Rights Roundup: Warming Up for Frankfurt Book Fair

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Titles in this Frankfurt-bound Rights Roundup include work originally published in New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States, France, and Norway.

In Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Literary Agents & Scouts Center, the LitAg, 2012. Image: FBM, Alexander Heimann

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

International Translation Day with English PEN
As focused as most of us are on Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), one of the many events that lie between now and then is the United Nations’ International Translation Day on September 30.

This annual observance is rooted in interpreters—who are indispensable at the world body, of course, as will once again be clear to everyone during the UN’s General Assembly, which opens Monday (September 18).

Over time, however, International Translation Day has come to be a recognition not only of the work of simultaneous interpreters but also the efforts and singular genius of another indispensable group: literary translators.

On September 29, English PEN in London is presenting a seven-hour program both online and in-person at the British Council (English PEN’s partner on this) in Redman Place. Some 30 translators, writers, publishers, agents, booksellers, and language specialists are engaged for this year’s event, which runs 12:00 BST (11:00 GMT / 7 a.m. ET) to 19:00 BST (18:00 GMT / 2 p.m. ET).

Speakers particularly familiar to Publishing Perspectives’ good-looking international readership include translators Sawad Hussain and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, as well as Rebecca Servadio of London Literary Scouting.

Rebecca Servadio

Servadio is one of the four co-founders of the new Frankfurt-Torino Aficionado Award, which in its inaugural year is going to Lagos’ Lola Shoneyin and her Aké Arts and Book Festival.

During the course of English Pen’s Translation Day program on the 29th, there are sessions including an “ask me anything” opportunity with five United Kingdom publishers; workshops on negotiating contracts and translating sensitive work; and talks on rights, events, and reviews. Those attending in person need to register for workshops, which have limited seating In Real Life (no problem for digital attendees).

Here’s the page for full information on the program and registration for this event, which is supported by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society in England, the ALCS.

Notes on the Run-Up to Frankfurt

Speaking of the Aficionado Award, here’s another co-founder, Michael Gaeb. You’ll remember that he and Petra Eggers and Gaeb merged their companies in Berlin to form Gaeb & Eggers in July.

América Gutiérrez Espinosa

Today (September 15), we have news that América Gutiérrez Espinosa is joining Gaeb & Eggers as its new literary agent in Latin America. Gaeb’s work, in particular, has been especially well-informed on the LATAM markets, as you’ll recall from our coverage of this year’s Books at Berlinale, to which Gaeb sent Bettina Wißmann to pitch the Mexican author Fernanda Melchor‘s  This Is Not Miami to producers.

Gutiérrez’s background includes Penguin Random House Editorial México, and she has what the agency is calling “a multi-platform experience that spans television and the publishing industry.”

Jade Fu

And in Taipei, Gray Tan at the Grayhawk Agency tells us that Jade Fu has been made the agency’s vice-president, leading the company’s Asian author representation and handling day-to-day operations. Tan is going to focus “solely on growing our co-agent business,” Tan says, along with film and television rights.

Fu was at the agency from 2012 to 2020 as an intern, contract manager, and then Books From Taiwan project manager. She launched the agency’s Korean-market business and headed up nonfiction.

After leaving to work with the local music streamer KKBox and then at the crowdfunding MIXXIN, she returned last month to Grayhawk to take up her new post. One of the first books Fu read for Graywolf was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabirlle Zevin. The agency sold it into the Chinese market on behalf of Sterling Lord Literistic’s Szilvia Molnar, and the Chinese edition sold more than 2 million copies. Below, we have a listing on Jang Ryujin’s To the Moon by Jang Ryujin from Grayhawk, a Korean novel that Tan and Fu say they’re pleased to see moving briskly.

Anna Soler-Pont

A programming note: Below, we’ll start off our Rights Roundup listings with a book that Anna Soler-Pont and her team at Pontas Literary & Film Agency in Barcelona will be talking up at Frankfurt, The Waters by Carl Nixon.

Join us at Frankfurt in the Publishing Perspectives Forum on Frankfurt Thursday, October 19, when Soler-Pont will be a panelist in our session on the state of AI in publishing today. Thomas Cox moderates, with Soler-Pont, Christoph Blasi, and Nadim Sadek, the discussion running from 12 to 12:45 p.m.

All our programming in the Forum is free to trade visitors and exhibitors; you can easily dash off early or arrive late, if you’re dodging meetings but would like to catch part of a discussion; and the full listing of our program is here. The Forum is in Room Spektrum of the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center, second level. More on the Publishing Perspectives Forum is here.

A scheduling note to agents and rights directors: If you have recently sent us children’s content, we have a children’s books special edition coming on September 29, so today we have used almost entirely adult content. On the 29th, we can then use your children’s titles in our Rights Roundup. No need to re-submit, we have it here.

We then anticipate another regular (mixed content) Rights Roundup on October 6. So there’s more pre-Frankfurt time ahead in these listings.

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.


The Waters
By Carl Nixon

  • Publisher: Random House New Zealand, Auckland
  • Rights contact: Anna Soler-Pont, Pontas Literary & Film Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • French: Éditions de l’Aube

Carl Nixon

“Set in New Zealand, this novel in 21 stories stretches decades, from 1979 to 2019, tracking the lives of the Waters kids—Mark, Davey, and Sam—from their father’s decision to sell the family farm. The practical, athletic Mark; the physically beautiful dreamer Davey; and the baby of the family, Samantha have had to face more than their fair share of challenges.

“Moving back and forth in time, the novel examines familial responsibility and the violence, the racism, and shattered dreams that blow across the landscape.

“Will the siblings’ bond survive the passage of time or will the they succumb to their parents’ legacy of failure? Can the past be overcome and forgiven?”


To the Moon
By Jang Ryujin

  • Publisher: Changbi, Paju
  • Rights contact: Jade Fu, Grayhawk Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – German: KiWi
  • English (UK): Bloomsbury
  • Dutch: De Geus
  • Korean: Changbi
  • Complex Chinese: ThinKingdom
  • Thai: Jamsai
  • Indonesian: Gramedia
  • Japanese: Kobunsha

To the Moon tells the story of three young Korean women struggling in mundane office work, each facing financial issues.

“Their friendship is tested when two of them decide to bet their future on cryptocurrency, believing it to be their one-way ticket to freedom.

Jang Ryujin

“The story follows Eun-sang, the eldest of the group, who constantly seeks ways to earn extra money but faces trouble with her office mini mart. Jisong, the youngest, dreams of a perfect romance with her Taiwanese boyfriend and spends her low salary on trips to Taipei. The narrator, Dahae, works in the snacks department and endures an incompetent team leader while struggling to support her injured mother and find a better apartment.

“During a lunch gathering, Eun-sang excitedly reveals her discovery of Ethereum, a cryptocurrency rivaling Bitcoin. She invests her savings, hoping to make enough money to quit her job. Intrigued, Dahae opens an account, while Jisong remains skeptical. As the Ethereum price fluctuates, Dahae and Eun-sang’s friendship evolves, causing tension with Jisong. Despite threats of breaking up, Dahae and Eun-sang desperately want to share their newfound wealth with Jisong.

“And then, China outlaws crypto initial coin offerings and the market crashes.”


In the Likely Event
By Rebecca Yarros

  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing, Seattle
  • Rights contact: Alex Levenberg, Amazon Publishing, and Louise Fury at the Fury Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Zomer & Keuning (two-book deal)
  • Croatian: Znanje (at auction)
  • Greek: Psichogios (in a preempt)
  • Hebrew: Sefer Lakol
  • Italian: Sperling & Kupfer
  • Large Print (English): Thorndike
  • Polish: Wydawnictwo Filia (at auction)
  • Portuguese: Presença
  • Turkish: Olimpos

Rebecca Yarros

Our readers may recall that Kristen McLean with Circana BookScan singled out Rebecca Yarros’ Fourth Wing in her August report on the United States’ book market, pointing out that Fourth Wing was in its second month.

Yarros’ new August 1 release is classified as a “contemporary romance about the sustained power of chance encounters. Amazon Publishing is using the work of Colleen Hoover and Nicholas Sparks for comps in talking about the book, reporting that rights in 10 more languages or territories are in negotiation.

The story is about a woman and man who meet on a plane that goes down in the Missouri River 90 seconds after takeoff. “Their lives change. They change. Nate goes on to a career in the military while Izzy finds her way into politics. Despite a few chance encounters over the years, the timing never feels right.”


Going on Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Perpetual Innovation
By Behnam Tabrizi

  • Publisher: Ideapress Publishing, Oakton, Virginia
  • Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World Spanish: Profit Editorial
  • Taiwan: Business Weekly

Behnam Tabrizi

“How do the most innovative and agile companies develop a winning mindset that runs throughout their entire organizations?

Going on Offense is a powerful resource for anyone looking to transform their organization and their people into a perpetual innovator.

“Based on a seven-year study from Stanford University, Going on Offense provides an insider’s view into the drivers of success and challenges in 26 organizations.”


The Dresser
By Thorvald Steen

  • Publisher: Forlaget Oktober, Oslo
  • Rights contact: Gina Winje, Winje Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • English (India, United Kingdom, United States): Seagull Books

Thorvald Steen

The Dresser is a short and intense novel about Massimo Gasparino, demoted to dresser and kept captive by the doge in Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, 1204.

“He writes a letter to Pope Innocent III and admits that he has witnessed mankind’s greatest crime — that the doge deliberately steered the crusade to Constantinople. The letter reveals the enormity of the misdeed and treachery.

“Will Gasparino manage to survive the letter, or will the doge get hold of it before it’s dispatched?”


Un simple dîner
By Cécile Tlili

  • Publisher: Hachette/Éditions Calmann-Lévy, Paris
  • Rights contact: Adélaïde Sorel, Calmann-Lévy
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam
  • German: Kein & Aber

“A dinner party in a chic apartment in Paris will soon put an end to decades of pretense.

Cécile Tlili

“Claudia has set the stage, playing the perfect host. Etienne, her husband, a lawyer, is hoping to sign a contract with one of the guests.

“After years of sacrifice, Johar has finally achieved her goal: she has been offered her dream job. But she does not feel as excited as she expected.

“And all her husband can think about is his mistress.

“Each of them is playing a role. How long can they keep it up?


Submitting Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and publishing-house 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

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.

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.