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14.05.12 | Charlotte Williams
Century has won a "hotly contested" five-way auction for a self-published title, Wool, which has already been an e-book bestseller. Twentieth Century Fox has bought the film rights.
Editorial director Jack Fogg bought UK and Commonwealth rights in Hugh Howey's novel Wool and a prequel, titled The Shift Trilogy, through Jenny Meyer at Jenny Meyer Literary Agency on behalf of Kristin Nelson of The Nelson Literary Agency.
Wool is described as "a high-concept novel set in a stark future; the air outside is no longer breathable, so the last community on Earth lives underground in an enormous silo". Since the author self-published Wool on Amazon.com, it has sold 140,000 copies through e-book within six months, and attracted 600 five-star reviews on the site, according to Century. The self-published edition is currently on sale on Amazon.com for $4.97, and on Amazon.co.uk for £3.08. Century's own e-book edition of Wool will be
available from June.
Century will publish Wool in hardback in January 2013, with an Arrow paperback in August.
Fogg said: "Wool drew me in from the first page. It's such an intricately realised world-both incredibly visceral and visual—but for me, and for the many fans here at Random House, what really captivated was the book's compassion and care for its characters." He said the plan was to "build up a buzz" ahead of hardback publication, and that it wasn't necessary to move as quickly as with the print publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, since Wool is not already in print in the US.
Foreign rights have been sold in Spain, Brazil, Taiwan, Poland and China, with offers pending in Germany, but Nelson has decided against signing the books to a publisher in the US as yet. She said: "We did have conversations with US publishers and although we received several six-figure offers, we decided that the partnership didn't make sense yet given the current electronic royalty rate being offered. We certainly have not closed the door to interested US parties."
Fogg said Century had signed a deal on its "normal rate" of e-book royalties, because "this is not his home market". He would not comment on the value of the deal, but said: "It's a big acquisition for us, it's a certainly a book that we have huge hopes for."