As part of our continuing coverage of the London Book Fair, we offer a variety of perspectives from the show floor.
Interview by Liz Bury
Lucy Luck, Literary Agent, Lucy Luck Associates
I come to London Book Fair to meet editors and to talk about books. With literary debuts it takes time to create a reputation and recognition. They’re difficult to sell. You may not talk about the book an editor ends up buying, but as an agent you need to understand where the books can go. It gives you an idea that people like a kind of book. The face-to-face meetings are what makes the rest of the year work.
We can follow up with emails, but it won’t replace the missed conversations and drinks in the evening. A lot of my fair is wandering and meeting people and making sure editors understand what kind of book Lucy Luck Associates does.
And it may affect the braver acquisitions. Editors find it hard to buy unless they can guarantee sales, but it can be helped by personal passion or knowing that someone has thought through how a book can be published.
You hope your books will find a publisher in lots of markets. Book fairs are about understanding the global book market — my appointments were with Dutch, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian and Spanish editors. It will make Frankfurt Book Fair more important this year definitely.
It gets to a point when you’ve sold your author in, say, 10 foreign languages and so all these professionals have recognized it. If foreign publishers start to hear about a book it feeds through to the booksellers and then to the market. Catherine O’Flynn’s first novel What Was Lost has been sold in 26 foreign territories; the second, The News Where You Are, is coming this summer.
There will be visits through London in the next couple of months, but it’s not the same and it’s a huge hassle for editors. I’m the primary agent and that’s why I come (Aitken Alexander handles foreign rights sales). It’s been really disappointing.