Kate Mosse is to leave Orion, which published her bestselling Languedoc trilogy, to join Pan Macmillan’s Mantle imprint.
The author, who is also co-founder of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, will write a new trilogy for Mantle, the first volume of which will be released in spring 2018.
Publisher Maria Rejt, who has known Mosse for 30 years, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the three books from Mark Lucas at LAW.
She told The Bookseller: “I am really, really excited and delighted. After 10 years at Orion, where she was incredibly happy and published very well, you just need a different energy and perspective.”
Jon Wood, m.d. of Orion Fiction, said: “Kate felt it was time for a change, and we wish her luck. It’s been a good ride – we’ve sold about 4m books.
“She wanted to try something fresh, and she goes with our good wishes and thanks.”
Mosse’s new books, The Burning Chambers Trilogy, will span three centuries, from the massacre of 66 Huguenots outside Carcassonne in 1569, through 17th century Amsterdam, to exile in the inhospitable valleys outside Cape Town in the 1880s.
The trilogy is centred around the interconnected lives and loves of two families, trapped on either side during the French Wars of Religion.
Mantle has described it as a “story of passion and betrayal, faith and conflict, divided loyalties, fragile peace and endless war”.
Mosse said of the move: “Maria Rejt and I first met more than 30 years ago in the tiny attic office of a publishing company in Bedford Square. Maria's skill and expertise as an editor are legendary, as is her passionate commitment to historical fiction, so as I embark on a major and long-term writing project, this seems the perfect time for us finally to have the chance to work together again. Now, after 10 wonderful years with Orion, I'm also now hugely looking forward to getting to know everyone at Mantle and Pan Macmillan.”
Lucas said Orion did “such a good job” for Mosse, and added: “Orion did an absolutely brilliant job from taking Kate from much admired and much loved author of small but perfectly formed novels to someone who had found her way in a truly epic scale.
“There is no question at all that the relationship between Orion and Kate was extraordinarily special.”
He said he was looking forward to watching Mosse “thrive” at Mantle.
Pan Macmillan m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson said: “Everyone here is very proud that Kate is to join Mantle and Pan Macmillan with her magnificent new project, The Burning Chambers Trilogy. We're all very excited at the prospect of working closely with Kate and of building a brilliant publishing team around her and her books.”
Mosse’s last book was The Taxidermist’s Daughter (Orion) in September 2014, a psychological thriller set in 1912. The paperback was released this month, and the book has so far earned £441,000 across all print editions through Nielsen BookScan UK.
Mosse began her career by writing non-fiction, with her first book, Becoming a Mother, published by Virago in 1993. Her first novel was 1996’s Eskimo Kissing (Coronet).
Orion published the first book in Mosse’s best-selling Languedoc trilogy, Labyrinth, in 2005. It won the Richard & Judy Best Book award at the British Book Awards in 2006 and was made into a miniseries in 2013.
Mosse’s books have sold 2,366,109 copies through Nielsen BookScan for a total sales value of £14,681,239.74.
Her bestselling book is Labyrinth, which has sold 1,247,742 copies through Nielsen BookScan.
Mosse the latest high-profile author ro switch publishers
The Bookseller’s exclusive reveal of Kate Mosse’s sensational switch from Orion to Pan Macmillan caps a run of high-profile authors changing houses.
Others who have recently announced ends to long-term publishing relationships include Jane Green, who joined Pan Mac last autumn after having been with Penguin since 1998; Harlan Coben, whose first book for Century will be published in 2016—the author had previously been with Orion for 14 years; and Paulo Coelho, who crosses over to Hutchinson from HarperCollins in August.
At the time of his announcement, Coelho tweeted that his departure from HC was a “friendly divorce”. Divorce is arguably a good metaphor, as agents say they are reluctant to move established authors without very good reason.
Curtis Brown joint c.e.o. Jonny Geller has brokered high-profile moves, including John le Carré switching from Hodder to Penguin, and Howard Jacobson moving from Jonathan Cape to Bloomsbury—and back again to Cape.
Geller said: “You move for many different reasons. It’s much harder to move someone and settle them in than it is to stay. Even though from the outside it might look exciting, it’s much more time-intensive. You have to believe the timing is right, and that the move is going to make a substantial difference.”
For a variety of reasons—new design, fresh ideas from both publisher and author and, perhaps most importantly, the new company’s financial incentive to make an acquisition work—a change of house is almost always successful at the tills.
Perhaps most interesting in our chart of relatively recent high-profile movers is the performance of the established, book-a-year authors Wilbur Smith, Val McDermid and Patricia Cornwell. Comparing sales of their last hardback release with their previous publisher against the first with their new list (over the same number of weeks) shows impressive growth, particularly given the recent dip in the hardback fiction market.
Cornwell had the slimmest margin of print growth at 5.7%, but even that can be viewed as an excellent result as the Scarpetta author had been something of a declining print force. Hardback sales for her last three Little, Brown titles dropped by an average of 30% book-on-book, a rate which far outpaced the average decline of hardback crime titles overall across the same timeframe (–12%).
McDermid’s agent Jane Gregory, of Gregory & Company, echoed Geller’s view that moving an author would only be done reluctantly. She said: “Generally we don’t like to move authors if a publisher is doing a good job, especially crime authors because every new book drives the backlist. In the case of Val, it wasn’t the editorial support that she didn’t have, but we felt the sales operation wasn’t behind her. We gave lots of warning, had lots of discussions and it wasn’t a surprise.”
LAW founder and chairman Mark Lucas, who brokered Mosse’s switch to Pan Mac, said: “I do believe in loyalty. Not every book that an author writes is going to be a masterpiece, so why would we not wish to celebrate the long build and loyalty? But sometimes to have your creative tanks refuelled, a new relationship and a new approach is called for.”
That creative refuelling can perhaps best be seen in Headline’s handling of Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove. Walsh published three novels with Canongate, and while the publisher should be given kudos for breaking a new voice, there were diminishing returns: from 13,000 units sold through BookScan in all editions for Walsh’s début Brass (2005), to just 1,503 copies for the trade paperback of Go to Sleep (2011). Headline’s new way of looking at Walsh paid dividends. When it published The Lemon Grove last year, it did it with livery aimed clearly at the summer reading/book club market, and made the strategic decision to release the mass market paperback just two months after the hardback.
A “freshness” is urged by Hodder associate publisher Oliver Johnson, editor of John Grisham, who moved to the publisher from Century in 2009. He said: “Any new publisher should offer a completely fresh perspective: from the jacket approach, blurb writing, metadata, novel marketing ideas, publicity angles, sales opportunities. All accepted thinking needs to be re-examined, repurposed or discarded.”
Grisham, le Carré and James Patterson (who switched from Headline to Random House in 2006) are perhaps the biggest movers of the past decade. Yet, as Curtis Brown’s Geller argued, the principle of a move remains the same, no matter how many units an author shifts: “It’s always down to the same thing: does the editor and publisher believe in you and love the book? We hunt for enthusiasm. That’s the only ingredient that matters.”
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