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Bestselling children's author leaves publishers to publish her own work

21 September 2015

In an unusual move, the UK children's publisher Chicken House and US publisher Little Brown Young Readers have both parted company with bestselling children's author Cornelia Funke, who both have published right from the beginning of her writing career. What's unusual about the split is that it's not about money, or more promotion, but about differences relating to editorial advice. What's even more unusual is that Funke is going to set up her own publishing house, Breathing Books, to publish her new books.

Chicken House MD Barry Cunningham said:

"We had some editorial thoughts about the direction of the last book that she didn't agree with. One of the purposes of a publisher is to edit so if we felt there was a better book to be made and she didn't then we have reached the best conclusion."

Chicken House has relinquished its rights to the first two books in the series - The Petrified Flesh and The Living Shadows - and Breathing Books will release all three books in the series in November. However, it doesn't sound like a complete break as Chicken House will continue to publish Funke's backlist in the UK and Cunningham hopes to publish her upcoming book Dragon Rider 2 once the manuscript is ready.

Funke told Publishers WeeklyInternational news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries "Little, Brown and others are like ocean liners that can only go to certain places. I want to be a sailboat so I can fit into other places. If I have to figure this out myself, good! I feel I'm at a time in my career when I can afford to do this, and where I can say, as long as I cover my costs, I'm fine. I have many traditional publishers in Europe, Asia, and South America who still earn me money. And I can finally be a storyteller for all ages."

But maybe there are other issues at stake too. Funke said the publishers were pitching the story at too young an age group. "From the very beginning, I had the problem of Little, Brown placing the Mirrorworld series in the 9-12 age group when I had told them it was age 14 and up. The last seven years were bitter at times because of that argument."