Category: Rights

Frankfurt Book Fair

7 tips for success at Frankfurt Book Fair

Thérèse Coen is Rights Director at Hardman & Swainson, and has worked in Translation Rights, both in Publishing and Agencies. She currently divides her time between reading books for Frankfurt, preparing meetings for Frankfurt, sending out books pre-Frankfurt, talking to other rights people about Frankfurt and dreaming about Frankfurt being over. So here are her top tips for success at Frankfurt.

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Exciting new chapter in Paddington’s history announced at Bologna Book Fair

Vivendi, who took full ownership of the Paddington brand worldwide in 2016, and HarperCollins Children’s Book, home of Paddington Bear publishing for sixty years, presented today a ground-breaking, six-year deal for world publishing rights at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the most important professional trade show dedicated to publishing and content for kids.

Paddington Bear is one of the most widely recognized and beloved children’s literature characters, with millions of fans all over the world. Studiocanal’s Paddington was the best-selling non-Hollywood family movie ever released and the brand ranks among the top five most influential franchises in family entertainment.

The deal marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Paddington’s history forming a powerhouse partnership of media and content creation that will introduce Paddington to a new generation of readers on the global stage. Launching with a movie tie-in programme, co-published by HarperCollins US and UK, to coincide with the Paddington 2 movie this autumn, the partnership creates a strategic alliance of heritage and future vision which will establish a worldwide brand loyalty for Paddington Bear and reach and entertain families across the globe.

Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Sarah Harvey is Senior Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan* where she sells translation rights around the world. She has previously worked in Rights at Hachette, Quercus, and HarperCollins. She is a big fan of Europe and will be accepting marriage proposals from anybody with an EU passport.

As the dust begins to settle in our brave new Brexity world, Sarah Harvey tells us that cultural exchange is more important than ever.

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Top 5 skills you need to survive a career in domestic rights

Jenna Brown is Rights Executive at Bloomsbury Publishing where she handles domestic rights. She’s also currently writing a young adult novel (all queries welcome!)

1) Organisation

Failing to plan is planning to fail!

In rights, there’s so much going on, if you’re not properly organised you’ll soon end up cowering under your desk, drinking a bottle of last year’s Christmas party vino.

Organise your emails into folders, label everything, and basically just keep everything really tidy. I try to clean off my desk at the end of every week, so I start Monday morning fresh. Prioritise and be prompt!

2) Negotiation

The first Rights Director I ever worked for always encouraged us to ‘add a zero’ to any offer we received. She was kidding, of course. (At least I think she was…I’ve never tried it, but feel free to give it a go if you’re brave.)  But the point is, you should always be willing to negotiate. Start high. But know when to come down. And it should go without saying, but really know your market and your product. If you believe in a book, you can sell it.

3) Communication

I’ve always thought that one of the best things about being in Rights is that you get to work with all of the other departments in your company. Everyone from production to the post room. Not to mention all of your customers and clients and Authors and Agents. Be inquisitive! Never be afraid to ask questions. There really is no such thing as a stupid question. Always be polite and pleasant. Have respect for everyone you come in contact with. Remember that you’re an ambassador for your company and that what you say and do is a reflection of who you work for.

4) Flexibility

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

It might be the unofficial motto of the US Marines, but sometimes I think they must have stolen it from a Rights person. Get creative! Think beyond fees and advances. What can I do to make sure we get the best possible deal for this title and for this author?  Can I secure ad space in lieu of a fee? Or maybe a book offer? Be willing to try something different or to go the extra mile. Who knows? That crazy idea of yours just might work.

5) A Sense of Humour

This is more of a general life skill. You’ve got to keep your sense of humour. I’m a firm believer that the power of laughter can get you through almost anything:

  • That one Editor who always calls you ‘Brenna’
  • The URGENT request for 50 images that arrives at 5:29pm on a Friday
  • The heavy breather phone calls from no one in particular about nothing to do with Rights
  • The 2 hour meetings that could have been a couple of three line email.

Grab a biscuit and a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and laugh. Then get to work.


Translation Fund for Scottish writers – open for applications

The fund, administered by Publishing Scotland, is designed to encourage international publishers to translate works by Scottish writers.

The new round for 2016/17 is now open. There will be 2 rounds, with the first deadline being Friday 12 August 2016.

A second round will be announced prior to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2016.

The Translation Fund was launched on 25 August 2015 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Its purpose is to support publishers based outside the UK to buy rights from Scottish and UK publishers and agents by offering assistance with the cost of translation of Scottish writers. The funding will be received in the form of a grant.

Priority will be given to the translation of contemporary literature, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, writing for children and graphic novels. Assessment criteria will also include the merit of the work to be translated, financial need of the publisher, track record of publisher and translator, and the proposed marketing plan. An expert panel will meet twice a year to assess applications

For an application form and the terms and conditions, visit the Publishing Scotland website – deadline for applications Friday 12 August 2016.

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#LBF16: Britain’s Got Publishing Talent

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on The London Book Fair 2016.

Spring is in the air and what better place to be than London, especially when you have a huge book fair on your doorstep. Celebrating its 45 year anniversary, The London Book Fair remains one of the primary global marketplaces for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.  This multi-media approach is something reflected not only by the fair but also across the whole industry.

We saw the majority of the UK publishing arena move away from the long-standing electronic versus print debate some time ago, but this still gives rise to the new age question of how to best maximise the value attached to all forms of content. At LBF the Tech Zone and cross-media areas will certainly be sections which are bound to generate a great deal of interest. And these are obviously ones in which we will be spending a good amount of time in, amongst others, and engaging with a range of people regarding potential licensing opportunities.

Taking a glance across the entire seminar programme, it’s a positive sign to see lots of events covering licensing, rights and translations.  Education and knowledge remain key components in maximising revenues across these areas and I hope these sessions will be of great value for publishers to help them further increase their licensing bottom lines. It’s also good to see authors at the heart of the fair with the Author HQ demonstrating LBF’s role in acknowledging the changes being seen throughout the industry and the increased prominence attached to author related activity.

Looking briefly at the UK publishing landscape, after a few challenging years we are in the midst of a period of relative stability. With increased stability comes renewed optimism, and with renewed optimism comes innovation and even growth within key areas. 2016 has already generated a wealth of business opportunities and events such as LBF mean we can engage face-to-face with the key players in a variety of areas to further maximise any available opportunities.

The UK remains at the heart of publishing world. As such it will be good to see the spotlight shining brightly on a wealth of exceptional smaller presses as well are the largest publishers, all of which continue to nurture some exceptional titles and work hard to champion the best of British talent.

literary agent

On being a literary agent at book fairs: Ella Kahn interview

Ella Kahn is co-founder and literary agent at Diamond Kahn & Woods, where she represents a wide range of children’s and YA fiction, and adult fiction and non-fiction. She was a winner of the inaugural The London Book Fair Trailblazers Award 2016, and on The Bookseller’s Rising Stars list in 2013. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) Which titles do you hope to sell this year at LBF?

I have a couple of very exciting debut novels on submission at the moment. One is a middle grade fantasy adventure with incredible voice and atmosphere; the other is a sci fi space opera with an epic plot and a gutsy heroine. We’ll also be focusing on selling the international rights for the titles we’ve recently placed in the UK, in conjunction with our foreign rights agents at ILA. On the adult side I have Becoming by Laura Jane Williams, a ‘survive and thrive’ heartbreak memoir publishing with Hodder & Stoughton in June; and City of Good Death and its sequel City of Buried Ghosts by Chris Lloyd are fantastic police procedural novels set in Catalonia, Spain published digitally by Canelo. On the children’s side, I have new projects from David Owen and Vanessa Curtis, both of whom were Carnegie-longlisted for their previous books Panther and The Earth is Singing. The Fallen Children by David Owen (Atom, Spring 2017) is a dark and provocative contemporary YA/crossover novel inspired by John Wyndham’s classic The Midwich Cuckoos; and The One Who Knows My Name by Vanessa Curtis (Usborne, Spring 2017) is a historical YA which explores the secretive and disturbing legacy of the Nazi’s Lebensborn programme.

2) What is the best approach to take when selling at a book fair?

It depends on the project. Sometimes I’ll have sent a book out on submission before the fair so when I meet editors I already have an idea of who’s keen on the book and I’m updating everyone on the progress so far. Sometimes I’ll pitch a new project at the fair so I can whip up enthusiasm before I send the manuscript out afterwards. And we’ll be telling international editors about the buzz for projects already sold in the UK – publicity, awards, exciting events planned and so on. We have a rights guide with information about all the titles we’re pitching to show to editors, which we find really useful for giving them a flavour of the book.

3) What advice would you give agents on preparing for a fair?

Start preparing well in advance – we had the majority of our meetings scheduled by the end of February – and be targeted about who you want to meet. It’s a pretty obvious thing to say, but focus on the people you think are most likely to be interested in the projects you’ve got to pitch at that time; even with the fullest possible schedule of over 50 meetings in three days, it’s not possible to meet every editor in town! The same goes for putting together the rights guide – we always end up making last minute tweaks as sometimes you can’t be sure until a week before the fair whether a project will be ready to pitch, but the further in advance you can start compiling and editing, the less stressful the week before the fair will be – and your sub-rights agents will appreciate it too!

4) What are the most effective ways to get a submission in front of an agent?

Simple: read the submission guidelines on their website and follow their instructions. We read all our submissions if they fit our guidelines, and a little bit of research about our taste goes a long way. It can also be worth attending literary festivals and author conferences where agents offer one-to-one pitch feedback sessions – I’m doing an event like this at The London Book Fair called ‘The Write Stuff’ as part of their Author HQ programme. Writing groups such as the London Writers Café also offer opportunities to meet agents and get their feedback on your work.

5) What are you currently looking for as an agent?

I’m particularly keen to build the adult fiction side of my list at the moment. I’d really love to find some wonderful historical fiction, as this is a genre I read a lot in – I adore authors like Tracy Chevalier, Anna Hope and Jessie Burton. Some more science/speculative fiction would be fantastic too, something pacey and fun with a clever and ambitious premise. I’m also starting to develop my non-fiction list with wonderful memoir authors Laura Jane Williams and Meg Fee, and I’ll never be able to resist really great YA and children’s fiction if it’s high-concept, plot driven, and has exceptional voice.


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Intellectual property is a serious subject

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on the importance of IP and copyright to publishers now.

Intellectual property (IP) and copyright have become big name terms in recent years. The rise of unlicensed digital file sharing, combined with subjective interpretations of what the concepts mean, has led to furious flurries of opinion on the subject, emphasising the divide between artists, consumers and industry leaders.

Artistic license is often a phrase wielded with abandon but, back in the real world, if you’ve just built a wall is it right for someone to claim that they built it? Of course not. So if a comedian comes up with a joke is it right that someone else can claim it as theirs? The immediate response would be no. But has the aforementioned comedian patented or copyrighted the joke? Or do they think it’s their joke but it’s actually one that someone else may have already come up with it, or at least a version of it. There lies the grey area. Let’s break this down further. Does that mean it’s wrong to tell a joke down the pub or to friends over dinner? The simple answer is no, unless you claim the joke for your own. But who’s to say it isn’t anyway?

This is one of many examples of how complex intellectual property can be. It’s no joke to be ripped off and this serves to underline just how vital it is for authors and publisher to fully understand the rights they own to their works. And how understanding them correctly can lead to maximising the income revenue streams across a range of IP.

All businesses, whether large or small – no matter what the sector, are in possession of a range of IP which may have the potential to be extremely valuable. Some may consider this area of the market to be less flexible or less prone to change than others but, in light of recent Government proposals to fast-track changes in copyright legislation which are set to have “devastating consequences” for the design publishing industry, this is not always to case.

As such it remains vital for all publishers to keep fully abreast of any developments in the IP/copyright fields and equally important is the speed required to implement all the necessary tools to keep pace with any transformations which may be in the pipeline.

Countdown to The London Book Fair

This is a guest post by Isheeta Mustafi, Editorial Director at RotoVision in Brighton.

RotoVision is part of The Quarto Group’s co-edition arm, so rights fairs like London Book Fair are basically what we plan our calendars around. It involves a fair few months of preparation and although it can be a hectic time fuelled by a lot of hard work, I still (this is my 7th one) really enjoy the buzz of creativity in the weeks that lead up to it.


This is when we start getting our admin ducks in a row. We have systems in place from previous fairs so its quite easy to sort out standard things like packing lists, boxes, paper orders and so on. On the creative side though, this time is all about schedules and forward planning.


The start of the month is usually a flurry of emails arranging meetings, and then the prep goes up a few gears for the creative teams compiling the huge amount of presentation material that we use.


Four weeks suddenly feel more like two! We (I) have been known to dramatically complain about the inconvenience of the Easter break but really, the extra days of holiday go a long way to recharge our batteries before the final push.


1 week to go

The office is like a little hive now. There’s a small mountain of boxes collecting by the doorway. Frantic typing, frequent muttering, colourful language directed at the printer, and copious quantities of tea and biscuits are our mainstays. Theoretically, we should be reviewing and making minor amendments to our presentations but, in reality, we’re nearly always running behind. Some late nights occur. Our Publisher will order in pizza, sometimes there’s beer. The casual observer may notice the gentle sound of spreads being trimmed to the beat of the Rocky theme tune.

Two days to go

We’re packing up the last of the material, proofing our presentations and checking meeting notes. The focus is now entirely on the three days of back-to-back meetings to come.

The day before

I love the before-and-after of book fair set up. At 5:00 in the evening, it’s still a mess of duct tape, wiring, boxes and bubble wrap; and the next morning you come in to a complete transformation. The carpets are laid, the boxes have disappeared and everything looks so shiny! The exhibition teams do an impressive job and it all comes together like a massive jigsaw. The high-octane days ahead are a culmination of months of hard work that really reflect the passion that goes into publishing. I can never resist a proud photo of our books gleaming away on the shelves.

We’ll sometimes make time for a quick revision session with the rights teams, and then—for me, at least—an early night.

I’m sure every team has their own magic formula but my top five tips would be:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Plan ahead
  3. Plan ahead
  4. Prepare for your plans to go wrong
  5. Buy a new printer.


Isheeta spends her days making books on art, lifestyle and design and has been doing the book fair boogie since 2010. She’s on Twitter and Instagram as @IsheetaM. For more on Quarto, follow @TheQuartoGroup and @QuartoKnows

skills for publishing

Getting found in translation

In 2015 there was a much needed push for works in translation. In October Amazon announced it was making a $10m (£6.5m) investment in AmazonCrossing as a “commitment over the next five years to increase the number and diversity of its books in translation”.

According to an article in the Guardian late last year, ‘How Amazon came to dominate fiction in translation’, 2016 will see AmazonCrossing publishing Pierced by the Sun, the new novel from the Mexican author of Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, as well as Jesper Bugge Kold’s Danish Book Forum Debut prize–nominated Winter Men. Plus the award-winning Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski’s Rage, the 2014 winner of the Glass Key for Scandinavian crime fiction Gard Sveen’s The Last Pilgrim, and a number of Indonesian writers, including Abidah El Khalieqy, Nukila Amal and Laksmi Pamuntjak. It has also translated fiction into German for the last three years, started translating fiction into French earlier this year, and has recently announced its first translations into Italian.

This reflects some positive strides within the translations market and, from our experience here at IPR License, we are seeing more and more international publishers both eager to sell their existing works for translation and secure the rights to relevant titles.

A question we are often asked by smaller publishing houses, enticed by the idea of this particular market, is where and how do other publishers discover such works.

Well, this can happen in a variety of ways.

It could be by word of mouth, a conversation or observation at a book fair, a tip off from a translator, a glance across an international bookshelf or from an online platform showcasing works from around the world.

Finding an interesting title is only the beginning. There are then a number of relevant conversations at be had and questions to be asked, such as:

  • Is the title available in my language/market of choice?
  • Has it already been translated into any other languages and was it successful?
  • Could I source a suitable translator?
  • Where can I secure the rights?
  • Can we sell it?

These questions illustrate that acquiring works for translation isn’t always straightforward, and that’s even before the sales process. However, thanks to technological advances it has got easier. Challenges do remain but there is growing evidence that 2016 will be a year in which more works in translation will come to fore.

Seven tips for powering through permissions

After spending the past few months sourcing over 90 works of fiction, non-fiction and art for inclusion in Wellcome Collection’s new anthology, States of Mind: Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness, I’ve learned a few tricks about acquiring copyright permissions. Here are my top seven tips:

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skills for publishing

2016: A license to innovate

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on rights and licensing in 2016.

The advent of any New Year tends to generate numerous calls to action from many sectors within the business world, so why should the publishing industry be any different?

2015 was, by and large, a positive year which saw some significant growth across many areas of the market. Looking forward, some of these sectors will be coming under increased pressure and the impact of such will provide plenty of interest within the industry and beyond.

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skills for publishing

Publishers implanting technology both inside and outside their businesses

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on technology, rights and licensing. 

October was, as expected, a busy month for the business. We had the pre, during and post Frankfurt Book Fair activity to deal with and we were also heavily involved in the Digital Book World (DBW) spotlight series that focused on rights solutions.

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