Usborne goes to next level with Appelhans

Usborne has bought a debut novel from prolific young adult blogger Lenore Appelhans, which the publisher expects to be “massive” following the sale of film rights to CBS Film and interest from YA bloggers.

Fiction editorial director Rebecca Hill bought the novel, called Level Two, from sample chapters. The novel won’t be completed until September. Hill said the acquisition is part of the company’s plans to make its teen lit more commercial, enabling it to compete with larger publishing houses.

Publication of Level Two will be tied to the US launch, expected to be in autumn 2012. Usborne bought English Language and Commonwealth rights, excluding Australia, Canada and NZ), from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, who was representing Stephen Barbara Foundry Literary + Media.

Level Two is a young adult novel about a limbo-like place that exists between our world, known as Level 1, and the afterlife, dubbed Level 2, where the dead spend their time downloading and viewing their favourite memories. Felicia Ward, a 17-year-old, is in Level 2 but is then caught up in an uprising.

Hill, who took over from Megan Larkin in January, has also been reappraising Usborne’s younger fiction. The publisher will double its fiction output for eight to 11 years from five to ten titles in 2012. It is also planning a new look for its series fiction in 2012, enticing young readers with added extras such as stickers, activities and collector cards in each book.

Hill said: “I was looking for ways I could keep readers in the world we have created a little longer by using our inhouse resources.”  Annie Dalton’s Moonbeans, which launches in April 2012, will feature 14 pages of extra activities including recipe cards. Action Dogs, by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore, publishes in August 2012 and will include collector cards, drawing activities and passwords for a branded website.