TUESDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2021 We are delighted to announce the shortlists for their annual Industry Awards which includes four exciting new categories for 2021. The awards celebrate the hard work and talent of any person, group or organisation who has championed the broad genre of romantic fiction in a positive way. 

The new categories recognise the best Narrator, Named Cover Designer, Indie Editor, and Indie Champion of the Year. Along with the best Bookseller, Media Star, Agent, Publisher or Editor, Library or Librarian, and the Inclusion Award for championing inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing, they spotlight the many professionals who promote and support romantic fiction.

The awards, which have been held for the past seven years, are highly respected in the UK publishing industry. The shortlistees are nominated by the full and associate membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Laura James, the RNA Industry Awards organiser, commented, ‘Romantic fiction comes in many forms, which our industry professionals represent and present with skill, style and passion. It is a privilege to honour their creative talent, support and hard work. This year, in addition to our existing awards, I am delighted we are recognising a further four areas of expertise. The categories reflect the diversity of our authors, our readership and our industry, and recognise the amazing quality and accessibility of romantic fiction today, whether traditionally or independently published.’

The winners of the ten awards will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party and Industry Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Thursday 28th October 2021 at 6.30pm.

To purchase tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/romantic-novelists-association-winter-party-and-industry-awards-2021-tickets-177752591787

The categories and shortlist are summarised here (detailed information follows):

 

The Romantic Bookseller of the Year

Bert’s Books
Bookish
Harbour Bookshop

 

Inclusion Award

Melissa Cox
Dorothy Koomson
Liam Livings
Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm
Keshini Naidoo

 

Media Star of the Year

Anita Faulkner
Rachel Gilbey
Kim Nash

 

Agent of the Year

Lorella Belli
Juliet Pickering
Caroline Sheldon
Felicity Trew

 

Publisher and / or Editor of the Year

Avon Books
Boldwood Books
Bookouture
Hera


Library or Librarian of the Year

Liz Gardner, Staffordshire Libraries
Karen Huxtable, Exeter Library
Michelle Watson, Northumberland Libraries
Gwaun cae Gurwen Library, Y Lolfa

Narrator of the Year


Annie Aldington
Eilidh Beaton
Anne Dover
Naomi Rose-Mock

 

Named Cover Designer of the Year


JD Smith
Dar Albert
Lisa Firth 
Andrew Brown

 

Indie Editor of the Year


Debi Alper
Joan Deitch
Laura Gerrard

 


Indie Champion of the Year


Alliance of Independent Authors
Clare Flynn
Lizzie Lamb
Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

 

DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT EACH CATEGORY AND SHORTLISTEE:

 

The Romantic Bookseller of the Year

This award recognises booksellers promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year.

 

Bert’s Books

Alex Call, aka Bert, has been a bookseller in various guises since leaving school, first with some on the ground bookselling and then as a marketing manager for a nationwide chain. He started Bert’s Books in 2019 to prove that an online bookshop can still offer a personal service. Plans for a physical bookshop remain high on the agenda, but the website continues to grow in the meantime. As an avid reader and writer, Alex thinks books are an essential part of life. 


Bookish

Emma Corfield-Walters opened Bookish in the small Welsh market town of Crickhowell in 2010, and is well known for championing debut authors. She is also a director of the Crickhowell Literary Festival. Bookish won the Independent Bookshop of the Year award at the British Book Awards in 2020.


Harbour Bookshop

Jane Fincham has owned the Harbour Bookshop in Devon for 5 years. Bookshops have always been a natural home for her and she doesn’t think she has ever been able to pass one anywhere in the world without going in and buying at least two books every time. Her bookshop is one of the first in the country to offer the entire British publishing catalogue online while still remaining true to their roots as a physical and customer-friendly bookshop.

 

Inclusion Award

Recognising the individual or organisation that has championed inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing.

 

Melissa Cox

Melissa Cox is Editorial Director for Coronet, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton. She was previously Head of Books at Waterstones Booksellers.


Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is an internationally best-selling, multi-award-winning novelist. She also has a podcast, The Happy Author, where she talks to publishing industry professionals, shares her own story, and gives insider secrets of the book world.

 

Liam Livings

Liam Livings is an award-shortlisted gay romance novelist, writing tutor, and ghostwriter. His sweet-to-sensual stories have humour and guaranteed HEAs. As Charlie Lyndhurst, he writes crossover mainstream romantic fiction for Hera Books. He lives with his boyfriend and cats. He bakes to indulge his dangerously sweet tooth, admires unaffordable classic cars, and drinks pink wine with friends. His favourite sport – of which he’s a gold medal winner – is reading a romantic novel in a long hot bath.



Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm

Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm is an author, playwright and broadcaster, with a passion for empowering women and girls. She co-founded the creative organisation, The WILDE Foundation (‘Women In Literature Development Empowerment’), which uses creative tools to empower women and girls who are survivors or victims of domestic abuse, trafficking and harmful cultural practice. She also founded the Hammersmith & Fulham Writers’ Festival in 2021, the first one held in the borough.


Keshini Naidoo

Keshini Naidoo, Publishing Director at Hera, started her editorial career at Avon (HarperCollins UK), then moved to being Associate Publisher at Bookouture. She was named a Bookseller Rising Star in 2017 because she has “unabashedly embraced commercial titles”. Keshini co-founded Hera Books in 2018 with Lindsey Mooney and they have now published over 70 titles. Originally from Merseyside, she now lives in Essex with her husband and two sons.

 

Media Star of the Year

This award recognises journalists, bloggers, publicists, and TV or radio presenters who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and / or the RNA in a positive way.


Anita Faulkner

Anita Faulkner set up her Facebook group, Chick Lit And Prosecco, as a celebration of the genre and as a cosy space for romantic writers and readers to hang out and share their love of books. It has grown into a wonderfully supportive community. They hold regular live author chats and writing festivals, and Anita says it’s a fabulous way for authors to promote their work and find their superfans. The group and its fantastic members make her proud every single day. She also writes ‘warm and fuzzy romcoms’ from her upcycled bureau near the Cotswolds, and her debut novel, A Colourful Country Escape, will be published by Sphere in June 2022.

 

Rachel Gilbey

Since starting her popular blog, Rachel’s Random Reads, over six years ago, Rachel Gilbey has discovered just how much the book community means to her, and has even created her own ideal job of organising blog tours. She loves reading a wide range of genres, but particularly enjoys contemporary romantic fiction. She lives in London, which she says is useful for attending book events and indulging in her passion for West End musical theatre.

Kim Nash

Kim Nash is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, feel-good, romantic fiction and lives in Staffordshire with her son, Ollie, and English Setter rescue dog, Roni. She is Head of Publicity for publisher Bookouture (part of Hachette UK) and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk. When she’s not working or writing, and in non-Covid times, Kim can be found walking her dog at Cannock Chase, reading, writing, and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!).

On a Tuesday night she hosts Book Chat with Kim Facebook Live chats where she interviews a women’s fiction author who has inspired her. She also runs Facebook Live panel and solo events on Bookouture’s Facebook page. In addition, she runs a book club in Cannock, Staffordshire, and organises local and national reader / author events.

 

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.


Lorella Belli

Lorella Belli has worked in publishing since 1996, for publishers as well as literary agencies. In 2002 she set up LBLA Ltd, the UK-based literary management agency with a fabulously broad international reach. She represents bestselling, award-winning, self-published and debut authors of fiction and non-fiction, and publishing clients worldwide. Many of her successful authors proudly write romance and fiction primarily aimed at women, including Nicola May, Holly Martin, Carol Mason, Nancy Barone, Kirsty Moseley / Josie Williams, Ana Johns, Sophie Jackson, and Lisa Hobman. The agency’s 20 year anniversary is in 2022, and they will be celebrating their much-loved authors and wonderful publishing colleagues from the UK and all over the world with a big party at the 2022 London Book Fair.


Juliet Pickering

As an agent and director at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, Juliet Pickering represents a broad range of fiction and non-fiction, covering stories of romance, family, loss and hope. Her authors include Sue Moorcroft, Bolu Babalola, Diane Abbott and Kerry Hudson.

 

Caroline Sheldon

Caroline Sheldon has been an enthusiastic member of the RNA for nearly 50 years. In her career in the literary world, she has been lucky enough to work in two fields – woman’s fiction and children’s books – both of which have offered her great scope, fun and enjoyment. She first joined the RNA when she was an editor at Arrow Books and published authors in the field who included Marie Joseph and Emma Blair. In 1985 she set up her eponymous literary agency and has had the great pleasure of representing many wonderful authors in the broad field of romance – among them Rita Bradshaw, Donna Baker, Donna Douglas, Elaine Everest, Katie Flynn, Fiona Gibson, Pamela Hartshorne, Nicky Pellegrino, Heidi Stephens. Dee Williams and Glenda Young. It is a field she adores and she thinks the RNA is a fantastic professional organisation, in particular for the work it has done for many years through its New Writers’ Scheme – a professional mentoring organisation before mentoring had been invented. She served on the committee as a professional member for a number of years and she is proud to be an Honorary Life Member.


Felicity Trew


Felicity Trew joined the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency in 2012 where she began her career in publishing and became an agent in 2015. Since then, Felicity has energetically been building up a 

list of highly talented authors for both adult and children’s books as well as representing a stellar roster of award-winning illustrators. Clients she already represents include saga authors Libby Ashworth and Sheila Riley as well as heart-warming, thought-provoking, hilarious and historical women’s commercial fiction authors such as Kirsten Hesketh, Kerry Barrett, the inaugural winner of the Comedy Women in Print prize, Kirsty Eyre, Emma Jackson and Joan Hessayon Award winner Brigid Coady. Felicity also represents this year’s winner of the CILIP Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Award, Manjeet Mann, CLPE Award-winning poet, author and performer, Joseph Coelho, and Katz Cowley, the illustrator of the international number one bestseller The Wonky Donkey – to name just a few on her children’s list. Felicity was one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2016.

 

Publisher and / or Editor of the Year

For an individual editor or a publishing house or imprint who embraces the genre, supports writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of romantic fiction on every level.


Avon Books 

Set up in 2007, Avon is a commercial fiction division of HarperCollins publishing predominantly women’s fiction and crime. Avon’s reputation for building big-brand authors began here, with early acquisitions including Sunday Times bestsellers Scott Mariani and Kitty Neale. In recent years, Avon has become renowned for its digital publishing as well as its prowess in paperback, rising to the top of the market early on and catapulting names such as C.L. Taylor, Sue Moorcroft, Katerina Diamond and Helen Fields to the top of the charts. Avon Books won Imprint of the Year at the British Book Awards 2020, and in 2018 was named Publisher of the Year by the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Boldwood Books

Boldwood Books is an award-winning independent global fiction publishing house. Launched in 2019, they have published over 160 titles, signed 60 authors and sold over 4 million books worldwide.


Bookouture

Bookouture is one of the UK’s leading digital publishers of commercial fiction and non-fiction, and has now sold over 50 million books worldwide. Set up in 2012, it was acquired by Hachette, becoming a division of Hachette UK, in 2017.

 

Hera


Hera was launched in 2018 by co-founders Keshini Naidoo and Lindsey Mooney, aiming to publish the very best in commercial fiction across genres from crime to romance. They have now published over seventy titles in ebook, paperback and audio from thirty authors. Hera was recently acquired by their sister company, Canelo, as Lindsey Mooney stepped down from the company in August of this year.

 

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 RNA in particular.

 

Liz Gardner, Staffordshire Libraries

Liz Gardner has worked in libraries for 20 years; prior to this, she was employed as a teacher. Passionate about books, she enjoys spreading the love of reading and raising awareness of as many fantastic authors as possible through initiatives such as the highly successful Staffordshire Libraries’ Book Chat programme of author talks. She joined Staffordshire Libraries in 2008, working in the Schools’ Library Service before moving into public libraries; she is now based in a Staffordshire district but her role covers the whole of the county.


Karen Huxtable, Exeter Library

Karen Huxtable has worked for Libraries Unlimited since 2005. Her current role is Senior Supervisor Development at Exeter Library, which involves organising a programme of events and activities, managing staff and supporting the day to day running of the library as part of the management team. She has been a book blogger for nearly three years, and this inspired her in March 2020 (due to the Covid-19 lockdown) to launch Exeter Libraries in Conversations – these virtual author events have become hugely popular and are now also a podcast.


Michelle Watson, Northumberland Libraries

Michelle Watson is a Reader Development Librarian with Northumberland County Council. She has worked there as a librarian since 2008; prior to this, she worked at Derwentside College, in the library, and with Durham County Council. She also worked in the library for the North East Religious Resource Centre in Durham. Michelle completed her degree at Stirling University, followed by an MSc in Information and Library Management with Northumbria University. She lives in Newcastle with her partner and daughter.


Gwaun cae Gurwen Library, Y Lolfa

Gwaun cae Gurwen Library has been a volunteer-run library since 2014. Volunteer librarians ‘man’ the opening times & Neath Port Talbot Council supports them with books. Trustees work behind the scenes obtaining grants for things such as new books, wifi and a part-time co-ordinator. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, they have focussed on online provisions by building a website, providing an order and collect for books, and changing the events and clubs to online Zoom clubs for all ages. Lucy Harrison, the part-time co-ordinator, says that they are now a ‘vital hub’ for their community.

 


Narrator of the Year

This award is in recognition of the contribution that narrators of audiobooks have made to romantic fiction.


Annie Aldington

Annie was born and bred in Lewisham, South London, and recorded her first audio book back in 1994. Since then she has become the voice of so many wonderful authors. Over the years she has carved a niche for herself as a voice of the old London. A London some of us remember from childhood or from parents and grandparents: The women talking on the doorstep; the key on a string behind the front door; children skidding along the street, balanced on a roller skate with a Beano Annual plonked on top. She says it is always a joy to bring these characters to life. Audio recording is a huge part of Annie’s acting life and is an area she greatly enjoys.


Eilidh Beaton

Since obtaining a degree in drama and then a post-graduate diploma in acting from East 15 Acting School twenty years ago, Eilidh has worked on stage and set up a children’s theatre company. For the last ten years she has focussed on voice acting to make the most of her ‘chameleon vocal range’, and has narrated more than 100 audiobooks across a wide range of genres. She loves to tell stories in all ways – as audiobooks, for ELT providers, video games or for companies, working for Unilever and American Express amongst others.

 

Anne Dover

Anne Dover has a long and enduring association with audiobooks, as the narrator of over 1200 titles to date. She began her professional career as a model, which led to many television appearances, and subsequently voicing hundreds of radio and television commercials. Throughout the 70s and 80s she was the face and voice of the Head and Shoulders television campaign for Saatchi and Saatchi, as well as appearing in Emmerdale, and dramas such as Too Close to The Edge, and Pride Of Our Alley, for Yorkshire Television. While hosting a Saturday evening radio show for Metro Radio, she was selected to present the Jack Jones concert at the City Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne. When the opportunity to record audiobooks came her way, it was evident she had found her niche. A noteable review of her narration of The Eye Of Love by Margery Sharp, which was chosen as The Sunday Times audiobook of the week, states: ‘Dover reads this deliciously entertaining tale with self-effacing brilliance.’


Naomi Rose-Mock

Naomi Rose-Mock was born and raised in the United Kingdom, and now resides in Florida, USA. She began narrating for Audible during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has just completed her 120th book. Before the pandemic, she had worked for the last decade as a theatre director, and acting coach to her studio of talented pupils. She has produced and directed over 150 plays and musicals during her career, and was recognized for her contributions to the arts by the Florida Theatre Conference in 2015.

 

Named Cover Designer of the Year
For the designer of novels published independently or traditionally, whose covers capture the spirit and heart of the genre.


JD Smith

To the world of all things design and literary, she is JD Smith. To those who know her personally, she’s Jane who goes on epic mountain adventures in her free time. First and foremost a graphic designer, she has worked in the industry since she was seventeen. She loves books, too, both the physical and the words contained within and has written several historical fiction novels and a book on cover design. She says she’d like to think it was no surprise that she ended up immersing herself in the world of book design rather than marketing materials for corporate companies, but in many ways it was. She works for traditional publishers of all sizes, independent presses, and authors going it alone.


Dar Albert

Dar has been dabbling in the creative arts since the age of fourteen when she sold her first painting. She has dedicated her life to her passion for design, color theory, art history and the challenging and ever-changing world of typography. Her book covers have won national and international awards, and have helped to catapult many titles to Amazon top ten lists, USA Today bestseller lists and many, many more. When not in her cover cave, you can find her teaching dance fitness and burlesque classes all week long, being a mum to three grown children, and minding her spoiled pomeranian, Zuzu.

 

Lisa Firth

Lisa Firth is a freelance graphic designer specialising in book covers. A published author herself, she understands the importance of producing covers that are appealing, commercial and which perfectly encapsulate the story being told. Lisa’s design skills are entirely self-taught. She studied English Literature at university and worked for many years as a copy editor and proofreader before discovering a talent for digital design. She has been a professional designer for over ten years now, operating under her business name, Fully Booked Design (formerly Oliphant Publishing Services). She lives in Bingley with her partner Mark, plus Millie the border collie and Minky the cat: a terrible twosome who do their best to try to stop her getting any work done at all!


Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown founded Design for Writers in 2010, designing books for authors, publishers and industry professionals across the globe. He is particularly delighted to have been shortlisted for his work in romantic fiction, which he says is a beautiful genre to design for. Andrew lives in the historic county of Durham with his wife, two children, and far too many books to count.

 

Indie Editor of the Year

For an editor who has worked on an independently published novel that falls within the scope of romantic fiction, and who embraces the genre, supports writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of romantic fiction on every level.


Debi Alper

Debi Alper is an author, freelance editor and creative writing tutor. Since 2006, Debi has spent her time helping other writers to perfect their novels through critiques, mentoring, Book Doctor sessions and creative writing workshops. She also runs the phenomenally successful Jericho Writers’ Self-Edit Your Novel course, together with Emma Darwin. An astonishing one in four authors from the first five years of the course are now published. Debi also acts as a competition judge, is on the jury for the London Independent Story Prize and is a reader for the Costa Short Story Awards.


Joan Deitch

Joan Deitch always wanted to work in publishing. Following her degree, she worked as Editorial Assistant at W.H. Allen, now part of the Virgin publishing empire. She then became self-employed and worked for some of the big publishing companies as a regular copy editor and proofreader in many different genres, but mainly in crime novels and women’s fiction. During this time she was ‘let loose’, as she says, on works by some very well-known authors including the late Penny Vincenzi, Carole Matthews, Milly Johnson, Rosie Goodwin, and Jilly Cooper. Nicola May is also on her list as a huge indie success, now published by Hodder. When e-publishing came on the scene, Joan left the mainstream and started working with indie authors, and also with pioneer indie publishers like Rosemarie Hudson of HopeRoad Publishing and Humfrey Hunter of Silvertail Books. 


Laura Gerrard

Laura Gerrard is a freelance editor with over a decade of experience in the publishing industry. Before becoming freelance, she was a commissioning editor at Orion where she worked with many award-winning, and Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling authors. Previously, Laura worked at Hodder & Stoughton and has also interned at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds and an MA in Publishing from University College London. Laura has appeared on multiple panels for the RNA and was also on the judging panel for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2015.


Indie Champion of the Year

For a person, group, organisation, association or company (such as a podcaster, promoter or advisor) who has made an outstanding contribution to indie romance publishing.


Alliance of Independent Authors

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a professional business membership organisation for self-publishing authors. As a non-profit, they provide trusted advice, supportive guidance, and a range of resources within a welcoming community of authors and advisors. Founded in 2012 by Director, Orna Ross (a bestselling and award-winning independent novelist and poet), the organisation now has thousands of members worldwide.


Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn is the award-winning author of fourteen historical novels (twelve indie and two published by Canelo) and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer. Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the Sussex coast where she can gaze at the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations. Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, and dream about travelling again.


Lizzie Lamb

Lizzie Lamb’s first literary love has always been romantic fiction, and she has always wanted to be a writer. After a 34-year teaching career, she has been ‘living the dream’ happily ever after. As a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA), she has been co-running the Leicestershire & Rutland Chapter – Belmont Belles and Beaux – for fifteen years. Almost ten years ago, she co-founded an indie publishing group – New Romantics Press – with three other RNA members and to date they have published a total of 15 books between them, many of which have won awards for romantic fiction. Lizzie has independently published six novels so far, two of which were shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize, and two others were Number One in their genre on the Amazon book charts. A firm believer in waving the flag for romantic fiction wherever and whenever she can, Lizzie has hosted author events, held charity lunches, raised funds for LOROS & Mind, and has made a number of appearances at fiction events. In addition, she also co-ordinates workshops on indie publishing, was one of the first full members of the ‘Independent’ arm of the RNA, and she presents an annual ‘State of Indie Publishing’ lecture to final year Creative Writing students at De Montfort University in Leicester.


Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn writes non-fiction for authors and is an award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author as J.F. Penn. She is also an award-winning podcaster, creative entrepreneur, and an international professional speaker.

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