Border Crossings: A Rights Roundup for a Stay-at-Home Season

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Trending somewhat toward the noir this time, our rights deals come from France, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the States.

Authors and illustrators whose work is represented in today’s Rights Roundup are, top row from left, Arttu Tuominen; Gabriele Tergit; Slimane Kader (under the helmet); and Elina Backman. On the lower row from left, Luanne G. Smith, Julia Donaldson; Lydia Monks; and Johanna Mo

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Fiction, Nonfiction, and a Children’s Book
In our first Rights Roundup of July, we have an interesting mix of titles with strong rights sales records and some that are earlier in their market life. In fact, one of our entries this time is a book written in 1951, the late Gabriele Tergit’s The Effingers.

In children’s content, we also have one of the biggest of authors in the field, the UK’s Julia Donaldson, continuing her “What the Ladybird Heard” series with illustrator Lydia Monks from Pan Macmillan.

And is it a sign of the times that we’re getting a lot of crime thrillers and fantasy? Actual travel being more limited than many of us may like, the rights sales of many publishers’ business is humming this summer. In fact, the book related here most directly to travel is Slimane Kader’s account of what it was like to work a huge cruise liner, With a View Below the Sea.

As in each roundup, we use some of the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that 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.

The Oath (Verivelka)
Jeopardy (Hyvitys)

By Arttu Tuominen

  • Publisher: WSOY, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Eleonoora Kirk, Bonnier Rights
  • Book info: Here (The Oath) and here (Jeopardy)

Reported rights sales (all in two-book deals):

  • Newest – The Netherlands: De Fontein
  • Germany: Bastei Lübbe
  • France: La Martinière
  • Italy: Piemme

The Oath, the first book in Arttu Tuominen’s “River Delta” series, asks what happens when friendship comes up against the law?

In Jeopardy, the series’ second installment, a vulnerable secret threatens to unhinge everything.

Tuominen is a Finnish environmental inspector whose The Oath has won the Johtolanka Prize, its jury writing that the protagonist is reminiscent of many of Patricia Highsmith’s characters for whom small, innocuous actions can trigger cascades of unintended events.

Critics are focusing on the quality of dialogue and a structural use of flashbacks in the work of this writer who lives in Pori, in southwest Finland.

The third book in the series, the weight of the past, is to be released in late 2021.

The Effingers

By Gabriele Tergit

  • Publisher: Schöffling & Co., Frankfurt
  • Rights contact: Elisa Diallo at Schöffling & Co.
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest –  UK: Pushkin Press
  • USA: The New York Review of Books
  • The Netherlands: Van Maaskant Haun

Originally published in 1951, Berlin-born Gabriele Tergit’s book is a Jewish family saga with a plot running from 1878 to 1948. The late Tergit, who died in London in 1982, described “a Jewish family that attains considerable wealth through hard work, good luck, and talent.

“Beginning with the relatively comfortable life of a working family in a south German town, when Germany under Bismarck seemed to have a bright future, the novel reaches its apex in cosmopolitan Berlin in the Roaring Twenties, when the Effingers are leading elegant, upper-middle-class lives.”

“Tergit, a journalist and writer of the Weimar Era, struggled to find a publisher for the novel after the Second World War. Evidently many people found the material too controversial so soon after the Holocaust.”

With a View Below the Sea
Avec vue sous la mer)

By Slimane Kader

  • Publisher: Allary Éditions, Paris
  • Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – China: Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House
  • Korea: Nike Books
  • Germany: Droemer Knaur
  • Taiwan: China Times Publishing Company

With a View Below the Sea is a testimony in which the author recounts his life as a modern slave in the hold of a gigantic cruise ship.

“One morning, Slimane Kader decides to get a job on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Bye-bye, rough Parisian suburbs, hello Miami.

“But he won’t be seeing much of the palms nor doing much far niente. He ends up being a handyman in a floating city, which carries 8,000 passengers.

“Six-thousand of them have a view of the sea: the tourists.”

Kader is also the author of a novel, Wam, inspired by  his life in Paris’ suburbs.

When the King Dies
(Kun kuningas kuolee)

By Elina Backman

  • Publisher: Otava, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Toomas Aasmäe, Elina Ahlback Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Czech Republic: Grada

Two-book deals:

  • Estonia: Varrak
  • Germany: Piper Verlag
  • The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij/Cargo
  • Norway: Cappelen Damm
  • Sweden: Bokfabriken

“Jan, a Helsinki-based police officer investigates a ritualistic murder at Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

“And in the idyllic countryside, a former journalist, Saana, starts to find information on a girl who died in the 1980s in Hartola–in the only kingdom in Finland.

“Jan and Saana’s paths will cross, for more than one reason.”

The Vine Witch

By Luanne G. Smith

  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing/47 North
  • Rights contact: Hatty Stiles, Amazon Publishing
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Italy: Armenia Publishing
  • Hungary: Konyvmolykepzo
  • Russia: Kariera

“For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create world-renowned wine.

“The skill of divining harvests, however, falls into ruin when sorceress Elena Boureanu is blindsided by a curse.

“Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life and the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.”

This is the opener in a three-book “Vine Witch” series from Smith, who’s based in Colorado. The second in the series, The Glamourist, was just released in June. The Conjurer is set for a January 12 release.

What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside

By Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Lydia Monks

  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan, London
  • Rights contact: Line Dyvesveen, Macmillan Children’s Books
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Luxembourg: Atelier Kannerbuch
  • Castilian: Ediciones Fortuna
  • Croatian: Profil Knjiga

“Julia Donaldson is an icon, of course, in the British children’s books industry, best known for her collaborations with illustrator Axel Scheffler.

“This book with illustrator Lydia Monks, is the fourth in their “What the Ladybird Heard” series, this entry hitting the tops of the UK charts in children’s hardcover picture books since its April release.

“The clever little ladybird is off on a trip to the seaside, but those two bad men, Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, are also back and they’re up to their wicked ways again. Luckily, the crime-busting ladybird has another cunning plan to stop the thieves.”

The Night Singer

By Johanna Mo

  • Publisher: Romanus & Selling, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Kaisa Palo, Ahlander Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – English/UK and Commonwealth: Headline
  • Croatia: Fraktura
  • Denmark: Lindhardt og Ringhof
  • Estonia: Eesti Raamat
  • Finland: Like
  • Germany: Random House / Heyne
  • Hungary: Animus
  • Iceland: Bjartur & Veröld
  • Lithuania: Obuolys
  • The Netherlands: HarperCollins Holland
  • Norway: Aschehoug

“When Hanna Duncker was 19, her father was convicted of murder. To escape the small-town whispers, she fled the island community she grew up in.

“Years later, after the death of her father, Hanna returns and starts working for the local police. On the first day of her new job, a teenage boy is found dead and Hanna is thrown headfirst into a murder investigation that will stir up ghosts from her past.”

The Night Singer is the first book in the “Island Murders” series.

Submit Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and rights directors can use our rights deal submission form to send us the information we need. If you have questions, please send them to

Titles we choose to list must have both cover images and author images available. If there’s an illustrator or translator, we’d like that person’s photo as well. We prefer color.

In supplying these assets to us, please don’t use WeTransfer or other similar links–they may expire before we can process a submission.

In a sale listing, we require not only the language/territory into which the title has been sold but also the name of the publisher to which the title has been sold in that territory. The correct format is:

  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher

If we have used a submission from you in the past, please do not submit that same title again to us without an explanation of why you think it deserves another look.

We look forward to hearing from you.

More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more from us on international rights trading is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.