h1

The next Harry Potter?

July 3, 2008

From The New York Observer, Leon Neyfakh reports about a 28-year-old’s debut novel that recently sold at auction for nearly $1 million.

Here’s a fairytale: A 28-year-old Columbia M.F.A. student named Reif Larsen wrote a novel about a whimsical child from Montana who likes maps, and suddenly all kinds of famous editors in New York were calling his agent, Denise Shannon, and telling her they really wanted to publish it.
Norton offered to preempt with an advance in the neighborhood of $400,000 if Ms. Shannon took the book off the market and sold it to the publisher right then and there. The editorial director of Dial Press, an imprint of Random House’s Bantam Dell Doubleday group, offered to pay half a million for the same privilege.

Ms. Shannon said no to both and confidently took the book to auction. Within days, according to three sources, she’d sold North American rights for a sum just shy of $1 million to Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press, gravely disappointing editors at Random House, Viking, Riverhead and elsewhere. The book was also sold to publishers in Canada, Germany and Italy, and at press time, deals were being negotiated for the U.K. and the Netherlands. The book, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, is scheduled to come out in the U.S. next summer.

All of which begs the question: Who is this Reif Larsen and how did he get away with this?

Ms. Shannon, who has also represented Gary Shteyngart, Lydia Davis and Francine Prose, says it’s because the book is so good, obviously. “The fact is that it comes down to the work itself,” she wrote in an e-mail, “and in this case we are talking about a novel that is startlingly original and intelligent and well-written.”

But don’t lots of people write pretty good debut novels? Why did T.S. Spivet send all of New York publishing into a frenzy?

Read full article

–msg

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. I am, of course, thrilled for a fellow writer who gets published. My deal with Echelon is only slightly less than his.

    Did I say that with a straight face? 😉


  2. Interesting! 🙂


  3. I know the guy, he is really talented, and I’m very happy for his success…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: