Rising Star, Hilary Bell

Our support in championing rising stars spans across a range of industries in the sector, from packaging to paper. We love finding out more about the roles our award winners are excelling in to demonstrate the wealth of career paths the sector has to offer.  

Hilary Bell, Publicity Executive at Egmont UK and 2020 Print Futures Award winner spoke to us about how she got into the industry and what day-to-day work life is like as a PR Executive.

How did you get into the industry?

During my English Literature Master’s degree, I undertook two internships at independent publishers Black and White and Luath Press in Edinburgh. These internships were an amazing way to quickly learn more about the job, and I was lucky enough to gain a permanent role in Editorial at Luath after the internship there ended. After a year, I moved down to London to work at the trade magazine The Bookseller on sales and events. The Bookseller is really at the heart of the industry, so there I met lots of book trade professionals and attended some super events. From there, I applied to a job as Publicity Executive at Egmont Books, working on campaigns and events for children’s books.

What appealed to you about the industry you are in? 

Before I got a job in book publishing, I thought it would be lots of reading and working with authors. I’ve always adored books, and I’m a people person, so this sounded like my dream job! Luckily, it’s a lot about knowing the books well and working with fab authors – but there’s a lot of emails, meetings and hard graft too. 

“People in this industry are really generous in helping others and I really appreciate that.”

What does your role involve? 

As the PR Executive at Egmont Books, which is a division of HarperCollins, I look after publicity campaigns for picture books, middle-grade, and Young Adult novels. This involves pitching the book for reviews, talking to the media about interviews with the authors, and planning festival events and school tours. I love how every campaign is different, depending on the book and author. For example, at the moment I’m working on a debut YA book called Chelsea High by commercial fiction author Jenny Oliver. About not belonging in an elite world, as well as being great summer reading for teens, it’s got crossover elements for an adult audience. At the same time, I’m working on Return to Roar, a middle-grade sequel about a magical world and dragons. One day I’ll be chatting to a website for teenagers and the next it’ll be about dragons for a children’s magazine!

What is your award going to allow you to do? 

I am so grateful for the Print Futures Award. I am going to be taking two courses in Autumn this year to help further my career. I’ll be learning the Fundamentals of Finance for Publishers to help take my commercial skills further, and a negotiation course run by The Publishing Training Centre will help me learn how to better communicate with key stakeholders in the industry. 

What has surprised you most about the industry you work in?  

How open industry professionals are to sharing their knowledge and time! When I sum up the courage to reach out to a publishing person I admire, I am always so thrilled when they reply. People in this industry are really generous in helping others and I really appreciate that.

What would you advise other young people looking to get into the same sector? 

I would say try not to be down-hearted about rejection. Getting into book publishing is competitive (even more so in these times), but if you keep going, you will get to where you’d like to be. 

Where do you turn for support in your career? 

The Society of Young Publishers is a fab not-for-profit organisation. I volunteered as the Head of Events and it was a great experience to work alongside my peers from different companies. I’ve also been lucky enough to land a place on the SYP mentor scheme for this year, mentored by Paul Black from Andersen. I’m also a member of the Publishers’ Publicity Circle, who hold monthly events and awards for book publicists. 

Do you have anyone that you look up to in the industry? 

Mentors past and present – Paul Black at Andersen, Sophia Smith who works at Penguin Children’s, and Gill Tasker, who’s worked across the industry. Nina Douglas and Kirstin Lamb have both been so generous with their time. I’m in awe of Bec Evans who has both founded her own company and is a published author. I hugely admire Sharmaine Lovegrove, founder of Dialogue Books

What are your aspirations for the future of your career?

I’d love to continue working on publicising and celebrating amazing books. The pandemic has taught me it is okay to slow down and enjoy the ride a bit more.


If you’re 18-30 and looking to develop your skills for career progression, our Print Futures Awards could be for you. Awards are closed for 2020 but find out about the 2021 awards by signing up to our newsletter

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