Just over a decade after 28-year-old Charlesbridge Publishing expanded its children’s book offerings from picture books to middle grade, the press is adding young adult titles to the mix for the first time. In September, Charlesbridge will introduce its Charlesbridge Teen imprint.
“Over the years as we’ve expanded in other areas, the question was when and not if we would expand into YA. It’s a natural outgrowth of our publishing program,” Yolanda Scott, associate publisher and editorial director, said. “Our plans gelled when we brought Monica Perez on board and tapped into her knowledge of the YA market.”
The Watertown, Mass.-based press hired Perez, who had served as executive editor of HMH Books for Young Readers, in September 2015. Perez and the company got to know each other when she subbed for Scott during Scott’s maternity leave. Although Perez didn’t actively seek out books for the YA imprint during her first year at the press, Charlesbridge acquired one of the trio of books on its inaugural list, Stephen Davies’s romantic thriller Blood and Ink (Sept.), at Bologna in 2015. The novel, which is set against the backdrop of the 2012 military coup in Mali, has since been published in the U.K. and Germany.
The other two books on the inaugural list are both debut novels. Marit Weisenberg’s Select (Oct.) is the first book in a new paranormal series, The Select, about a girl who accidentally jeopardizes her family’s anonymity by demonstrating her super-human powers. Michael Currinder’s Running Full Tilt (Sept.) deals with the bond between a cross-country runner and his autistic brother. Coming in spring 2018 is Tracy Barrett’s semi-autobiographical novel about a girl whose mother dies skydiving, called My Free Fall Summer. Another debut novel and series will launch in summer 2018, Caitlin Seal’s Twice Dead; the fantasy series is still-to-be-named.
It’s no accident that the first few Charlesbridge Teen lists have so many debuts. Part of Charlesbridge’s mission is to find new voices, Scott pointed out. But Perez is also looking for authors with the ability to write more than one book. “At Charlesbridge we always invest in the author,” she said.
The only regret that both Scott and Perez expressed has been their difficulty in finding as many diverse books as they would like for Charlesbridge Teen. Even with all the attention on diversity, Perez said, “it is still a problem. It’s hard to find diverse writers, points-of-view, or settings. I speak to agents about it [often].”
To publicize Charlesbridge Teen’s launch list, the press is bringing Weisenberg to Children’s Institute, BookExpo, and BookCon. (Both Currinder and Davies live overseas.) The press will also feature chapter excerpts and readers group guides on its new website.
Beginning this fall, Perez plans to publish three to five YA titles a year. With the addition of the new imprint, Charlesbridge’s list will inch up from 50 books a year in 2014 to 60 this year, including six to eight adult titles in its Imagine imprint. Charlesbridge Teen will not, however, change the main focus of Charlesbridge’s list, which continues to be picture books, or its goal to publish books that serve as the bridges reflected in its name.