Deal of the Week: “Fuck Hemingway!” Howard Stern’s Next to S&S

More than 20 years after the publication of Howard Stern’s Private Parts, which became the fastest-selling book in S&S’s history up to that point, publisher Jonathan Karp, along with senior editor Sean Manning, bought world rights from Don Buchwald at his eponymous agency for Howard Stern Comes Again, due out on May 14. Back in 1993, Stern’s first book sold out 250,000 copies in a couple of hours, prompting a second printing of 600,000 copies. The 10,000 people who showed up at his New York City Fifth Avenue B&N signing caused a traffic jam. “I’ve been waiting two years for this book to be finished,” Karp said. “It was well worth the wait. Howard Stern Comes Again is certain to be one of the most entertaining and widely read books of the year.” Stern, when asked to comment, offered, “Fuck Hemingway! I put my heart and soul into this book and could not be more proud of it.”


Pantheon Pays $400K for an Inside Look at a Cold War Drama in Congo

Pantheon’s Erroll McDonald paid $400,000 to win world rights in a seven-way auction for The Lumumba Plot by Foreign Affairs managing editor Stuart A. Reid. McDonald described the book as “a thrilling Cold War drama that addresses, for the first time to a general readership, how... the CIA, enabled by the UN, orchestrated the downfall of Congo’s democratically elected, Soviet-leaning prime minister for fear that he would become an African Fidel Castro, and replaced him with Joseph Mobutu, a vicious, pro-American autocrat.” Since his college days in the 1970s, McDonald has been fascinated by the murder of the prime minister, Patrice Émery Lumumba, in 1961 as “a continuation of Western imperialism by any means necessary.” Gail Ross at Ross Yoon brokered the deal.

Dutton Gets the Scoop on Wham!

Louise Moore, managing director of PRH UK’s Michael Joseph imprint, and Jill Schwartzman, v-p, executive editor at Dutton, picked up world English rights to Wham! George & Me, a memoir by Andrew Ridgeley, bandmate and lifelong friend of late Wham! singer George Michael, from Tim Bates at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop. In October, the book will be published simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S. in hardcover, e-book, and audio. In it, the publisher said, Ridgeley recounts the triumphs and tribulations of Wham!, as well as his friendship with Michael, which was formed in boyhood and lasted until Michael died in 2016.

Blackstone Buys Six for Six Figures from Catherine Ryan Howard

In what the publisher calls “a major six-figure deal,” Blackstone’s Haila Williams picked up North American rights to six new titles by Catherine Ryan Howard from Jane Gregory for David Higham Associates, to be published in print, audio, and e-book formats. Howard’s debut, Distress Signal, was shortlisted for the Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the 2016 Irish Book Awards; her second, The Liar’s Girl, is an Edgar nominee in this year’s Best Novel category. The deal brings Howard’s total with Blackstone to 10 titles. “In this uncertain world, it is wonderful to have a publisher show such faith in the potential of an author,” Gregory said.

Habitat for Humanity CEO’s ‘Better Angels’ Finds Home at St. Martin’s

In October, St. Martin’s Essentials will publish Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World by Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford. Former president Jimmy Carter will provide the foreword. Macmillan executive v-p Will Schwalbe and St. Martin’s Essentials v-p, editorial director Joel Fotinos bought world rights from Amy Hughes of Dunow Carlson & Lerner.

Harper Says Hello to Julia Fine’s ‘Goodnight’ with Six Figures

In an exclusive submission, editor Erin Wicks at Harper laid down six figures for Julia Fine’s second novel, Goodnight Nobody, described by the publisher as a “postpartum poltergeist story in which a new mother is haunted by the ghosts of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown and her lover.” Fine’s first novel, 2018’s What Should Be Wild, was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award, and was chosen for the B&N Discover Great New Writers program. Stephanie Delman at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates negotiated the deal for North American rights.

George Soros’s ‘Defense’ to Public Affairs

Peter Osnos and John Mahaney at Public Affairs bought world rights for George Soros’s newest book, In Defense of Open Society, described by the publisher as “an impassioned and urgent defense of Soros’s core belief in open society at a time when [the idea] faces sustained attacks from the far right, nationalists, and anti-Semites around the world.” The deal was unagented.

Behind the Deal

On June 4, Abrams Press will publish Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis, music journalist and cohost of the nationally syndicated radio talk show Sound Opinions, who broke the story of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B star almost 20 years ago. Executive editor Jamison Stoltz acquired world English rights from Monika Woods of Curtis Brown Ltd.

In 2000, DeRogatis received an anonymous fax alleging that Kelly had “a problem with young girls.” When DeRogatis published the results of his investigation, which included allegations that the singer sexually abused and paid off girls, he expected that Kelly’s career would be negatively impacted. But instead Kelly flourished—and DeRogatis kept investigating.

In the wake of the TV documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which began airing January 1, Kelly has come under intense scrutiny, which prompted RCA to sever its relationship with him and led to his indictment last month on 10 counts of sexual abuse.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, said, “There really isn’t anyone more qualified to write about the saga of R. Kelly than Jim DeRogatis. Jim has done the work. He’s built the relationships. He’s cared about the outcome for almost two decades.”


Deadline announced that Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and Hyde Park Entertainment principal Ashok Amritraj will adapt First Second’s graphic novel Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani as a CG-animated musical for Netflix. In it, Priyanka, a first-generation American of Indian descent, explores her family history with a magical pashmina.

Two Can Keep a Secret, Karen M. McManus’s follow up to her hit novel One of Us Is Lying, has been optioned for feature development by Erik Feig’s PictureStart, with John Sacchi and Matt Groesch’s 5 More Minutes Productions also set to produce. The deal was brokered on behalf of the author by Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio and Jason Dravis of his own agency.


● Agent Madeleine Milburn struck gold for her eponymous agency at the London Book Fair with The Recovery of Rose Gold, a debut from Emerson MFA graduate Stephanie Wrobel. Berkley executive editor Amanda Bergeron bought U.S. rights in a preempt; Maxine Hitchcock, publishing director at PRH UK’s Michael Joseph imprint, won an eight-way auction for U.K. rights; and Nina Pronovost preempted rights for S&S Canada. Elsewhere, German publisher Ullstien offered a six-figure preempt and Hungarian publisher Alexandra preempted.

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