What is your biggest success story of the past few years?
My biggest success story is very recent. J.S. Scott has written a fabulous erotic series titled The Billionaire’s Obsession, and we have sold world Spanish rights to Santillana after a heated auction between the major publishing groups in Spain and Latin America. As we speak, Brazilian and Portuguese rights are free but they won’t be for long! We have strong interest in this author – dubbed the next E.L. James – as her books have consistently sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
What is the greatest challenge you currently face in selling rights?
The greatest challenge is very simple and very hard at the same time: finding the perfect publisher for the book. For that, you must be very familiar with the market you are selling rights in, and know very well all the publishers and what they are looking for at any time, so that you can be there at the right time with the right book. But not only that, you have to capture their attention, bearing in mind that they receive hundreds of emails and dozens of calls every day. So an agent also needs to have a streak of the designer inside, and a love of presentations: I work very hard on mine, and make sure the information is attractive, visual, fast, and easy to read and digest.
Which international markets offer the greatest opportunities right now?
Of course, world English rights will always be the starting point for me, as this will be the strongest area in terms of volume and advances paid. But right now, the Latin American area is brimming with new and established publishers who are eager to find new titles, so I would definitely say that is one of my priority markets. Brazil has been growing very fast in the past few years as well, and I think it offers great opportunities, if you know on whose doors to knock. And of course China: this is a huge market with staggering figures, and although it may be a bit hard to work your way through it at the beginning, at the end of the day, it pays off immensely.
What do you consider essential “best practices” as an agent?
I am convinced that the best practice as a literary agent is always, always to be straightforward with your author or your client: I will be very upfront about the publishers that are on the table in a specific auction, explaining their characteristics and assets to my clients. That is the best way for my represented clients to make the best decision possible, and my goal is to help them do that, and get them the best deal possible. In terms of dealing with publishers, I would apply the same logic: an agent needs to have credibility when approaching a publisher, and the best way to build up trustworthy relationships is by being very clear about what you are offering.
Melanie Rostock is an agent at the K Literary & Film Agency. Founded in 2013, the agency represents authors, agencies and publishers of all genres of fiction and non-fiction. They have strong relationships in the film and television business and are experts in dealing with the entertainment industries of North America, Europe and Latin America.