Novak Goes Art-less for Debut “Picture Book”
B.J. Novak, the actor, TV writer, and author of the forthcoming short story collection One More Thing (Knopf, February), signed with Penguin Young Readers Group to do a children’s book called The Book with No Pictures. Lauri Hornik, president and publisher of Dial Books, took world English rights to the title from agent Richard Abate. The book, which is scheduled for release in 2014, is, indeed, a picture book without pictures, and, as the publisher explained, it “turns the notion of the [format] on its head.” Novak elaborated: “I wanted to write a book that would introduce the youngest of kids to the idea that words can be their allies—that the right words can be as fun, exciting, and ridiculous as any pictures. Also, I can’t draw.”

Harlequin Signs Lapin for Finance Book
CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin sold a financial advice book for women called Rich Bitch to Harlequin Nonfiction. The publisher, which took North American rights in a six-figure deal, said the book will be a no-nonsense “money-management bible and boot camp.” Lapin came to notoriety as an anchor on CNN—at 21, she was the network’s youngest on-air personality—and, after moving to CNBC, became anchor of the business news program Worldwide Exchange. Rich Bitch is Lapin’s first book and will, the publisher added, “teach readers how to come face-to-face with their financial reality, avoid the classic money pitfalls, and have the chutzpah to get want they want.” Rebecca Hunt at Harlequin brokered the deal with Folio Literary Management’s Steve Troha, and the title is set for release in early 2015.

SMP Buys Nazi Art Heist Book, and M.F.A.’s Debut
In the first of two deals coming out of St. Martin’s Press this week, Charles Spicer took world rights to Susan Ronald’s The Man Who Stole Lives: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis and a Billion Dollars in Looted Art from agent Alex Hoyt. The discovery of a cache of masterpieces in a Munich apartment made the front page of the New York Times in November 2013, and the story exposed, among other things, the work of Gurlitt, an art dealer who consulted prominent Nazis on handling stolen art. Ronald, a historian and former investment banker, was inspired to work with the Art Loss Register (database with info about stolen artworks) after seeing, firsthand, a collection of stolen art. She has since helped return two works of art stolen by Nazis. SMP said that, given Ronald’s background—“her experience in restoration of historic monuments and knowledge about Nazi looters, combined with her personal access to law enforcement, Jewish organizations, and museum agencies”—she is uniquely qualified to tell this story.
In a second deal at SMP, editor-in-chief George Witte acquired Erik Fassnacht’s debut novel, A Good Family. Witte preempted world rights to the title from Regal Literary’s Leigh Huffine and the book is scheduled for publication in fall 2015. Fassnacht quit his job as a high school English teacher in Chicago to get his M.F.A.—he went to Columbia to study under Time Traveler’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger—and came out of the program with the manuscript that would become A Good Family. Witte said the novel is about a “fractured Chicago family… reluctantly united when its philandering patriarch is diagnosed with cancer and attempts to return home.”

Stanford Design Prof to HC
Colleen Lawrie at HarperCollins took world rights at auction to Bernie Roth’s The Achievement Habit, from agent Lynn Johnston, who has an eponymous shingle. Roth is the founder and academic director of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, and the book will draw from a popular course that he has taught for the last 40 years; the class challenges students to follow their passions. Johnston said that a number of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have credited Roth’s class with helping them achieve success. Achievement Habit is set for a fall 2015 release.

NAL’s Kerry Donovan took world rights to the fifth book in Samantha Young’s bestselling romance series, On Dublin Street. Agent Lauren E. Abramo at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management represented Young, who launched the series with On Dublin Street, which was originally self-published. NAL acquired On Dublin Street in 2012 and, since then, has sold foreign rights to the series in 25 countries. The currently untitled fifth installment is scheduled to be published next winter, after the release of book four, Fall from India Place, in June.