Deal of the Week: Cockram to Harper for Six Figures

Jane Cockram, a former sales rep for Pan Macmillan Australia, closed a high-six-figure deal for her debut novel, The House of Brides, with Sara Nelson at Harper. Nelson preempted the book from Rob Weisbach at Rob Weisbach Creative Management, calling it a “literary page-turner” reminiscent of work by Kate Morton and Daphne du Maurier. Harper said the novel follows a woman called to the estate “immortalized by her mother’s bestselling memoir,” which shares its title with the novel. “There,” Harper added, the heroine “discovers a world of family secrets tied to the past that may have the power to change her future.” The author is also a former buyer for Borders Australia.


S&S Nabs Carter’s ‘Degenerates’
In a world English rights acquisition, Simon & Schuster’s Julianna Haubner bought Michaela Carter’s The Degenerates. S&S said the novel, which Richard Abate at 3 Arts Entertainment sold, is “in the vein of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank”; it follows the affair between surrealist painters Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst. After meeting in 1930s Paris, the pair, S&S explained, were separated when Ernst was sent to a prison camp and Carrington to an asylum. Carter (Further Out Than You Thought) has been nominated for two Pushcart prizes for her poetry.

Wednesday Plays “Foul” with Capin
Hannah Capin’s Foul Is Fair was nabbed in a preempt by Sara Goodman at Wednesday Books. The YA novel, which the publisher called “a reimagining of Lady Macbeth for the #MeToo era” follows Jade Khanjara, who is the queen bee in her L.A. friend circle. However, after four boys “try to ruin her” one night, Jade “takes vengeance into her own hands.” Sarah Burnes at the Gernert Company represented Capin in the two-book North American rights agreement.

Graphic Series to Holt Kids
For Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Christian Trimmer took North American rights to a chapter book graphic novel series called Fitz & Cleo by Jonathan Stutzman. The two-book deal, which came out of an exclusive submission, was brokered by Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties. The series follows, Holt said, “two ghost siblings” on “their hilarious adventures.” Heather Fox is set to illustrate the titles, and the first book is slated for spring 2020.

Boudreaux Bids for Pushcart Winner
In a rumored six-figure deal, Lee Boudreaux at Doubleday bought world rights, at auction, to Asako Serizawa’s short story collection The Inheritors. The two-book agreement was brokered by Heather Schroder at Compass Talent Agency; she said the book presents stories “about four generations of a family fragmented by the Pacific side of World War II.” Serizawa has won, among other literary honors, two O. Henry prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation award. Inheritors is set for summer 2020; the second book in the deal is a currently untitled novel.

Ballantine Buys Cave Rescue Book
Susanna Porter at Ballantine Books took world English rights to Into the Dark: The Dramatic Story of the Thai Cave Rescue from Creative Artists Agency. About the headline-grabbing story from last summer involving the rescue of a boys’ soccer team from a cave in Thailand, the book will present various first-person accounts from rescuers as well as those who were trapped. Contributors include a pair of Australian doctors/divers who went into the cave, the team’s coach, and its young players. (Universal Pictures has already optioned the life rights of the coach, Ekkapol Chantawong.) The book will be cowritten by journalist Ellis Henican.

SMP Wins Muhammad Bio
After an auction, Elisabeth Dyssegaard at St. Martin’s Press won North American rights, for a rumored six figures, to Mohamed Jebara’s biography of Muhammad. Becky Swerenat Aevitas Creative Management, who sold the book, called it a “page-turning” frontlist title that bidders felt could also sell into academic markets. Elaborating on the book, Sweren said it “uses the original language of the Koran and the hadith to bring to life the forgotten years of Muhammad’s youth... and correct centuries of mistranslation.”

NPR’s Raz Gets “Built” at HMH
Guy Raz, host of NPR’s How I Built This, sold North American print rights to a book that shares the title of his show to Rick Wolff at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Subtitled Lessons in Life and Business from the World’s Greatest Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Idealists, the book will, HMH said, “teach readers and listeners to overcome every conceivable obstacle.” In a concurrent deal, Audible took audio rights to the book. Raz was represented by the United Talent Agency.

Behind the Deal: Buzzy Barbizon Book Draws Hollywood Suitors
After an auction with 11 imprints, Paulina Bren’s The Barbizon went to Emily Graff at Simon & Schuster for six figures. The book tells the story of the famous all-women’s New York City residence that served as a temporary home to bold-faced names from Grace Kelly to Joan Didion. Gillian MacKenzie at MacKenzie Wolf, who handled the North American rights agreement for Bren (a professor at Vassar College), said Gotham Group’s Shari Smiley is currently seeing a flurry of interest in the book from Hollywood execs, and that an option for series adaptation will likely close before the end of the week. Calling the book a “first of its kind” account of the iconic hotel from those who stayed there, MacKenzie said Barbizon is ultimately “a social history of women from the Jazz Age to the present” and “of their unsteady but determined drive to overcome barriers well before the feminist movement or #MeToo.”


  • One of the hottest books of the Frankfurt season, The Children's Train by Viola Ardone, has sold in over 10 international deals, including to Einaudi Stile Libero (Italy), Albin Michel (France), and DVA (Germany). Italian agency Alferj e Prestia controls rights for the novel, which is based on a true story about a group of poor children from Naples who were sent, in 1946, to northern Italy where they were hosted by foster families of communist militants. [PW]

  • Spain-based IMC Literary has sold The Cook of Castamar by Fernando J. Múñez to C. Bertelsmann. Spanish publisher Planeta will be releasing the title next year. Set in the 18th century, it's about a young woman who supports herself through her cooking skills, after losing her father in the Spanish War of Succession. [PW]

  • Raphaël Glucksmann's The Children of the Void: Breaking Away from the Impasse of Individualism has sold to Hanser in Germany and Polis in Greece. The Two Seas Agency handled the sale, on behalf of Allary Editions, which is the book's French publisher. Two Seas said the book "questions the lack of a collective outlook in the generations that have grown up in individualistic societies." [PW]

  • The Meaning of Your Life Explained by Frank Martela sold to Harper Design for world English rights, and to Ambo Anthos in the Netherlands. Elina Ahlback Literary, which controls rights to the title, also sold the book to Gummerus in Finland. The author is an academic, and the narrative nonfiction book examines the history and psychology of meaningfulness in life. [PW]

  • U.K. children's publisher Usborne took U.K. and Commonwealth rights to a YA thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé that the publisher is dubbing "explosive." The author, quoted in The Bookseller, said the novel, called Ace of Spades, is about "homophobia in the black community, institutional racism and the diversity of thought amongst black people." [The Bookseller]


  • Producer Ben Karlin, along with HBO Films, optioned Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorkerarticle “The Jefferson Bottles,” about whether billionaire Bill Koch was duped into buying an expensive bottle of French wine. [Variety]

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