Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meanwhile, Across the Pond...

Question of the week: Can you explain what happens at the London Book Fair? It seems it's all I've been reading about this week.

Um, sure, if I can! I'm not sure that I have a complete understanding of the entire situation, but I'll do my best. The London Book Fair, along with the Frankfurt Fair, are the two biggest forums in which publishers sell foreign rights to, well, foreign publishers! From what I understand, here's what happens:

A publisher, in my case, the Shaye Areheart imprint at Random House, starts generating buzz about a book to foreign publishing houses long before the actual fair. Book sales are often all about buzz, so they try to get as much momentum going into the fair as possible. Once at the fair, they sit down with various representatives and contacts and push the book even more. Though a lot of deals used to happen at the actual fair, these days, from what I understand, most of what happens is an attempt to generate enthusiasm and excitement, and the actual offers for the books come about in the subsequent weeks. Which means, for sure, I'm biting down my nails in anticipation.

(Also, having attending BEA last year (Book Expo America), I can tell you that from what I imagine, LBF is really whirlwind of socializing, networking and hobnobbing. It's also really freaking tiring. I was completely wiped out after one day at the event.)

That said, foreign rights sales can happen at any time, which is exactly what happened for The Department. I'd just get a random out-of-the-blue email from someone at Harper's subsidiary dept saying, "We're thrilled we got an offer from X...do you accept?" And duh, obviously, I always did! But don't be fooled into thinking that foreign sales will make you rich: most of these deals are for probably (this is based on nothing scientific, only an estimated guess) less than 20k, and most for much less than that. AND, unless you've earned back your advance, you won't see a dime: they just get added into the overall tally of your sales and earnings until you've crossed that lucrative line.

So tell me, anyone else have inside scoop on LBF? Or foreign rights insights in general?

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