Rights Roundup: The Midway Point at London Book Fair

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

From the Nordic-lifestyle parody of ‘Pantsdrunk’ to the darkly courageous revelations of the aftermath of rape in ‘I Will Find You,’ there’s range in both content and rights availabilities here.

Clockwise from upper left, authors whose work is represented in this rights roundup are Joanna Connors, Rupert Stadler, Michelle Marly (by Sally Lazic), Miska Rantanen (by Heidi Piiroinen), Håkan Nesser, Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, Anne Frasier (by Sharyn Morrow), and Jesse Ball (by Joe Lieske)

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

Robust Trading

With London Book Fair in full swing, we start its “middle day” with one of our series of rights roundups comprising several titles to watch for, from publishers and agencies large and small, and from many parts of the world.

Here’s literary work, mystery, Nordic-lifestyle parody, nonfiction, and historical romance—and with notes on stands or International Rights Center table locations at London Book Fair.

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.

As in each roundup, today’s uses the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors. We edit that sales copy 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.


Census by Jesse Ball

Publisher: HarperCollins / Ecco
Rights contact: Szilvia Molnar, Sterling Lord Literistic, New York (30E, 30F)
Reported rights sales:

  • Australia and New Zealand: Text
  • Catalonia: Encyclopedia Catalana / Rata
  • China: Beijing Mediatime
  • France: Le Seuil
  • Italy: NN Editore
  • Korea: SoSo Books
  • The Netherlands: Querido
  • Spain: Encyclopedia Catalana / Rata
  • Turkey: Everest
  • UK: Granta

“When a widower receives notice from a doctor that he doesn’t have long to live, he’s struck by the question of who will care for his adult son—a son whom he fiercely loves and a boy with Down syndrome. With no recourse in mind, and with a desire to see the country on one last trip, the man signs up as a census taker for a mysterious governmental bureau and leaves town with his son.

“Traveling into the country, through towns named only by ascending letters of the alphabet, the man and his son encounter a wide range of human experience. While some townspeople welcome them into their homes, others who bear the physical brand of past censuses on their bodies are wary of their presence. As they approach Z, the man must confront a series of questions: What is the purpose of the census? Is he complicit in its mission? And just how will he learn to say good-bye to his son?

Census is a novel about free will, grief, the power of memory, and the ferocity of parental love.”


Autonomous Driving: How the Driverless Revolution Will Change the World by Andreas Hermann, Walter Brenner, and Rupert Stadler

Publisher: Emerald Books (6G36)
Rights contact: Becky Taylor, rights executive, Emerald
Reported rights sales:

  • South Korea: Hanbit Biz
  • Germany: Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch

“As the technology and engineering behind autonomous driving advances, this book explores the latest technical advances and the economic, environmental and social impact driverless cars will have on individuals and the automotive industry.

“Acceptance of driverless cars relies on more than just the technology that delivers it; in this book the authors consider the shift in attitudes required for social acceptance and a move toward considering cars one aspect of a wider mobility solution.

“In addition, a clear demand is arising from gridlocked megacities across the globe. Autonomous driving offers a solution for the high pollution levels and management of the transport infrastructure where current methods are proving insufficient in places of high population density.

Rupert Stadler is CEO and chairman of AUDI AG. His co-authors are Andreas Herrmann and Walter Brenner of the University of St. Gallen.


Mademoiselle Coco and the Scent of Love (Mademoiselle Coco und der Suft der Liebe) by Michelle Marly

Publisher: Aufbau Verlag GmbH KG, Berlin
Rights contact: Inka Ihmels, Aufbau Verlag GmbH KG (11e)
Reported rights sales:

  • Italy: Giunti
  • Brazil: Tordesilhas (pre-empt)
  • Serbia: Laguna
  • Hungary: Kossuth
  • Bulgaria: Emas

“In 1919 France, Paris is wearing Gabrielle Chanel’s designs. Coco, as she’s called, is renowned for her refusal to compromise when it comes to style or love. Her fashions are revolutionary. She’s considered a byword for elegance, no restrictive corsets necessary.”

The accidental death of her lover, the English polo player Arthur “Boy” Capel, plunges Chanel into grief. Seeking comfort, she has a liaison with Igor Stravinsky, but it’s not until she decides to commemorate the love of her life with a new fragrance that the designer finds new energy.

“Her search for the right scent leads her to find inspiration in the perfume of Catherine the Great, and she meets Dmitri Romanov, a Russian duke in exile who feels as lost as she does … as she creates Chanel N° 5.”


The Living and the Dead in Winsford (Levande och döda i Winsford) by Håkan Nesser

Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag
Rights contact: Eleonoora Kirk, Bonnier Rights, Stockholm (15H, 16H, 5N)
Reported rights sales:

“The Danes have hygge. The Swedes have lagom. The Finns have kalsarikanni or pantsdrunk: drinking home alone in your underwear.”

This is a parody response to the other Nordic lifestyle fads, from Finland, which considers itself the odd one out in the Nordic family. This is the country’s own “edgy and unique path to the good life: solitary relaxation, recovery, and self-empowerment: the “tremendously popular” pantsdrunk method.

“The book is great fun, but it does have a real element, in pointing out that you don’t need to work hard to achieve the perfect environment or state of mind to be able to wind down after a long day’s work or enjoy a moment of your own. You can just lie back, decide to leave the stress for the night and find the relaxation within yourself.” 

The book was released in February.


The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer, USA (7F50)
Rights contact: Jodi Marchowsky, Amazon Publishing, USA
Reported rights sales:

  • Slovakia: Ikar
  • China (Simplified Chinese): Shanghai Literature & Arts
  • Czech Republic: Euromedia
  • Germany: Heyne (at auction)
  • Hungary: Konyvmolykepzo
  • Turkey: Destek Yayinlari

In this Thriller Award winner for best paperback original novel, detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world for three years. “Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning his every line, every movement, and every flicker of thought is what kept her alive.

“After her experience with isolation and torture, she’s left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead.

“Despite colleagues’ doubts about her mental state, she resumes her role” in the homicide division.  “Her new partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, doesn’t trust her sanity, and he has a story of his own he’d rather keep hidden. But a killer is on the loose, murdering young women, so the detectives have no choice: they must work together to catch the madman before he strikes again.”


Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

Publisher: She Writes Press
Rights contact: Gregory Messina, Linwood Messina Literary Agency, Paris
Reported rights sales:

  • France: Les Escales
  • Germany: Goldmann

“Becca Meister Fitzpatrick—wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community—is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition, until she discovers that her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up 50 years ago.

“The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel—with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship—will react.”

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg began her career on Wall Street and later worked in strategic planning at Federated Department Stores in Cincinnati before making her way to Boston, where she worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School. This is her first novel.


I Will Find You by Joanna Connors

Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Rights contact: Lauren E. Abramo, Dystal, Goderich and Bourret, New York City
Reported rights sales:

  • US: Atlantic Monthly Press
  • UK: Fourth Estate
  • Slovakia: Absynt
  • Czech Republic: Albatros
  • Spain: Errata Naturae

Author Joanna Connors, at age 30, a journalist with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “was on a review assignment at a college theater,” according to the publisher’s material on the book, “when she was held at knifepoint and raped by a stranger who had grown up five miles away from her.

“Once her assailant was caught and sentenced, Joanna never spoke of the trauma again, until twenty-one years later when her daughter was about to go to college. She resolved then to tell her children about her own rape so that they could learn and protect themselves, and she began to realize that the man who assaulted her was one of the most formative people in her life. Setting out to uncover the story of her attacker, Connors embarked on a journey to find out who he was, where he came from, who his friends were, and what his life was like.”

Connors’ work for the Plain Dealer from her experience was given the Columbia University’s Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma.


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

Publishing Perspectives’ Spring Magazine is focused on inclusivity and diversity. It’s ready here for your download as a PDF, and is available in print at London Book Fair.

In it, we’ve asked publishing people how we can make our industry and the books we publish reflect increasingly diverse populations in many countries. And we’ve asked them to articulate why this is important to publishers, readers, and society at large.

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.