SPOTLIGHT: THE INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING TEAM TALK FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR 2017
The Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 took place 11-15 October. At the fair, our International Publishing Team works tirelessly to market the translation rights of our clients in overseas territories, and to support the international publication of their work. We caught up with the team to find out more about this year’s event.
What is the Frankfurt book fair all about?
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest rights fair in the world with the most international publishers in attendance – it’s the most important event in our calendar. The purpose of the fair is to find international publishers for our clients’ works and to sell translation rights; it’s the opportunity to meet our existing publishing partners and nurture those relationships, and also to meet and establish new contacts. We create a rights guide to showcase our authors and ahead of the fair we submit this electronically to over a thousand global publishing contacts. Then at the fair, in typically half hour meetings throughout the course of the day, we meet with editors to pitch titles which we think could be a great fit for their list.
What is your team’s strategy when you have a book that is attracting a lot of international attention?
Our strategy is always to find the right international publishers, which doesn’t always mean accepting the highest offers we receive. Our goal is to build long term international partnerships for our authors with publishers who have suitable lists and experience, and editors who feel passionate about the books. When a title is attracting a lot of attention we want to take advantage of this to create a buzz and make sure it reaches as many people as possible. This is what is great about the fair, people are talking about books all day and if they’re excited about a book on our list then they’re likely to tell their friends and colleagues. Good news travels fast! We might set deadlines to receive offers within a week so that we can start negotiating as soon as we get back in the office, or on some occasions we might accept pre-emptive offers there and then at the fair which indicates to other publishers that they need to act quickly. We also share news and information with scouts who help to spread the word.
What is the continued purpose of these events in such a digital world?
Relationships are key in the publishing industry. In order to build effective working relationships, it is so important to meet the people who we are emailing frequently. Pitching our client’s titles face-to-face can be so much more powerful than by email, it’s a much more personal approach. It’s about being involved in the industry and keeping up with publishing trends – there’s something quite special about bringing together professionals from around the world united by the same passion. It’s also a good opportunity to bring together different international publishers who are all publishing the same title so that they can share ideas for publication in their specific markets.
Did you glean any new publishing trends or ones to watch?
There seems to be a current trend for mindfulness titles linked to nature – lots of books about trees! Many of the editors we met were looking for narrative non-fiction from strong female voices. Publishers are always on the lookout for something different in this area with a special twist on the topic that will engage readers in a new way. And of course, people are always looking out for strong, well-written and original YA, something which we love to sell. Ultimately, originality and quality of writing always sells.
What do you enjoy most about the fair?
As we have such an eclectic list of titles to sell, it’s wonderful that the topic of our conversations can range from very serious to very light-hearted within the space of 5 minutes!