Cover Story : 50 Top Women in Book Publishing
Book Business honors leading female executives who are helping to shape the industry.May 2009
From multimillion-dollar acquisitions to multimillion-dollar best-sellers, powerful women stand at every pivotal, decision-making point in the book publishing process. Book Business’ first annual “50 Top Women in Book Publishing” feature recognizes and honors some of these industry leaders who affect and transform how publishing companies do business, and what—and how—consumers read.
The women who were selected this year represent various segments of the industry, from educational publishers and university presses to the world’s largest trade publishers.
They have founded publishing companies and started their own imprints; signed coveted authors and fostered virtual unknowns who have skyrocketed to the top of The New York Times Best-Seller List. They have orchestrated complex manufacturing projects and spearheaded environmental initiatives that are lessening the industry’s carbon footprint. They have championed new technologies and implemented them in ways that mark industry “firsts”; created and launched marketing campaigns that have enticed and engaged readers both in stores and online.
And beyond the duties and responsibilities of the positions they hold, they have impacted the business of book publishing with service to industry organizations and by speaking and contributing at industry events. Whatever individual ways each woman has contributed, they are all, in a word—inspiring.
In the pages that follow, you will meet these top women in book publishing and learn a little about their career paths and industry accomplishments and achievements. Each woman also has shared with Book Business readers her best tip for succeeding in book publishing.
Ellen Archer, President and Publisher, Hyperion
Archer joined Hyperion in 1999 and is responsible for the group’s direction, management and performance. She has conceived and directed a variety of best-selling campaigns, including Mitch Albom’s No. 1 best-seller, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”; Candace Bushnell’s “Trading Up,” “Lipstick Jungle” and “One Fifth Avenue”; and J.R. Moehringer’s memoir, “The Tender Bar.” In 2006, Archer created the Voice imprint. A 25-year publishing veteran, she is a board member of the Arts & Entertainment Network and on the advisory board of New York University’s Masters in Publishing Program.
- Tip: “Trust your instincts. … If something really grabs us … it’s a safe bet it will grab the general public in a big way as well. It’s also important to trust … your colleagues to do their jobs. … Additionally, stay open to new ideas. You never know where the next hot thing will come from.”
Reagan Arthur, Vice President, Editorial Director, Reagan Arthur Books, Little, Brown & Co., Hachette Book Group
Little, Brown imprint Reagan Arthur Books will launch its first books in January 2010. Arthur joined Hachette in 2001. She began her publishing career at St. Martin’s Press, where she worked for Thomas Dunne Books and as an editor at Picador USA.
- Tip: “For a career that depends so much on the solitary act of reading, it still helps to enjoy the company of others. Colleagues, booksellers, agents and, of course, authors—all these relationships are key to finding and effectively publishing great books. …”
Margo Baldwin, Co-founder, President and Publisher, Chelsea Green
Baldwin founded Chelsea Green with her husband, Ian Baldwin. The 25-year-old company publishes books on sustainable living. Since late 2002, when Baldwin stepped back in to run Chelsea Green (after an 8-year hiatus from daily management to raise her children), the company’s sales have tripled and it has had three New York Times best-sellers.
- Tip: “… You must have a sustainable publishing model. That means hewing to an editorial focus and publishing niche, not paying oversized advances, keeping returns below 20 percent, and publishing content that not only is relevant and timely, but continues to add to your core backlist. Without backlist, no publishing company can survive.”