Rights Updates from Agencies: Berlin, Istanbul, Cologne, London

In News by Porter Anderson

‘June is bustin’ out all over’ in rights deals, it seems, and we look at some of them here, as part of our monthly Rights Edition.

Off to a bracing start: How much can a brand-new agency like London’s Casie Mushens Ltd. do for clients in its first six months? Quite a lot, it turns out. Image: CaskieMushens.com

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

When we asked agencies how their rights ledgers looked after the spring trade shows, several came back to us with news of what’s selling. Here’s a sampling.

Cologne: UnderCover Literary Agents

Alexander Dobler at UnderCover Literary Agents tells us of several titles in play in his shop.

Elia Barceló’s El Color Del Silencio is a novel that already is a bestseller in Spain, he says, with more than 30,000 copies in print. It’s set in the 1930s in the Canary Islands and in 1969 in Rabat, Morocco.

With murders in both time periods, the book is set against the Spanish Civil War and the first moonwalk.

Rights sold to:

  • Germany (Piper)
  • The Netherlands (Querido)

Jorge Bucay’s Quiero (I Want) is only 67 pages long and described as “a beautiful small text about love and friendship, in 13 short sentences that work as an everyday guide to a fulfilled and happy relationship with your partner.”

Originally published almost 20 years ago, Quiero is said to be a favorite among students and here is in an extended edition with Bucay’s extended texts illustrated by Argentine artist Gusti.

Rights sold to:

  • Germany (Fischer)
  • Greece (Opera)
  • And new deals are being closed, says Dobler, in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, bulgaria, and Romania.

‘The Greatest Story Ever Written,’ Vol. 1 in the Spanish original series

And Edward Berry’s The Most Wonderful Story Ever Written series on many days at UnderCover might seem like one of the bestselling sets of children’s books ever offered, too.

In promotional descriptive copy, we read, “The most wonderful story ever written has been lost. Even worse: Its heroes, villains, fantastical creatures and ink seem to have fallen into classics such as Peter Pan and The Three Musketeers, ruining them forever.

“Alba and Diego will have to clear up a sinister literary crime, together with the mysterious brotherhood of the bookkeepers.”

‘The Greatest Story Ever Written,’ Vol. 2, with its German cover

Rights have been sold to:

  • Spain (La Galera)
  • Greece (Metaixmio)
  • Germany (Thiele)
  • Turkey (Domingo)
  • France (Flammarion)
  • Portugal (Presenca)
  • Italy (Giunti)

Dobler also mentions Jesus Cañadas’ Las tres muertes de Fermín Salvochea (The Three Deaths of Fermín Salvochea), its story described as involving “three suburban children chasing the monsters of an atmospheric turn-of-the-century Cádiz, together with some of the world’s most famous vampire hunters of their time.

“A literary fairy tale. Admission only for adults.

Rights sold at auction in Spain to Roca Editorial.

UnderCover Literary Agents will be at Table 7G at Frankfurt Book Fair‘s Literary Agents and Scouts Center (LitAg).


Istanbul: Kalem Agency

Nermin Mollaoğlu’s team from the Kalem Agency has returned from BookExpo in New York, announcing that “the hot book of the summer” is Letters from a Turkish Cat by Oya Baydar, with a “complete gorgeous English translation available.”

This cat is no kitten. It was first published in 1993 and has more than 50,000 copies of sales so far, with what Kalem says is 13 reprints and the Yunus Nadi Award.

“Described as a book in the tradition of The Guest Cat, Baydar’s book is called by Kalem, “a poetic and philosophical novel narrated by 10 cats connected by family and friends. They confess to each other their hopes and dreams, desires, and fears and ponder the state of mind of their human owners.

“This novel illuminates the minds of cats and mankind in a most original and profound way.  It’s a book for all cat lovers especially but it’s also a work of literary accomplishment for readers of all ages.”

Rights have been sold to:

  • Albania: Fan Noli
  • Arabic: ASP
  • Bulgaria: Lettera, 2014
  • Hungaria: Libri, 2012
  • Italy: Clandestine
  • Macedonia: ILI-ILI
  • Urdu: Jumhoori, 2015

Kalem is also showing off a new German cover of Saygin Ersin’s Pir-i Lezzet (The Pasha of Cuisine). “This is the story of a boy born in the royal palace as a prince,” reads the promotional copy. When 5 years old, the boy “manages to survive one of the most brutal palace massacres in Ottoman history.

“When it’s discovered that he has a knack for cooking, he’s taken under the wing of the leading chef of the time….This is the story of Ottoman Palace cuisine, which became one of the world’s greatest culinary traditions and the skilled cooks, vast storerooms, colossal stoves, clattering knives, and endless plots and jealousies that made the imperial kitchen famous.”

Rights have been sold to:

  • Arabic: Atlas
  • Bulgarian: Prozoretz
  • English: Arcade
  • German: Hoffmann und Campe, Atlantik
  • Polish: SQN

Berlin: Michael Gaeb Literary Agency

From Andrea Vogel at Literarische Agentur Michael Gaeb, we learn that Mexican author Fernanda Melchor’s Temporada de Huracanes (originally published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial) is seeing good action, first with Italy’s Bompiani Giunti Editore and next with France’s Grasset at auction.

Melchor, who is also the author of False Hare, “explores in this work,” promotional copy says, “the unreason that underlies the most desperate acts of barbaric passion.” The setting is described as a place “harassed by misery and abandonment, where the violence of the darkest eroticism and sordid power relations converge.”

And the bestselling Viennese author Marc Elsberg (Zero) now is in the States’ market with Blackout, from Sourcebooks.

Sourcebooks’ US cover

Elsberg’s thriller is about a case in which “terrorists take out the electrical grids across Europe and the United States,” per promotional copy, and Sourcebooks created a #BlackoutChallenge campaign around the book’s release, soliciting consumer votes for their bookstores.

Vogel reports that in the UK, Penguin Random House’s Transworld has made a two-book deal for both Zero and Elsberg’s Helix.

In Hungary, Animus has acquired Zero, and Elsberg has now sold 2 million units in Germany.


London: Caskie Mushens

At the top of the year, agent Juliet Mushens, formerly with United Talent, and Robert Caskie, formerly senior agent and COO at Peters Fraser and Dunlop, joined forces to create Caskie Mushens Ltd., their own agency.

Mushens had risen to a bright level of visibility in her work on commercial fiction and nonfiction, notably representing Jessie Burton, James Oswald, Claire Douglas, and others. Named a Bookseller Rising Start in 2012, she was shortlisted as Agent of the Year in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Caskie established Ipso Books within Peters Fraser and Dunlop, becoming one of London’s publishing agents and a representative both of authors and journalists, with Julie Burchill, Monty Don, Sarah Winman, and Celia Imrie on his list, among others.

Publishing Perspectives asked just how much rights action a small, brand-new shop like Caskie Mushens Ltd. can turn in its first six months, and the agency’s Nathalie Hallam kindly obliged us by getting some numbers for us.

In a quick overview, Hallam tells us, the six-month-old agency has accomplished:

  • 17 UK book deals, including four debuts;
  • Two ghost writing deals;
  • Two US deals;
  • Three film/TV deals;
  • 30 translation deals; and
  • One column deal.

Naturally, being Publishing Perspectives and focused on all things translation-rights related, we asked for a breakdown of those 30 translation deals. Hallam kindly came back with details.

Libby Page

Foreign rights have sold into an impressive 20 territories for the debut The Lido by Libby Page–coming in March 2018 from Orion, no cover art yet. It’s described as “a joyous novel about community, love, friendship, and outdoor swimming.”

The deals so far:

  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Holland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Korea
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Slovak
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey

In addition, Hallam has these translation deals to report for Caskie Mushens, all as yet without cover art:

  • Serbian and Taiwanese deals for Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land, bringing the total to 23 territories for this Sunday Times bestseller;
  • Swedish rights to The Sisters by Claire Douglas;
  • Dutch rights to New York Times bestselling author Taran Matharu’s Summoner trilogy;
  • German rights to The Vagrant trilogy by Peter Newman; and
  • Hebrew rights to Ross Armstrong’s bestselling The Watcher.

Clearly, nobody at Caskie Mushens has made a slow start of it.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.