Deal of the Week: E.L. James’s ‘Mister’ Unveiled at Knopf

E.L. James, the author of one of the bestselling adult series of all time, has a new standalone novel. Anne Messitte, at Knopf’s Vintage imprint, took North American and Spanish-language rights to The Mister from Valerie Hoskins at Valerie Hoskins Associates. The new novel from the Fifty Shades scribe, set for April 16, is, Vintage said, “a contemporary romance... that introduces readers to the privileged and aristocratic young Englishman Maxim Trevelyan and the mysterious, talented, and beautiful Alessia Demachi, who’s recently arrived in London owning little more than a dangerous and troublesome past.” The Fifty Shades trilogy has, per Knopf, sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.


Abbott Moves to Putnam

After a 12-house auction, Megan Abbott signed a three-book North American rights deal with Putnam’s Sally Kim, moving from Little, Brown in the process. Though Putnam offered no details about the titles under the deal, it confirmed that the first is slated for 2021. Abbott, a celebrated crime fiction author, was represented by Dan Conaway at Writers House. Now a sought-after name in Hollywood, Abbott is a writer on the HBO drama The Deuce. She also, Putnam noted, has nearly all of her novels in “active development” for either TV or film, and is the cocreator of a USA Network series based on her novel Dare Me.

Abrams, Fisher Re-up for Seven Figures

Dan Abrams and David Fisher closed a rumored seven-figure, two-book world rights deal with Peter Joseph at Hanover Square Press. The deal continues a relationship that the pair have with the HarperCollins imprint, marking their third and fourth books there. Hanover said both books will “focus on a single court case” and “chronicle a trial that sheds new light on well-known characters from history.” The books are tentatively set for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Frank Weimann at Folio Literary Management represented Abrams, the chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News, and Fisher, a bestselling author.

Immigrant Detainee’s Memoir to HC

In a high-six-figure world English and world Spanish rights deal, HarperOne acquired a memoir titled Tender Mercies, which the publisher claims will be the first by one of the detained immigrant mothers whose children have been separated from them at the border by the U.S. government. The book, which Judith Curr and Shannon Welch acquired from Scott Mendel at Mendel Media Group, is, HC said, “a riveting, inspiring firsthand account of a heartbreaking journey.” It is being cowritten by Rosayra Pablo-Cruz, whose story is the focus, and Julie Schwietert Collazo, who cofounded a collective called Immigrant Families Together to help detainees.

Kristoff’s ‘Vampire’ Flies to SMP

In a rumored mid-six-figure acquisition, Pete Wolverton at St. Martin’s Press bought North American rights to a new fantasy series by Jay Kristoff (the Nevernight Chronicle series). Empire of the Vampire, an adult/crossover trilogy, was sold by Josh Adams at Adams Literary. He described the series as “the love child of Interview with the Vampire, The Road, and The Name of the Wind.” In separate deals, rights to the series have been acquired in Germany, Poland, Russia, and the U.K.

Harper Takes in Acosta’s ‘Enemy’

Jim Acosta, chief White House correspondent for CNN, sold The Enemy of the People to Harper in a world rights deal. The reporter, who recently had a public tussle with the White House over his press credentials, was represented by Beltway lawyer/literary deal maker Bob Barnett at Williams & Connolly. Barnett brokered the agreement with Lisa Sharkey and HC plans to release the title on June 11. The publisher said the book, which is subtitled A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America, “exposes the tumultuous and dangerous realities of the current White House and its war on truth and the First Amendment.”

Gardner Takes Dane Duo to Dutton

In a two-book deal, with each title fetching a rumored sum over seven figures, Lisa Gardner signed with Dutton to write two titles featuring Flora Dane as a central character. Dane (a kidnapping victim turned vigilante) first appeared in Gardner’s 2016 thriller Find Her, which is part of the author’s bestselling series featuring Boston detective D.D. Warren. Dutton claimed the appearance of Dane “spurred sales of Find Her with new fans flocking to Gardner’s most psychological suspense yet.” The forthcoming Warren mystery, Never Tell, which also features Dane and will be released by Dutton in February, has a first announced printing of 250,000 copies. Meg Ruley at the Jane Rotrosen Agency represented Gardner.

Behind the Deal

Robert Jordan’s first novel is about to see daylight. Known for his bestselling and iconic Wheel of Time series, the author, who was born James Oliver Rigney Jr. and died in 2007, wrote an epic fantasy titled Warrior of the Altaii that wound up in the hands of a young publisher at Ace in 1979. That young publisher, Tom Doherty, is now chairman of Tor Books.

Before Doherty could do anything with the manuscript, another editor at Ace, Harriet McDougal, published a book by Jordan titled Fallon Blood, written under another pen name, Reagan O’Neal. (McDougal was also Jordan’s wife.)

As Doherty recounts, an intense publishing schedule ensued as both publisher and author wound up at Tor. “The Fallon Trilogy finished in ’81–’82, then came the Conan novels, and, of course, the Wheel of Time.”

Through it all, Warrior of the Altaii remained in a drawer. The standalone novel will finally be released in fall 2019. McDougal noted, “It has been sold twice, but never published, until now. When I reread it this winter, after this long intermission, I was amazed at the foreshadowing of the Wheel of Time.” According to Tor, the Wheel of Time series has sold more than 14 million copies in North America alone.


  • The Stray Cats of Homs, by Swedish journalist Eva Nour, was acquired by Transworld in a world English rights acquisition. (Double- day bought the book in the U.S.) Elisabet Brännström at Bonnier Rights Sweden, who brokered the deal, said the book “is based on the true story of a young boy growing up inside al-Assad’s Syria and—later on—his harrowing experiences during the war as he chose to stay in his home city of Homs.”

  • Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s All the Bad Apples has been acquired by RCW in a world rights deal. The Bookseller said the YA novel explores themes of “abortion, illegitimate pregnancy” and “the tragedy of the Magdalen Laundries, rape, and gay rights.” [The Bookseller]


  • Two of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling YA fantasy series, Shadow and Bone and Six Crows, are being adapted into a series for Netflix. Eric Heisserer, screenwriter of Bird Box, is attached to adapt the books and serve as the showrunner.

  • In what Deadline called “a competitive auction situation,” Jenny Lee’s forthcoming YA novel Ann K (Flatiron, 2020) was optioned for TV by Creative Engine Entertainment and SB Projects. A modern take on Anna Karenina, the book, Deadline said, follows “a Korean-American ‘it’ girl” and is “Gossip Girl and 13 Reasons Why meets Crazy Rich Asians.” [Deadline]

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