Monday, May 21, 2007

It's only money...

Agent Turns Down $1 Million Offer for First Novel (Both these stories copyright 2007 by New York magazine)

The literary world is buzzing today over Andrew Davidson's novel, The Gargoyle, which went out on submission to editors last week and is already attracting a great deal of attention. Reportedly the agent, Eric Simonoff of Janklow and Nesbit Associates, has already turned down a $1 million preemptive offer for the novel; though we don't know who made the offer, we've been told by publishing sources that the submission was huge, with multiple editors within publishing groups receiving it. (Cindy Spiegel of Spiegel & Grau, for example, was reportedly trying to sort out with colleague Gerry Howard of Doubleday which of them would be allowed to bid.)

So what's it about? It's a densely packed story about a car-accident victim in the burn ward befriended by a mysterious woman who claims to be a stone carver in a fifteenth-century German abbey. The narrative moves back and forth in time from the woman's tales to the present day and incorporates the story of the first German translation of Dante. We've been told it's an excellent page-turner, though one publishing insider said it felt overly calculated, "like someone sat down to write the bastard love child of The Birth of Venus and The English Patient."

What's next? An auction, most likely, possibly before the end of the week. Plus, a flurry of film activity; we hear prominent agent Howie Sanders of UTA just started sending it to producers.


Turning Down a Cool Mil Works Out Great for ‘The Gargoyle’

We've heard that Gerry Howard of Doubleday has won the auction for Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, and that agent Eric Simonoff totally made the right move in turning down a $1 million preempt offer yesterday. Multiple bidders were in the auction at seven-figure levels, and we've heard that Howard — who, we've been told, was the editor who made the million-dollar offer in the first place — wound up paying around $1.25 million for the book.

Now, that's a lot of money for a first novel, obviously, and it's even more impressive when you consider the deal is only for U.S. rights. Ordinarily publishers who pay out mega-advances like this have a chance to make back a chunk of change quickly by selling rights to foreign publishers, but Doubleday doesn't have that opportunity; instead, Simonoff tells us he's busy managing foreign submissions as well, with the book already preempted in Italy and with another substantial offer on the table in the U.K. And all that money goes in Andrew Davidson's pocket, not Doubleday's.

Ed here: Don't I recall somewhere in the misty past (last fall) the publishing industry talking about tightening its belt and avoiding some of the foolhardy investments they'd made in the past. This may just be the next Da Vinci Code (let's hope it's not as badly written) but then again it may not be. Was it Ike who said that the more things change the more they stay the same?

1 comment:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Given that a publisher admitted to PW awhile back that they'd only paid something like $10M to a politico for the bragging rights to say they published said person, no, I'm not surprised.

This is the same sort of thing, I suspect. Throwing money away for bragging rights.

I'm firmly in the camp that believes it'd be better to spread that money over a number of writers, and promote them, as well. With the right kind of nurturing, a number of those writers can actually turn a profit for their publisher.

Shocking idea, apparently.