Rights Roundup: Mind Your Metadata

In News by Porter Anderson

The titles featured in this edition of our Rights Roundup are from Australia, Sweden, Norway, England, and France.

Mind your metadata: The effectiveness of a search by a producer, publisher, rights director, or scout may will depend on just how readily a search can respond to inputted keywords. Image – Getty iStockphoto: HakinMHan

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

Keywords in Helsinki
An interesting development at the Ahlback Agency in Helsinki, the “Storyfinder” digital tool, according to Elina Ahlback, is a way to filter the agency’s catalogue to see if something there meets the various criteria of what you’re looking for.

“Whether you’re a book publisher, film or television producer, studio, or other entertainment executive or scout looking for the next big mega-seller and the right intellectual property for your company,” the agency writes about the search, “we invite you to use our Storyfinder tool to help you find the perfect match.

Options include publishing rights vs. media rights (for film and television), and there are some tips for using the program here.

The trick with something like this, of course, is very good metadata. The success of the Storyfinder search, as in so many of these types of programs, is in making sure the maximum amount of keyword density is in place so that whatever idea a user has—or whatever terms that user may apply to it—can be reflected in the search. If you’re looking for stories about the “sea” but the data says only “ocean,” you may not find a perfect piece of content lying right under your nose.

One of the biggest systems operating on the same fundamental principle as this one at the 14-year-old Ahlback Agency is Wattpad’s categorization programming used to guide readers and  producers and publishers to various serials being churned out on the platform. These searches rely for effectiveness of the tags “on both ends”—those attached to a property and those used in a search.

But it certainly makes sense for anyone with a deep catalogue to offer this kind of categorized access to it, and we’ll be interested after a time to know from the Ahlback team whether the approach is working in terms of helping buyers locate content they’d like to develop.

A search demonstrated in an image from the Ahlback Agency’s ‘Storyfinder’ is seen here rendering a couple of titles in response to a set of tags logged in, including ‘coming of age,’ ‘humor,’ ‘murder’ and LGBTQ. Image: Ahlback Agency

And since June is pride month for so many gay publishing industry professionals—and for the readerships they serve—we’ll start this time with Pride (Stolt) from Oslo’s Cappelen Damm, a book by psychologist Benjamin Baarli Silseth with illustrations by Kine Kjær.

As in each roundup, we use some of the sales copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone, but limiting the promotional elements. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.

By Benjamin Baarli Silseth
Illustrated by Kine Kjær
  • Publisher: Cappelen Damm, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Ingvild Haugland Blatt, Cappelen Damm Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Denmark: Straarup & Co. (sold at auction)

Benjamin Baarli Silseth

“Pride is a book that celebrates being gay. It is about being gay, about being a friend and an ally, about gender identity, love and sexuality, and about important people in gay history who have stood at the forefront of the fight for gay rights.

“With this book, the goal is to break taboos and to make all readers feel more safe in themselves and pride in who they are.”

The author, Benjamin Silseth, is a gay psychologist with a strong interest in the mental health of young people.

Devil’s Breath
By Jill Johnson

  • Publisher: Bonnier UK/Black & White Publishing, London
  • Rights contact: Anna Soler-Pont, Pontas Literary and Film Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – French: Michel Lafon
  • English (North America): Sold, publisher to be announced
  • Russian: Sold, to be announced
  • Czech: Grada/Metafora

Jill Johnson

“Eustacia Rose is a professor of botanical toxicology who lives alone with only her collection of poisonous plants for company.

“Her life is quiet until the day she hears a scream and the temptation to investigate is irresistible. Through her telescope, she’s drawn into the life of her beautiful neighbor, Simone, who she feels inexplicably compelled to protect.

“But when her garden is vandalized and someone is murdered with a toxin from a rare plant, Eustacia finds herself implicated in the crime.”

Jill Johnson, a Faber Academy graduate, has a BA in landscape design and has lived in Southeast Asia, Europe, and New Zealand.

By “Sääf Ekstedt” (Katarina Ekstedt and Anna Winberg Sääf)

  • Publisher: Bookmark Förlag, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Julia Angelin, Salomonsson Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Germany: HarperCollins
  • Croatia: Fraktura
  • Czech Republic: Zlin
  • Serbia: Laguna
  • Ukraine: Anetta Antonenko Publishers
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.