It worked for Ron McLarty, and now the Stephen King Anointment Test (TM) works once more for Meg Gardiner. After teasing her readers earlier this week with the news of an American deal, she supplied more information yesterday afternoon: Ben Sevier at Dutton pre-empted the rights to all five of her novels, plus two new titles from Britt Carlson at Gelfman Schneider (acting on behalf of Jonny Pegg at Curtis Brown.) The backlist will be published as mass market paperback originals by NAL, while the next titles – the sixth Evan Delaney series installment plus THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB, a standalone thriller set in San Francisco – will debut here in hardcover, with the standalone going first in summer 2008. No terms are known, but seeing as this is a seven-book deal, the amount of money has to be fairly substantive, though the per-book ratio may break down to more manageable numbers. Comments from Carlson and Sevier are still pending, and will be added once they come in.
On the face of it, this looks like a smart acquisition on all sides. Starting Gardiner in mass market means (as I explained last month) that her audience can build quickly and demand will grow until a suitable splash is made with the first hardcover release. For Dutton, Gardiner will enable them to tap into the audience that reads other New York Times bestselling female thriller writers like Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner and Alison Brennan while adding a necessary counterpart to a predominantly male thriller list (including Harlan Coben, Jonathon King, Juan Gomez-Jurado and Stephen White.) It’s also Sevier’s first thriller acquisition and his second major deal since moving to Dutton earlier this year. So while a lot is riding on Gardiner to live up to the expectations set by King’s blurb and Abebooks’ inability to keep her UK editions in stock, the likelihood is that this risk will pay off in spades.
UPDATE: Dutton has released an announcement about Gardiner’s six-figure deal, which was finalized last Friday evening. Sevier will edit Gardiner’s new novels for hardcover publication, which Dutton will release in the summer of 2008. “For such a talented thriller writer to have gone unpublished in her own country for so long is difficult to imagine, and I look forward to helping Meg find the American audience she so clearly deserves,” says Sevier in the announcement. “THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB is everything I look for in a suspense novel-fast-moving, inventive, with an engaging heroine in Jo Beckett and a plot that twists and turns toward an explosive finale set against the backdrop of an earthquake-addled San Francisco.” As for the backlist, Dutton spokeswoman Beth Parker said by email this morning that they had not been scheduled for publication by NAL as yet.