, the team works closely with local and regional partners to offer activities, learning and cultural events to meet community need. Burton Library houses the county Reading Group Service, sending book sets out monthly to over 200 groups across the county. In 2019 they won a CILIP Marketing Excellence Award for their community volunteer-led initiative, Burton Bedtime Stories. As part of Staffordshire Libraries’ countywide offer, library users can also access a vibrant e-library of books, audio books, graphic novels and magazines, e-resources for learning and leisure and a programme of virtual events through their social media pages.
Bookseller of the Year
This award recognises booksellers promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year.
The winner this year is The Ripped Bodice, the only exclusively romance bookstore on the West Coast of the USA.
Sisters and owners Leah and Bea Koch raised $91,000 on Kickstarter to bring their dream of a romance-only bookstore to life. The Ripped Bodice opened its doors in March 2016 and has been growing and thriving ever since.
Bea and Leah Koch grew up in Chicago, IL. Bea went on to attend Yale and NYU, where she wrote a graduate thesis titled ‘Mending the Ripped Bodice’. Leah attended USC in Los Angeles, graduating cum laude with a degree in visual and performing arts. Both sisters are lifelong romance readers and feel lucky to spend their days surrounded by books.
Media Star of the Year
This award recognises journalists, bloggers, publicists, TV or radio presenters who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and/or the RNA in a positive way.
This year’s winner is ex-lawyer and travel consultant Julie Morris. She has been running her popular blog, A Little Book Problem, since January 2017, amassing a large following of dedicated readers. She loves supporting and promoting authors through reviews, blog tours and a range of author features, her Friday Night Drinks posts being especially popular. Romance is her favourite genre, and she is currently writing her own love-packed novel, as a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme.
Agent of the Year
For the literary agent who has striven to support, mentor, nurture and promote their authors’ careers, the genre in general and the RNA in particular.
This year’s winner, Hattie Grünewald, is an agent at The Blair Partnership, representing commercial and upmarket fiction – including women’s fiction, crime and thriller, historical and book club fiction – as well as some non-fiction in the areas of lifestyle and personal development. Her clients include Sue Fortin, Stephanie Yeboah, Anbara Salam, Nancy Tucker and Lizzy Dent.
Publisher of the Year
For the publisher who embraces the genre, mentors writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of Romantic Fiction on every level.
This year’s winner is Mills & Boon.
Sweeping women off their feet for over 100 years, Mills & Boon is the UK’s #1 publisher of romantic fiction. Written by women, for women, it has a romance for every reader promising a happily-ever-after ending every time. With millions of books sold each year, Mills & Boon books deliver delicious doses of feel-good romance. This year it launched the eBook subscription app, We Love Romance, and published Georgia Toffolo’s debut romance novel, Meet Me in London.