DEAL OF THE WEEK
Putnam Tackles Youmans and Frank’s ‘Imperfections’
In a world rights preempt, Putnam’s Tara Singh Carlson bought Asha Youmans and Alli Frank’s debut novel, Tiny Imperfections. The publisher said the book, which was “pitched as The Wedding Date meets Class Mom,” revolves around the admissions process for an illustrious San Francisco private school. Putnam elaborated that the novel is a “smart, fun read” that explores “race, single parenthood, and dating at 40.” The authors, who were represented by Liza Fleissig at the Liza Royce Agency, both have backgrounds in education. Youmans, whose father is the well-known civil rights activist TJ Vassar, has been working as a teacher for two decades. Frank is a cofounder of the International Friends School in Bellevue, Wash., which is the first dual-language Friends School in the U.S. Tiny Imperfections is set for spring 2020.
FROM THE U.S.
Kemmerer Re-Ups at Bloomsbury
Bestselling YA author Brigid Kemmerer (A Heart So Fierce and Broken) inked a two-book deal with her current publisher, Bloomsbury, for a rumored six-figure sum. The first book in the world rights agreement, tentatively titled Defy the Night, will launch a fantasy series; the second book will be the third entry in the author’s Cursebreaker series. Defy the Night, set in the kingdom of Kandala, follows two disparate characters, Bloomsbury said, “Corrick, a young prince clinging to power, and Tessa, a working-class girl with a rebellious streak.” When a plague descends on the realm and the antidote is controlled by the ruling elite, Bloomsbury went on, “Tessa knows the only way to save her people—the poor—is to break the kingdom from the inside out.” Mary Kate Castellani at Bloomsbury brokered the agreement with Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary Agency. Both books in the deal are set for release in 2021.
Viking Reels in Johnson’s ‘Fisherman’
Viking’s Kathryn Court nabbed world English rights, in an exclusive submission, to Kirk Wallace Johnson’s narrative nonfiction title, The Fisherman and the Dragon. Johnson’s debut, 2018’s The Feather Thief (also published by Viking), was an Amazon Best Book of the Year. Fisherman, which Katherine Flynn at Kneerim & Williams sold, explores a 1981 dispute over fishing rights on the Texas coast. Flynn described the work, which chronicles a showdown between Vietnamese refugees and members of the Ku Klux Klan, as “part pressure-cooker history” and “part courtroom drama.” The book is slated for 2021.
Citadel Gets ‘Highly Sensitive’ Again
Author of the popular parenting book The Highly Sensitive Child, Elaine N. Aron, sold The Highly Sensitive Parent, in a six-figure deal, to Kensington’s Citadel Press imprint. Aron’s series of books on the phenomenon of “high sensitivity” launched with 1996’s The Highly Sensitive Person (also published by Citadel); that title has, per Kensington, sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Betsy Amster, who has an eponymous shingle and represented Aron, said this book targets the many parents “who are unusually attuned to their children and who find parenting more stressful than parents who are not highly sensitive would.” Citadel’s Michaela Hamilton acquired world rights to the book, which is planned for an April 2020 release.
Miranda Re-Ups at S&S
Bestselling author Megan Miranda (All the Missing Girls) signed a two-book deal, for high six figures, with her current publisher, Simon & Schuster. Marysue Rucci bought world rights to a pair of currently untitled psychological thrillers from agent Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary. The new books, Davies said, are set for 2021 and 2022, respectively. (Miranda’s forthcoming The Girl from Window Hills, coming out in 2020, is covered under a previous contract.)
Luckerson Lights a ‘Fire’ at RH
Former Time magazine staff writer Victor Luckerson sold his debut, Built from the Fire, to Molly Turpin at Random House. Elias Altman at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents represented Luckerson, selling North American rights in the deal. RH described the nonfiction book as “a narrative history of Black Wall Street in the historic Greenwood district of Tulsa, Okla., told through the eyes of four generations of one resilient family.” Elaborating, the publisher said Built examines “how black America’s hope and entrepreneurial spirit have been tested over a hundred years” in the face of American social programs and laws ranging from Jim Crow to urban renewal.
Pacat Goes YA for HC
Author of the bestselling adult trilogy Captive Prince, C.S. Pacat sold her YA debut in a three-book deal, for a sum rumored to be in the high-six-figure range. HarperCollins’s Andrew Eliopulos bought North American rights, at auction, to a fantasy trilogy titled Dark Rise. The books are set in an alternate London, explained Pacat’s agent Tracey Adams at Adams Literary. Adams said they follow “the heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war who are being reborn, ushering in a dangerous new age of magic.” Pacat is Australian, and rights to the series have also sold to publishers in Australia/New Zealand, France, Russia, and a handful of other territories. Book one in the trilogy, also titled Dark Rise, is set for fall 2021.
Behind the Deal
A self-published novel turned hit short film is now at the center of a major publishing deal. Oh, and it’s also set to become a feature-length film. Berkley’s Kate Seaver preempted world rights to Suzanne Allain’s novel Mr. Malcolm’s List, which the author originally released, on her own, in 2009. After posting a screenplay adaptation of the novel on the Black List (a crowdsourced website that pushes highly rated screenplays to the attention of Hollywood executives), Allain was connected with filmmaker Emma Holly Jones, who then directed the short, Mr. Malcolm’s List: Overture. Produced by digital media company Refinery29 (and released on its Shatterbox Films platform, which is dedicated to promoting work by female filmmakers), the short has, to date, been viewed over 900,000 times on YouTube. Now, a feature film adaptation is set, with Jones at the helm making her feature film directorial debut. For Berkley, the novel, which follows an eligible bachelor in 19th-century London, is “a witty romantic comedy with an undeniable, Jane Austen–like appeal.” Berkley is planning a trade paperback edition for summer 2020. The two-book deal was brokered by Stefanie Lieberman at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
● Universal Pictures, Variety reports, has optioned Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars (PRH/Dorman, Oct.). The forthcoming novel by the bestselling author, which is based on a true story, is set in Depression-era Kentucky and follows five women who deliver books as part of a traveling library initiative launched by then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
● According to CNN, George Clooney will be directing and starring in an adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012) for Netflix. The postapocalyptic sci-fi thriller follows a lonely scientist in the Arctic.
● The woman who served as the inspiration for the bestselling novel The Librarian of Auschwitz (published in the U.S. by Holt and in the U.K. by Ebury) sold a memoir to Ebury. According to a report in the Bookseller, world rights (excluding Czech and German) to Dita Kraus’s A Delayed Life were acquired by Ebury publishing director Gillian Green.
● Rebecca Ley, a graduate of the Faber Academy (writing courses hosted by U.K. publisher Faber and Faber), sold her debut novel, For When I’m Gone, to Orion. TheBookseller reported that the “achingly sad” work follows a terminally ill woman writing a guidebook for her husband about navigating life without her.
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.
Correction: This article initially misspelled the name of the fictional kingdom of Kandala, and has also been updated with further information.