Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group has announced a seven-figure, two-book deal with authors George M. Johnson and Leah Johnson, with their first book scheduled for release in 2025. Asia Harden and Grace Kendall at FSG Books for Young Readers negotiated the deal for North American rights with Patrice Caldwell of New Leaf Literary.

There’s Always Next Year is the duo’s first collaboration, a YA novel following two cousins—Andy and Dominque—who attempt to fix their wrecked love lives in time for the New Year. The book is described as a contemporary rom-com with the “appeal of a Hallmark movie or a beloved show like Schitt’s Creek, but with a cast of characters who are Black and/or queer.”

This partnership features two prominent voices in the YA literature landscape. Leah Johnson’s debut You Should See Me in a Crown (Scholastic Press) was named a Stonewall Honor Book and was selected as one of Time’s Best Young Adult Books of All Time.

All Boys Aren’t Blue (FSG), George M. Johnson’s bestselling debut memoir, is currently one of the most frequently banned books in America. While exploring the challenges faced by young queer Black boys in their work, Johnson has become a notable figure in conversations around book banning.

“This book is special because as a Black queer teen, I had no representation of love,” George M. Johnson said in a statement. “While others went to the prom with their sweethearts, I could only dream of my day where I got my happy ending. This book does that.”

With book bans targeting LGBTQ+ stories and authors continuing to ramp up, Leah Johnson said her aim is to continue supporting young queer readers through her work. "My hope is that by continuing to put this type of work out in the world, and being loud and visible queer authors, we can affirm to young people everywhere that their stories do now, and will always, matter,” she said.