Agent Rosemary Stimola: Selling Rights to New Hunger Games Book

In News by Porter Anderson

Rosemary Stimola’s summer is about ‘reuniting the worldwide team’ that sold 100 million copies of the Hunger Games trilogy. One month after the new book was announced, the rights sales are flying.

Image – iStockphoto: Yasine Mir

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘We’ve Closed 20 Deals, More in the Works’
Since the release of the news on June 17 that Suzanne Collins has a new Hunger Games novel coming, agent Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio has been one of the hardest working women in the books business.

From her office across the Hudson from Manhattan, she’s overseeing rights sales amid the predictably euphoric reaction to the news that Scholastic will next spring publish the first new potential blockbuster in the franchise since Mockingjay was published almost 10 years ago.

And more than 10 months before the new book is to appear, Stimola tells Publishing Perspectives, “Well, needless to say, the announcement of the forthcoming novel by Suzanne Collins brings great excitement, attention, and flurry. And managing all the puzzle pieces and the confidentiality demanded by such a property is no small task.”

Currently going by its placeholder name of the Untitled Panem Novel, the new book is to be released by Scholastic on May 19, shortly before BookExpo in 2020.

As we’ve reported in association with Scholastic’s biennial Kids & Family Reading Report, the new book is a prequel to the wildly successful original trilogy.

Literary agent Rosemary Stimola, wearing her ‘Mockingjay’ pin

The novel will revisit the world of Panem, but 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, on the morning of the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games.

The Untitled Panem Novel will be published simultaneously in print, digital, and audio formats by Scholastic in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.  The deal was negotiated by Stimola for Collins and David Levithan, vice-president, publisher, and editorial director Scholastic.

“The original Hunger Games trilogy,” Stimola confirms to us, “has sold into 54 languages in 52 territories.”

In talking about the new prequel in the works, Collins has been quoted saying, “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

As some will notice, the sort of story arc that Collins is describing may arrive with special weight next May ahead of the 2020 American election cycle. It should be interesting to see what sort of resonance is found in the author’s concepts of reconstruction and “views of humanity.”

‘Managing All the Puzzle Pieces’

Scholastic’s placeholder cover art for the new Hunger Games prequel

At the moment, the faithful of the trilogy’s success are getting an early chance at the new work.

“Sub-agents,” Stimola says, “are giving our option publishers the courtesy of a brief period of exclusivity in which to offer. And in these first weeks,” she says, “we’ve closed deals with 20 of our publishers, with more in the works.”

And what’s top-of-mind in an operation of this magnitude?

“The main goal is to protect the work,” Stimola says, “to maintain a timeline, and ensure that all publishers have a final manuscript in sufficient time for them to translate, promote, and get their books to the shelves in each of their territories in a timely manner.” No mean feat.

Poster for Liongate’s 2012 ‘The Hunger Games’

And with the four films having pulled in almost $3 billion since Gary Ross’ first one for Lionsgate went to cinemas in 2012, we were curious about rights sales for the new book’s development for screens.

After all, in the years since the two Mockingjay films from Francis Lawrence for Color Force (Part 1 and Part 2) were released in 2014 and 2015, completing the cycle, the streamers have made enormous strides in market presence and the channels available to a powerful property like a new Collins work are expanding.

Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, in response to our inquiry notes that they “have been communicating with Suzanne during the writing process and look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”

And here, with our thanks to Stimola, is the list of sales made to date.

Territory Language Publisher
Germany German Oetinger
Czech Republic Czech Albatros Media
Denmark Danish Gyldendal
Estonia Estonian Tanapaev
Finland Finnish Werner Soderstrom Oy
France French Pocket Jeunesse
Brazil Portuguese Editoria Rocco Ltda
Greece Greek Psichogios Editions
Hungary Hungarian Agave Konyvek Kft
Iceland Icelandic Forlagid
Indonesia Indonesian PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Israel Hebrew Kinneret Zmora Dvir Publishing House Ltd
Norway Norwegian Gyldendal Norsk Forlag
Poland Polish Media Rodzina Sp. z o.o.
Russia Russian AST Publishers
Slovakia Slovak Albatros Media Slovakia s.r.o.
Spain Spanish RBA Libros S.A.
Spain Catalan Grup Editorial 62 S.L.U
Sweden Swedish Bonnier Carlsen Bokförlag
The Netherlands Dutch Uitgeverij Unieboek | Het Spectrum bv

For her part, Rosemary Stimola’s busy summer, she says, is taking her back to the first time around.

“In many ways,” she tells Publishing Perspectives, “we’re reuniting the worldwide team behind the original trilogy as we return to an earlier Panem and gain insights into the years and events that led to the games we’ve come to know–and the rebellion ultimately sparked by Katniss Everdeen 64 years later.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more from us on Scholastic is here, and more on rights is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.