Frankfurt’s Fellowships: Wendolyn Trogneux of France’s Albin Michel

In News by Porter Anderson

An advance Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine interview: Éditions Albin Michel’s Wendolyn Trogneax  on selling ‘bestsellers overseas.’

Image: Frankfurter Buchmesse

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

The Paris-Frankfurt Fellowship
As many Publishing Perspectives readers know, Frankfurter Buchmesse each year welcomes many participants in grant and fellowship programs, all designed to encourage international collegiality, professionalism, and perspective among their participants. Those chosen to take part are early-to-middle career people in publishing–according to each program’s makeup.

You can learn more about all of Frankfurt’s fellowship and/or grant programs here.

In the program we hear from today, the Paris-Frankfurt Fellowship, young booksellers and publishing staffers complete a two-week training program between France and Germany. Professional capacity, language capabilities, and intercultural skills are acquired through practical seminars and study trips to both countries.

Wendolyn Trogneux
Éditions Albin Michel, Paris

Publishing Perspectives: What do you do at Albin Michel?

Wendolyn Trogneux

Wendolyn Trogneux: I’ve worked in the international rights department of Albin Michel since December 2022. My day-to-day experience is never the same, and one of the key elements that form my job is managing Albin Michel’s authors’ interviews and promotion abroad.

As we have authors who are bestsellers overseas, they’re very often invited to promote their work on the international level. Every day, I discuss these things with foreign publishers, publicists, and editors to determine the authors’ invitations and media coverage.

I somewhat work as an author’s agent, but inside a publishing house. However, it really depends on the season: before I left for the Paris-Frankfurt fellowship, and during the upcoming weeks, half of my time goes to preparing Frankfurt Book Fair on an administrative level.

Even though the main part of my job—representing our authors abroad and handling their travel and media coverage—is already fascinating, I’d like to have more time to communicate about this, either on our Instagram page or through our newsletter. And I’d love to read even more.

Publishing Perspectives: What are the main challenges you see in your country’s book market today for publishers?

Wendolyn Trogneux: Everybody is saying it and we see it firsthand: there is a crisis in books in translation.

“With growing production costs, and foreign publishers being more cautious, it’s harder to sell today, for example, the rights for a first novel, or even for a known author.”Wendolyn Trogneax, Éditions Albin Michel

With growing production costs year after year, and with foreign publishers being more cautious and not taking as many risks as they may once have taken, it’s harder to sell today, for example, the rights for a first novel, or even for a known author. I believe one of the main challenges in France’s book market today is the over-production of books, because even booksellers cannot keep up with the overflow. How can you defend and sell 1,000 titles when you don’t have the physical or mental space?

We in foreign rights don’t represent all the titles published by Albin Michel, but our catalogue is already quite impressive, and even with the best intentions, you can see that foreign editors won’t be doing as many deals—or deals as large—as they could be doing, because they’re afraid of not selling their translations. I believe this is the case for every country, because translation is expensive, and in today’s world economy, inflation impacts all aspects of life, from paper prices to foreign rights sales.

Publishing Perspectives: Will you be on the Albin Michel team at Frankfurt this year?

Wendolyn Trogneux: I won’t be at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair as I need to hold the fort while my team goes and showcases our work.

“One of the main challenges in France’s book market today is the over-production of books, because even booksellers cannot keep up with the overflow.”Wendolyn Trogneax, Éditions Albin Michel

This year, we welcomed several new authors at Albin Michel, including Claire Berest, Serge Joncour, and Pascal Quignard, who are already big names in French contemporary literature. One of our main goals at Albin Michel this year is to show how our literary editorial line is moving, and how well we can adapt to these incoming literary authors.

Also, my team now represents nonfiction books in cooking, self-help, and well-being. This is a new challenge as the catalogue grows even more, and we must adapt to these new markets. But we have been preparing for this fair for some months now and I’m sure that we’re ready to take it in.

You can keep up with our work through our Instagram page @albinmichel_foreign rights, or meet my colleagues at our stand during the book fair in Hall 5.0 / C120.

This is an interview from our 75th Frankfurt coverage from our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which will be distributed on October 18, in print at the trade show and digitally here at Publishing Perspectives.

The magazine has more interviews with fellows and grant-program recipients from international publishing markets, as well as previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.”

Join us at the Publishing Perspectives Forum, October 18 to 20, with issue-driven B2B programming free of charge to all Frankfurt trade visitors and exhibitors. You’ll find us in Room Spektrum on the second level of the Congress Center, and detailed information on events and speakers is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on fellowships in publishing is here, and more on the French market 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 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.