Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Introducing Hardie Grant Egmont

Hardie Grant Egmont rights manager Joanna Anderson is part of a small Melbourne team doing big things. She reveals to Think Australian that almost all of the publisher’s fiction and picture book titles have sold in multiple languages. Read on to hear what Hardie Grant Egmont has coming next.

What makes Hardie Grant Egmont unique?

Like the kids who read our books, Hardie Grant Egmont is young and small with boundless energy. Born in 2002 to two proud parents—Hardie Grant Publishing and Egmont UK Ltd—our business has grown rapidly to become one of Australia’s largest independent children’s publishers. We purposely keep our team small and use our size to our advantage: we handpick the people and projects we work with, and dedicate all our efforts and resources into making them a success. Across all our publishing, we pride ourselves on being children’s specialists. We know that kids pay attention to the ‘facts’ in their fiction, like: Can you use a lightsaber to toast your sandwich while cutting it? What actually is the cutest pet? And how many settings does a fart machine need to be considered deluxe? So we pay attention to these things too.

How many books does Hardie Grant Egmont publish each year—and what kinds?

We publish approximately 80 new titles each year. We make brilliant books for everyone from tots to teens, and bookworms to reluctant readers. The HGE fiction team publishes bestselling series and standalone books that will compel kids and teenagers to stay up late reading. Our fiction authors include Sally Rippin, Peter Helliar, and young-adult favourite Melissa Keil. Under our Little Hare imprint we create award-winning picture books to delight the smallest children. We work with some of Australia’s best picture book creators including Margaret Wild, Libby Gleeson, Jan Ormerod, Freya Blackwood and Jonathan Bentley. We also have a growing range of licensed products for global brands, including Star Wars, Winnie-the-Pooh and Thomas & Friends.

Have you sold international rights to your publications?

Our fiction and picture books are extremely successful overseas, and almost all of them have sold in multiple languages. We have regular international co-edition printings for our picture books.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

For fiction, our forthcoming middle-grade adventure novel Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds (publishing August 2018) has already sold in nine languages. Heated auctions were held in four territories. Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds is the first book in Sydney bookseller Jeremy Lachlan’s four-book series debut, and it is already drawing comparisons to ‘big bad blockbusters’ such as Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant and Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’.

Our junior reader series ‘Billie B Brown’ by Sally Rippin is our most successful series ever (both locally and internationally). It has sold in 14 languages and film/TV rights are under option. More than 4.5 million copies of ‘Billie B Brown’ books have been sold around the globe, and more than 50 ‘Billie’ books continue to sell every hour! 

The Swap (Jan Ormerod and Andrew Joyner) is an uproariously funny picture book about a young crocodile who is jealous of her new baby brother. It has now sold in 24 languages and won a range of awards, including the CBCA’s Early Childhood Book of the Year in 2014. This perfect pairing of author and illustrator created picture book magic. Another international success story is the delightful alphabet book B is for Bedtime (Margaret Hamilton and Anna Pignataro). In the US it is now in its eighth printing and has already sold over 150,000 copies there.

Which title or author on your list do you believe deserves bigger recognition overseas?

Erin Gough is definitely one to watch! Her first YA novel The Flywheel won Hardie Grant Egmont’s Ampersand Prize for debut writers. It was published by Chronicle in the US and S Fischer in Germany. Her most recent novel Amelia Westlake has been eagerly anticipated and has just been snapped up by Little, Brown Books in the US. Amelia Westlake is highly political, bitingly funny, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, deeply relevant and empowering.

As one of the only authors writing queer, own-voice YA in Australia, Erin is a force to be reckoned with. We are extremely proud of Erin’s achievements and hope to build her international profile more widely.

Have you acquired the rights to publish any overseas titles in Australia?

We acquire a limited but strong selection of overseas titles for local publication. Last year we acquired the ANZ rights to US actor and director Neil Patrick Harris’ debut children’s series, The Magic Misfits, and published the first book in November 2017 as part of a worldwide release. The second book will be released in October 2018. 

We were also thrilled to acquire the ANZ rights to Hats of Faith by Medeia Cohan and Sarah Walsh, originally published by Shade 7 Publishing. This is a beautifully illustrated board book introducing readers to the shared custom of head covering. Using accurate terminology, phonetic pronunciations and bright, beautiful imagery, Hats of Faith helps educate and prepare young children and their parents for our culturally diverse modern world. 

Some of our other notable acquisitions include Lemony Snicket’s ‘All the Wrong Questions’ series and Anna Banks’ ‘Syrena Legacy’ trilogy.

What will you publish next (that may appeal to international publishers)?

In July this year we publish Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt, the first book in a fabulous new fantasy trilogy by debut author Rhiannon Williams. Sitting between Nevermoor and Serafina, this is accessible fantasy for young readers—high-concept and commercial but with heart and adventure. Ottilie Colter is the first ever middle-grade winner of Hardie Grant Egmont’s Ampersand Prize. German rights have just been acquired in a heated auction, and Random House Germany will publish Ottilie Colter in 2020 under their cbj children’s imprint. Rhiannon is an impressive young writer and we are thrilled to introduce this fantastic new talent to the world. We are confident that her series will have broad international appeal.

The Man With Small Hair (publishing October 2018) is the latest picture book from multiple award-winning author Jane Jolly. This uplifting story—which follows a man who likes to look different—encourages individuality, questions conformity and instils courage. It shows children that without everyone’s individual qualities and quirks, the world would be a very boring place. With retro-style illustrations from international favourite Andrew Joyner, we have high expectations for global success for this feel-good, inspirational title.


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