Deal of the Week: St. Martin’s Believes in Bruce Greyson’s ‘After’

For a high-six-figure sum, George Witte, St. Martin’s editor-in-chief, won at auction North American rights to Bruce Greyson’s After: A Skeptical Scientist’s Journey to Understand Life, Death, and Beyond, which explores near-death experiences. Witte has great confidence in the book, planned for winter 2021, because, he said, “millions of readers read Raymond Moody’s Life After Life and Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven.” He added, “Greyson takes a scientific approach to the question of life, death, and beyond.” Based on 45 years of research and interviews with more than 1,000 people, Greyson, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, suggests that consciousness is not produced by the brain and may continue after death. Doug Abrams at Idea Architects brokered the deal. Across the pond, Transworld also paid six figures at auction to secure U.K. and Commonwealth rights from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein.


Tor Pays Up for a Space Trilogy

In another six-figure deal, executive editor William Hinton and editor Diana M. Pho of Tor Books have bought Maurice Broaddus’s debut space opera trilogy, which was pitched as “The Expanse meets Black Panther” and explores an intergalactic Afrofuturist empire. The deal was brokered by Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary for world rights. The first installment is set to publish in 2021. Broaddus is a science fiction and horror author living in Indianapolis, where he also works as a community organizer.

Tim McGraw and Jon Meacham Sing for Random House

Kate Medina snapped up North American rights to Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation from CAA. Described by the publisher as “a celebration of America and the music that has inspired us,” Songs is authored by an unlikely duo: Tim McGraw, one of the biggest touring artists in country music, and Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and historian, author of the bestselling titles American Lion, The Soul of America, and Thomas Jefferson, among others.

Lupita Nyong’o’s Picture Book to S&S

CAA sold Academy Award–winner Lupita Nyong’o’s first book to Zareen Jaffery at Simon & Schuster. Sulwe, a picture book, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History), was inspired by Nyong’o’s childhood in Kenya and tells the story of a little girl who learns to embrace her own beauty. The book, to be published in October, was written entirely by Nyong’o, an agency representative said, adding that she spent many hours working with the illustrator.

Ecco Prevails in 10-Way Auction for a Debut

Megan Lynch wrestled away North American rights to Of Women and Salt in a 10-house auction brokered by Marya Spence and PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit. The debut from Gabriela Garcia, a Rona Jaffe Award recipient, traces a lineage of Latin-American mothers and daughters across the diaspora. “This is a rare debut novel that is as emotionally powerful as it is formally inventive,” Lynch said. “It moved me to tears even as its structural high-wire act left me breathless.”

David Mamet Goes to Bombardier Books

David S. Bernstein, associate publisher of Bombardier, an imprint of Post Hill Press, signed a deal with AGI Vigliano Literary for two works by playwright and author David Mamet (Chicago). A collection of Mamet’s novellas, Three War Stories, will be published in September. December will see the publication of The Diary of a Porn Star by Priscilla Wriston-Wranger, as told to Mamet and with an afterword by him.

S&S Signs On to a Revolution

Emily Graff at Simon & Schuster preempted North American rights to Teen Vogue columnist Lauren Duca’s How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics from Monika Woods at Curtis Brown. After the 2016 election, Duca started to question everything she knew about the government and began a quest to learn more, according to the publisher. She spoke with hundreds of young people who had similar political awakenings, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and David and Lauren Hogg, survivors of the mass shooting at Parkland, Fla.’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Dominican Flair Entices Harper Perennial

Nick Owen of the Barcelona-based Pontas Agency sold world English rights to Amber Oliver at Harper Perennial, in a preempt, to A Taste of Sage, a debut novel by Y.S. Seraph. Seraph draws on her Dominican background to create a story that merges romance with cooking and includes recipes. “As foodie culture grows,” Oliver said,”we believe that this is a perfect crossover.”

Behind the Deal

As it marks its 45th anniversary, Graywolf picked up its fourth book from Claudia Rankine, a scholar and poet with a long and distinguished list of credentials. She is a 2016 recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant,” a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, the winner of the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, the Frederick Iseman professor of poetry at Yale, and a contributing editor of Poets & Writers. Graywolf’s Jeff Shotts signed the deal for world rights with Frances Coady at Aragi.

The essays in Just Us: An American Conversation, set to be published in September 2020, take place in “transitionary spaces—on airplanes, at a diversity training session, in a therapist’s office—where presumed neutrality gives way to American culture’s overwhelming whiteness,” the publisher said. “Rankine questions what it means in these spaces to interrogate white privilege, well-meaning liberal politics, white male aggression, the implications of blondeness, white supremacy in the White House, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and the alarming move toward Brexit.”

The press has done well with Rankine: it has shipped more than 300,000 copies of her 2014 NBCC Award–winning Citizen: An American Lyric and has just published her first play, The White Card.


● Francis McDormand and Plan B Productions have optioned Miriam Toew’s Women Talking for feature development. The novel is a fictional response to real events in a remote Mennonite community. The Wylie Agency’s Sarah Chalfant brokered the deal.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis (The Color of Money, The Hustler) was sold to Netflix, with two-time Oscar nominee Scott Frank as writer, director, and executive producer. William Horberh is a cowriter. Susan Schulman negotiated the deal for her eponymous agency.


● The Barcelona-based Pontas Agency is having great success with Eloísa Díaz’s Repentance, for which it closed five deals in two weeks. Rights to the English-language Argentina-set literary whodunit have sold in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and in the U.K., where Weidenfeld & Nicolson bought world English rights.

The Bookseller reported that Stephanie Land’s Maid was sold to Women’s Publishing House in Vietnam by Itzel Hsu at the Grayhawk Agency, on behalf of Jeff Kleinman and Melissa White at Folio Literary Management.

Sophie Kinsella returns to her blockbuster series with Christmas Shopaholic for Transworld, The Bookseller reported. Larry Finlay acquired British Commonwealth rights from Araminta Whitley at the Soho Agency.

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