Orion has acquired two books by Adam Kay in a "substantial" seven-figure deal, tempting the former doctor turned comedian away from Picador, the imprint that published his bestselling debut, This is Going to Hurt.
Orion managing director Katie Espiner and executive publisher Anna Valentine did the deal for world rights with Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown following a "dynamic auction".
The plan is to publish the new books on the Trapeze list. The first will be an adult non-fiction title, publishing in autumn 2021, "packed full of the same humour and insight that has delighted over 3.3 million readers since This is Going to Hurt published in 2017".
According to Trapeze, it will be working with Kay to further "cement his global non-fiction brand and explore multiple platforms for his IP, including audio innovation and merchandise".
This is Going to Hurt (Picador) is the bestselling narrative non-fiction title of the decade, shifting 1.18 million print copies across all editions through the TCM and having been translated into 37 languages. While it is soon to be a BBC comedy-drama, his follow-up, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, has sold 429,858 copies through the TCM since October.
Valentine said: "We are honoured and incredibly excited that Adam has chosen us as his publishing partner for the next phase in his extraordinary career. His success might be unprecedented, but the accolades and sales are no surprise to us: his writing delivers on humour and heart, and he wins us over with the quality of his observations while genuinely helping us understand a little more about what it means to be human."
Kay last week announced a deal to publish middle-grade non-fiction, Kay's Anatomy, with Puffin. He said of this latest publishing deal: "I was absolutely blown away by the ambition, enthusiasm and biscuits at Orion – they are the perfect home for my writing. Katie and Anna have an astonishing track-record and a brilliant team–I know I'm embarking on a long and exciting journey with them. Maybe one day my phone will even stop autocorrecting 'Orion' to 'Onion'."
Summerhayes said: "Obviously Adam has reached heights that very few writers ever reach, but what we saw from the whole team at Orion—and indeed Hachette—was the determination to take him into the stratosphere—aiming incredibly high and meaning it. We couldn’t be more excited."
David Shelley, c.e.o., Hachette UK said: "Adam Kay has one of the freshest and funniest, but also the warmest, voice of any non-fiction author that I have read in recent years. He is a true publishing phenomenon with incredible long-term potential, and we could not be more delighted to welcome him to Hachette. The Orion team are firing on all cylinders and I truly believe this partnership will be a match made in heaven."
Jeremy Trevathan, publisher at Pan Macmillan, said: “Whilst we are naturally sorry to be parting ways with Adam for the new books, we feel proud and honoured to have been a part of the record-breaking success of his two diaries and will continue to bring them to new readers. The books, and Adam, are a publishing phenomenon and we are delighted that we shall be publishing Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas once again this autumn. We are also looking forward to the television series of This Is Going To Hurt for which we shall publish a tie-in edition, taking his hilarious and poignant diaries to many thousands more people.”