Rights Roundup: Debuts in the Dog Days of Summer

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Titles in our latest Rights Roundup are by authors based in Sweden, Canada, the United Arab Emirates,  Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, and China’s Sichuan province.

Authors, illustrators, and dogs represented in this Rights Roundup are, clockwise from upper left, Sofia Rönnow Pessah; Avni Doshi; Clare Helen Walsh; Nicola O’Byrne; Joachim B. Schmidt; Zazie Todd and Bodger; Natalia García Freire; and Yang Hongying

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Seasonal Adjustments
The accelerating globalization of the book industry is apparent today (August 28) in our Rights Roundup, in which we find several authors published well outside their base markets—India, Switzerland, and Spain come into play, as rights directors and literary agents alert us to books on their lists getting late-summer international rights attention.

In terms of the seasonal factor, it should be interesting this year to see how subsequent Rights Roundup editions reflect the 2020 autumn reality of digital rights trading amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, we have several debuts, including one longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize for Fiction in a year when eight of 13 longlisted titles are debuts.

And there are also children’s books, literary fiction, and a book about making your dog happy.

And if you didn’t catch it Thursday (August 27), you’ll find our Rights Roundup preview about a Finnish debut that’s drawing quick attention here.

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.

You can review installments in our Rights Roundup series back to late 2017 here.

The Men in My Life

By Sofia Rönnow Pessah

  • Publisher: Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Christine Edhäll, Ahlander Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Denmark: Turbine Forlag
  • Finland: Johnny Kniga
  • Germany: Ullstein

Sofia Rönnow Pessah works as an asylum attorney in Stockholm, and is from Malmö.

In this debut work of fiction, Pessah uses what promotional copy calls “an addictively readable and eerily identifiable” novel structured in “short chapters and a taut prose.”

The novel focuses on female desire and mental health and is told “in a fresh and honest voice,” asking questions about sexuality and consent in contemporary society.

Burnt Sugar

By Avni Doshi

  • Publisher: HarperCollins India, New Delhi
  • Rights contact: Maria Cardona, Pontas Literary & Film Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Xander Uitgevers
  • English (UK and Commonwealth. excluding Canada and the Indian subcontinent) : Hamish Hamilton
  • Arabic: Sefsafa Culture & Publishing
  • English (United States and Canada): Overlook Press
  • Catalan: Edicions de 1984
  • Croatian: Hena-Com
  • Hebrew: Aryeh Nir Publishing House
  • Japanese: Hayakawa Publishing Corporation
  • Russian: Eksmo
  • Slovak: Inaque
  • Spanish (World) : Planeta/Temas de Hoy
  • Turkish: April Publishing House

A debut novel that’s called in promotional material both a love story and a story about betrayal between a mother and a daughter.

Author Avni Doshi tests the limits of what we can know for certain about those to whom we’re closest and, by extension, about ourselves.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, this is a title longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. A shortlist is anticipated on September 15. The winner of the 2020 prize, to be announced in November.

This book is one of an unusual eight (of 13) debut titles on the Booker longlist.

Our Dead Skin

By Natalia García Freire

  • Publisher: La Navaja Suiza, Madrid
  • Rights contact: Sandra Pareja, Casanovas & Lynch Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – France: Bourgois
  • UK: Oneworld
  • Italy: Sur

In yet another debut, teenage Lucas returns home only to find it dilapidated and taken over by two strangers who fooled his deceased father. “The return is a long conversation with his dead father, a reproach, an invocation, a plea. His mother was sent away long ago and in the garden she loved so much now only weeds grow.”

The book “uses a pronounced lyrical tone and a structure that ties the protagonist’s memories with the present moment as if it were a spider’s web , at the center of which are questions and reflections on evil, disease, death and madness. Does decomposition call for life or the end of it? Where is the divine found? Is the miracle sanity or alienation?”

Natalia García Freire is Ecuadorian, a journalist who works as a primary schoolteacher and as a creative writing instructor at the Universidad del Azuay.

Poo! Is That You?

By Clare Helen Walsh
Illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

  • Publisher: Macmillan’s Children’s Books, London
  • Rights contact: Charlotte Parker, Macmillan’s Children’s Books
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Veltman Uitgevers
  • Turkish: Domingo
  • German: Coppenrath
  • Italian: Il Castello
  • Swedish: Lind & Company
  • Finnish: Makela
  • Korea: ROI Books
  • Danish: Turbine

Lenny the Lemur is on holiday in the Amazon rainforest.

He’s just settling down for a nice snooze when a very yucky smell wafts past. Lenny sets off to track down the source of the smell. Along the way he meets lots of stinky creatures, finding out about the different smells they make and why.

Promotional copy tells us, “The funny narrative cleverly interweaves facts throughout and contains an information page at the back of the book with a photo of each animal.”


By Joachim B. Schmidt

  • Publisher: Diogenes Verlag, Zurich
  • Rights contact: Susanne Bauknecht, Diogenes Verlag
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Spanish (world rights): Gatopardo

The title character is the self-appointed sheriff of Raufarhöfn, on the northeastern tip of the Melrakkaslétta peninsula in Iceland. “He’s a man who has everything under control,” according to promotional copy.

“Day by day, he treks the wide plains which surround the almost deserted village. He hunts Arctic foxes and puts chum into the seawater to attract what will become the Icelandic fermented delicacy, hákarl. But inside Kalmann’s head, the wheels sometimes spin backwards.

“After he discovers a pool of blood in the snow, the swiftly unfolding events threaten to overwhelm him. But with his naive wisdom, Kalmann makes sure everything takes a turn for the better. There’s no need to worry.”

A quote is added: “It can get pretty dark beneath a polar bear.”

Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy

By Zazie Todd

  • Publisher: Greystone Books, Vancouver
  • Rights contact: Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Russia: Mann, Ivanov
  • Korea: Dongle Design
  • Poland: Rebis

Wag “bridges the gap between human and canine by demystifying the inner lives of dogs to share evidence-based advice for making them happy.

“Psychologist and respected dog trainer Dr. Zazie Todd—the name rhymes with snazzy—distills the latest canine science and shares recommendations from leading veterinarians, researchers, and trainers to cultivate a rewarding and respectful relationship with your dog.”

Topics included:

  • A checklist for a happy dog
  • Enrichment exercises
  • How to socialize and train a new puppy
  • How to reduce fear and anxiety in dogs
  • Tips for visiting the vet
  • Information on aging dogs

Series: Panda’s Diary

By Yang Hongying 

  • Publisher: Anhui Children’s Publishing House, Hefei
  • Rights contact: Wendy Pan, Jiang Boyan
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • UK: Inception of Tel Aviv and London, a company specialized in augmented and virtual reality. Inception manages its own distribution through its Bookful app, an “augmented reality library for children using AR and 3D to bring books to life”

Yang Hongying—read our interview with her here—is known in China as “Madame Yang,” and is the author of at least 120 novels, short stories, and fables. In our last chance to talk with her, we learned that she’d sold some 160 million copies of her books.

Her “Panda’s Diary” series comprises 10 picture books and focuses on a young panda named Mimi, who—with her frog friend, Guagua—encounters flowers, thunder and lightning, tadpoles, bamboo, and more.

The series is recommended for ages 3 to 5.

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 Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com

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

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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.com, 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.