Rachel Winters' début Would Like to Meet (Trapeze), about a singleton’s quest to prove people can fall in love like they do in the movies, has sold with a partial manuscript in three "major" deals.
Rights were pre-empted in just 24 hours in the US (Putnam), sold at a six-way auction in Germany (Heyne) and a seven-way auction in Italy (Mondadori). There is "substantial interest" from film and TV production companies; Orion’s foreign rights director, Krystyna Kujawinska, revealed it is "poised to sign an exciting deal after unprecedented interest".
The book’s UK editor, Sam Eades, said it proved rom-coms are back, citing it as a hot trend in submissions this year. In that vein, Orion also bought "First Dates"- inspired The Matchmaker by journalist Catriona Innes (pictured) from Diana Beaumont at Marjacq, as well as Tamsin Keily’s début Rules for Living, which "initially unfolds as a love story but soon becomes so much more". UK rights to the latter were secured from Jo Unwin, with US rights snapped up by HarperCollins list Park Row.
Eades said "the speed of these pre-empts has been amazing", adding: "This fair has been all about rom-coms and ‘up-lit’. With romance, it feels quite organic—[the interest] has come from readers. There is a need for love stories and happy endings, and that must be a reaction to what’s going on in the world at the moment. It’s nostalgia for classic rom-coms of the 1980s and ’90s, like ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, but it’s also the desire for escapist fiction."
Madeleine Milburn’s agency has enjoyed huge success with both genres at the fair, with titles such as Owen Nicholls’ début Love, Unscripted and Clare Pooley’s The Authenticity Project. The US auction for Beth Morrey’s The Love Story of Missy Carmichael—which went to HarperFiction in the UK—has just closed, with Tara Singh Carlson at Penguin Putnam signing a "significant deal". Rights also sold in Italy, Sweden, Russia and Serbia, and are under offer in Brazil, Norway and Lithuania.