Deal of the Week: S&S Preempts a YA Debut for Six Figures

In a six-figure preempt, Zareen Jaffery, executive editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, acquired The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed, a debut YA novel that tells the coming-of-age story of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King riots. “Christina’s debut novel is a powerful story about a young girl contending with the casual and overt racism of the world around her,” Jaffery said. “The Black Kids conveys so compassionately the experience of double consciousness that so many children feel.” David Doerrer at Abrams Artists Agency repped the author, who was eight years old when the riots occurred. Reed said that, as an adult, she became curious about “black best friends whose blackness was rarely, if ever, addressed—whose concerns, I suspected, more clearly mirrored my own.”


Deal-o-Mania Reigns at Dutton

The deal-making activity at Dutton this past week was supercharged, with three executive editors making four acquisitions. Editor-in-chief John Parsley was impressed, telling PW, “Dutton has a small and selective list of 50 titles, so it’s been amazing for our editors to acquire, in just a few days, such a percentage of what we acquire in a full year. These are discussable, definitive, must-have books, and we’re excited they’ve become part of the Dutton we’re building.”

Brent Howard snapped up North American rights to Misfire by NPR investigative reporter Tim Mak from Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer at Javelin. The publisher described the book as “a groundbreaking work on the NRA.” In a second deal, Howard bought Titans: How Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Roosevelt Were Made by War, the next book from Phillips Payson O’Brien (The Second Most Powerful Man in the World). Alexa Stark and Ellen Levine at Trident Media brokered the deal for world English rights.

At auction, Lindsey Rose won S.K. Barnett’s Back, which the publisher called “an electrifying psychological thriller.” Richard Pine at Inkwell Management negotiated the deal for North American rights.

Lastly, turning toward brainy matters, Jill Schwartzman bought North American rights from Margo Beth Fleming at Brockman for The Neuroscience of You by cognitive neuroscientist Chantel Prat.

Morrow Wins Home Depot Cofounder

Todd Shuster and David Granger at Aevitas Creative Management sold at auction Good Company by Arthur Blank, cofounder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons football team and Atlanta United soccer team, whom Granger called “an amazing human.” Mauro DePreta at Morrow was the winner of the North American rights for October publication.

MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid Goes to Morrow

In another deal at Morrow, Peter Hubbard bought North American rights to The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story by Joy-Ann Reid, a political analyst for MSNBC and host of the network’s AM Joy; the book is set for a June 25 release. Suzanne Gluck at WME brokered the deal for the book that, according to the publisher, examines two questions: “Is Donald Trump running the ‘longest con’ in U.S. history?” and “What will be left of America when he leaves office?”

Harper Nabs Jessi Klein

Emily Griffin at Harper won at auction rights to Jessi Klein’s Not What I Was Expecting: Adventures in Motherhood, Marriage, Failure, and Hope, a second collection of interconnected stories from the comedian, star of Netflix’s Big Mouth, and author of You’ll Grow Out of It. World rights were sold by David Kuhn and Nate Muscato at Aevitas Creative Management. The book is set for release in 2021.

37 Ink Picks Up PEN Finalist Jabari Asim

Dawn Davis at 37 Ink picked up North American rights to Jabari Asim’s American Struggle: On Race, Culture and Imagination and Soul Run Wild from Joy Harris, who has an eponymous agency. It is, according to the publisher, “part group biography, part meditation on the overwhelming and sometimes tragic toll that fame, creative genius, and the demands of the music industry extracted from some of the most distinguished male icons of soul, including Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke and others.” Asim was a PEN finalist for We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival and is the author of more than a dozen books for adults and children.

Seal Press Signs Former Jeopardy Winner

Jessica Regel of Foundry Media sold North American rights to Whitewashed: The Racist History of the Feminist Movement by two-time Jeopardy winner and historian Alysha Rooks to Stephanie Knapp at Seal Press, with Laura Mazer editing. Regel acted on behalf of In This Together Media.

Behind the Deal

In what Fiona Kenshole at Transatlantic called a “fiercely fought” auction, Abrams’s Charlotte Greenbaum won world rights to nonfiction graphic novel Guantanamo Voicesby Sarah Mirk, a Nib editor and former Bitch Media editor. The book, which is due out in fall 2020, will feature the true stories of 10 people who spent time at Guantanamo (including armed service members, prisoners, lawyers, and journalists), each illustrated by a different artist.

Although Mirk has been reporting on the camp for years, her first trip to Guantanamo was in April. “Guantanamo is intentionally invisible to the American public, so it was a rare opportunity to actually be able to experience the place beyond headlines and distant photos,” she said. She was allowed to take photos but then learned that they can’t be published. “One of the benefits of telling this story in comics is that illustrators can fill in the gap around what’s censored. Instead of publishing the photos of the prison, artists can use them as visual reference, a jumping-off for their illustrations.”

The book “does not ask the simplistic question of whether Guantanamo is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ ” Kenshole said. “Instead, it documents a history that’s happening right now, creating a deep, dynamic, and sincere understanding of how Guantanamo shapes our world.”


● Issa Rae, creator and star of the HBO series Insecure, has optioned Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow, about the young daughter of a bigamist, for her own production company, according to the L.A. Times. Dana Spector at CAA, on behalf of Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, negotiated the deal.

Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus will be adapted as one of the first two projects of High School Musical franchise director Kenny Ortega in his recently signed multiyear deal with Netflix. The picture book, which has sold more than half a million copies, follows a girl who is determined to get to the bottom of why her eccentric, Christmas-loving aunt disappears every Christmas.


● Cristóbal Pera, publishing director of Vintage Español, acquired world Spanish-language rights to the audio and e-book editions of Michael Wolff’s Siege: Trump Under Fire, as well as Spanish print rights for the U.S. Vintage Español will publish the e-book June 4, coinciding with the U.S. release, and the trade paper and audio editions on June 11. Siege is the follow-up to Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which has sold over a million hardcover copies in the U.S. since its early 2018 release, according to NPD BookScan.

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