Bella Pearson, the former publishing director at David Fickling Books, is launching her own company in Oxford, focusing on middle-grade (MG) and YA fiction.
Guppy Books will launch in the autumn with two titles: Gloves Off, a YA novel about bullying, body image and boxing by Louisa Reid (world rights were acquired from Hilary Delamere at The Agency), and a MG adventure from Australian writer Jaclyn Moriarty, entitled The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. Pearson acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Moriarty’s book, excluding Australia and New Zealand, from Jill Grinberg.
Pearson will then in 2020 a debut MG series by Taylor Dolan and a YA by Beverley Birch.
“To be choosing, editing and producing books for children on my very own list is a dream come true,” said Pearson. “My aim is for Guppy Books to be a responsive, inclusive and transparent publishing house, presenting the very best in original, ground-breaking and entertaining fiction for all ages, from both debut and established authors and illustrators.”
Pearson plans to build up the list to publish eight to 10 titles a year and is aiming to acquire world rights in all cases but is “open to other options for the right submission”.
Michael O’Mara Books will sell and distribute the books in the UK and in the export markets and Sarah Pakenham of Scallywag Press, ex-rights director at Andersen Press, will sell translation rights. PR and marketing will be carried out by freelance PR expert Catherine Alport.
Pearson has worked in children’s books for more than 25 years. She started her career as bookseller at a children’s bookshop then moved into publishing at Transworld Children’s Books. In 2001 she began working as an editor with David Fickling and during her working life with him acquired titles such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss, Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay and Before I Die by Jenny Downham. She won the Branford Boase Award for Siobhan Dowd’s A Swift Pure Cry in 2007.
Guppy Books is now accepting submissions from agents and Pearson will announce plans regarding unsolicited submissions later in the year. Guppy Books will have a presence at this year’s London Book Fair and Bologna Children’s Book Fair.