28-year-old Annebel Steadman is the lawyer who wrote a children’s book that earned at least 22 million kroner even before it was published. “Skandar and the Unicorn Thief” is now published simultaneously in 29 countries.
This is Gildendale’s biggest investment in a children’s book in at least the five years I’ve worked here. Editor Pål Stokka at Gyldendal says it’s the translated book we’ve had the highest expectations for many years ago.
He secured the Norwegian rights to a so-called pre-emt (pre-tender cutting a potential bid round) even before it became known how much the English publisher had put on the table.
Sometimes you just realize there’s something extra here. I got the text at the same time as the English publisher – and was so confused by what I read that I threw myself.
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This was already in 2020. Only now will the book be published when it is published simultaneously in 29 countries next week. In many of these countries, there were big bidding rounds, and in the home of first writer Annabelle Steadman, these bids took off in full:
She got seven figures in pounds, which is at least one million pounds, which is the equivalent of more than 11 million kroner, for the rights to the book.
This is the UK’s highest-grossing children’s book ever. It’s about the industry’s search for a new phenomenon, and there’s a huge appetite to create the next big thing — and publishers are willing to spend big when it comes to something that stands out, says editor Pål Stokka.
According to the publisher, writer Annabelle Steadman also received a seven-figure sterling payment when Sony bought the film rights to the book. This is a total of at least 22 million kroner.
– The height of the falls can be great?
– Yes, it is always there when you have such advance sales and prospects. For Gyldendal, it’s mostly about the fact that we’ve bought the rights to a book that’s very interesting to work with and that we hope many kids will discover and enjoy. Then we’ll see if this is the phenomenon the industry thinks it could be, says Stokka.
In “Skandar and the Unicorn Thief” we meet 13-year-old Skander Smith who wants to become a unicorn rider.
The only thing Skander wants is for you to become one of the lucky few who hatch rhinos, bond with this rhino for life and fight together for glory and become a hero. But then it gets dangerous: a dark enemy has stolen the most powerful rhinoceros, and Skander discovers a secret that could change the world forever.
Behind this story is 28-year-old lawyer Annabelle Steadman from Canterbury, England. to Watchman She stated that she “got completely crazy” after the publisher seized a large amount of the rights.
“I just: It’s not happening, it can’t be happening, it’s not real,” she told the Guardian.
Already in 2013, she wrote the idea for the book about Skander, but put it aside to work as a lawyer.
There was no place in my mind for anything other than work and the issues that came up. Then I finally thought I didn’t want to do this forever, so I quit, she told the newspaper.
The amount that the Norwegian publisher had to pay for the Norwegian rights to three books on Skander was nowhere near the English amount.
– We don’t comment on such things, but we got away with cheaper than the seven-figure sum, yes, says Stokka.
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