DEAL OF THE WEEK
Dorman Hunts Irwin’s ‘Fortune’
In a two-book deal at auction, Pamela Dorman bought Sophie Irwin’s A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting for her eponymous imprint at Penguin. The North American rights agreement was brokered by Madeleine Milburn at London’s Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. There has been a flurry of foreign rights sales for the novel as well, in Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and elsewhere. A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is, Dorman Books said, “a clever, escapist historical romance” that follows bride-to-be Kitty Talbot, who, after being jilted by her fiancé in 1818 London, sets out to find a wealthy replacement to keep her family from financial ruin. Irwin lives in London and worked in publishing for a number of years before becoming a full-time freelancer. A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is slated for a summer 2022 release.
FROM THE U.S.
St. Martin’s Nabs Bishop’s ‘Girls’
For six figures, Sarah Cantin at St. Martin’s Press bought Katie Bishop’s debut novel, The Girls of Summer. Sarah Scarlett at Penguin Random House UK handled the two-book, North American rights agreement on behalf of Ariella Feiner at United Agents. The Girls of Summer, Cantin said, is a dual-timeline novel about a married woman in her mid-30s who “has never been able to let go of the all-consuming love affair she had with an older man while traveling around the Greek islands as a teenager.” In pitches, she added, the novel was compared to My Dark Vanessa and Three Women.
HarperVia Heads Down Under for Birch’s ‘Girl’
At HarperVia, Judith Curr and Rosie Black acquired world English rights (excluding Australia and New Zealand) to Tony Birch’s The White Girl from University of Queensland Press rights manager Kate McCormack. The novel is set in a small Australian town during the 1960s and, HarperVia said, “sheds light on the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families while celebrating the heartwarming love between grandmother and granddaughter.” Released in Australia in 2019, The White Girl won the 2020 New South Wales Premier’s Prize for Indigenous Writing; it has also been optioned for feature adaptation by Typecast Entertainment, with Tracey Rigney attached to direct. The book is slated for release in March 2022.
Educator’s Memoir Goes to RH
Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, sold her memoir, Up Home: One Girl’s Journey, to Random House’s David Ebershoff at auction. The author has broken ceilings and boundaries in academia. In 2001, she was named president of Brown University, becoming the first African American to lead an Ivy League school. (Prior to that, she was the first Black president of Smith College.) Up Home, Random House said, details Simmons’s youth as “the 12th child of sharecroppers in rural, segregated Texas and Houston’s Fifth Ward,” exploring subjects ranging from “family, place, racial and economic injustice, and the power of books and education in a young person’s life.” Wendy Strothman at the Strothman Agency brokered the world English rights agreement.
Putnam Invests in Clarke’s U.K. Hit
G.P. Putnam’s Son’s Danielle Dieterich bought One of the Girls by bestselling British author Lucy Clarke (The Castaways) in a two-book deal at auction. (Previously, Putnam’s Sally Kim edited Clarke.) The publisher described it as “a delicious, atmospheric thriller” set on a Greek island, “where six women celebrate a bachelorette party that takes a terrible turn when one of the group winds up dead.” Grainne Fox at Fletcher & Company handled the U.S. rights agreement on behalf of Judith Murray at Greene and Heaton. One of the Girls is scheduled to be published in summer 2022.
Nat Geo Signs Bucket List Clan
For National Geographic Books, Allyson Johnson acquired National Geographic’s Guide to Family Travel Around the World by the Bucket List Family. The book is credited to Jessica Gee, who has traveled around the world with her husband and three children and documented their experiences on YouTube and Instagram. The publisher said the title will detail the family’s “best tips and tricks for traveling with children” and list “50 destinations and recommendations for family-friendly travel around the world.” Kristy Sowin, the Gees’ business manager, represented the family.
S&S Buys Bilyeu Book
Lisa Bilyeu, host of the Women of Impact podcast, sold a currently untitled book to Simon & Schuster about empowerment. Leah Miller took North American rights from Celeste Fine at Park & Fine. The book, set for May 2022, is built around the author’s concept of “radical confidence” and, S&S said, will give readers “a no-nonsense approach to becoming the ‘hero of your own life.’ ” Bilyeu is a housewife turned entrepreneur who cofounded the protein bar company Quest Nutrition. She is also the cofounder, along with her husband, of Impact Theory Studios, which bills itself as “a mission-based studio focusing on the development of empowering fiction and nonfiction content.”
Bloomsbury Investigates North’s ‘Bog’
Anna North, the bestselling author of Outlawed, sold Bog Queen to her standing publisher, Bloomsbury. Julie Barer at the Book Group took North American rights from Callie Garnett. In the novel, the publisher said, “the discovery of an Iron Age bog body draws an anthropologist into mystery, controversy, and a reckoning with her own past against the backdrop of humanity’s deep history.”