F+W Media has tapped bestselling novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard to head a new young adult imprint for the publisher. The new venture, Merit Press Books, will add to F+W's three existing fiction imprints: Tyrus Books, Crimson Romance and Prologue Books. Merit Press is on schedule to release five books in 2012, and 12 in 2013.

Mitchard, who had her biggest hit with the Oprah pick The Deep End of the Ocean, will be tasked with finding books that F+W said will appeal, in particular, to teenage girls. F+W publisher Karen Cooper elaborated, saying Merit Press titles will feature "strong, savvy, female heroes rising to conquer sometimes stunning challenges thrown at them by a very real, contemporary world." When asked for specifics about Mitchard's role at the imprint, Cooper confirmed that the author will be acquiring books and added that F+W is "carefully and purposefully curating the list so that she can work closely with each of the individual authors on the editorial development." Other editorial, production and marketing needs will be handled by F+W's existing staff.

Speaking to her decision to take the F+W gig, Mitchard said that she was attracted by the freedom the company offered her. "I’d wanted to be an editor for years, but didn’t see myself in a huge box in Manhattan. F+W made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: the chance to work with new authors and established authors on something so important. It’s exactly where I want to be at this point in my career."

Merit Press is part of a larger expansion into trade publishing at F+W, which has a number of different media businesses in its portfolio including Web sites, magazines and conference (such as Digital Book World). The company said that "other imprints are currently under development."