Friday, 13 December 2013

It's goodbye from me... & hello from her

Hello. it's been a while, sorry about that. Anyway, I (Non) have news:

I'm leaving Catnip Publishing at Christmas. It’s been a truly fantastic five years working with a range of wonderful and talented authors, building relationships with agents, booksellers and reviewers and hunting out new books to bring to new audiences. It has also been five years of very hard work, which has only become harder the more things I’ve tried to commit to outside of the office.

In 2014 my first book is coming out with Walker, and my first child will start school. I am lucky to have the opportunity to do something I love (writing and talking about books) on a schedule that will fit around someone I love. It may not be for ever – no one knows how hard it is to make it work as a full-time author than someone who’s worked in the industry already – but for the next two years, that’s what I’ll be doing.

So from the end of next week (20thDecember), the utterly awesome Liz Bankes will be the person behind the twitter feed @catnipbooks, the (maybe slightly less neglected) blog and all the important editorial decisions. Liz is fantastically knowledgeable about all things children's bookish, efficient and inspired – with a great eye for comedy – and I have no doubt that everyone who’s been a proud and passionate supporter of Catnip will get behind her as much as they once did me. Catnip has some extremely exciting books coming out next year with long-established Catnip authors such as Joan Lingard, Patricia Leitch, Margaret Bateson-Hill and Sam Hay; second books from this year’s debut authors Jason Beresford and Natasha Desborough and two wonderful authors to welcome to the list: the ever-popular Keris Stainton and debut author Anne Booth.

I will still be very much shouting about children’s books on twitter as @NonPratt (and on any other forum if I get half a chance), and I’m sure you’re all forgive me if I retain a slight Catnip-bias.

Merry Christmas – and here’s to new eras.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What a Weird night...

Last night we welcomed a book into the world, dousing its head in Prosecco and christening it: WEIRDOS VS QUIMBOIDS (actually, we christened it before that, but for the sake of the metaphor...)

Editor Non (looking like a massive quimboid), Illustrator Vicky & Author Tash

I won't bother with a write-up of the event itself - there are some fantastic ones already live complete with a reading from Nastasha Desborough (the author) on Teen Librarian, or for a thorough overview not only of night, but also Catnip and the list (as well as some truly beautiful photos) head over to Achuka.

There was a lovely mix of people there - smooth-voiced Radio people (as promised on the invitation), family, friends, industry types and bloggers and it was lovely to see a lot of hard work turn into a fantastic evening. Thank you all very much for coming, those who could make it - had you not, it would just have been me (Non), Liz and Tash drinking our way through the bar tab and cackling at our favourite bits of the book. (Not that different from the editorial meetings, then...)

We also ran a wee twitter game yesterday, encouraging people to share their stories of teenage weirdness using #teenweirdo - we printed these on sheets that were spread about the room and then, at the end of the night, we picked a guest of honour (Ella, AN ACTUAL TEENAGER) to pick three winners:

Look what you've won, you weirdos!
"I was annoyed that everyone else had an allergy and I didn't, so I pretended I was allergic to oranges - until someone pointed out that I drank orange juice, at which point I claimed I was only allergic to the peel." @Char_Ronald

"At youth club I persuaded everyone that there was a mummified cat in the loft that we had to find and “release”" @KatyjaMoran

"I used to spend lunchtimes trying to hypnotise myself" @BBookLBook

There are more hilarious stories of teen weirdness on twitter, some gathered from the Catnip team as well as the Bounce bunch, so feel free to check out #teenweirdo - if you feel compelled to contribute, we might do another giveaway next week...

In the meantime, you can find out more at  and if you feel so compelled, why not hunt down copies of WEIRDOS VS QUIMBOIDS in the wild, capture them and drag them home for devouring? You will not be disappointed.

Friday, 6 September 2013

New blog post! New book! New Author!

Non Pratt at Catnip Books has signed Anne Booth's GIRL WITH A WHITE DOG, a novel that "will change hearts and minds".
Catnip has UK and Commonwealth rights through Anne Clark of the Anne Clark Literary Agency, and will publish in March 2014.

Girl with a White Dog is the story of Jessie, who desperately wishes for a dog. But when her gran gets a white Alsatian puppy, a mystery starts to unfold. At school Jessie is studying the Nazis' rise to power, and she starts to make connections, uncovering something long-buried, troubling and somehow linked to another girl, and another white dog . . .

Pratt said: "Jessie's voice is entirely authentic as a child on the cusp of realising how the world works. Anne's passion for her characters and the themes that inspired her to write this book bubbles fiercely under the surface of a beautifully told story - one with the power to move me, and the sales team, to tears." 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Hi. So. There's been a decent-size discussion of late about book covers and gender: Maureen Johnson’s cover flip was a very persuasive exercise in demonstrating how books by female authors are marketed differently from how they would be if penned by a man. James Dawson’s subsequent blogpost on how his own covers have been jacketed nudged our attention towards the fact that the jacketing of book covers has less to do with the gender of the author, and more to do with that of the target audience.

Surely the publishers who jacket the books (as well as the people who write the insides) believe that boys and girls want the same thing from a book? A good story; well-drawn characters the reader can identify with; accessible language. Well, yes, I think publishers do believe that – these are the cornerstones of commissioning, but even before an editor makes an offer on a book, he or she must think of how to sell this to the reps, who must think of how to sell it to the booksellers, who must think about selling it to their customers…

And there’s the rub.

Despite the fact that the books are written for a young readers, they need to be sold to adults. Admittedly, teens have significant buying power, but they are still of an age where the adults around them are trying to nurture a love of reading by buying books for them. Obviously the younger you go, the greater the influence of adults over the contents of a child’s bookcase.

No one in my office, or who I follow on Twitter, or who I meet at book launches would dream of defining a potential reader by their gender (or race, or sexuality), but this is only a small subset of the purchasing population: what about the sales assistant who told my daughter, “But those are boys shoes”? Or the friend who apologised for only having boys toys for her to play with? Or every stranger in a queue who tells me I have a very pretty son because the 'son' in question is wearing combats…?

Publishers aren’t just selling to those of us engaged in this debate. They’re selling to those who aren’t. By asking them to move more strongly towards gender-neutral jacketing (which, FYI, mostly seems to suggest eliminating pink – a subject to be discussed in another blog post) we’re asking the industry to forego income in favour of ideals.

I like to think books can change the world, but people still have to read them. If adults who want pink books for their little princesses can’t buy them, does that mean they buy something else pink instead. Something that isn’t a book?  

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Keeping it pro, yo.

So here's the thing:

I've noticed of late that my twitter feed has entirely degenerated into whimsical musings about the Hot Postie, photos of cats, updates of what children's book character my small child is currently obsessed with, and far too few tweets of a professional nature.

I'm pretty sure that many of the people who come to follow @catnipbooks have done so because they want to know about how a small independent publishing house works and really, I owe them a bit more than the occasional bit of publishing opinion. (And a lot fewer of the Ryan Gosling links...)

Although Catnip used to consist solely of me – and therefore my thoughts – we've recently expanded to include another member of staff. The fantastic Liz Bankes (blogger over at Books, bonnets & full frontal blogging and author of the excellent YA debut Irresistible, published by Piccadilly Press) joined in February as an Assistant Editor. Since then, we've been working hard divvying up Important Editorial Duties and hatching Awesome Publicity Plans in a way I've never been in a position to do until now.

This marks a new era for Catnip – we've DOUBLED the workforce – and we're taking it up a level. On every level. Including our facebook page, this blog and twitter. These things will happen piecemeal, because despite DOUBLING our workforce, there's still a huge amount for two people to do. But I think a first, easy step is for us to change the way @catnipbooks is used.

From now on, the twitter feed will be focusing on the things we think people really want to know about:

  • Insight into editorial life
  • Tips on submissions and writing
  • News on exciting new projects
  • Opinions on The State of Publishing
  • Sharing interesting links from other publishers, editors, writers, illustrators and bloggers (and anyone else, really – you don't have to be connected to books to be interesting!)

It might be me behind the tweets – or it might be Liz. We're still people with personalities and we'll happily banter with other users (in which case, we'll make sure you know who you're talking to!), but we'll try and keep it focused on books, rather than buff postmen.

(And for those of you who will be devastated by a lack of Hot Postie updates, who want to know some of my more shouty opinions on publishing and books and who might be interested in my writing as well as my editing, you can follow me over on @NonPratt.) 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

MUG SHOT #4 (or #7... if you see what I mean)

It's been a while since I did one of these posts... But it was my birthday the other day and I received this little beauty from someone who knows me very well indeed. For anyone out there as yet unaware of the awesome that is Friday Night Lights then get thee to a DVD-vending place and purchase seasons one-five immediately. Go on, do it, I'll refund you the cost of the DVD if you don't fall in love with everyone and everything in Dillon, Texas within the first episode*.

There's a lot of talent in this show – both euphemistically and truthfully – and it's hard not to fall in love with one of the characters. For me, it will always be Matt Saracen. Always and forever – not least because of the way he says 'football'. And he can draw. And he looks like this:

So pretty.

Clear eyes, full hearts... You really cannot lose.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Guess who's back?

Yo. I’m back, y’all.

Communicating, like most things, requires regular exercise and working largely alone, my communication muscles are less the toned sixpack of Taylor Lautner and more the… well, they’re more like my own abs. A bit, ahem, lacking. So when I took a sabbatical from Catnip duties, I didn’t really announce it very well.

But now, having enjoyed a refreshing break from all things editorial/marketing/publicity/production, I am back and raring to go.

I know the new year has become a bit old, but for the record, here’s what 2013 is going to mean to me:
  • Focus. I’ve enjoyed my downtime – I’d like more of it in future, which means making my working hours count harder than ever before.
  • Discipline. I will not procrastinate (as much – let’s be realistic, this is an intrinsic part of my character inherited from my father and I’m not about to have a procrastinatectomy). This means I will tackle at least one ‘unwelcome’ job a day, that way they won’t all pile up on me to deal with before I next go on holiday.
  • Anticipation. The world of publishing works further ahead that I currently do and in order for Catnip to defend and develop its place in that world, then we’ve got to get out there the same time as the bigger houses. Because we are that awesome and everyone else needs to know this.
  • Perspective. As in not worrying that the purples in my sales presentation font have slightly different CMYK mixes and saving the worry for covers, that other people will actually see.
  • TELL PEOPLE STUFF. Like blogging more than once in a while, emailing people and making sure the authors I work with know how much I love them* and generally exercising my flabby communication muscles.
So here's to being less lonely and more badassier in 2013. Whoop!

*(If you’re a Catnip author reading this, then know that I love you LOADS.)