Author Gets 6-Figure Deal as 13 Publishers Fight for Rights to Novel Inspired by Black Lives Matter Movement

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Photo by Nabil K. Mark for Centre Daily Times/TNS

After a massive bidding war, author Angela Thomas’ book, The Hate U Give, will be one of the first novels to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Thomas sold her book for an undisclosed six-figure deal to the Balzer + Bray imprint of HarperCollins.

The Black Lives Matter movement has permeated the public consciousnesses and inspired stories about the issues of the justice system and police brutality in comic book form, television shows, pieces of art — including photography — and books.

According to Publishers Weekly, “after a heated auction among 13 publishing houses, including all of the Big Five, Donna Bray of HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray imprint acquired Thomas’s debut novel, The Hate U Give. While Bray declined to disclose the financials of the deal, per house policy, knowledgeable sources told PW it was a six-figure deal.”

The book features a Black female lead named Starr, who is trying her hardest to manage her life and to navigate life in a poor neighbor. She is trying to get out of her community by attending a prestigious private school that would offer her a new range of opportunities, but her life changes after witnessing a cop kill one of her close friends.

 Author Angela Thomas. Photo by Kehinde Gaynor
Author Angela Thomas. Photo by Kehinde Gaynor

“I was struck from the very first pages,” co-publisher Donna Bray of Balzer + Bray told Publishers Weekly. “What an accomplished debut. [Thomas] painted a picture of this girl, this family, and this community in such an authentic way that I rarely see in YA literature.”

Thomas began writing her debut novel in 2011 as a student at Belhaven University. It was meant to be a short story, but as time went on she realized that the story was much bigger and needed to be novelized.

“What society feeds into youth comes back later and kicks society in the butt,” Thomas told Publishers Weekly. “These kids who are being blamed for their own deaths are still kids.”

Thomas’ passion for justice and ending police brutality is the driving force behind the book. She hopes others would see that message.

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