After starting at The Bookseller as a reporter in 2016, I established myself as a crucial part of the team and wider book trade, even speaking on panels and judging book and industry prizes. My original brief was to cover independent publishers and libraries, then after nine months it was extended to include independent bookshops and literary festivals.
I found my initial patch brimming with untold stories and people who felt they weren’t being listened to. Noticing a gap in our coverage, and also wanting to carve out a space of my own in the magazine, I pitched for the inclusion of a regular section dedicated to independent publishers. The reaction and appreciation of this from the trade has been immense and I really revelled in curating and editing the pieces which appear in the magazine each fortnight including coverage of book fairs, prizes and new acquisitions, as well as deeper, more wide-ranging pieces on issues concerning the sector such as Brexit, the current political climate, and general business issues.
My strong coverage of the sector has led to the magazine launching a Small Press category at the awards that we run—The British Book Awards. Both my editor and the chief executive acknowledge that this simply would not have been possible without my coverage and building of contacts and relationships.
Indie publisher Influx Press had this to say while naming me a “Literary Hero of 2016“:
“Natasha is a certified legend, keeping it 100 all day, every day. When she visited the Radical Book Fair back in May to cover it for the Bookseller (where she is a journalist) we knew we’d met someone special. She’s been incredibly supportive of independent publishing at the Bookseller, even starting her own column to explore and celebrate this strange world we, and others like us, inhabit. She’s a real champion, and will rise meteorically, we are certain. Natasha is also excellent craic in the pub. And if you know Influx, you know that’s pretty important.”
I interviewed Ellah Wakatama Allfrey of the Indigo Press:
Following on from this I was shortlisted for an Industry Trailblazer Award two years in a row, and was awarded a Print Futures Award in order to undertake further training which I put towards my NCTJ.
London Book Fair, which administers the Trailblazer award, said: “Natasha Onwuemezi’s passion for broadening the accessibility of books and decentralised approach is clear through her close work with regional publishers/presses and despite only working in the industry for a couple of years she already is an influence and has judged literary prizes.”