The transatlantic talent agency YMU Group is to launch its first bespoke full literary division to be headed by Amanda Harris.
Harris, who was shortlisted for the 2021 Literary Agent of the Year Nibbie, is made managing director of YMU Books. Harris originally joined YMU in 2019, moving from Orion, as director of publishing for the agency’s literary team, which was previously part of the YMU Entertainment division.
YMU said its literary team had achieved “exponential growth in the company’s publishing revenue and output” under Harris, with 37 books sold across 16 deals in 2020, and client advances rising 983% year on year. Highlights of those deals included Ant & Dec’s memoir, a Matt Lucas multi-book children’s deal with Egmont and “X-Factor” star turned cleaning influencer Stacey Solomon’s Tap to Tidy going to Ebury in a 15-publisher auction.
Mary Bekhait, c.e.o. of YMU, said: “Launching this new division is a huge opportunity for us, and for the talent we represent. Books are one of the most important sources of human storytelling and enable our clients to connect with audiences in an incredible way. We want to continue to support our clients with the very best service across the sectors we operate in and, in the case of books, Amanda is the gold standard.”
YMU was founded 20 years ago as a collection of agencies across music, entertainment and sport over 20 years ago, including the James Grant Group in the UK, all of which were rebranded under the YMU banner after a buyout by private equity group Trilantic in 2018. Eugenie Furniss and Rowan Lawton's Furniss Lawton had been a subsidiary of James Grant before it was rolled into YMU Entertainment in 2019, with both Furniss and Lawton leaving several months later.
Harris said that YMU Books would be increasing the headcount to the existing literacy team, adding one agent and a paid intern. She added that she was looking to build on the success of 2020 in which “our clients dominated the Christmas bestseller chart, selling over 2.2 million copies through the Toyal Consumer Market. This success is a great by-product of putting integrity and talent-first sensibilities at the heart of everything we do. There is nothing we love more than helping our clients share their stories. Now, we are widening our brief to service every client, across YMU’s US and UK divisions, with expert literary representation”.
A full profle of Harris will be in this week's issue of The Bookseller (2nd July).