Rights Roundup: Titles That May Rock the Rights Center at London Book Fair

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Our latest spring rights deal roundup ahead of the London Book Fair includes a Korean suspense novel sold into 8 territories, an ‘intentional living’ manifesto sold to 22 territories, and a Swedish thriller with 16 deals so far.

Clockwise from upper left, authors whose work is a part of this rights roundup are Johan Theorin, Amy Harmon, Jérôme Colin, You-Jeong Jeong, Kristina Ohlsson, Ryder Carroll, Minna Rytisalo, and Julia Fine. Kristina Ohlsson image by Anna-Lena Ahlström; Minna Rytisalo photo by Marek Sabogal

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

Stockholm to Seoul: Season’s Greetings

As many in the international industry travel to London Book Fair, we have a new edition today of our rights roundup, which includes titles some that agents, scouts, and publishers will be talking about this spring.

Our Spring Magazine, which you can download here, also has a rights roundup, as well as many listings of available rights of the season from IPR License.

And we start with a leading mystery and suspense author, Johan Theorin, turning to children’s books with the debut of a new series from Sweden. We also have what we think is a significant debut—so impressive to its Big Five publisher (HarperCollins) that its author, Julia Fine, is being sent on an 11-city tour. And then there’s Jérôme Colin’s tale of youthful rebellion from Belgium, as seen not by the resistant kid but by his parents.

As always, we appreciate agents and rights directors providing us with their deals information, and we’ll put together more rights roundups with more deals going forward. Once again, it’s the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors we’re editing here to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone.

If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.


The Battle for Salajak (Slaget om Salajak) by Johan Theorin

Publisher: Bonnier Carlsen, Sweden
Rights contact: Federico Ambrosini, Salomonsson Agency, Stockholm
Reported rights sales:

  • Czech Republic: Moba
  • Estonia: Eesti Raamat
  • Hungary: Scolar
  • Iceland: Ugla
  • Norway: Gyldendal
  • Sweden: Bonnier Carlsen

In suspense and mystery, Johan Theorin is among Sweden’s foremost writers, best known for his Öland Quartet series that’s been translated into more than 30 languages. The Jarmaland Chronicles series is his debut in children’s books, and follows a tale for middle-grade readers set in 14th-century Sweden. The Battle for Salajak is the first of a planned four books in the series, which features themes of love, hate, death, respect, diversity, revenge, brotherhood and friendship.

The Battle for Salajak is to be released in May, with the series’ second installment to follow in January.


Buried Lies (Lotus Blues) and The Lies We Tell (Mios Blues) by Kristina Ohlsson

Publisher: Piratförlaget
Rights contact: Julia Angelin, Salomonsson Agency, Stockholm
Reported rights sales for Buried Lies and The Lies We Tell: 

  • Czech Republic: Zlin
  • Denmark: Modtryk
  • Finland: WSOY
  • Germany: Blanvalet
  • Hungary: Animus
  • Iceland: Forlagid
  • Italy: Salani
  • Korea: Bookrecipe
  • Latvia: Janis Roze
  • Norway: Gyldendal
  • Poland: Prószynski
  • Russia: Corpus
  • Slovakia: Ikar
  • Slovenia: Mladinska Knjiga
  • Sweden: Piratförlaget
  • UK & Commonwealth: Simon & Schuster

‘The Lies We Tell’

Kristina Ohlsson’s new series features defense attorney Martin Benner, and the author, according to the publisher, “turns her eye to the sleek but venomous world of lawyering, where some of Sweden’s sharpest women and men vie for prestige, money, and power. Life may seem posh and sexy, but for Martin Benner, the polished exterior is about to buckle under the case brought by the mysterious Bobby T, who needs help locating his missing nephew and vindicating his sister Sara.

“The only problem is, Sara ‘Texas’ Tell is a self-confessed killer who recently took her own life after escaping custody. But as Martin starts pulling at loose ends, the narrative given by the police and the media quickly unravels. He’s soon dragged headlong into a nefarious game where no one seems to be willing or able to tell the truth.”

Ohlsson formerly worked for the Swedish secret service and ministry of foreign affairs, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She won the 2017 Crimetime Specsavers Award for children’s crime fiction.


The Battlefield (Le champ de bataille) by Jérôme Colin

Publisher: Allary Éditions, France
Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Literary Agency, Ojai, California
Reported rights sales:

  • The Netherlands: De Besige Bij (pre-empt)
  • Italy: Stile Libero/Einaudi (pre-empt)

This is described as a story of teen anxiety as seen from the view of the parents, a couple “pushed to the breaking point by the repeat offenses of their 15-year-old son. War has broken out, they’re not ready, the school gives up, the father spins out of control, the mother tries to calm the crisis.

Jérôme Colin is a Belgian journalist with RTBF, for which he hosts two televised talk shows. His first novel, Avoiding Tolls, was published (also by Allary Éditions) in 2015. And Colin knows tht when kids grow up, “they stop seeing you as perfect, and that can be hard to take.”


From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/Lake Union Publishing, USA
Rights contact: Alexandra Levenberg, Amazon Publishing, USA
Reported rights sales:

  • Portugal: 2020 Editora
  • Albania: Living Publishing House
  • Czech Republic: Euromedia
  • Israel: Ahavot
  • Italy: Newton Compton
  • Netherlands: Mozaiek
  • Spain (World Spanish): Principal de los Libros

In this story set in Italy in 1943–when Germany occupies much of the country and the Jewish population is in critical danger–Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco have been raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two fall in love. But the faith calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

“Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva in a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church. But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe.”

Amy Harmon’s books have been translated into 18 languages. Originally from Utah, the bestselling author (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today) has written 13 novels.


What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

Publisher: HarperCollins (release date: May 8)
Rights contact: Stefanie Diaz, rights director, Greenburger Associates, New York City
Reported rights sales:

  • USA: HarperCollins

Julia Fine’s debut is described as “darkly funny” and an unusually original novel that will be welcomed by fans of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia! 

The tale is about “a highly unusual young woman who must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia.

“Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her more as an experiment than a daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood.

“What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women. But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him.”

Fine teaches writing at DePaul University and is based in Chicago.


Lempi by Minna Rytisalo

Publisher: Gummerus
Rights contact: Urpu Strellman, Helsinki Literary Agency
Reported rights sales:

  • Germany: Hanser
  • Lithuania: Alma Littera
  • Norway: Pax

Lempi is described as “a novel with a singular voice about love, the thirst for life, happenstance, and fate.”

When war breaks out, “Viljami leaves for the front, and Lempi, who is carrying her first child, stays behind with a maidservant. When the war soon ends, everything has changed, forever.”

The publisher writes that author Minna Rytisalo “writes with a timeless but completely fresh and controlled language as she describes the tragedy that’s the turning point in the lives of three people. In the end the book shows how the main characters of their own lives are just supporting characters in the lives of other.”

Rytisalo, whose Lempi is her debut, is a highschool teacher who was shortlisted for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize, the Runeberg Prize, and the Lappi Literature Prize. The book won the Blogistania Finland Prize.


The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rights contacts: John Maas, Celeste Fine, Szilvia Molnar, Sterling Lord Literistic, New York City
Reported rights sales:

  • Brazil: Companhia das Letras
  • Catalania: Columna Ediciones
  • China: Beijing United Sky
  • Czech Republic: Jan Melvil
  • Denmark: Rosinante
  • Finland: Otava
  • France: Fayard
  • Germany: Rowohlt
  • Italy: Mondadori
  • Japan: Diamond Inc.
  • Korea: Hanbit Biz
  • The Netherlands: AW Bruna
  • Norway: Gyldendal
  • Poland: Otwarte
  • Portugal: Lua de Papel
  • Russia: Eksmo-AST
  • Slovakia: Ikar
  • Spain: Planeta
  • Sweden: Volante
  • Taiwan: CWM
  • Turkey: Dogan Kitap
  • UK: HarperCollins

Based on his Bullet Journal organizational system, Ryder Carroll’s book is described as “a manifesto for ‘intentional living,’ making sure that your beliefs and actions align.”

The book includes “new exercises to become more calm and focused, new insights on how to prioritize well, and a new awareness of the power of analog tools in a digital world.”

Carroll is an art director based in Brooklyn, a digital product designer who has worked with Adidas, American Express, Cisco, IBM, and HP.


The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

Publisher: EunHaenNaMu Publishers, South Korea
Rights contact: Barbara J. Zitwer Agency, New York City
Reported rights sales:

  • USA: Viking / Penguin Random House
  • UK: Little, Brown / Hachette
  • France: Picquier
  • Italy: Feltrinelli
  • Spain: Random Penguin Spain
  • Finland: Like
  • Germany: Unionsverlag,
  • Czechoslovakia: Dobrovsky

Described as The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed, You-Jeong Jeong’s The Good Son is referred to by agent Barbara Zitwer as a “K-thriller,” an example of Korean suspense.

In The Good Son, according to Viking Random House copy for its June 5 release, “Early one morning, 26-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home–he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night.

“Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?”


Submit Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and rights directors, send an email to Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com including the following information:

  • Name of Book (with a link to its page on your agency’s or publishers’ site)
  • Name of Author
  • Original Publisher
  • Name of agent or rights director
  • Name of agency or publisher and in what city it’s located
  • Territory/Language and publisher to which you’ve sold the rights in this format: Country: Publisher
  • Previously sold rights, if any (territory and publisher)
  • Cover image, if available, of the book
  • Author image, if available
  • Descriptive copy about the book from your listings

More of Publishing Perspectives’ rights roundups are here. More on London Book Fair is here. And Publishing Perspectives is hiring: see information about our search for a marketing and business development manager here.

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.