Deal of the Week
Will Smith Book to Penguin
In what’s rumored to be a seven-figure acquisition, Scott Moyers at Penguin Press took North American rights to a currently untitled book by Will Smith, who was represented by CAA. (Moyers, following PRH policy, declined to comment on the advance.) The book, which Smith is writing with Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck), will, according to PRH and CAA, chronicle Smith’s journey from childhood to stardom, explaining how “his true self-knowledge helped to propel him to extraordinary success and then evolve to a place of deeper peace.” In England, Century took U.K. and Commonwealth rights.
Knopf Lands New Paolini
Michelle Frey at Knopf Books for Young Readers took North American rights to a collection of short stories by Christopher Paolini titled The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm. Paolini, author of the blockbuster Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance), was represented by Simon Lipskar at Writers House. Fork, jointly acquired by PRH UK, is set for release in December in the U.S. and in January 2019 in the U.K. Knopf is planning a 500,000-copy first printing.
Tisdel Takes Debut for High Six
With a high-six-figure preempt, Laura Tisdel at Viking bought Elizabeth Ames Staudt's debut novel, The Other’s Gold. Lisa Grubka at Fletcher & Company, who represented the author, said the novel follows “four friends from their wild college years through the feral days of new motherhood” and is “structured around the biggest mistake each of them makes.” The author, who is 37, has an MFA from the University of Michigan. The book had, at press time, sold to Mondadori in Italy.
Dorman Gets “Authentic” with Pooley
In a rumored high-six-figure deal, Pamela Dorman bought Clare Pooley’s debut novel, The Authenticity Project, for her eponymous imprint at Penguin Random House. The two-book deal, for North American rights, was struck with Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Dorman described the novel as “The Rosie Project meets Love, Actually,” noting it focuses on a notebook “which brings together a group of completely different people.” Pooley, who’s British, is the author of the memoir The Sober Diaries.
Welsh Author’s YA Thriller to Penguin
Kathy Dawson, who has an eponymous imprint at Penguin Young Readers, won North American rights at auction, for six figures, to Kat Ellis’s YA horror thriller Harrow Lake in a two-book deal. Molly Ker Hawn at the Bent Agency, who reps Ellis, confirmed that the book was also preempted in a two-book deal in the U.K., just days after submission. The novel follows the daughter of a horror director, who, Hawn said, “gets swept up in real-life terror” after she winds up in “the sinister small town where her father’s most iconic movie was filmed.” Ellis lives in North Wales.
Miller Gets ‘Awakened’ at S&G
Columbia professor and bestselling author Lisa Miller (The Spiritual Child) sold North American rights to The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Well-Being to Julie Grau at Spiegel & Grau. The book was acquired at auction in a rumored high-six-figure deal. Doug Abrams at Idea Architects, who represented Miller, said Awakened lays out how humans “possess two different conscious modes for experiencing life” and offers “an entirely new way of understanding our world... detailing what leads to success and well-being.” The book is set for fall 2020.
Riddle to Recorded for Seven Figures
In a seven-figure deal for audio rights, Recorded Books bought five titles by A.G. Riddle. A self-publishing phenomenon, Riddle has, according to Recorded, sold more than three million copies of his past six books. (Riddle publishes his books in print through his own company.) The first book in this deal, Winter World, was described by Recorded as “The Martian meets Interstellar.” Danny Baror at Baror International represented Riddle in the deal.
LB Invests in French Bestseller
Little, Brown v-p and executive editor Asya Muchnick bought North American rights to French bestseller The Reunion by Guillaume Musso. Musso's French publisher, Calmann-Lévy, sold the book, which was also acquired in the U.K. by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. (All three houses are owned by Hachette Livre.) The Reunion has, per LB, sold more than 500,000 copies in France since its release earlier this year. Set on the French Riviera circa 1992, the book is set, LB said, “during a high school reunion, as dark secrets and past crimes are revealed.” LB’s edition is slated for July 2019.
Behind the Deal
What does it take to land a movie deal via Wattpad? For Sam Marsden, whose SF novel Under Glass was just optioned by Stampede, it was 350,000 reads. Now repped by New Leaf Literary & Media, Marsden began publishing Under Glass, two chapters at a time, in October 2017. The book, described by New Leaf as “a modern-day Logan’s Run for the Brexit era,” was removed from the site in early 2018 after Marsden signed with her agency. Now, after extensive revisions, the title is being shopped to publishers. Among other tweaks, the book jumped from 58,000 words to 82,000. And the goal of the edits? Marsden said it was to make her story “work as a novel.”
Behind the Deal
A debut that Doubleday’s Lee Boudreaux won at auction back in January was a hot commodity at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Trident Media Group’s Claire Roberts, who is selling foreign rights to Claire Lombardo’s The Most Fun We Ever Had, a multigenerational novel that follows four daughters in a Chicago family, said a calculated decision was made to put off shopping the book abroad until it had been edited by Boudreaux. The approach worked. At press time, Trident said auctions for the title were underway in France and Italy, with deals closed in Germany and the U.K.
U.K. publisher Trapeze won world rights, after a four-way auction, to a book by Paul and Phil Hartnoll, aka electronic dance duo Orbital. Da Capo preempted the book in the U.S. [The Bookseller]
Bestselling Korean novel Kim Jiyoung, Born in 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo emerged as a buzz book at last week's Frankfurt Book Fair. The Grayhawk Agency's Gray Tan, who reps the title on behalf of South Korean publisher Minumsa, said offers are in from publishers in France and Italy. The novel, which Tan noted has sold more than one million copies in South Korea, follows a 30-something woman who begins speaking in the voices of other women.
Lou Berney’s November Road (HarperCollins, Nov.) has been optioned by screenwriter/director Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill). [press release]
Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, optioned Australian author Tim Winton’s 1995 Booker Prize finalist, The Riders. [Deadline]
Stampede, the company recently launched by former Warner Bros. prez Greg Silverman, optioned Sam Marsden’s Wattpad novel Under Glass. [press release]
Peter Ackroyd’s series the History of England (St. Martin’s) has been optioned by Pulse Films (XY Chelsea). [Deadline]
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.