Deal of the Week: “Shitty Media Men” Creator to Scribner

Moira Donegan, creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list, sold a primer on dealing with sexual harassment to Scribner at auction. Kathy Belden took North American rights to the book, which the publisher described as “the perfect introduction to the political and moral challenges of the #MeToo movement.” Donegan created the crowdsourced Google spreadsheet that came to be known as Shitty Media Men—it featured the names of men in the media industry, detailing their alleged acts of sexual harassment and/or assault—and is currently being sued for defamation by author Stephen Elliott. (Elliott was on the list.) Monika Woods at Curtis Brown represented Donegan.


Saunders’s ‘Masterclass’ to Random
Man Booker winner George Saunders sold Masterclass to Random House; the publisher said the book draws on the author’s two decades of teaching Russian authors to MFA students. Esther Newberg at ICM represented Saunders in the world rights deal with Andy Ward. RH elaborated that the book, subtitled Reading the Russians, is “a kind of story theory seminar in book form” that asks “how do great stories work, how do you write them, and what are their political and moral implications?”

‘Schindler’s List’ Scribe Returns
Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler’s List, sold The Book of Science and Antiquities. Peter Borland at Atria Books nabbed U.S. and Canadian rights to the title from Amanda Urban at ICM Partners. The S&S division said the novel features two narrators: “the first human known to have lived in Australia 42,000 years ago” and a present-day documentary filmmaker researching the discovery of the ancient man’s remains.

Anappara’s ‘Djinn’ Lands at RH
Debut author Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line sold in a North American rights deal to Caitlin McKenna at Random House. McKenna preempted the book from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White after reading it overnight. Set outside a sprawling Indian city, the novel, RH said, is based on a true story and follows three children trying to find out “who has been abducting young people from the slum settlement where they live.”

Portfolio Buys Cohan’s GE Book
The bestselling author of House of Cards, William D. Cohan, closed a world rights agreement with Portfolio for a book about the rise and fall of General Electric. Joy Harris, who has an eponymous shingle, represented Cohan in the deal with Adrian Zackheim. Calling Cohan “one of the great chroniclers of American capitalism,” Zackheim said the book will explore the “GE tragedy,” examining how one of America’s most profitable companies became emblematic of corporate decline.

D’day Kids Gets Starry with Marj
In a six-figure, 12-book deal, Frances Gilbert at Doubleday Books for Young Readers bought world rights to a series of Zodiac-themed board books by debut author-illustrator Roxy Marj. The titles are all set to publish in 2020 and will, per Doubleday, “share gentle thoughts about the characteristics of a child born under each star sign.” Marj, who was represented by Erica Rand Silverman at Stimola Literary Studio, has a background in product design and has worked for companies such as Crate & Barrel.

Dayton Prize Winner to HMH
Hala Alyan, winner of this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize, sold The Arsonists’ City, in a rumored six-figure deal, to Lauren Wein at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The sophomore novel is, Wein said, about “a fractured family returning to Beirut from various locales to sell their ancestral home, tracing their allegiances and betrayals across decades and continents.” Alyan, who grew up in the Middle East and has a doctorate in psychology, divides her time between teaching (at NYU and CUNY) and private practice. She was represented by Michelle Tessler at the Tessler Agency.

Little A Stands in Conn’s “Shadow”
For Amazon’s Little A imprint, Hafizah Geter bought North American rights to Bobi Conn’s memoir In the Shadow of the Valley from Adriann Ranta Zurhellen at Foundry Literary + Media. Little A, comparing the book to titles such as White Trash, said it “offers a beautifully written examination of class, poverty, gender, and rural America for the #MeToo generation” and “examines what both the left and right have gotten wrong about the plight of Americans who live beyond cities and below the poverty line.” Conn grew up in rural Kentucky.

Behind the Deal
The story behind the intermingled publication of Beautiful Boy and Tweak is one Amanda Urban recalls well. The ICM Partners agent, who sold both memoirs, has a personal connection to both authors: the father-son pair of David and Nic Sheff. The books, which are the basis of the movie Beautiful Boy (released earlier this month), almost never came to be. David, a journalist, is a longtime friend of Urban’s, so she was well-versed on Nic’s struggle with addiction. When David proposed writing a book about raising Nic, Urban thought a work delving into how addiction affects families would be unique. Editors disagreed until David published a piece in the New York Times Magazine, “My Addicted Son,” in 2005, that went viral. Then the big houses came calling. While fielding requests for David, Urban was contacted by a children’s editor at Simon & Schuster who wanted a book by Nic. Both books were published in 2008, after some delays; Nic was late because he relapsed, Urban explained, and David was late “because he was dealing with Nic.” Though the movie has been nearly a decade in the making, Urban thinks the wait has paid off. “When you look at the addiction problem in America right now,” she noted, the timing of the film seems, well, prescient.


  • Francine Toon, an editor at Sceptre, sold a buzzed-about debut gothic thriller called Pine to Doubleday Ireland (for U.K. and Commonwealth rights). The book, set in the Scottish Highlands, was sold by Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander. [The Bookseller].

  • French house Éditions de L’Iconoclaste is reporting brisk sales for Adeline Dieudonne’s La wraie vie (in English, Real Life). Having sold 80,000 copies in France since its August release, the publisher said auctions have now closed in, among other countries, Italy and Spain. The publisher called the title a “dramatic coming-of-age novel.” [PW]


  • Liane Moriarty's novel The Hypnotist's Love Story, about a hypnotherapist feeling hopeful about her new boyfriend after being unlucky in love, has been optioned for series development by ABC. Heather Graham is attached to star. [Deadline]

  • Stephen King sold the option to one of his short stories, "Stationary Bike," to a group of Welsh teenagers in film school, for $1. [L.A. Times]

For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.