Transworld editor's debut Seven Lies goes for seven figures

Transworld editor's debut Seven Lies goes for seven figures

Transworld editor Lizzy Goudsmit’s “hypnotic thriller” debut, written under a pseudonym, has tipped into the multi-million pound territory through a flurry of 18 international deals including a significant six-figure deal with Sphere and a further deal worth an undisclosed seven figure sum.

Seven Lies, written by the Transworld commissioning editor under her pen name Elizabeth Kay, went to Lucy Malagoni, Sphere fiction publisher, in a significant six-figure deal for UK and Commonwealth rights, negotiated by Madeleine Milburn.

Milburn, of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV and Film Agency, also negotiated a deal for North American rights following a US auction to Pamela Dorman, v.p. and publisher of the imprint Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. The auction led to an unprecedented deal for Milburn’s agency.

There are now 18 international territories secured and The Bookseller understands that one of the deals is worth an undisclosed seven figures (in pounds sterling), with all the deals collectively totalling a multi-million pound sum.

Seven Lies will be published simultaneously in the UK and US in 2020.

Auctions have been underway around the world over the last three weeks, with the following deals in place: Brazilian, Catalan, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish. There are still auctions underway in China and Ukraine with all the auctions over the last three weeks handled by international rights director Liane-Louise Smith and agent Alice Sutherland-Hawes of the Madeleine Milburn Agency.

Seven Lies is described by Milburn as “a seductive, hypnotic thriller that explores the complexity of tangled and toxic friendships and how lies can be dangerous, but the truth can be devastating”. 

She told The Bookseller that it was the novel’s voice which captured her attention and that she did not know Goudsmit was behind the pseudonym until the Transworld staffer came to the office. 

Milburn said: “Elizabeth Kay’s mesmeric storytelling has resonated with publishers across the globe. Moving away from the unreliable narrator, Elizabeth has created a protagonist who tells the truth as she unpicks each of her seven lies. As well as being a publicist’s dream, Seven Lies will translate very well for film and TV, with a strong female protagonist who reminded me of 'Killing Eve’s' Villanelle.”

Malagoni said: “Seven Lies is that very rare book indeed and one of the most accomplished and spellbinding debuts I’ve ever read – it thrilled me to the core, it chilled me to the bone and I absolutely can’t wait to publish it.”

Kay said “I have been overwhelmed by the response to Seven Lies and I am thrilled that it will be published in the UK by Lucy and the amazing team at Sphere. Their enthusiasm was evident from the very beginning and I’m so looking forward to working with them.”