IFOA International Visitors Meetings: What’s going on in foreign markets?

At the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) International Visitors (IV) programme in Toronto Monday I had meetings with 13 industry professionals (editors, agents, and scouts) from around the world. Following the meetings was a publishing panel discussing co-publishing and featured a keynote from Stephen Rubin from Holt. The International Festival of Authors brings together the best writers of contemporary world literature for 12 days of readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings each October.

What’s going on in foreign markets?

Brazil: Books are now being sold in supermarkets which is a great for commercial publishing. Only big titles are being picked up by supermarkets, like here. Door-to-door catalogue book sales are big in Brazil because not everyone has a computer. A Brazil company has its own line of ereading devices, they do not use Kindle or Kobo at this time. Publishers are looking for YA and next year the Brazilian government is going to buy tablets for every student, so expect the ebook market to take off very soon!

China: They still have government restrictions on what they can publish. I heard conflicting reports about piracy in China. One report said it was a big issue and the other said it was becoming less of a problem. While it is in publishers best interest to report little piracy, it is still ongoing.

French Canada: They are looking for shorter works of fiction and nonfiction, not lengthy tomes.

U.K.: U.K. publishers have had great success with movie tie-ins like ‘One Day’ and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. The books that work in the U.K. that are big are often pop-culture or humour related and aren’t transferable to North American readership. U.K. publishers don’t ‘Anglicize’ American fiction and vice versa.

U.S.: Hardback sales are down 17%, trade paperback sales are down 17%, mass market paperback sales are down 15%, but ebook sales are up 153%. However, print still dominates 75% of the market. U.S. publishers are looking for authors that can repeat their success with multiple books on their list. They are looking to publish less authors and keep their lists lean, but to put more behind them. U.S. editors are still looking to foreign markets to publish in translation. They are still taking chances on debuts. Continue reading IFOA International Visitors Meetings: What’s going on in foreign markets?

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Life and Times of an Associate Agent Part II

On Friday I posted Part I of this series on the role of an associate agent featuring how I came to my current role as Associate Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency. Today I want to write about what I have learned in my role thus far.

  • The P.S. Literary Agency at Book Expo, NYC May 2011.

    Value of international conferences and book fairs. If you work in the business or know a bit about how it works, you’ll know that senior members of the industry and rights personnel attend international book fairs and many members of the industry as a whole attend conferences. While you need to be comfortable via email and phone there is no comparison to meeting your colleagues face to face to chat about catalogues and what they’re acquiring. This week I’m at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto speaking with industry professionals from Brazil, China, French Canada, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

  • There are no guarantees. What you think might be a hit, might surprise you and vice versa. It’s a subjective industry that deals with changing interests and trends. That’s what makes it fun, a challenge, and exciting all at the same time.
  • Trends are not enough. Agents cannot follow each trend as it ebbs and flows, we have to love the work and clients we represent. A longterm relationship like representation is not a flash in the pan while trends are hot. We ride out trends, try to create new ones, but have to believe in the merits of our authors whether they are ‘on trend’ or bordering the cusp of one.
  • Get comfortable with the phone. Agenting does not exist in a bubble. There are so many relationships to manage and email is not enough.
  • Your time is not your own. When I was an assistant I read everything I could get my hands on. Now, I have to be selective with my time and what material I can invest in. My time is my client’s time and I am not able to offer feedback and critiques on every query, partial or full manuscript I look at. Continue reading Life and Times of an Associate Agent Part II