DEAL OF THE WEEK
Plume Stuffs Ballot for ‘Queens’
In a four-book deal with Plume, Brenda Jones and Krishan Trotman sold a series of books profiling four notable female Democrats. The titles—about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, and Maxine Waters—will form a series called Queens of the Resistance and will be released in summer 2020, timed to the Democratic National Convention. The world English rights deal was brokered between Johanna Castillo at Writers House and Marya Pasciuto at Plume. Jones has worked for Rep. John Lewis, as his communications director, for over 15 years. Trotman is an executive editor at Hachette Books. Plume said the series will fuse “narrative, photos, and beautiful illustrations” to “appeal to a broad, diverse, intergenerational audience—transcending political and generational divides along the way.”
FROM THE U.S.
Morrow Falls for ‘Farwell’
In a rumored six-figure acquisition, Kate Nintzel at William Morrow preempted world rights to Emily Gray Tedrowe’s The Talented Miss Farwell. The novel was sold by Alice Tasman at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and is inspired by the story of Rita Crundwell, who, while working as controller and treasurer for her Illinois town, embezzled over $50 million in a period spanning more than 20 years. Elaborating on the novel, which is slated for fall 2020, Tasman said it’s “an electrifying page-turner that explores greed and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the brilliant cunning of a female con.”
MCD Spins Kun’s ‘Beats’
Josh Kun, a cultural historian and the director of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, sold a book called Beats Across Borders to Farrar, Straus and Giroux in a six-figure deal. Sean McDonald preempted world rights from Zoë Pagnamenta at the Zoë Pagnamenta Agency for his MCD imprint. Describing the work, which is subtitled A Migrant Songbook, Pagnamenta said it examines “how mass migration is changing the way the world sounds.” The book documents how music travels with migrants—it features, for example, tales about bands formed in detention camps—and is, the agent explained, “a blend of cultural history, music journalism and memoir.”
Bregman Re-ups with LB for ‘Humankind’
Rutger Bregman, author of the 2017 bestseller Utopia for Realists, sold his follow-up to that title, Humankind, to Ben George at Little, Brown. (The publisher had the option on this book, after releasing Utopia.) Bregman is a Dutch historian and the book is already out in the Netherlands, where it is currently a bestseller. George nabbed North American rights from Emma Parry at Janklow & Nesbit, explaining that the title “challenges the age-old view of humanity as governed by self-preservation and personal gain, and offers instead a unified and revolutionary argument that we are hardwired to be kind.”
Paris Agreement Engineers to Knopf
Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, the presiding forces behind the Paris climate agreement of 2015, sold a book that they’re cowriting titled The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. Knopf’s Erroll McDonald took North American rights to the book, which, the publisher said, outlines two possible futures. The first shows “what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets”; the second imagines “what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world.” The publisher added that the book is “a cautionary but optimistic” one. Figueres and Rivett-Carnac are the cofounders of Global Optimism, an organization which aims to combat climate change.
Cole Gets ‘Displaced’ at Morrow
For William Morrow, Erika Tsang bought world rights to a thriller being touted as “Rear Window meets Get Out.” Alyssa Cole’s tentatively titled Displaced, which has already been optioned by Temple Hill Entertainment, is, Morrow said, a new take on gentrification set in a Brooklyn neighborhood. In the novel “a local resident and an outsider discover their disappearing neighbors may not have been just moving to the suburbs after all.” Lucienne Diver at the Knight Agency brokered the deal for Cole.
HC Goes South (Way South) with Brown
At HarperCollins’s Custom House imprint, Geoff Shandler nabbed world rights to a currently untitled book by journalist David W. Brown about an effort to create a map of Antarctica. Brown, a correspondent for the Atlantic, is joining a group of scientists—their trip is slated for early 2020—who are, Brown’s agent, Stacia Decker at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner, said, “racing to complete a geophysical map of Antarctica—allowing us to predict when the continent’s glaciers will collapse.” An Army veteran and former paratrooper, Brown will, Decker elaborated, “serve as a research assistant... during the several months journey by foot, snowmobile, and helicopter to parts of Antarctica never before seen by human eyes.” The book is slated for 2022.
Behind the Deal
Summer is usually a dead zone in publishing and a notoriously bad time to try to sell a book. Not so for Nelson Literary Agency’s Joanna MacKenzie, who, this summer, found herself at the center of a near bidding war for, of all things, a poetry collection. Another Bird Entirely, which wound up selling to Harper Perennial for high five figures, almost went to auction.
According to MacKenzie, Kate Baer, the author, started to gain attention for her work, which she shares on social media, early in the year. Describing Baer’s poetry as “Rupi Kaur meets Mary Oliver,” MacKenzie said that Baer “really started to catch a wave” in June, after being featured on platforms such as Cup of Jo (a women’s lifestyle website). “There was this groundswell happening that indicated to us that a submission couldn’t wait.”
With that in mind, but still banking on a slow reaction because of the summer doldrums, MacKenzie went on vacation just as she submitted the proposal. She said she was “expecting summertime in publishing to take its time.” It did not. “We submitted at eight in the morning and had our first offer by close of that same day.” The book, which Mary Gaile closed on late last month, is set for fall 2020.
● Chuck Palahniuk’s backlist novel Invisible Monsters (released in 1999 by his longstanding publisher, W.W. Norton) has been optioned by Fabrik Entertainment, the production company behind the TV series Bosch. Invisible Monsters is in the works as a series.
● Freeform, the Disney-owned cable TV channel, has optioned Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2017 novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Atria) for series adaptation. Reid is attached to write the adaptation, with Ilene Chaiken and Jennifer Beals executive producing.
● The Finnish thriller Faithful Reader, published by Tammi in August, has been acquired in Germany by Bastei Lübbe. Max Seeck’s novel, according to the Elina Ahlback Agency, which handled the sale, is a psychological thriller in which “a strong female detective chases a serial killer.”
● Canadian author Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex was acquired by Canadian publisher Book*hug Press. The novel was sold by the Transatlantic Agency, which described it as “a seductive and tension-filled [tale] about a lesbian couple receiving an unexpected visit from an old male friend that throws questions of true intentions into the mix of their previously monogamous commitment.” The novel’s set for early 2020.
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.