Via today's (1/17/11) front page and Crain's New York Business...
Rock legend Bob Dylan has a new book deal—with his old publisher, Simon & Schuster.
The house, which brought out the singer-songwriter's 2004 best-seller Chronicles: Volume One, has reached a deal with literary agent Andrew Wylie for six books, according to several industry insiders. The books include two follow-ups to Chronicles and a collection of riffs from Mr. Dylan's radio show on Sirius XM.
The deal came after Mr. Wylie had spent months trying to drum up interest in the project among other publishers (see Crain's, Nov. 22), despite Simon & Schuster's insistence that it had the rights to any Chronicles sequels. “Wylie's contention was that S&S didn't own the "memoir,' because Chronicles was "nonfiction stories' from his life and not a memoir,” said the editor. But no house would bite because of the potential for a lawsuit.
Mr. Wylie had been looking for an eight-figure offer, according to another editor, who didn't know the deal's final value.
The agent did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A Simon & Schuster spokesman declined to comment.
So, here's what I think has happened, and let me preface it by saying it's all nothing more than wild-eyed speculation. But I think that Chronicles 2 is finished and, even as I write, is in the hot lil hands of the gnomes of S&S. I think what happened is that after Chronicles 1 turned out to be both a critical and public success, and with the accompanying success of both Patti Smith's and Keith Richard's non-fiction stor-, excuse me, memoirs
, that Mr. D.'s business people were dissatisfied with the terms of whatever deal they had originally cut with S&S, and were looking for leverage to renegotiate in their man's favor once the second volume was complete. Thus an anonymous source implies to Rolling Stone that Chronicles 2 is not a project he sees happening anytime soon, And thus, they send Mr. Wylie out into the wilds of the publishing frontier with the bundle of proposed books - one of which is possibly a completed Chronicles 2 manuscript - under his arm while S&S growled in the background that they would sue the buttocks off of any house foolish enough to publish either the TTRH "riffs" book, (which S&S almost certainly bought the rights to too in 2007), or any Chronicles sequels, and possibly even the poetry book too, which I wouldn't be surprised if they also had the rights to.
After much posturing and hoo-doo'ng, Mr. Wyle and S&S made up, Mr. D. got even more money if not the eight figures that Crain's claimed Wylie wanted and we can expect to see the TRRH riffs book, the poetry book and Chronicles 2 from S&S.
I'm basing the guess that Chronicles 2 is complete on the history of Chronicles 1. In October 2003, S&S announced that they had cut a deal with Dylan for his memoirs. Chronicles 1 was published almost exactly a year later, which if you know anything about the publishing industry is movement at lightspeed and implies that S&S had the (or at least a) manuscript in hand when they made the announcement. I'm guessing that all the kerfluffle around Chronicles 2 was because a completed manuscript exists and Wylie refused to turn it over to S&S without getting a new deal. The TTRH and poetry books were thrown into the mix just to lessen the sting... although there's probably bean-counters at S&S going, "So, we bought not only Chronicles but the TTRH book not once but twice?"
In any case, I think we'll see at least one - maybe as many as three - books out under Mr. D.'s name in 2011. Time will tell.