Winnie M Li’s film industry thriller goes in five-way auction for North American rights

Winnie M Li’s film industry thriller goes in five-way auction for North American rights

Winnie M Li’s #MeToo-inspired novel has sold in the US to Emily Bestler Books/Atria at Simon & Schuster for “a substantial" six-figure sum in a five-way auction with several other major territories being finalised. 

North American rights for Complicit have sold in a hotly fought auction to Emily Bestler, senior vice-president and editor-in-chief at Emily Bestler Books/Atria at Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal. The deal was struck by Jessica Purdue, rights director at Orion, and marks the start of the Hachette Spring Rights Festival.  

The deal comes weeks after Orion Fiction’s 48-hour six-figure pre-emptive acquisition by publishing director Francesca Pathak, who acquired world rights from Robert Caskie. The novel is billed by Orion as “Anatomy of a Scandal meets Disclaimer with a dash of Daisy Jones and the Six” and “a timely reading group novel about Hollywood and power – who wields it and how that affects what we believe”. 

Bestler said: “In this culture’s media whirlwind, where we hardly know what or who to believe, Winnie Li’s novel Complicit reminds us that at the centre of every scandal or tragedy is the person to whom it happened, and it is that person’s heart we must pay greatest heed to. I fully expect Complicit to be in the eye of the storm.” 

Li said: “I’m beyond thrilled that a powerhouse like Emily Bestler will be publishing Complicit in North America. With successes such as I am Pilgrim and You, Emily clearly knows how to get a broad audience reading a book. For me, it was so important to question the ruthlessness, drive and surface optimism of American workplaces, especially in regards to #MeToo and the film industry. I can think of no better editor than Emily to help connect Complicit with US readers. Thanks, as ever, to my UK editor Francesca Pathak, the Orion rights team, and my agent Robert Caskie for their support and expertise in getting the book this far.” 

The book follows her debut novel, Dark Chapter (Legend Press), which won the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and was sold in 12 territories around the world. Li is a former film producer, an American writer, activist, and PhD researcher currently living in the UK. 

Several major foreign rights offers are under consideration and more are imminent as part of the Hachette Spring Rights Festival, a recently revealed virtual fair planned by Hachette UK with participation by its sister companies worldwide, running from 8th to 26th March.