As someone who's originally from the North, I love to see exciting things happening above the Watford Gap. Although I left in 1993 and never went back, it was mostly because of the lack of career opportunities up there at the time. I figured that London was where it was at, the land of opportunity and all that.

And for so long that was the case for publishing. But with the transformation of the north, it has been changing and it's wonderful to see the bold, the bright, the beautiful businesses thriving in the northern towns and cities. It's a hub of creativity with many organisations supporting pathways into publishing for people based in northern cities such as Manchester. Historically very London-centric, Hachette today as well as their London HQ, has five national offices across the UK in Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Bristol. 

So imagine my delight on seeing the Children's Books North network continuing to thrive. Maybe one day, I'll venture back up north and have a plethora of opportunities at my feet. Bravo to all they have achieved with their network flourishing, let's chat to them and hear about their latest super-exciting developments. Welcome to Co-Leads Emma Layfield and Rebecca Mortimer

Tell us what Children's Books North is all about.

Children’s Books North (CBN) connects and supports published children’s writers, illustrators and publishing professionals living in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. The network promotes members' work, new books and events. Additionally, CBN brings focus on the importance of regional diversity in children’s books and the wider industry. We currently have over 400 members. Together we have one loud voice to champion talent in the North and Scotland.


There is big change and exciting plans afoot, please share your new developments with us.

After 25 years of working for Hachette Children’s Group, Emma recently made a permanent move to Children’s Books North full-time to further develop the growing network. CBN will retain its primary focus to connect, support and promote its members' works, and amplify regional diversity in the publishing industry.

This new chapter of CBN will see us expand our partnerships and initiatives with a wide range of Northern organisations and offer exciting opportunities for our members, including a new festival partnership with Durham Book Festival taking place in October. We will also be offering more mentoring and development opportunities for aspiring authors, illustrators and publishing professionals based in the North.

And we're also really excited to have launched a brand-new website, which you can visit here: 

What prompted you to launch this network back in 2020?

After 20+ years of working in London with Hachette Children’s Group, Emma moved back home to Manchester to continue her career based at Hachette’s Manchester office. She was keen to get to know local authors, illustrators and other publishing professionals so, together with Liz Scott and Tilda Johnson. co-founded CBN and launched with a party in Manchester.

Membership is thriving, is it all you imagined it would be?

And more! We're thrilled to now have over 400+ members, and watching the network grow shows how much talent there is in the North and Scotland. If you're a published children’s writer, illustrator or publishing professional based in the North or Scotland, please come and join us!

What are the benefits of joining your community for any potential Northern/Scottish creatives out there? 

We host a yearly social for our members, which moves around our areas to be accessible to everyone in the network.

We have published a directory of our members – Looking North. You will find each member listed with their details enabling booksellers, librarians, schools, festivals, literacy organisations, agents and publishers to easily get in touch. We hope the CBN directory will aid connectivity and accessibility to creatives outside of London, and spark some fantastic events and relationships.

We also promote the work of our members via social media, guest interviews on our blog, CBN Cuppas on Instagram, cover reveals, and Book and Bookshop of the Month features.

Your events sound brilliant. Tell us about your next one planned.

Our next event is taking place in June in Newcastle, which is our yearly networking social for members. As mentioned, we move socials around to be accessible to everyone in the network and in the past they've been held in Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh. There is no agenda – members just come along and meet other creatives in their area. We also invite local special guests to our socials, and this year we are delighted to be joined by New Writing North and Seven Stories.

And you are also involved in the Just So Festival this Summer, which sounds amazing. Tell us more about that, and why everyone will want to grab their tickets fast.

In August, CBN is partnering with Just So Festival to curate a day of CBN author events, delivering a series of children’s book events from our members. This year our events will be held in the Spellbound Forest with a theme of ‘magical campfire stories’.

Just So is an annual, weekend-long festival – an imaginative outdoor family adventure like no other. With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, Just So enables families to step out of their day-to-day lives and into a wonderland of creative pursuits together, in a beautiful natural environment.

Your mentor scheme is a wonderful opportunity and we understand it continues to double year in year out. Huge congratulations. What would your last class of mentors and mentees say if we were speaking to them today?

Thank you!  We're delighted that we have been able to double the places on this year's scheme, so we are able to mentor 12 aspiring publishers from the North. Previous mentees have described the scheme as "inspiring, challenging and great fun!" and have gone on to secure jobs and internships in publishing as a result. 

You also focus on the importance of regional diversity in children’s books and the industry. How does this manifest?

Through events, taking part in publishing panels such as our ‘Networking in the North’ event at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2024, and of course through our mentor scheme. We have ambitious plans for the future to further aid connectivity and accessibility to creatives outside of the M25 and improve access to the industry for those who don’t have connections in London. 

If you are interested in partnering with an organisation outside of the M25 and working with Northern and Scottish talent, drop them a line:


To discover more from the people who bring you all those books you love, read more insights from the world of children’s publishing, and from publishers who make books for grown-ups.