RCW nets 'record' number of deals for debut thriller with 37 global deals

RCW nets 'record' number of deals for debut thriller with 37 global deals

Rogers, Coleridge and White (RCW) has secured the largest number of territories for a UK thriller pre-publication, netting 37 international deals for debut author Alex Michaelides' The Silent Patient with Brad Pitt’s film company snapping up the film rights.

RCW agent and director Sam Copeland told The Bookseller that he believes the west London-based literary agency has won a record number of territories for a thriller before publication. Orion acquired the book in January for six figures, in one of the biggest debut deals agency RCW had cut in the last five years. It went on to sell in 25 territories by April and now has 37 global deals with three months still go until publication.

“We certainly can’t find any UK thriller which has sold more, and we are trying to work out if this is a world thriller record, at present A J Finn seemingly holds the record,” Copeland said of the debut by Michaelides (pictured below).

“The global appeal leads back directly to my very first reaction to the book. I received it on a Friday afternoon, and happened to have a quick nose at it. I couldn’t, and didn’t, put it down, and I offered representation the very next morning – the quickest I have ever offered.

“The US was also the quickest deal I have ever done – it was sent out and deal done on the same day, in a matter of hours. And foreign publishers across the world have reacted in the same way."

“The surprise we have found is that there are so many pre-publication. So many willing to commit to the book itself, and not depending on performance."

In terms of the biggest deals, “the US stands out but in almost all territories we had pre-empts or auctions”, with Celadon Books securing rights in America in a "very high six-figure" deal. 

Of the film deal, Copeland declined to disclose figures but said: "This was a high level auction, with a number of very serious players bidding," he said. "Plan B [Brad Pitt's production company] and [LA-based film firm] Annapurna Pictures won out in the end, and we can’t wait to see what they do with it."

Copeland said that while it is “difficult to say” how many territories a UK thriller normally sells into prior publication, the high number of deals is “very healthy”.  

Finn’s debut The Woman in the Window (HarperCollins) had gone to 37 territories at the time of publication in January, reportedly a record.

Copeland said that the foreign rights department is aiming to get past 40 for the former screenwriter’s debut by the time it is published on 5th February.  

Set in London, The Silent Patient opens with painter Alicia Berenson, who shoots the husband she loves in the head five times, and then never speaks again. Psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can get her to talk and solve the mystery behind the crime.

Michaelides was born in Cyprus before moving to England and has worked on films with Rosamund Pike, Uma Thurman, and Tim Roth.