Berkley Bets Big on ‘Librarian’

Berkley’s Kate Seaver won North American rights, at auction, to Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray’s work of historical fiction, The Personal Librarian. Seaver spent a rumored high six figures on the book, which is based on the life of Belle da Costa Greene, a famously bohemian woman who, in 1905, was tapped by American financier J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of varied pieces for his then-new Morgan Library. Berkley said that the bestselling authors explore how Greene at once “wielded enormous power in her rarified world” but also held a deep secret “that could ruin her carefully crafted identity.” Benedict (The Only Woman in the Room) was represented by Laura Dail at the Laura Dail Literary Agency and Murray (Stand Your Ground) by Liza Dawson at Liza Dawson Associates. Librarian is slated for 2021.


Putnam Nabs a Hot U.K. Thriller

After being the subject of an intense auction in the U.K., Allie Reynolds’s thriller Shiver has found a U.S. publisher. Putnam’s Margo Lipschultzpreempted North American rights to the novel after a 10-way auction in England closed with British publisher Headline winning the book. Shiver follows five snowboarders invited to a remote resort in the French Alps, where they soon realize they’re trapped. In order to escape, they must, Putnam explained, “finally uncover the truth about the night, 10 years ago, when their frenemy and fiercest competitor vanished without a trace.” Putnam said that the novel is ideal for fans of Ruth Ware and Catherine Steadman. Kate Burke at the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency represented Reynolds in the two-book deal.

LBYR Stamps Sophia Glock’s ‘Passport’

Sophia Glock sold her graphic memoir Passport, after a six-house auction, to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Susan Rich took world rights to the debut, in which the author discovers, the publisher said, that her parents, foreign diplomats, “are actually spies.” The two-book agreement was brokered by Molly O’Neill at Root Literary, and the book is slated for fall 2021.

Effa Manley Bio Goes to Roaring Brook

Winning a five-house auction, Roaring Brook Press’s Megan Abbate took North American rights to a biography of Effa Manley titled The Lady and the Diamond by Andrea Williams for a rumored six-figure sum. Manley, the only female inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was the owner-manager of Negro League team the Newark Eagles; the book is subtitled The True Story of Effa Manley, the Negro Leagues and the Integration of Major League Baseball. The book, which is the first biography of Manley for young readers, was sold by Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties; it’s set for a fall 2020 release.

Huda Fahmy Gets ‘Arranged’ at McMeel

Patty Rice at Andrews McMeel preempted world English rights, for six figures, to cartoonist Huda Fahmy’s comedic graphic memoir That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story. The book, which Rice nabbed 24 hours after receiving the manuscript, is about the author’s experience with romance as a Muslim in America and is written/illustrated in the same style as her Instagram webcomic, @yesimhotinthis. “Being Muslim means there are set guidelines in place for meeting and marrying a future spouse,” Fahmy said. “This book outlines the story of my relationship with love: my first crush, my first suitor, my first proposal, and eventually my first love.” The book, set for a spring 2020 release, was sold by Kathleen Ortiz at New Leaf Literary & Media.

Reza Aslan Signs with Norton

Bestseller Reza Aslan (Zealot) sold a book to W.W. Norton titled Baskerville. Alane Mason at Norton took U.S., Canadian, and open market rights to the title from Elyse Cheney, who has an eponymous shingle. Norton said that the narrative nonfiction title follows Howard Conklin Baskerville, an Ivy League–educated American born in the 1880s who remains the only U.S. citizen to have died fighting for democracy in Iran. Aslan added, “Even today, Howard Baskerville remains a hero among many in Iran, but he’s been largely forgotten in the United States. During a time of heightened animosity between the U.S. and Iran, his remarkable and historic story and his place in Iranian history provide amazing insight into the long, complicated relationship between our two countries.”

Luanne Rice Goes Adult for Thomas & Mercer

In a deal for her first adult novel in over five years, bestseller Luanne Rice sold Last Day to Thomas & Mercer’s Liz Pearsons. The six-figure, two-book world rights agreement was handled by Andrea Cirillo at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. The second book in the deal is currently untitled. Rice has written more than 20 bestsellers and has had numerous titles adapted for television; this novel, the Amazon imprint said, “opens with a murder” but remains “a family story—about sisters in particular.” Last Day is set for early 2020, with the second book in the deal set for 2021.

Behind the Deal

In a deal that stretches both its wallet and its traditional focus, HCI paid six figures for Carder Stout’s memoir, Lost in Ghost Town. The book, which is subtitled A Therapist’s Journey Through Homelessness, Addiction, Murder, and Fame, will be the Florida-based publisher’s lead title for spring 2020. It will also stand out at a house best known for self-help and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Stout, who is now a therapist in Hollywood with several celebrity clients, grew up privileged in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. Despite all of his advantages, he found himself homeless and addicted to crack in his early 30s.

Though memoirs may not be in HCI’s wheelhouse, Stout’s subject matter certainly is. HCI began in the late 1970s as a publisher that targeted those working in the field of addiction recovery.

Given the current opioid addiction crisis, Stout’s agent, Lane Heymont at the Tobias Literary Agency, said that this story is more urgent than ever. The book, he explained, “is a raw look at the power of self-medicating” that is particularly timely because it’s set “against the painful backdrop of the substance abuse epidemic currently consuming America.” Allison Janse at HCI acquired world rights at auction.


Deadline reported that Adrian McKinty’s forthcoming thriller The Chain (Mulholland, July) has been optioned by Paramount for low seven figures. The outlet said the book is about “a terrifying and meticulous chain letter–like kidnapping scheme that turns parents from victims into criminals.” Shane Salerno at the Story Factory, who reps McKinty, will produce.

● French author Gerard Villiers’s SAS series (which launched in the 1960s and is not in print in the U.S.) has been optioned by Lionsgate, with Michael Fassbender set to produce and star in the adaptation, called Malko, Variety reported.


● According to a report in the Bookseller, after a six-way auction, Trapeze (which is part of the Orion Publishing Group in the U.K.) won This Is This Country by siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. May and Cooper are the creative force behind the hit BBC mockumetary series This Country.

● Hachette Children’s Group in the U.K., the Bookseller reported, has acquired a fantasy middle grade trilogy by debut author L.D. Lapinski. The Strangeword Travel Agency is “about a 12-year-old named Flick Hudson who can reach other worlds by jumping through battered old suitcases.” Orion will be copublishing the series with Hachette Livre, and book one is set for an April 2020 release.

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