Amazon Children's Publishing has landed its first YA acquisition, Kiss & Make Up, a debut novel by Oxford, Miss., author Katie D. Anderson that is set to pub in October. In a six-figure deal, Amazon associate publisher Tim Ditlow acquired world English and audio rights to the book from Cheryl Pientka at Jill Grinberg Literary Management.
Kiss & Make Up stars Emerson Taylor, a 16-year-old lip gloss addict with a secret gift: she can read the mind of anyone who kisses her. Though puckering up with brainy boys to get test answers helps her grades, a scholarship competition and a new crush compel Emerson to stifle her gift and study the honest -- if old-fashioned -- way. With support from her family, including her aunt/guardian who is in the cosmetics business,Emerson discovers that true beauty always wins out.
“There is a magical element, but the backstory in the book is very much about family,” says Pientka. “There’s a core of goodness at its heart. It’s set in the south, and it’s very contemporary.”
Asked why she felt Amazon was the best fit for Anderson’s project, Pientka replied, “Amazon has such a large audience and its ability to reach people is phenomenal. I felt this book should reach the largest audience possible, and what better way than Amazon.” She additionally felt confident about placing the book with Ditlow, with whom she had worked on audiobook rights during his previous tenure at Brilliance Audio.
Pientka is also very enthusiastic about the potential for tie-ins and forms of cross-promotion. Warner Bros. Digital Distribution is currently developing a live-action web series based on Kiss & Make Up. Warner Bros. has already seen great success in this arena with the series Aim High, which recently aired on Facebook and Cambio. According to Anderson’s Web site, Warner Bros. has acquired film rights to the book as well.
On another front, entertainment and consumer products executive Dan Romanelli, founder and former president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, is exploring potential strategic partnerships with major cosmetic companies. “Makeup is a star of the book and the series as well,” says Romanelli. “With Amazon, Warner Bros. and a third partner working together, a lot of what was imagined by the author could be used to create a brand that consumers will want to use.” Romanelli notes that he was “very excited” when he read the book. “There was a lot of interest out there,” he says. “Kiss & Make Up will be a potential franchise for Warner Bros. and potentially for Amazon, too.”
Amazon plans to bring Anderson to BEA, Pientka notes, though no other major publicity or promotion for the book has yet been announced. “I really want to see how it all plays out,” she says. “Everyone at Amazon is so behind the book; it feels like the ideal situation.”