Roupenian's debut goes to S&S US in 'seven-figure deal'

Roupenian's debut goes to S&S US in 'seven-figure deal'

Scout Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster US, will publish the debut short story collection of Kristen Roupenian, the author of "Cat Person", in America, in a reported “seven-figure” deal which includes the collection and a further novel.

Days after Jonathan Cape scooped the UK and Commonwealth rights to the short stories by Roupenian, whose short story “Cat Person” went viral last week after being published in the New Yorker, Scout Press revealed it will publish the collection, You Know You Want This, in spring 2019.

The deal is believed to be worth around $1.2m (£900,000), according to the Guardian.

Alison Callahan, v.p. and executive editor of Scout Press, acquired US open market, and audio rights for the collection in a two-book deal that includes a currently untitled novel from Jenni Ferrari-Adler at Union Literary in New York.  

The seven-story collection explores the “complex - and often dark and funny - connections between gender, sex, and power, across genres”. 'Cat Person' sparked a "record breaking" response with much debate about sexual relations after being published on the New Yorker's website on 9th December and went on to be one of newspaper's most read pieces of 2017. It follows a student Margot, 21, who works at a cinema and goes on a date with a 34-year-old customer, Robert, and has sex with him, after which he continues to text her. Roupenian revealed it was inspired by a “small but nasty encounter I had with a person I met online". 

A spokesperson said that the 36-year-old's collection has been “quickly selling to publishers around the world” and that there has been film interest too with the excitement in the UK described as “feverish”.  

On Friday (December 15th) it was revealed Michal Shavit, Cape’s publishing director, had pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights to the short story collection in a deal struck with Emma Paterson at Rogers, Coleridge and White, who did the deal on behalf of Ferrari-Adler.

Paterson told The Bookseller: "The New Yorker described the response to Kristen Roupenian's story 'Cat Person' as “record breaking'' and publisher interest in her collection here was equally feverish.

“I submitted You Know You Want This last Tuesday [12th December] and by the evening I'd received significant interest from a number of UK editors, which seemed particularly striking for a mid-December submission. The deal with Michal Shavit at Jonathan Cape was done by the next afternoon, and I have no doubt their publication will be met with enormous excitement."

Shavit told The Bookseller last week that Cape was "hugely excited" to be "launching this phenomenal new voice" while Callahan tweeted on Wednesday (20th December) that she was "so honored to be working with @roupenian on her OUTSTANDING debut".

Following the sensation of 'Cat Person', Roupenian is continuing to cause a stir with her reported advance. New York Times publishing reporter Alexandra Alter‏ said: "I can't remember the last time there was a bidding war for a debut short story collection that went into the seven figures." Salon published an analysis of the impact of the financial aspects of the deal on the publishing community, in which journalist Gabriel Bell asked: "Does one massively viral short story merit an estimated $1.2 million contract?"

Roupenian, who has not previously published a book, is a Zell Fellow at the University of Michigan, and won the Grand Prize winning story for the Eleventh Annual Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards last year. She also completed a PhD from Harvard.