Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Masters of the middle grade

Several years ago Hilary Rogers, then a publisher at Australian children’s imprint Hardie Grant Egmont, commissioned author Sally Rippin to write the ‘Billie B Brown’ series. It turned out to be the publisher’s most successful series ever, selling more than 4.5 million copies in 14 languages. As Hardie Grant Egmont rights manager Joanna Anderson tells us in this month’s profile, ‘over fifty “Billie” books continue to sell every hour’.

Now, it looks like the publisher is onto another winner with Jack Henseleit’s ‘The Witching Hours’ series: The Vampire Knife and The Troll Heart have both sold in multiple territories, including North America, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Brazil. Its success is testament to publisher Marisa Pintado’s instinct that ‘horror is “The Thing” right now for kids’. Indeed, in its first two weeks of release in Australia, Henseleit’s first book in the series sold 1300 copies and then went on to sell more than 12,000 copies in its first four months.

So what is the publisher excited about now? Read the profile below to hear about new middle-grade adventure novel Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds, which has already sold in nine languages. ‘It is already drawing comparisons to “big bad blockbusters” such as Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant and Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”,’ says Anderson.

Matthia Dempsey
Think Australian


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