Rights Roundup: Frankfurter Buchmesse Straight Ahead

In News by Porter Anderson

Swedish readers are finding themselves in a widening conversation around gender relations based in a debut, ‘Letters to Men.’

Authors and illustrators in this Rights Roundup are, upper row from left, Bianca Kronlöf’; Anders Vacklin, Riina Kaarla, and Sami Kaarla; and John Elizabeth Stintzi. And on the lower row from left, Erica Stanford; Ole Kristian Løyning; Ronny Haugeland; and Lise Syven

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

‘Letters to Men’
As Lena Sternström at the Grand Agency in Stockholm says, her big book is actually quite small, and what everyone seemed to think would be a “small” Frankfurt Book Fair now appears to be doing big things to all our schedules.

But what she’s telling us about is Bianca Kronlöf’s Letters to Men, only 125 pages long but No. 1 on the local nonfiction bestseller lists in its five weeks on the market so far from Albert Bonniers Förlag. Of the 13,000 copies sold in those five weeks, 12,000 are physical copies, 1,000 are ebooks. An audiobook edition is scheduled for later in the autumn.

And on Thursday (October 14), Seoul’s Bookhouse Publishing bought the Korean rights. That follows the sale into Finnish to Into Kustannus.

Kronlöf’s book is just what its title says it is, letters—as the book’s promotional copy puts it—”to the slack and the hard. To dad and grandpa. To the unborn son. To the one night stand. To you who have bought the myth and to you who have never raised your hand.”

And what comes across in reviews is serious and nuanced enough to let you know that Kronlöf seems not to be operating on the purely populist level you might imagine. Kronlöf’ is an actor trained at Gothenburg’s highly regarded Academy of Music and Drama, and her feminist satire has found her an audience as a comedian. While this may not lead to the deepest levels of inter-gender relations, it also seems to be driving a good deal of respect in the early reception for the book.

An unnamed Dagens Nyheter critic writes about Kronlöf’s book that it “primarily emphasizes individual responsibility,” such an important thing when it comes to actually involving men in feminism rather than slamming doors in their faces. “When it comes to the issue of men’s violence,” this review says, “it is not enough for a few men to get involved in the issue. A first step to change can be to read this book, which efficiently and pedagogically punctures the defenses and excuses we men use to avoid calling ourselves or showing moral courage.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

“The book gives tips and advice for men,” writes another unnamed critic, this one for Folkbladen Västerbotten, “who want to be involved and work for a change. Letters to Men is simply a compression of what feminism is about, but it is no less important or less relevant because of this. It is an identification of what the problems consist of and a statement  about the absence of men in the struggle for a more equal society.”

If Kronlöf”s debut is landing with such respect from these critics, it’s not impossible to think of a male author, also respectfully, writing back with Letters to Women. The dialogue that so frequently never seems to develop, isn’t impossible, after all. It’s just elusive. And maybe the thoughtful form of a book creates enough distance from the spitfire immediacy of social media (and too many difficult conversations) that meaningful exchange can be approached this way. An interesting book to keep an eye on this season.

See you in Frankfurt.

‘Note to Agents’

And in a related note, we’d like to point out that at the Grand Agency—as at so many other agencies—excerpts from reviews of books are presented without identifying who the critics writing them are. In truth, Dagens Nyheter has never written a review, not one. Nor has The New York Times, nor has The Guardian, nor has Le Figaro. People write reviews. Those people have names, just as your authors do.

So we take this moment—on the edge of a new Frankfurt, as it were—to speak up with a little Note to Agents of our own. As journalists here at Publishing Perspectives, we’d like you to consider naming the critics as well as their publications when you quote them. Journalists, critics—they, too, are writers. And crediting them for their work is hardly too much to ask when you, of course, expect them to name and credit your authors, right?

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 Shivering
No. 1 in the ‘Nordic Horror’ series

By A.R.S. Horkka

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Russia: Eksmo

You see, we weren’t kidding about “Nordic Horror.” This first volume in A.R.S. Horkka’s trilogy is The Shivering, and it’s followed by The Clockwork Whisperer and The Stand-In.

A series of anthologies, “Each story is an honest and emotional study of its protagonists,” according to the promotional material—”of the fears that have made them who they are and how they still have to face their biggest fear of all, no matter what monstrous shape it takes on.”

The “author” is actually three people: the husband-and-wife team (author and illustrator) Riina and Sami Kaarla and the writer Anders Vacklin. It’s not hard to guess that “A.R.S.” is drawn from the first letters of each of their names.

The first ‘season’ of seven books has been acquired by Tammi in Finland, and the first book, The Shivering, is to appear in 2022.

Saving Albert, the Christmas Lobster

By Lise Syven

  • Publisher: Éditions J’ai Lu, Paris
  • Rights contact: Gregory Messina, Linwood Messina Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Germany: Thiele Verlag
  • Italy: Newton Compton

“Béatrice and Erwan have been dating for a few months. It may be too soon for him to be bringing her home to meet the family. For Christmas.

“Erwan’s mother couldn’t be happier that he’s coming home, even if it’s with a Parisian vegan. Erwan’s father is the only one who doesn’t know that Béatrice is a vegan—a concept he would never tolerate. So when he plans on providing a lobster as the Christmas meal he couldn’t know that he was being disrespectful.

“Béatrice has no choice; she has to save Albert.”

Crypto Wars

By Erica Stanford

  • Publisher: Kogan Page, London
  • Rights contact: Kogan Page, Ltd
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World Korean: Little Cosmos
  • World German: Boersenmedien AG
  • World Russian: Eksmo
  • World Spanish: Ubook
  • World Portuguese Ubook
  • China, mainland only, simplified Chinese: China Renmin University Press
  • World Turkish: Ithaki Yayinlari

“Uncover the scandals and scams that have rocked the crypto currency world, and learn how it also could bring positive change for banking and the global economy.”

My Friend, the Pirate

By Ole Kristian Løyning
Illustrated by Ronny Haugeland

  • Publisher: Vigmostad & Bjørke, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Gina Winje, Winje Agency AS
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Faroe Islands/Faroese: Bókadeildin
  • Danish: ABC Forlag

“André loses his parents in a car accident, and is seriously injured, himself. His only relative is his father’s uncle, nicknamed The Pirate. André moves in with the slightly drunken sailor and together they manage to make a new life.

“Full of metaphor and jibes at life, Løyning depicts the relationship between André and the Pirate and their adventure across the seas. Humor and imagination are used as coping mechanisms for adapting to a new existence.”

Vanishing Monuments

By John Elizabeth Stintzi

  • Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver
  • Rights contact: Brian Lam, Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Korean: Marco Polo Press
  • Country: Publisher

Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher, hasn’t seen their mother since they ran away with their girlfriend when they were seventeen–almost 30 years ago.

“But when Alani gets a call from a doctor at the assisted living facility where their mother has been for the last five years, they learn that their mother’s dementia has worsened and appears to have taken away her ability to speak.”

John Elizabeth Stintzi is the recipient of the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award and the Sator New Works Award, and their writing has appeared in Ploughshares, The Malahat Review, Kenyon Review, and others. Vanishing Monuments was finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Submitting 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

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Categories. We get more submissions in children’s books than in others, and while we enjoy children’s books in the industry as much as anyone–please do keep sending them–we’d also like to see more of the following to help us balance our roundups:

  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Nonfiction – particularly narrative nonfiction, political, historical, biographical, memoir, and philosophical categories
  • Young Adult

Repeat submissions. We receive great submissions from many parts of the world and once we’ve carried a title, we’d like to give other work a chance to be featured rather than repeating that title–unless there’s major news developing around that previously used title that makes it a good candidate for a second listing. If one of your titles has previously appeared in our Rights Roundups but there’s a good reason you think it should be listed again, please be sure to drop us an email and let us know (Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com).

We look forward to hearing from you.

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More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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.