Q&A: Norbert Uzseka | Lex Copyright

In this series of articles, we profile our corresponding agents and their local markets in order to better understand the changes and challenges in foreign rights sales and the publishing industry in general. Hungary   Lex Copyright Office is a literary agency, started in 1990. They handle Hungarian language rights and exclusively represent companies such as Random House US, St. Martin’s Press, Jill Grinberg Literary Management, Taryn Fagerness Agency, to name but a few, in Hungary.   Q. Can you give a brief summary of the publishing industry in your territory presently (most popular genre, trends in publishing, digital vs. print, self-publishing etc.)? NU: Our market more or less follows the trends of the big and influential international markets. So, these days our bestseller lists (even if there’s lack of a central and separate bestseller lists that show all the collected sales from every distributor/book store) are comprised of YA, erotica, books by/about famous people/celebrities. As our market is quite small (our population is approx 10 million), it has some specialities. For example, if there’s a book on a special subject available in bookstores, it’s uncommon that there’ll be another one for sale at the same time. Our market is more or less ruled by three big distributors and bookstore chains. They also run their own publishing houses and labels, plus they battle with each other in the background, so these days being independent publisher in Hungary is full of challenges. Our digital market has just started (or will soon – hard to tell). You can buy many kinds of e-readers here, but you can’t buy Hungarian materials for...

Q&A : Stefania Fietta | Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale

In this series of articles, we profile our corresponding agents and their local markets in order to better understand the changes and challenges in foreign rights sales and the publishing industry in general. Italy   Founded in 1898, Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale was the first Literary Agency established in Italy and is now a family owned business. The Agency works on an exclusive basis in Italy for several foreign Literary Agencies and Publishers and acts as exclusive agent in Italy and abroad for dozens of renowned Italian writers. Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale promotes, among others, worldwide rights for Andrea Camilleri’s works published in Italy by Sellerio Editore.   Q. Can you give a brief summary of the publishing industry in your territory presently? SF: The publishing industry in Italy is going through dramatic changes. This is due to the economic crisis – the result of political inadequacies past and present. The consequences of which have meant a decrease in cash flow on the book market. In 2012, there was a loss of around 7% in turnover for businesses, with a further loss of 4% in 2013. This affects the entire productive chain of the industry so publishers, but also printers and book stores, are in distress. The reaction of publishers has been two-fold: on one hand, cover prices have been dramatically dropped, and the number of titles have increased. The result is a mass of short-lived, low-cost books, and the attempt to always replicate an earlier success. On the other hand many publishers, especially small and medium sized companies, have relaunched their backlist and have searched for forgotten or neglected masterpieces to...

Why enter into a sub-license agreement with a foreign publisher?

This week, I asked our Senior Advisor and Founder of the Agency, Mr. Claude Choquette an important question. When and to what extent is it beneficial for publishers to enter into a sub-license agreement with a foreign publisher of the same language? Here is his advice…. There has always been big players in New York, London, Paris, Madrid or Barcelona who have tried to obtain world rights for the original titles in their language. They distribute and sell their books in their own markets, either directly or via wholesalers to whom they give a discount of around 55%. Most of these publishing houses distribute their books in external markets via affiliated local wholesalers. In general, independent publishers have distribution agreements with local wholesale importers to whom they offer even greater discounts to cover transport costs. However, it nearly always works out better for these independent publishers to enter into sub-license agreements with local publishers in foreign territories. As such, they don’t have to invest in foreign stock and pay transport costs. If they enter into a sub-license agreement, they usually retain half of the royalties earned on sales abroad and the whole of the amounts payable for the signature of the sub-licence, a per page offset fee and/or a contribution to the plant cost ( the cost of the book’s development). These amounts paid do not involve any risk or investment and constitute a straight bottom-line profit for the original publisher. On the other hand, local distributors don’t appreciate it when publishers decide to withdraw their best-selling titles in order to enter into a sub-license agreement with a local publisher....

Q&A : Linda Kohn | Internationaal Literatuur Bureau

In this series of articles, we profile our corresponding agents and their local markets in order to better understand the changes and challenges in foreign rights sales and the publishing industry in general. The Netherlands   This month Linda Kohn of the Internationaal Literatuur Bureau takes the time to give us an insight into the current publishing market in The Netherlands. ILB has been in business for 65 years and is the oldest agency in the Netherlands. It is a family owned company and 
Linda is the third generation – it all started with her grandfather. Linda, like her father and grandfather, values and invests in partner-relation management. That means providing individualized services to fit
 the different needs of the agency’s small and big foreign and Dutch partners. Q Can you give a brief summary of the publishing industry in your territory presently (most popular genre, trends in publishing, digital vs. print, self-publishing etc.)? LK : European countries are suffering from economically difficult times. This has also effected the Dutch publishing industry. Dutch publishers used to belong to ‘avant-garde’. They made quick decisions and were internationally known for the nice amounts of money they paid to get rights for the Dutch market. In my opinion, the Dutch still have good taste, but are more careful in making decisions. Most of the Dutch publishing houses shrank their lists and this is effecting the international rights market financially. The e-book market is developing quickly. Nevertheless, it still has a low market share. The good news is that e-books are gaining popularity rapidly now. However, the price of the e-books, according to the Dutch reader,...

How to Sell Foreign Rights – Promotion

To maximize discoverability and eventually, profits, it is necessary to allow two different strands of promotion to run simultaneously – one focused on book sales and the other on foreign rights sales. Increase in general sales revenue The importance of selling foreign rights resides in the fact that it constitutes an important revenue stream for publishers and authors. It also achieves international acclaim which in turn reinforces the credibility and discoverability of literary works. Some genres lend themselves more to the foreign rights market than others, such as non-fiction titles in areas of business and personal development. However, there are many great initiatives taking place all over the world in translation and literary centres to support the translation and adaptation of literary works; fiction and poetry. Translation and Adaptation Many cultural institutions offer grants to cover translation costs and when this is the not the case, translation costs are traditionally covered by the foreign publisher. In April 2013, I attended what was to be one of the last public readings from Irish poet Seamus Heaney – an event which marked the opening of The Centre for Literary Translation in Trinity College, Dublin. Heaney was joined by 9 translators, each of whom had translated a selection of his poems into their native languages, which were then published in their respective countries. I was immediately instilled with a sense of pride stemming from that fact that poetry set in Ireland could be understood and enjoyed in different languages all over the world. It is an honour for me to be involved in the work our agency carries out to ensure the promotion of...

Foreign Rights – Management

A foreign rights agent or agency facilitates the publication of local titles in different languages and territories all over the world. Have you ever read a book by a Russian author, a French novelist or a Brazilian poet in English and wondered how you have been able to do so? Books do not grow legs and get themselves translated and published overseas! Someone has to work as an intermediary between publishers all over the world and that is where we come in. As I began writing this article, I suddenly had the image of the squirrels that populate the park opposite our office in the height of their productivity; collecting food and twigs, scurrying here and there to make sure the necessary is completed before the seasons change. I’d like to have a team of squirrels to assist me in the many ongoing and daily tasks that foreign rights management requires. Alas, I only have the support of my fellow team…which is thankfully more than sufficient to stay on top of paperwork and sales reports. As we’ve already mentioned, we act as an intermediary between publishers worldwide, enabling partnerships which bring fiction and non-fiction titles of great interest and importance to all parts of the globe. You may also be aware that many of the larger publishing houses have their own in-house foreign rights departments to handle this. However, we are still the most aptly positioned workforce to realize these partnerships a lot of the time and this is shown by our successful representation of some of the biggest players in publishing, HarperCollins, Wiley & HCI Books, to name...