What’s it like to win an Independent Publishing Award?


Three winners at the 2023 Awards tell us what success has meant to them and their business. 

1. How did you feel when you won your Independent Publishing Award?

Hanna Myers, Joffe Books, 2023 PBShop Trade Publisher of the Year: This was the first time we’d been shortlisted for Trade Publisher of the Year, so emotions were running high to begin with. We were being honoured and recognised in this incredible way; who wouldn't be thrilled! No-one dared to say anything aloud about winning—we didn't want to jinx it. And so, when the moment we were announced as winners arrived—which we delightfully got on video—we were ecstatic. And it was made even better by the fact we all went up to receive the award as a team; we won together. 

Emma Waring, Moonflower Books, joint Nick Robinson Newcomer Award winner: Over the moon! We were delighted to be shortlisted but absolutely convinced that we wouldn’t win—to the point where we hadn’t prepared any kind of speech and were taken completely by surprise when we were asked to give one! But it was the most wonderful honour and a great recognition of our team’s hard work. When we launched Moonflower in 2022, we could never have imagined that just a year later we would be winning such a prestigious accolade, but our rapid growth—in part due to the incredible support we’ve had from the IPG—has been a real thrill. It’s a privilege to be able to represent all the up-and-coming independent publishers out there whose hard work and eye for spotting talent keep the industry fresh and foster a spirit of innovation.

Kay Hutchison, Belle Media, joint Zebralution Audio Award winner: As a small niche publisher, we felt it extremely unlikely we would have much of a chance in the Independent Publishing Awards, but we were keen to take part and thought the work we’ve been doing in audio might be of interest. It was actually at an IPG event several years ago that we first got involved with audio when we met the team at Strathmore, and we’ve have continued our relationship ever since. There’s some great audio work out there so we thought, whilst the chances of winning were not high, we might be lucky enough to get a nomination.

We based our application on our audio documentary series Stormy Weather about historic British ships. A few years ago, we’d published a memoir/social history about the Clyde (Hurricane Hutch’s Top 10 Ships of the Clyde), closely followed by an audiobook version narrated by Bill Paterson. The book proved popular and we decided we could build on our work, pitching a radio series to Times Radio with author and broadcaster Tim Dunn presenting. The project gave new life to the title and boosted our revenue quite considerably. So, when we saw Belle’s name alongside Bloomsbury, Bonnier and Saraband on the Zebralution Audio Award shortlist we were delighted, and it felt like an achievement in itself. Come the Awards lunch we were even more thrilled to be announced as joint winners.

2. How has the Award benefited you, your colleagues and your day-to-day work?

Hanna Myers: The lovely trophy sits on a mantle in our office and reminds us every day of how far we've come. If anything motivates the day-to-day in often gloomy London, it's a shining trophy with 'winner' on it. As a relative newcomer—Joffe Books was founded in 2014—the win has been such a boost to our recognition and prestige within the industry. It has caused agents, other publishers and key industry players to really sit up and take notice of us. 

Emma Waring: The benefits have been two-fold. Firstly has been the recognition—the Award has opened doors to us that might previously have remained closed; and helped us secure exciting new acquisitions that will build our profile and PR opportunities that have helped to promote the brilliant work of our talented authors. The endorsement that comes with being able to call yourself an IPG Award winner can’t be overstated—suddenly we were being taken seriously in a way we weren’t before. But the second benefit, just as important, has been the confidence boost it’s given us and our team in our strategy and our day-to-day work. It feels like an affirmation that ‘doing things differently’ as an independent can still work—that you don’t need huge budgets and marketing gimmicks to be a success, just genuinely great books and a team of passionate people who love what they do.

Kay Hutchison: Being able to say we were winners has given us greater credibility in the audio sector and allowed us to see audio as an important long-term revenue stream. We are currently working with another award-winning company on a possible project for later this year.

3. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about entering the 2024 Awards?

Hanna Myers: Winning is not just about who has the biggest numbers in every area of the business. It is also about overcoming challenges, recognising faults and taking steps to fix them. Never lose sight of what the industry is really about: the authors, their books and those who read them. Without readers, there are no stories. 

Emma Waring: Do it! Being part of the Awards—whether it’s a win or a nomination—helps showcase what your organisation has achieved to the world and gives your team the recognition they richly deserve for their hard work and dedication. The entry process is simple and the potential rewards are huge—so why wouldn’t you go for it? Plus… the awards event is massively good fun!

Kay Hutchison: Entering the Awards is relatively straightforward and looking at different aspects of your work allows you to take stock of your output in a different and important way. Winning last year has given us a new appreciation of the team effort that goes into any project. The Awards recognise the many different areas of publishing work, and it’s great to celebrate success within the community.