We continue a series of interviews with the five winners of this year's London Book Fair Trailblazer Awards; today the spotlight is on Silé Edwards
Silé began her career in publishing with several internships across the industry whilst studying for a degree in English with Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University. After graduating, she worked at the Publishers Association, supporting their campaigns and other communication functions. She then moved to Curtis Brown as an assistant in the Book Department, where she supported deals for an extensive and eclectic list of clients. She now represents a dynamic list, with an emphasis on non-fiction, from writer-activist Kuchenga and Natalie and Naomi Evans, the co-founders of EverydayRacism, to birthing coach Illiyin Morrison and viral poet Della Hicks-Wilson. She is also a trustee for an award-winning mentoring charity Arts Emergency.
What did winning an LBF Trailblazer Award mean to you?
After an incredibly turbulent year, winning my first industry award means that I am on the right track, which is very reassuring. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my amazing colleagues at Mushens Entertainment, who support me in all of my endeavours, the fantastic assistants at Curtis Brown, who I still count as my extended family and my wonderful authors who are writing phenomenal things.
Tell us what you do in 20 words.
Act as a bridge between authors and publishers, connecting them and then making sure that the publication process runs smoothly.
What was your first job in the book industry?
My first ‘proper job’ in the industry was as a Communications Assistant at the Publishers Association; before that, I did quite a few internships.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?
When you first start out, there is a lot of admin, but don’t be too discouraged by it. Keep generating those creative ideas along with the invoices, and remember that the better you get at admin now, the less of it you’ll have to do in the future.
What’s next on your reading list?
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner or What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson (again) – depending on whether I can beat my 1-year-old to the bookshelf.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
I don’t think I would ever write an autobiography. Still, if there were a book about my life, it would have to reference my devotion to hot chocolate and my consistent disappointment that it is not served as standard with teas and coffees.
Has a book ever changed your life?
Not one single book, but many books have changed points of my life. When I was younger, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman taught me there are no limits to what I can do if I put my mind to it, and Michelle Obama’s Becoming reminded me of that fact many years later. Love and Other Man-Made Disasters by Nicola Doherty, Nothing but the Truth by Dick Lehr and The Guest List by Lucy Foley all deserve very special mentions, too, as they changed my working life for the better.
Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.
I am a Trustee for Arts Emergency because my love for connecting people to the thing they love and opening doors for people extends beyond the publishing industry.
Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
Beyoncé, because she is Beyoncé – but also because she has worked incredibly hard for everything she has and does not take her achievements for granted.
More at: hub.londonbookfair.co.uk/blogs/