The new novel in Jean Auel's bestselling Earth's Children series, The Shelters of Stone (Hot Deals, June 18), has already set records for foreign rights and audio sales, and is being prepared for a spectacular simultaneous world publication day next April.

The long-awaited fifth novel in the series about prehistoric life, which began with Clan of the Cave Bear more than 20 years ago, will be published in the U.S. by Crown, Auel's longtime publisher, April 30, 2002. The dozen or so foreign publishers who have already bought rights are planning an unprecedented world launch for the same day.

Those publishers have already paid the Jean Naggar Agency, Auel's agent, a total approaching $8 million for translation rights, believed to be a record for a fiction work over so short a time. The agency's Jennifer Weltz also conducted an unprecedented auction for audio rights among no fewer than five bidders, which ended with a sale to Brilliance Corporation's Eileen Hutton for a substantial six figures--another record.

Weltz has so far sold foreign rights, via various overseas co-agents, to Hodder in the U.K., Presses de la Cité in France, Longanesi in Italy, Ediciones Maeve in Spain (and in Catalonia), Spectrum Bruna in Holland, Aschehoug in Norway, Bra Bocker in Sweden, Samlerens in Denmark, Heyne in Germany, WSOY in Finland and Zyski I Ska Wydawnictwo in Poland, with more to follow. The deals for Holland and Denmark were both for record amounts in those countries.

Weltz told PW she would be holding a meeting with all Auel's world publishers at Frankfurt to coordinate publishing plans, and also to plan a get-together for them, in the Dordogne area in southern France where the novel is set, a few days before the actual launch. On that occasion the author herself, who has recently been traveling in Africa and Spain researching the next volume in the series, will be on hand to offer a personal guided tour to some of the scenes she used in her new book.