Deal of the Week: Simone’s ‘Child’ Finds a Home at Hachette

Lisa Simone, daughter of jazz singer Nina Simone, sold world rights to her memoir, tentatively titled Child in Me, to Krishan Trotman at Hachette Books. Simone, a performer in her own right—she has released a number of CDs and appeared on Broadway in hits such as Rent and Aida—chronicles her tumultuous childhood and relationship with her mother, as well as the path she forged to build her own career. Jason Anthony at Massie & McQuilkin, who represented Simone, said the book will chronicle how she “did not experience the privilege and open doors one might expect” and how she “carved her own path... after tumultuous teen years of nomadic existence.” Simone is writing the book with journalist Samantha Marshall.


Disney Channel Star to Crown
Skai Jackson, star of such Disney Channel shows as Bunk’d and Jessie, sold Reach for the Skai to Crown for six figures at auction. The middle grade book, subtitled How to Inspire, Empower and Clapback, will, Crown said, explore the author’s “lessons on life and rise to stardom, as well as the negative experiences that sometimes come with living in the spotlight.” Samantha Gentry took world rights to the book, slated for fall 2019, from Alyssa Reuben at the Paradigm Talent Agency. Jackson, known as an activist as well as an actress, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2016.

Dutton Checks Beckman’s “Math”
In a North American rights acquisition, Stephen Morrow at Dutton bought Milo Beckman’s Math Without Numbers. The author is a journalist for FiveThirtyEight and, per Dutton, was named one of Harvard’s “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors” in 2015. Also a crossword puzzle maker for the New York Times, Beckman will offer a “conversational guide to the very highest levels of abstract mathematics.” Jay Mandel at William Morris Endeavor sold the title, which is set for fall 2020.

Wasserman Gets “Paid” at Gallery
Claire Wasserman, founder of the organization Ladies Get Paid, sold a same-titled book to Karyn Marcus at Gallery. The personal finance title will, the Simon & Schuster imprint explained, be “an empowering guide that provides women real tools and insight to strategically navigate the workplace, achieve career success, and become leaders at their organizations.” Marcus preempted North American rights to the book, set for spring 2020, from Alexandra Machinist at ICM Partners. The Ladies Get Paid group has, Gallery said, roughly 30,000 members.

Alexander “Volunteers” for Algonquin
In a world rights acquisition, Betsy Gleick at Algonquin bought Jerad W. Alexander’s memoir Volunteers at auction. Alexander is a former U.S. Marine and current NYU graduate student in the school’s literary reportage program. (He’s set to finish the program in 2020.) The book, subtitled A Memoir of War, Manhood, and America, is, Gleick said, a “sharply observed coming-of-age narrative about growing up on military bases in the U.S. and abroad” and how “the soldier is taken as the enduring ideal of American masculinity.” Alexander was represented by Elias Altman at Massie & McQuilkin.

Wiggs Gets Seven Figures at Morrow
Susan Wiggs inked a new three-book, seven-figure, world rights deal with her current publisher, William Morrow. Rachel Kahan brokered the agreement with Meg Ruley and Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. Wiggs, a major bestseller, has written more than 60 titles and is published in 30 countries. She also recently closed a TV development deal for her Lakeshore Chronicles series, with production company the Cartel; this was handled by Lucy Stille at APA.

HC Nabs Birnbaum’s ‘Dr. B’
Terry Karten at HarperCollins took U.S. rights to Daniel Birnbaum’s Dr. B. The debut Dutch historical novel, which Elisabet Brännström at Bonnier Rights sold, grew out of a discovery the author made in his attic: that of a box of letters written by his grandfather. Bonnier explained that the letters became the basis for the book, which is “a larger-than-life true story of a hitherto unknown WWII drama, played out in the world of book publishing and featuring emigres, spies and diplomates in 1940s Stockholm.” (Elaborating on the publishing element of the story, Bonnier said that the author’s grandfather, Immanuel Birnbaum, “worked at exile publishing house Behrmeann-Fischer in Sweden during the Second World War.”) The book, Bonnier added, has drawn comparisons to Lara Prescott’s forthcoming We Were Never Here (which Knopf bought for seven figures in June). It has also sold to publishers in, among other countries, Germany, Italy, and the U.K.

Behind the Deal
After a flurry of seven-figure-deal action at Amazon Publishing’s Thomas & Mercer unit—it recently re-upped authors Barry Eisler and T.R. Ragan to multi-title deals for seven figures each—Montlake Romance is getting in on the action. Amazon Publishing’s romance imprint has just closed three seven-figure agreements with some of its biggest authors. Catherine Bybee, Melinda Leigh, and Kendra Elliot have all inked new world rights, multi-title deals with the publisher. Bybee, with Montlake since 2012, signed with senior editor Maria Gomez to pen five books that will launch a new series. Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret handled the world rights deal. Editorial director Anh Schluep bought four titles by Leigh that will be part of a new suspense series; Leigh was represented by Jill Marsal at Marsal & Lyon. Schluep also closed the Elliot deal, contracting her to write four romantic suspense titles set to launch a new suspense series; Elliot was represented by Meg Ruley at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.


  • Marco Balzano’s Resto qui (I’m Staying Here), published in Italy earlier this year, sold at auction to Neil Belton at Head of Zeus in the U.K. Piergiorgio Nicolazzini, who has an eponymous shingle, handled the sale. The agency said the novel follows the people of the village of Curon, who “fought for years against war and devastation [to ensure] their beloved land [was not] torn apart.” [PW]

  • James Meek’s nonfiction work about Brexit, Dreams of Leaving and Remaining, has been acquired by Leo Hollis at Verso Books in the U.K. The publisher, which took world English rights to the title, called it a “masterly portrait of an anxious nation;” it plans to publish in March 2019. [The Bookseller]

  • The Women in Black, originally published in 1993, sold during the recent Frankfurt Book Fair to Albin Michel (France) and Garzanti (Italy). Text Publishing in Australia controls rights to the book, by Madeline St John, and republished it in 2009 (after it went out of print in 2006). It's about, per the PW review, "the loneliness and ennui of three department store employees." A film based on the book was recently released in Australia. [PW]

  • The Women I Think About At Night by Mia Kankimäki sold to Orlando in the Netherlands. There are also offers in on the book from publishers in the U.S. and Germany. Published earlier this year by Finnish house Otava, the book, a blend of memoir and travelogue, follows a woman who travels to the homes of female historical figures for inspiration on living a better life. Elina Ahlback Literary controls all rights to the title. [PW]

  • A novel about a magical piece of wood that figures in peoples lives over the span of a century, called Cursed Wood, has sold to btb/Luchterland in Germany. De Bezige Bij in the Netherlands controls all rights to the title, by Johan de Boose, and published it in September. [PW]

  • Another hot book for De Bezige Bij is The Burgundians by Bart Van Loo, which will be published in January and recently sold to House of Zeus in the U.K. and C.H. Beck Verlag in Germany. The history title explores the Burgundians--a tribe that lived in what is now Poland during the Roman Empire--from their beginning as a Germanic group, to the 15th century, when their power waned. [PW]


  • In a seven-figure deal, Warner Bros. optioned Reed King’s sf novel FKA USA (Flatiron Books, June 2019). Inkwell Management’s Stephen Barbara, who sold the book in Dec. 2016, pitched it as “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the American end of times.” [Deadline]

  • Samira Ahmed’s Internment (Little, Brown, Mar. 2019) has been optioned by the Gotham Group and Chariot Entertainment. Kim Yau did the sale for Eric Smith at P.S. Literary. The agency said the near-future YA depicts a world where “Muslim Americans are forced into an internment camp, and a 17-year-old must fight against Islamaphobia.” [PW]

  • The sci-fi novel The One (Hanover Square Press, Feb.), by John Mars, is being adapted into a Netflix series. The streaming company ordered 10 episodes based on the book which, the publisher said, is "set five minutes in the future, in a world where a DNA test can find your perfect partner." [PW]

  • The Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman is writing an adaptation of Marcus Sakey's bestselling Brilliance trilogy (Thomas & Mercer) with Shane Salerno and The Story Factory as producers. The book series, which has sold 2 million copies, is being shopped by The Story Factory. [Deadline]

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