Frankfurt-Bound: ‘Rebel Girls’ Cavallo and Favilli Named PW Star Watch 2018 ‘Superstars’

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Praised for ‘heralding a “rebellious” new generation through their work,’ Timbuktu Labs founders Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli share this year’s highest PW Star Watch honor–and trip to the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Francesca Cavallo, left, and Elena Favilli of Timbuktu Labs

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘An International Phenomenon’
At a party this evening (September 12) at New York City’s Marquee on 10th Avenue, Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, co-founders of Timbuktu Labs, have been named the winners of this year’s PW Star Watch.

The program is a collaboration between th Frankfurter Buchmesse and Publishers Weekly, and honors up-and-coming talent in the publishing industry. The dual winners of PW Star Watch will be flown to Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 10 to 14 this year), provided with full six-day Business Club tickets, and will appear in The Markets—the Buchmesse’s agenda-setting conference on October 9—as well in other speaking engagements during the trade show.

Cavallo and Favilli are best known as the creators of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, (2016) and they raised more than US$1.2 million from some 25,000 backers in 75 countries for a crowdfunding campaign that used both Kickstarter and Indigogo InDemand to produce the book. That title profiled 100 women of accomplishment, both from history and from contemporary fame, from Elizabeth I to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and a sequel (February).

A second book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, was released in February by the duo, with 100 more examples of terrific achievement by women “from Nefertiti to Beyoncé.” That second volume’s raised crowdfunded support totaling more than $866,100 from close to 15,500 backers on Kickstarter, and went on to chart as a New York Times’ bestseller.

While declining to say whether a third Good Night Stories book is in the works, the two businesswomen say the brand has grown quickly in the last 18 months.

In a prepared statement, Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Thomas Minkus, vice president for emerging media and English-language markets, is quoted, saying, “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an international phenomenon, appealing to audiences everywhere.

“We are thrilled to bring these innovative women to the book fair this fall to help expand their reach even further.”

And Publishers Weekly’s editorial director Jim Milliot says, “Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli have the entrepreneurial spirit and creative vision that epitomizes the spirit of PW Star Watch. They’re changing young lives and heralding a ‘rebellious’ new generation through their work.”

Tonight’s ceremony also honored Cavallo and Favilli’s fellow finalists for the award, who include:

  • Matt Gagnon, editor-in-chief of Boom Studios in Los Angeles
  • Elizabeth Jordan, CEO of Austin’s BookPeople
  • Daniella Wexler an editor at Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books
  • Abbe Wright, senior editor with Read It Forward, a part of Penguin Random House’s Crown Publishing
2018 PW Star Watch Semifinalists

The PW Star Watch program was initiated in 2015 by the Frankfurter Buchmesse and Publishers Weekly to honor and encourage talented up-and-coming members of the American publishing community and to give them international attention. The goal of PW Star Watch is to spotlight innovative members of the industry and provide them with further connections and additional mentorship, while also honoring their contributions.

As part of its annual process of selection, PW Star Watch creates a large cohort of 40 or more semifinalists from which the finalists and Superstar are drawn. Here’s this year’s longlist:

  • Patrice Caldwell, associate editor, Disney-Hyperion
  • Mieke Chew, publicity director, New Directions Publishing
  • Preeti Chhibber, assistant director, Scholastic
  • Rakia Clark, marketing associate in design, HarperCollins Canada
  • Jackie DeLeo, senior director in product management, Readerlink
  • Jeff Deutsch, bookseller, Seminary Co-Op Bookstore
  • Melissa Edwards, literary agent, Stonesong
  • Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, authors and founders, Timbuktu Labs
  • Emily Feinberg, editor, Macmillan/Roaring Brook
  • Saraciea Fennell, publicist, Tor
  • Matt Gagnon, editor-in-chief, Boom Studios
  • John Glynn, editor, Hanover Square Press
  • Kevin Gray, publicity director, Westchester Publishing Service
  • Amy Green, fiction publicist, Bethany House
  • Tara Grove, senior editor, The New Press
  • Emily Heddleson, senior manager, Scholastic
  • Carol Hinz, editorial director, Millbrook Press, Lerner Publishing Group
  • Danika Isdahl, production manager, Sarabande Books
  • Susie Jaramillo, chiefc officer and co-founder, Encantos
  • Jessica Jeffers, marketing manager, Magination Press, the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association
  • Elizabeth Jordan, bookseller, BookPeople Bookstore
  • Bea Koch and Leah Koch, co-owners, The Ripped Bodice Bookstore
  • Jennifer Abel Kovitz, vice president and associate publisher, Catapult, Counterpoint, and Soft Skull
  • Susannah Lawrence, director of publicity and social media, Akashic
  • Vivian Lee, editor, Amazon/Little A
  • Veronica Santiago Liu, bookseller, Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria
  • David Miles, publishing director, Familius
  • Apriljo Murphy, publicity editor, Greenleaf Book Group
  • Taylor Noel, corporate marketing manager, Simon & Schuster
  • Glory Plata, publicity manager, Penguin Random House/Riverhead
  • Megan Quinn, senior director of sales, Charlesbridge
  • Sam Raim, associate editor, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House/Penguin Books
  • Andie Reid, associate art director, Quirk Books
  • Jasmin Rubero, associate art director, Penguin Random House/Kokila
  • Darron Schroeder, assistant manager, Children’s Product Buyer, Baker Bookstore
  • Margo Shickmanter, associate editor, Penguin Random House/Doubleday
  • Angela Maria Spring, bookseller, Duende District Bookstore
  • Shimul Tolia, CEO, Bonnier
  • Jennifer Ung, editor, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
  • Elizabeth Ward, associate director in digital strategy, Penguin Random House
  • Sara Weiss, senior editor, Penguin Random House/Ballantine
  • Daniella Wexler, publicity editor, Simon & Schuster/Atria
  • Abbe Wright, editorial lead, Penguin Random House/Read It Forward
  • Julian Yap, founder and CEO, Serial Box

As Publishing Perspectives has reported, the entry eligibility requirements for PW Star Watch were widened to include candidates from Canada, as well as from the United States.


More from Publishing Perspectives on PW Star Watch is here, and on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here.

And our Summer Magazine is ready for your free download and is themed on politics and publishing.

It includes our extensive preview of Frankfurter Buchmesse. Download the PDF here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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