OK, most of the time I don’t talk about any specific sales I make. I like to get into more general discussions of publishing, trying to give whatever insider impressions of the industry I can from my experiences without talking overmuch about any of my clients individually. It’s kind of like when my middle daughter tries to trick me into saying that I love her better than my other kids. I roll my eyes and say “Yes honey, you are the best middle child I have.”
So, 51 clients of mine, there are no favorites (except YOU…right. You.) Now I’m going to talk about two deals I was able to announce the past week. It’s remarkable that they appeared on the same weekly Deal Report from Publishers Marketplace, since I’ve been working with them, combined, for longer than I’ve been in Publishing! So congratulations Tania Roxborogh and Paul Goldberg—I’m incredibly proud to have sold your books.
I met both of these talented writers when I was still at Writers House, learning to be an agent. Paul Goldberg, a muckraking journalist in the world of oncology, had written…a novel about four Soviet intellectuals trying to kill Stalin. Tania Roxborogh, a teacher and accomplished author in her native New Zealand, had written a sequel of sorts to Macbeth, which was about to be published by Penguin New Zealand. She wanted to cross over to the United States, and approached me to represent her. Her book, Banquo’s Son, was a top-five best seller in New Zealand and won several end-of-year awards, and the sequels also were best sellers Down Under.
Goldberg, in the meantime, co-wrote a nonfiction book about the over- and under-treatment of cancer victims with American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Dr. Otis Brawley, which was published successfully by St. Martin's Press. And we periodically showed editors Levinson’s Sword, as the novel was called, but while everyone recognized Paul’s writing skill, which is prodigious, it was such an odd, unconventional book that we knew it would take a particular kind of editor to take it on.
The issue with Banquo’s Son was a bit different; it had to do less with whether it would be read than where it would be placed on the shelves. That’s because it’s a coming of age story, but where the protagonist starts book 1 as a 21 year-old, he ends book 3 as a twice-married father. The series is, as we say, a Razzle: It’s not a candy, not a gum. Too old to be YA…but it feels like YA. We needed a publisher where shelf space was less important.
And in the end, right before we left for Christmas, we found our homes. For Goldberg’s cross of Lear and Pushkin, now called The Yid, we found James Meador, who’s the head of publicity for Picador and Henry Holt. James wanted an unusual, but brilliant novel to take on and edit as a special project. And getting to know James, I understand precisely why he loved and appreciated The Yid.
We ended up with Emilie Marneur at Thomas & Mercer with Banquo’s Son because of Emilie’s marvelous handling of another book I represent, Elaine Powell’s novel about a knight and a nun during the reign of Henry II. One day Tania asked me whether it would make sense to try Emilie for Banquo. I’d gone to Amazon’s children’s division when we submitted the book as YA. But it’s not a traditional thriller. But Emilie understood that Tania’s novel of politics, love and adventure could potentially find the kind of audience that Elaine’s The Fifth Knight and its sequel has.
I can’t wait to find out. Watch out in a year for The Yid and Banquo’s Son. And if you’ve been out with a book, either looking for an editor or an agent, discouraged at the wait, think of Banquo’s Son and The Yid.