Frankfurt 2014 Guest of Honor Finland’s Rights Sales Hit an All-Time High in 2023

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Ahead of an ‘It’s Finland Again’ campaign for the 10th anniversary of Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor Finland, FILI has record rights sales.

Image: Finnish Literature Exchange, FILI

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

‘Long-Term Strengthening of Networks’
In an announcement provided to Publishing Perspectives this morning (November 6), the Finnish Literature Exchange, FILI, in Helsinki is reporting that Finland’s literature exports grew by 5 percent in 2022, with the income from those exports reaching €3.9 million (U$$4.2 million), an all-time high.

According to FILI’s annually commissioned report, several factors are being taken into account:

  • In 2022, 477 translations of Finnish literature were published.
  • Those publications encompassed 44 languages.
  • On average, as many as 300 to 400 translations of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s and YA literature are originally written in Finnish, Finno-Swedish, or Sami.
  • Deals for translation rights for Finnish books were made in 2022 for approximately 580 titles.

Tiia Strandén

In a statement on the news of last year’s record exports, Tiia Strandén, FILI’s director, says, “This is the highest literary export result of all time.

“The copyright income of individual books has decreased slightly from previous years, but overall exports have grown nicely.

“This also indicates that literary agents are able to sell the translation rights of Finnish books to large language areas in abundance, and the advances received from the translation rights are larger than before. Therefore, the world is interested in high-quality Finnish literature.”

Strandén also says she sees the possibility that more grown can be expected because the record results of 2022 have been created by “determined work and long-term strengthening of networks” as opposed to a fluke of market conditions or an anomaly in the popularity of one or more works, and so on.

Since Finland’s 2014 appearance as Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s guest of honor, the Finnish market, let by FILI, has stayed close to that experience, seeing in 2017, for example, a reported 418 titles published overseas while the total in 2014 had been 320. In 2019, the organization and Finnish market made a special effort to revive some of the energy of the Guest of Honor Finland experience on the five-year mark after that focal year. In 2019, for example, Strandén talked with Publishing Perspectives about the organization’s plans for a “Cool & Happy” project devised to re-up the dynamic of the 2014 guest-of-honor program.

The German-market connection that the guest of honor program helped develop in 2014 has persisted, Strandén and the FILI team say, with the most revenue from literature exports coming from Germany as well as the United States and Great Britain. The most translation rights sales were made to Germany. And Germany has remained Finland’s top export market, something that agents and rights directors now tend to use as a guide to how a book may fare among the wider range of world book markets.

‘It’s Finland Again’ in 2024 at Frankfurt

The 2023 candidates for the 2023 Tulenkantaja award — which promotes Finnish exports — are, from left Reetta Niemelä & Katri Kirkkopelto: ‘Lighthouse of the Black Moon,’ published by Children’s Centre; Iida Turpeinen: ‘The Living,’ published by S&S; Antti Hurskainen: ‘Suntio,’ published by Siltala; Juhani Brander: ‘America,’ published by WSOY; and Katja Raunio: ‘Last Times,’ published by Work. The winner of this award is offered an expert coaching program by FILI, focused on an author’s path to the international marketplace. Image: FILI

FILI promises that the 2024 Frankfurt Book Fair (the trade show’s 76th edition) will see the 10th anniversary of the Guest of Honor Finland program “spectacularly celebrated,” adding that the hope is for an even broader penetration of the German-language markets as a result.

To that end, a campaign was announced in September called, “It’s Finland Again,” promoting the success of Finnish literature in the German market.

During the campaign, German publishers, literary festivals, and events operating in German-speaking Europe can apply for promotional support from FILI for organizing author visits and/or visiting programs for translations that have recently been published in German or will be published next year. For larger author tours, as in several appearances in different locations and/or events, support can be granted up to a maximum of €2,000 (US$2,145).

During this project, the German Institute of Finland reportedly is cooperating with publishers, bookstores, literary festivals, and other events in “a particularly rich way,” per FILI, in arranging author visits and tours. The project also includes the institute’s traditionally organized program at the Leipzig and Vienna book fairs.

Translators will be pleased to know that one of the main goals of the 2024 program, reflecting the signal results of the Guest of Honor Finland year at Frankfurt in 2024 by gaining “the highest possible visibility for Finnish literature,” especially those translations published in 2024 in German-language European markets.

Publishers can also apply for translation support for German translations of fiction, children’s books, and youth literature, and nonfiction from now through the end of 2024. Publishers are guaranteed support of no less than 70 percent of the fee paid to the translator, although there’s an €8,000 limit (US$8,583), if the application meets the application criteria. More on these opportunities is at the FILI site.

All told, there are 70 new translations in the pipeline now, FILI says, of Finnish books going into German, representing the work of at least 30 authors. In 2024, those translations are to include works of Rosa Liksom, Matias Riikonen, Pirkko Saisio, Meri Valkama, Karin Erlandsson, Maria Turtschaninoff, Satu Rämö, Arttu Tuominen, Max Seeck, Linda Bondestam, Timo Parvela, Elina Pitkäkanka, and Salla Savolainen.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Finnish market is here, more on the international rights trade is here, more on translation is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on the German 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.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.

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