Hachette Children’s Group (HCG) is to launch two new imprints in 2017: Pat-a-Cake, which will publish early learning titles for the pre-school market; and Wren & Rook, which will produce non-fiction for young readers up to YA age. Both imprints will publish more than 30 titles next year.
Hilary Murray Hill, who became c.e.o. of HCG on its formation in 2014, said the imprints would cover the type of books Hachette was “not normally associated with”.
“Our strategy is to publish across all areas so we wanted to have a full offering,” she told The Bookseller. “Pre-school is a key focus for us. We have some spin-off products from our core picture book brands but in the novelty side we’re not so well known at the moment.”
Pat-a-Cake is aimed at the 0–6 market and its first titles, which will launch in March 2017, include board book series First Baby Days and Toddler’s World, with titles priced £5.99, as well as licensed products. The imprint will be run by publisher Heather Crossley, who joined HCG in 2015 from Penguin Random House Children’s, and has “deep licensing experience”, according to Murray Hill, who said: “[Crossley] has worked with brands such as Topsy and Tim and Peppa Pig. As well as producing original content, Pat-a-Cake will also be the home of pre-school licensed content. Katie Price [HCG’s licensing director] is will be key to this strategy, working with Heather.”
Wren & Rook—the name was inspired by the rooftop views from Carmelite House, HCG’s base—will produce non-fiction for the trade market. It will be led by publishing director Debbie Foy, who has been promoted from Wayland. The list will produce titles for younger readers, from The Story of the Car, a retro-style gift book by author Giles Chapman and Brian Roberts (illustrator), up to non-fiction for teens, including books by vloggers.
“We weren’t producing enough non-fiction for the trade market,” said Murray Hill. “Our imprints Franklin Watts and Wayland will continue to publish non-fiction for schools and libraries but there was a commercial need for more trade-facing non-fiction. We have a very varied launch list for Wren & Rook, from a dinosaur sticker book to Doing It by sex and relationships YouTuber Hannah Witton in April (£8.99, paperback).” She added that HCG had a “real opportunity” to create more non-fiction content for the teen and YA market. “We had high sales for I am Malala, the memoir by Malala Yousafzai, and there’s a lot of interest in vloggers. I’m really excited about this strand.”
Other books from Wren & Rook will include There will be Blood: The HelloFlo Guide to Puberty by Naama Bloom and Glynis MacNichol (July 2017, £6.99, paperback), Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Jonathan Woodward (October ‘17, £12.99. hardback) and My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valerio (May ‘17, £12.99, hardback).
HCG will launch trade and consumer marketing campaigns in September, including materials for retailers, and will recruit staff at the end of the year. Murray Hill said the creation of the imprints would create opportunities in-house, but she doesn’t have specific plans to reassign staff.
She also stressed the importance of overseas sales. “Our focus is clearly the UK market but international sales are very important, especially the novelty titles in baby and pre-school. Coeditions will be very important.”