Literary Agent Q&A: Sedef Ilgiç, Kalem Agency in Turkey

In Global Trade Talk by Hannah Johnson

As part of our ongoing series of Q&A’s with the world’s leading literary agents, scouts and rights managers, Publishing Perspectives talks to Sedef Ilgiç, a literary agent at Kalem Agency in Istanbul, Turkey.
Sedef Ilgiç, Kalem Agency in Turkey

Sedef Ilgiç, Kalem Agency in Turkey

What is your biggest success story recently?

We are always happy when the long lists of several prizes are announced and we represent most of the lists! For instance, we represent Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Birgit Vanderbeke, and others from the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long list. We receive exciting news such as this every day.

Kalem also represents many English language titles; the success of these titles might be defined by finding a publisher who wishes to continue with an author’s entire bibliography – as with Mark Billingham, for whom we had a 14-title-deal!

What is the biggest challenge you face in selling and acquiring rights?

Sometimes we represent a worldwide bestseller, for instance Jonas Jonasson, but it doesn’t sell very well in Turkey, even [if] we have placed it with a good house. These cases can be tough to explain our co-agency.

Another challenge is when we sell one title of an author’s collection to a publisher, but the Turkish editors [at different publishers] insist on acquiring the rights of other titles [directly], especially when the author has earned some prizes. We believe that placing a title with the right publishing house is more important than a big advance in most cases.

Over the last five to ten years, how has the digital revolution changed the rights business?

Turkish publishers have not started to earn money from ebooks so far, and for this reason, it is still a slow-growing market for us. We have only started to acquire ebook rights for the publishers and to renew some of the old contracts.

Sedef Ilgiç is an agent at the Kalem Agency, where she represents domestic publications and fiction. The Kalem Literary Agency represents numerous renowned Turkish authors and also works as a sub-agent for publishers and literary agencies abroad.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.