Discovery Award Judges

The top 6 winners of the 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 2025

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, Publishers 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.

Felicia Bengtsson

Head of Community, Reedsy Discovery

Felicia Bengtsson is Head of Community at Reedsy Discovery, a platform dedicated to helping indie authors get pre-release book reviews from a curated community of reviewers. Through her weekly newsletter, Felicia spotlights outstanding indie titles and helps authors reach thousands of readers in their genre.

Tom Pearson

Award-Winning Poet, Choreographer, and Artist; 2023 IRDA Winner

Tom is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning choreographer, poet, and multimedia artist, known for his original works for dance and theater, including the long-running hits Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise. He is a founder and director of the performance company Third Rail Projects and director for the Global Performance Studio, a program for cultural listening and exchange. Tom’s debut poetry collection, The Sandpiper’s Spell, was heralded by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Indie Book of 2019, calling the volume “vastly panoramic and deeply introspective” and proclaiming Tom “a startlingly intuitive new poet—one to watch.” His second book, Still, the Sky is a multi award-winning bestseller available in paperback, ebook, and as an experimental audio book featuring a trio of narrators and complex, fully scored original soundtrack.

Vivian M. Lumbard

Author, 2021 IRDA Winner

After retiring from her career as an air traffic controller, Vivian rediscovered her love of writing and penned the award-winning book, Outside Looking In. She isn’t content to remain in one genre and looks forward to releasing non-fiction, literary/historical fiction, romance and fantasy works in the future.

To learn more about her, visit her website at

Jessie Glenn

Director, Mindbuck Media Book Publicity

Jessie Glenn is the director of Mindbuck Media Book Publicity which started in 2006 as well as an essayist and memoirist with clips in NYT Modern Love, Cleaver, Salon, WaPo, Rumpus, and elsewhere and a memoir out on submission with their agent. Jessie taught publicity at Portland State University’s Masters in Publishing program and has had publicity work highlighted in Poets & Writers Magazine, AWP, and numerous “Ask the Expert” articles and interviews. Jessie has five children, a grandchild and probably a baby squirrel in a pocket somewhere.

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.

A.S. Drayton

2022 IRDA Winner

A.S. Drayton rediscovered his love for writing and weaving tales while working on his multi-award-winning memoir Are You Okay? The Carryover of Kindness. What began in 2019 as a one-off project, dedicated to his future children, grew into something more. Through the process, Anthony found his passion, and with the collaboration of his talented friends, A.S. Drayton Books was born.

The goal is simple: promote personal growth through books and short stories, both fiction and nonfiction, that foster a mindset of both introspection and the expansion of one’s horizons. His favorite genres, to read and write, are nonfiction/memoirs and character driven thriller/horror.