Discovery Award Judges

The top 6 winners of the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Awards will be sent to Dystel, Goderich and Bourret Literary Management to be reviewed by these top New York City literary agents

Why does that matter? A literary agent may get 5,000 query letters a year. Only a fraction of these will lead to the agent requesting the manuscript. If you think about it, an agent reading one out of a hundred submissions must read 50 books every year!

Jane Dystel is the president of Dystel, Goderich and Bourret, a large literary management firm in New York City. She has worked her way up the publishing world, with agencies such as Bantam Books and Grosset & Dunlap in her portfolio. She has also been the Publisher of World Almanac Publications, where she created her own imprint.

Jane quickly developed a reputation for honesty, forthrightness, hard work, and real commitment to her authors and their writing careers. She founded Jane Dystel Literary Management, which became Dystel, Goderich and Bourret Literary Management in 2016.

Dystel, Goderich and Bourret bring an added level of prestige to the Discovery Awards, The best way to put your book in the hands of some of the most powerful people in publishing.

Discovery Awards Judges 2020

Meaghan Hurn

Founder and CEO, Hurn Publications

Meaghan Hurn is the Founder and CEO of Hurn Publications, an Independent Publishing House that’s both collaborative with its authors and innovative in how it approaches the process of bringing book babies to life.

Meaghan is big on giving back to the writing community outside of those who publish with Hurn Publications, and you’ll find on their website that they host blog posts for Indie/Self-Pub Authors to help get the word out about their book regardless if they’re publishing with Hurn Publications or not. Additionally, they also work with the ProLiteracy Campaign, to help adults learn to read and work their way out of poverty.

Hurn Publications has published works for HBO, and has received awards from Writer’s Digest, Cohan, NY Times, and Publisher’s Weekly to start.
To learn more about Meaghan Hurn and Hurn Publications, please visit the website at

Penny Sansevieri

Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

Penny C. Sansevieri is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of eighteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, 5 Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the “leading guide to everything Internet.”

AME has had dozens of books top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at

Karen Schechner

Senior Indie Editor, Kirkus Reviews

Karen is the senior Indie editor at Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Indie reviews self-published titles to help consumers and industry influencers (publishers, agents, film producers, librarians, booksellers) discover books they may otherwise never find. Prior to Kirkus, Karen was the senior editor at the American Booksellers Association, where she worked with indie booksellers for nearly a decade. She is also a senior editor at the Lambda Literary Foundation.

Mercy Pilkington

Senior Editor, GoodeReader

Mercy Pilkington is a senior editor at GoodeReader and founder of Author Options, a publishing solutions provider. She’s covered the digital publishing industry since the earliest days of the original Kindle, and in her capacity as an editor has worked on numerous bestselling titles in virtually every genre.

Myra Forsberg

Indie Editor, Kirkus Reviews

From 1983 to 2015, Forsberg held various jobs in the Culture Department of The New York Times, including Weekend Section Editor, Deputy Culture Editor, and Classical Music and Dance Editor.

Phil Leo

Partner/PM Images

Phil Leo has been a partner in PM Images for eighteen years. In that time, Phil and his partner, Michael Denora, have created hundreds of images, licensed through Getty Images, which have been used for the covers of internationally bestselling books, including Sheryl Sandberg’s latest title, Option B.

Sandra Poirier Diaz

President/Smith PR

Sandy is the president of Smith Publicity, Inc., an international book marketing company dedicated to helping authors create awareness about their books and expertise through media coverage. Smith Publicity has promoted thousands of authors and publishers since 1997—from seasoned New York Times best sellers to debut titles. Smith Publicity authors have appeared on media outlets worldwide including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlantic, AARP, O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, INC, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Parents, Publisher’s Weekly, The Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, BBC, The Guardian, Toronto Star, HuffingtonPost, etc. Sandy works with clients to create and execute tailored book publicity strategies. She regularly writes and speaks at book industry events on the topic of book marketing and author/expert promotion. She earned a BS in Art and an MBA from Northeastern University.

Maria D’Marco

Editor, Reedsy

Maria is a professional book editor, specializing in developmental & ‘heavy’ copy edits of manuscripts ranging from raw first drafts to material that has survived several iterations & editorial ‘beatings’.