Frankfurt Book Fair’s Rights Professional of the Year: Michele Young, Pan Macmillan

In Feature Articles by Erin L. Cox

By Erin L. Cox | @ErinLCox

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, Michele Young, and Mariella Frostrup, BBC

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, Michele Young, and Mariella Frostrup of the BBC

Earlier this month, at The British Book Industry Awards, Michele Young, Children’s International Rights Director for Pan Macmillan, was announced the Rights Professional of the Year, an award sponsored by Frankfurt Book Fair.

The British Book Industry Awards, created and hosted by The Booksellercelebrate “the greatness of the British book trade and the people behind it – the best books, the best writers, the best bookshops, the best publishers.”

With Young credited for a sharp rise in business in 2015 and a keen eye for identifying profitable licensing deals with Pan Macmillan’s backlist titles, the judges said, “Her deals range from big markets to languages no one has heard of, and the way she constantly finds new rights business for old titles is amazing.”

Publishing Perspectives followed up with Young after her win to get some insight into her take on global rights and the future of the industry.

Publishing Perspectives: In 2015, you increased the subrights business at Pan Macmillan by a third, to what do you attribute that increase?

Michele Young: Since my arrival at Pan Macmillan in September 2013, the Children’s Rights department increased its focus on sub-rights and co-editions, looking at all areas of the backlist as well as newly acquired titles.

With my team’s fluency in more than 10 languages and expertise selling rights across the world, we were able to easily identify the trends that would work well internationally and agents quickly became confident that Macmillan Children’s Books had one of the best teams of rights professionals in the industry. This enabled us to acquire more rights and in turn sell more.

PP: How do you identify backlist titles that you might focus on for translation, film, or licensing deals?

MY: This is all down to our in-depth knowledge of local international markets. If we know that there’s a particular type of book that works well in certain countries we mine the backlist to see if there’s a fit.

PP: Which market (or markets) do you see as the most promising in the next year and why?

Michele Young

Michele Young

MY: The US and Europe have always been strong markets and look to continue to be so. One of the interesting things about working in rights is constantly monitoring changing markets across the world for opportunities.

PP: You’ve been lauded for your pursuit of non-book rights. Does the type of licensing deal depend on the story or character? If so, how do you determine what will work best for each book?

MY: It always comes back to the story.

PP: What do you see as the future of the rights market—expanding to new territories, new types of media or licensing deals, or something we haven’t yet thought of?

MY: We always look toward finding new territories as there is always growth potential there. As the publishing industry continues to explore “beyond the book,” this also gives us exciting new opportunities.

About the Author

Erin L. Cox

Erin L. Cox is the Business Development Director for Publishing Perspectives and a Senior Associate at Rob Weisbach Creative Management, where she represents writers and handles publicity and advertising clients.