EXCLUSIVE: United Talent Agency has signed prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard, who has retained a major Hollywood agency for the first time in his 60-year career. UTA will rep Leonard in film, TV, digital and allied rights. Leonard, who continues with literary agent Andrew Wylie, is eager to see more of his books adapted for the screen. He has written 45 Westerns and crime novels, and 40 short stories.
His enthusiasm is understandable. Leonard’s 2002 short story Fire In The Hole was the basis for the superb FX series Justified, which stars Timothy Olyphant as deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Leonard told me in May 2010 that he’d sworn off writing screenplays in 1993 (his past scripts include the Charles Bronson film Mr. Majestyk) because he got tired of trying to please movie executives half as smart as he is about storytelling. But Justified provided a big spark, he is an active voice for series creator Graham Yost, and Leonard welcomes other chances to see his crackling dialogue and indelible crime plots on some screen or other. Read More »
BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will be published in 2012 and will cover the Booker Prize-winning author’s entire life, including the time when he was forced into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. It revives a long relationship between the author and publisher.
The seven-figure deal will involve multiple imprints under the Random House roof, and covers hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for English, German and Spanish-speaking territories. Random House will publish in most of the territories, while Knopf Canada will handle the book up north. The RH imprint Jonathan Cape will publish in the UK; Germany will be handled by RH’s Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint and Spain and Latin America editions will be published by Random House Mondadori’s Literatura Modadori. The Wylie Agency will sell other territories.
This is a giant turnaround from earlier this year, when Random House issued its own fatwa on Wylie after he revealed plans to form an imprint and sell the e-book rights to his author backlists exclusively to Amazon for use on its Kindle device. Dohle rescinded his order to view Wylie as a competitor when they met and found common ground for RH to continue … Read More »
I’ve been looking into what are the hottest overseas titles being sold at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair. David Bowie is due to deliver his illustrated book Bowie: Object to his agent Andrew Wylie in December. So Wylie is telling publishers at Frankfurt that it’s the first in a series of books by Bowie and I’m told there’s lots of interest. Why the title? Because the rock legend has assembled 100 objects from his personal archive and has written captions for them exploring his creative process. That, apparently, qualifies as a book these days.
Other titles packing heat at Frankfurt this year include: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The deals are popping this week, and publishing is not immune. On the basis of a 4-page proposal, Alfred Knopf’s Sonny Mehta has paid $2.5 million for The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny, the new novel by Kiran Desai. She’s the Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss. Robin Desser is the acquiring editor. This is the time for big book deals in the run up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, which gets underway in Germany next week. The publishing crowd was also buzzing over the fact that the deal was brokered by Andrew Wylie, who signed her 2 weeks ago from Inkwell Management. She left to join Wylie because he reps her partner, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk.
BREAKING: The stand-off between Random House and lit agent Andrew Wylie is over, and it looks like the agent has blinked. Here is the statement just issued by Wylie and Markus Dohle, Random House chairman/CEO. You’ll recall that RH disclosed it would view Wylie as a competitor and freeze him out after the agent formed Odyssey Editions to publish e-books of the authors whose estates he reps.
The Wylie Agency – Random House Joint Press Statement
August 24, 2010
“We are pleased to announce that The Wylie Agency and Random House have resolved our differences over the disputed Random House titles which have been included in the Odyssey Editions e-book publishing program. These titles are being removed from that program and taken off-sale. We have agreed that Random House shall be the exclusive e-book publisher of these titles for those territories in which Random House U.S. controls their rights. The titles soon will be available for sale on a non-exclusive basis through all of Random House’s current e-book customers. Random House is resuming normal business relations with the Wylie Agency for English-language manuscript submissions and potential acquisitions, and we both are glad to be able to put this matter behind us.”
— Markus Dohle, Chairman & CEO, Random House
Andrew Wylie, President, The Wylie Agency LLC
Random House Bullying Agents On E-Books–But Is It Legal?
The Wylie Agency’s e-book exclusivity dispute with the publishing industry continues to dominate. (Random House vs Agents On E-Books) Everyone’s got a different opinion about Andrew Wylie’s decision to start his own imprint and broker an exclusive e-book deal with Amazon. While Wylie’s actions led the Random House Publishing Group to view him as a competitor and not do business with him, his maverick move has given leverage to agents all over the lit landscape right now, one dealmaker just told me. “Publisher contract divisions are starting to acknowledge that the e-book author-house percentages are changing. They are verbally promising and writing into contracts clauses that say these percentages will be revisited when the books are published.” Now the American Booksellers Association, the guardian angel of the independent booksellers, just weighed in via their Bookselling This Week weekly membership newsletter:
Last week’s news of literary agent Andrew Wylie’s exclusive agreement with Amazon.com to publish Kindle editions of 20 backlist titles by notable writers represented by Wylie provoked strong reactions among some major publishers and elicited extensive industry discussion regarding the implications of this potential disintermediation. On Wednesday, July 21, Wylie announced the launch of Odyssey Editions and its exclusive deal with Amazon.com. Under the agreement, backlist titles by such contemporary authors as John Updike, Louise Erdrich, and Saul Bellow would be available for the first time as e-books,
… Read More »
Most summers, the biggest late-week concern among publishing honchos is Long Island Expressway traffic to the Hamptons. This week has proven different. Debate is raging about how vulnerable major publishing houses suddenly are after book agent Andrew Wylie formed an electronic publishing imprint for his authors and made an exclusive deal with Amazon. This means that instead of leaving it to a publisher and taking a low split, Wylie gave Amazon sole e-book rights to titles like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, John Updike’s Rabbit Run series, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. You can read all of them only on the Kindle for $9.99 each, under Wylie’s own Odyssey Editions imprint.
Random House responded with sheer thuggery, blacklisting Wylie in a clear attempt to scare other authors and their reps from trying the same thing. Other publishers also expressed outrage in different ways, like Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who railed about how Wylie’s exclusive deals excluded other e-devices like the Sony Reader (like Macmillan really cares about anything other than its own fortunes). What neither of these houses addressed is the $64,000 question: do they control e-book rights in contracts signed before anyone imagined that e-books might surpass print titles? Many feel the answer is no.
Random House, unable so far to prove different, is using intimidation as a fallback ploy. It’s scary, given the sheer volume of books it publishes, but probably not effective in the long term. The publisher tried in 2001 to nip this whole thing in the bud, suing for summary judgment to stop an e-book venture called Rosetta Books. Random House lost. More recently, Bertelsmann Publishing chairman Markus Dohle sent a warning shot to agents, telling them the publisher was determined to protect its e-book rights, but once again, not mentioning whether it actually controlled them.
“They’ve not said we have the e-rights to the books you’ve written,” said one well connected dealmaker. “They say, we have publishing rights to these books, it costs us a fortune to run this place, and e-books are a huge source of revenue. If we can’t have it all, we’re not working with you.” Read More »