Today I announced a humongous six-figure deal for a debut YA author, one Heather W. Petty. Follow her on twitter, folks, @heatherwpetty, because she’s achieved lift off and will be rocketing to fame, of that I have no doubt.
Huge book deals are an interesting breed. I happen to love everything Sherlockian, and in light of the Robert Downey, Jr. movies, the BBC TV shows starring Benedict Cumberbatch (sigh), and the American show Elementary, many other people share my obsession. I have read a lot of submissions featuring Sherlock in his many incarnations. But none of them got me excited like Heather’s LOCK & MORI. It’s an origin story, true to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle body of work, but taking place in contemporary London while Sherlock and his future arch-nemesis but girlfriend-for-now, Moriarty, attend high school and solve mysteries better than the London detective squad.
There was a lot of agent interest in Heather and her series. The day I won her account I was dancing around my living room. I had not dared to hope since she was also talking to my peers in New York and it’s tough for an out-of-towner to beat these rapscallions. And the timing couldn’t have been better. I was two weeks out from an editorial pitch trip to New York. I knew her book would sell fast and sell big.
I planned. I wrote pitches. I scheduled appointments. I teased the editors that I had some great books on my list.
I had 18 editors request LOCK & MORI. So I told them all it was going to sell fast and sell big. To my surprise, they all read it straight away. And I got multiple bids. An auction was begun. But then Simon & Schuster swept in with such a big offer–not only in advance money, but with one of the most awesome marketing plans I’ve ever encountered so I knew they were serious–and the book was pre-empted. This all occurred ten days after I sent out the manuscripts. Pshew!
It was tough to turn down so many interested houses. I was especially sad to say no to the first publisher who offered. That particular editor was a British mystery buff and I know she would have helped Heather turn out award-winning prose. But as an agent I have to look at all the variables and work with my client to select the best overall deal. And did I say that the S&S marketing plan was da bomb? Well it was.
Now the only hard part is waiting until 2015, because that’s when this amazing mystery/adventure is going to debut. In the meantime, say howdy to Heather and keep LOCK & MORI on your TBR pile. Trust me. You’ll love it.
photo credit: Ari Nordhagen