PW EXCLUSIVE: Arthur A. Levine Picks First Book for His New Press

Arthur A. Levine will kick off his first list at his new publishing venture, Levine Querido, with Daniel Nayeri’s 12-years-in-the-making autobiographical novel for middle graders, Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story), due for publication in fall 2020. Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media negotiated the deal from an exclusive submission that Levine preempted for North American rights. Nayeri, publisher of Odd Dot at Macmillan, tells the story of fleeing Iran as a small child, detouring through a refugee camp in Italy, then winding up in Oklahoma in middle school, where he is met with equal parts curiosity and suspicion. Levine called it a “magical, mesmerizing combination of tenderness, humor, and narrative force.” 


Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Goes to Harper

In what she called a “very high six figures” deal, Eileen Cope, president of Mark Creative Management, sold world rights to Targeted: My Inside Story of Cambridge Analytica and How Trump and Facebook Broke Democracy by Brittany Kaiser to Lisa Sharkey, senior v-p and director of creative development at Harper. In it, Cope said, Kaiser shares the “dramatic and disturbing story of her time at Cambridge Analytica in full.” The book, Cope added, “pulls back the curtain on the Wild West culture of the multi-billion-dollar data industry, revealing the unsettling truth about how personal data is being monetized, how companies are profiting from private information, how Cambridge Analytica exploited these weaknesses to help elect Donald Trump—and how it is on course to happen again in 2020.” Targeted is set for an October release.

Harper Design Pays Six Figures for ‘Muslim Women Do Things’

In a six-figure preempt, Harper Design’s Cristina Garces snagged world rights to international journalist and Stanford professor Seema Yasmin’s Muslim Women Do Things from Lilly Ghahremani at Full Circle Literary. The agency described the book, due out in 2020, as “an illustrated collection of stereotype-shattering stories that showcase the diversity of what it means to be a Muslim woman and nonbinary person in the world today, profiling Palestinian race car drivers, Iranian astronauts, and much more.” It marks a debut for the illustrator, Fahmida Azim, whose work has been published in New York Times.

St. Martin’s Essentials Finds ‘Everything Is Spiritual’

In another exclusive, PW has learned that executive v-p and publisher Jennifer Enderlin at St. Martin’s has scooped up Everything Is Spiritual by Rob Bell for St. Martin’s Essentials, the recently launched mind-body-spirit imprint. Bell is the author of 10 books, including What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins. He is also the host of the podcast RobCast. In 2011, Time named him one of its 100 Most Influential People. Christopher Ferebee, who has an eponymous agency, negotiated the deal for world and audio rights. Everything will be published in fall 2020.

Berkley Hunts Down May Cobb

In what Berkley described as a “heated six-publisher auction,” executive editor Danielle Perez bought world rights to May Cobb’s thriller The Hunting Wives, which is set for an early 2021 release. Perez called it In a Dark, Dark Wood meets Mean Girls and says, “I immediately fell in love with May Cobb’s twisty thriller and this devious cast of ‘real housewives.’ ” Victoria Sanders, who has an eponymous agency, repped the author.

Holt Nabs HR Expert’s Work Solutions

Libby Burton at Henry Holt won North American rights at auction to Let’s Fix Work: Put Yourself First, Take Control of Your Career, and Be Your Own HR, by HR manager and blogger Laurie Ruettimann, from Esmond Harmsworth at Aevitas Creative Management. According to the publisher, the “practical voice-driven guide will be hilarious, candid, and truly inspirational.” Based on Ruettimann’s career experiences and podcast of the same name, Let’s Fix Work aims to “help readers fix their complicated work lives once and for all,” noted the publisher.

Sourcebooks Wins a Debut at Auction

At auction, Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks acquired world English rights to two novels from Lindsey Rogers Cook, a digital storytelling editor at the New York Times. The first, a debut, How to Bury Your Brother (due out in summer 2020), follows a sister coming to terms with the mystery behind her brother’s baffling disappearance. Katie Shea Boutillier of the Donald Maass Literary Agency repped the author.

Behind the Deal

Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times’ chief architecture critic, tried to make sense of the destruction of much of Notre-Dame by fire on April 15 in his article “A France in Turmoil Weeps for a Symbol of Paris’s Enduring Identity,” published that day, in which he noted that the cathedral “for centuries has enshrined an evolving notion of Frenchness.” A couple of weeks after that article appeared, Ann Godoff, president and editor-in-chief of Penguin Press, who approached Suzanne Gluck of WME with what Gluck called “the absolutely perfect idea” that Kimmelman should write a book about the rebuilding of the cathedral and the resetting of the French view of Paris.

And so it was done when the two negotiated a deal for North American rights to what will be, as Gluck described, “a very major book—a deeply researched multiyear project, the timetable of which will be determined by the French efforts to rebuild.” It will, she added, reflect Kimmelman’s talent for elucidating what public spaces mean.

The as-yet-untitled book, the publisher said, will chronicle efforts to fix the cathedral, “bringing readers into the workshops, vaults, and towers of the giant church.”


● Lionsgate UK has acquired British rights to Oscar-winner James Marsh’s Instrumental, reports Variety. It is based on a memoir by concert pianist James Rhodes, in which he revealed how music saved his life after he suffered sexual abuse as a pupil at his all-boys school. It will star Andrew Garfield, an Oscar nominee for Hacksaw Ridge. Lionsgate will also handle international sales, launching the project at the Cannes Film Festival this week.


● In the U.K., Puffin has acquired The Hatmakers, actress Tamzin Merchant’s debut middle grade novel, in what the Bookseller described as a “hotly contested” six-figure preempt. Editorial director Natalie Doherty acquired world rights in a two-book deal from Claire Wilson at RCW. Merchant played Georgiana Darcy in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Catherine Howard on Showtime’s The Tudors. The Hatmakers, the Bookseller reported, is set in an alternative 18th-century London and follows a girl from a family of magical milliners whose father is lost at sea. It follows her quest to find him amid competing magical merchants.

● World rights to The Ultimate Prepper’s Survival Guide, James Wesley Rawles’s book about surviving the end of the world, sold to Chris Mitchell at U.K.-based Carlton Books, Publishers Marketplace reported. Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group brokered the deal.

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

Correction: This piece initially reported that Meredith Barnes was the agent on the Nayeri deal; it was Volpe. This piece has also been updated for clarity.