Friday, April 17, 2015

A Beginner's Guide to Bologna --thoughts from Brooks

So, my colleagues Heather and Gemma have both shared their insights on the Bologna Children's Book Fair (here and here), an annual event famous for its parties, decadent dinners, and international publishing camraderie. Publishing friends have been telling me for years now that I had to check out Bologna. This was the year I finally bit the bullet, bought the airfare, and reserved my room, to find out what all the fuss was about...

Okay, Bologna, in one word: Overwhelming. The day you fly in, the publisher Random House hosts a cocktail party for the visiting publishing people. There are delicious meats and cheeses and lots of wine and prosecco, and so many people you've spoken to on the phone or by email but never before met in person. But you can't enjoy yourself TOO much, because you've got to be up at 6am the next day in time to have a strategy breakfast meeting with your colleagues Gemma and Molly, before you hail a taxi to take you to the fair. It all starts out so quiet:

But don't be fooled! This place gets packed real fast. Thousands of agents, editors, publishers, scouts, publicists, marketing directors, art directors, authors, illustrators, and tourists will arrive this first day to check things out. Here's what it looks like on the floor, where publishers from every corner of the globe have set up booths displaying the books they're most excited about:

Meanwhile, we agents are squirreled away in the aptly named Agents' Centre, where we will spend the next three days in back-to-back meetings (9am-6pm, with occasional bathroom breaks) with co-agents from other countries, scouts, and editors, pitching our agency's frontlist — that is, our clients' most recent sales and books launching this year:

Now while the nonstop pitching is certainly exhausting, I found it fascinating (and incredibly rewarding) to be able to pitch my clients' projects in person to foreign editors, see what they were and were not interested in, and more importantly, why. After all, what works as a trend or a concept in America doesn't necessarily translate or hold the same appeal in other countries!

After the close of business each day, then there are the parties and dinners out all over town. Not exactly a requirement of the job, but you'd be foolish not to take advantage of the amazing Italian cuisine or enjoy a simple walk through this beautiful, historic city.

And then, after a whirlwind of four days, where you've spoken so much to so many people you may have literally lost your voice (sorry, Gemma!), the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2015 is suddenly over and it's time to fly back home...or in my case, to Amsterdam, for the SCBWI Europolitan conference. In retrospect, I do question the wisdom of signing up for a writers' conference immediately following the intensity of an international book fair, but was my first time. And hopefully not my last!

If you'd like to hear more about the Bologna Children's Book Fair, or my experiences there, I'd be happy to chat! Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter: @byobrooks.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Deal announcement: Kat Ellis's PURGE sold to Firefly Press

Congratulations to my terrific client Kat Ellis, whose sharp, sexy YA science fiction novel PURGE has sold to Firefly Press. Not a bad year for Kat, I'd say -- her thriller BREAKER sold in January, and her debut BLACKFIN SKY launched last year. Can't wait to see what the rest of 2015 brings for her!

April 14, 2015 - PURGE by Kat Ellis
International rights: UK Children's
BLACKFIN SKY author Kat Ellis's PURGE, in which a 17-year-old struggles to conform in a cult-like community that represents his last hope for escaping a dying world, to Penny Thomas at Firefly Press, for publication in Fall 2016, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency(World English).

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bologna 2015 --a post by Gemma

My colleague Heather Flaherty blogged about the nuts and bolts of what goes on at the Bologna Book Fair last week, and now I’m going to share some of my personal impressions and lots of photos. 

It’s a well-known fact that I love the Bologna Book Fair. Yes, I might moan on Twitter about the many late nights of preparation for the fair, and the long days once we get there (and this year, about the lack of toilets in the agents centre), but really the four days I spend in Italy every year are my absolute favourite. 

This year I was lucky enough to attend the fair with TBA colleagues Molly Ker Hawn and Brooks Sherman. This is the third fair for Molly and me, so we quickly slip into a familiar routine that makes the long days not feel like work at all. This was Brooks’ first Bologna, and he’ll be posting a blog next week about his impressions. Stay tuned! 

Gemma, Molly and Brooks

During the fair, we set up home in the agents centre, which is like a big shared office space – rows upon rows of tables for agents from around the world, including friends from the U.S. and elsewhere whom we only get to see once a year at the fair. For four days we all get to almost work together - chatting around the water cooler, grabbing coffee, drinks, lunch, gelato, all while talking about books! What’s not to love?

The agents centre

The other fantastic thing about Bologna is getting to catch up with our brilliant co-agents and meet the foreign editors who have bought our books over the last year. Our co-agents have the most contact with these editors on a day to day basis, but at Bologna we get to meet them and wax lyrical about our mutual love for our clients’ books.

Molly and Barbara Konig, German editor of THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLES HOUSES
Fiammetta Giorgi and Xavier d'Almeida, Italian and French editors of REBEL OF THE SANDS

Talking foreign editions of clients books, on our first day Molly and I found a gorgeous Italian bookshop near the Piazza Maggiore, and I was very excited to see an Italian copy of Katy Cannon’s LOVE, LIES & LEMON PIES – the Italian title translates as ‘The Ingredients of Happiness’, which is adorable!


The agents centre is where we spend the most time, but we also do get to walk the halls and nothing makes me look like more of a rabid tourist than spotting my clients books on publishers’ stands. This year Bloomsbury went all-out with a giant poster showing a sneak peek of the WITCH SWITCH cover (the sequel to WITCH WARS) by Sibeal Pounder. Also spotted were books by TBA clients Kat Ellis, Felicia Chernesky, Ruth Fitzgerald, Mo O’Hara, Katy Cannon, Sam Hay and Sam Watkins.
Sneak peek at Sibeal Ponder's WITCH SWITCH cover! (Bloomsbury - illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson)

Sam Watkins CREATURE TEACHER (OUP - illustrated by David O'Connell)



Mo O'Hara's MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH (Macmillan - illustrated by Marek Jagucki)

Felicia Chernesky FROM APPLE TRESS TO CIDER PLEASE (Albert Whitman - illustrated by Julia Patton)


Kat Ellis' BLACKFIN SKY (Running Press)

There didn’t seem to be a ‘book of the fair’ this year, and no overall trend came to the forefront. Lots of conversations revolved around good writing rather than trends, and that has to be a good thing. It was also pleasing to hear about middlegrade being requested more in translation.

And so that was Bologna 2015. The best of times was had, and I for one can’t wait until 2016! 

The Bookseller did some great fair round ups: click, click

And so did PW: click, click, click.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All About Book Fairs, from Heather

Hello everyone!  As you might know, this week we wrapped up the Bologna Book Fair!  So, we thought it would be handy to give a little insight as to what happens at these international book fairs, in advance of Gemma’s more detailed report next week. These fairs (the biggies being Bologna, London, and Frankfurt – with others cropping up and growing around the world as well) are used for all aspects of publishing (sales, publicity, exposure, finding representation, etc.), but mainly are a way for the international publishing industry to do some heavy lifting when it comes to foreign sales –sales for translation into other languages.

Big houses, medium houses, and small houses in every country will attend the event, along with loads of agencies (especially from the US and the UK), to meet with contacts they can’t see on a regular basis, due to the rather large bodies of water or land masses in-between. Foreign-rights deals go down throughout the year, but these fairs still remain the pinnacle of selling books overseas.  The buzz and excitement of showing-off your authors bumps sales up during the fair.  Due to the hoopla, there are always a few books that wind up being heatedly fought over for the right to translate – and thus, the hot books of the fair are born!

So, who is attending these meetings when it comes to foreign-rights?  Mainly editors from all over the globe will meet with foreign-rights people(representing both publishing houses and agencies) from different countries, to see what books they’re selling and hopefully buy translation rights, to what they think will do well in their territory, or even be the next big hit internationally.  Schedules are thusly packed to an intense degree, starting at breakfast, and continuing with half-hour meetings throughout the days of the fair, and then pushing on into drink meetings in the early evening, dinner plans later on, and finally desert or disco. (Yes, disco happens. And no, it’s not pretty).  Sleep doesn’t happen for about a week, but who needs sleep when there’s proper espresso around every corner?

Throughout the fair, when you’re not in a meeting, you’ll find cocktail parties, dinner parties, quick coffees, hotel drinks, gelato runs, cheap convention food, and even a shared bottle of water, to bring people together to talk about books.  Each fair has a tone of its own, a feeling – Bologna is one of my faves.  It’s fun, lively, set in an ancient walkable town, and fully packed with beautiful books and gorgeous illustrations that absolutely crush you.

In an age where books are bought and sold globally throughout the year thanks to email, phone, and Skype, I think it’s a solid salute to the book industry that these traditional yearly meet-ups still exist.

Stay tuned for more details about this year’s meeting in Bologna!