McMorris Lands Six Figures at Sourcebooks
In a six-figure world rights agreement, Kristina McMorris sold two historical novels, at auction, to Sourcebooks’ Shana Drehs. The first book under the agreement, inspired by a photo of a Depression-era family, is set to publish in 2018. Sourcebooks said the novel follows the reporter who shot the photo, a woman hiding secrets from her past, and “the devastating consequences the photo puts in motion.” The deal was brokered by Elisabeth Weed at the Book Group.

Thornton’s ‘Princess’ Settles In at Berkley
American Princess, about Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice, was preempted, in a world rights acquisition, by Kate Seaver at Berkley. The author, Stephanie Thornton, who was represented by Kevan Lyon at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, sold two books in the deal. American Princess, Berkley said, tells a “sweeping tale” of a first daughter “whose wild antics in the White House made her America’s first media sensation.” The book, which will be published as a paperback original in early 2019, delves into how this politically connected woman went on to become a power broker “as the wife of a debonair congressman and the mistress to a powerful senator.”

Putnam Takes Walsh’s ‘Prize’
Sally Kim at Putnam bought world rights to M.O. Walsh’s sophomore novel, The Big Door Prize, from Renée Zuckerbrot at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. Walsh, who is the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans, won the Pat Conroy Southern Book Award for his debut, 2015’s My Sunshine Away (which was also published by Putnam). The Big Door Prize is set in a fictional Louisiana town upended by the arrival of a mysterious machine that, the publisher explained, has the power to reveal a person’s “true potential in life.” Putnam said the novel is written in “the realist Southern tradition” and explores “ how doubt and change can spur self-discovery and deepen love.”

Sci-Fi Take on Shakespeare Lands at Flatiron
In a deal for a U.S. debut, Sarah Barley at Flatiron Books bought world English rights (excluding Australia/New Zealand) to Kathryn Barker’s YA novel, Waking Romeo. The book follows a character named Jules Capulet who, in a future world, is reeling from the end of her romance with a classmate called Romeo; it has left him in a coma and her as a social outcast. The publisher said the novel was pitched as “Romeo and Juliet meets Wuthering Heights.” The latter comes into play with the entrance of a character named Heathcliff Ellis who, Flatiron explained, is “a time traveler sent on a mission to ‘wake Romeo.’ ” The Gernert Company’s Sara Burnes represented the author, who is Australian. (Barker’s debut, In the Skin of a Monster, was published in her native country in 2015 by Allen & Unwin, which bought Australia/New Zealand rights to Waking Romeo.)

Professor of Viral Online Course Brings Latest to TarcherPerigee
Barbara Oakley, author of the sleeper hit A Mind for Numbers, sold a new YA book, Learning How to Learn, to Joanna Ng at TarcherPerigee. The author, who has a Ph.D. and teaches engineering at Oakland University, published Mind with the Penguin Random House imprint in 2014; that book went on to bestsellerdom after Oakley’s MOOC (massive open online course), Learning How to Learn, became hugely popular. (The New York Times called the class “the world’s most popular online course,” describing it as “a general introduction to the art of learning.”) The book acquired in this deal, named after the course, is written with Terrence Sejnowski and, according to Ng, is “a kids’ version of A Mind for Numbers” that will be targeted at readers 10–13. Rita Rosenkranz at Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency represented Oakley and Sejnowski in the deal, selling world rights.

Stern Heads to Pluto with Picador
Alan Stern, who works for NASA, sold Launch to Leadership to James Meader at Picador. Stern is a planetary scientist who, Meader said, “originally conceived of the mission to explore Pluto.” (At NASA, Stern’s mouthful of a title is New Horizons Pluto probe principal investigator.) Launch, which is subtitled Nine Business Lessons from the Exploration of Pluto, will offer insight Stern gleaned from his experience overseeing a 15-year project that cost NASA roughly $728 million. Meader said the book will offer the kind of management advice that “businesspeople can exploit to create their own ‘moon shots.’” Stern, who was represented by Josh Getzler and Carrie Hannigan at Hannigan Salky Getzler, will also be publishing a book he cowrote, called Chasing New Horizons, with Picador in 2018; Launch is slated for 2019. Meader bought world rights in the deal.