Rights Roundup: Max Seeck on ‘Familiarity, Marketability’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

In our Rights Roundup, we feature work originating in Polish, Finnish, English, Italian, Danish, and Turkish.

Max Seeck. Image: Ahlback Agency, Marek Sabogal

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

Seeck’s ‘Milo’ Is to Publish in July 2024
While Milo, the next crime novel from the Finnish bestseller Max Seeck isn’t scheduled to be released until July 2024 from Tammi, agent Elina Ahlback in Helsinki has announced that the 29-year-old film production company Solar Films in Helsinki has bought the rights at auction to make a television series from the work with international distribution, development starting next year, production beginning in 2025.

Elina Ahlbäck

In addition to Tammi’s rights for the book and Solar’s film and television rights ownership, Ahlback says book publication rights have gone to:

  • France: Mera Éditions
  • Germany: Bastei Lübbe
  • Norway: Aschehoug

Here in our Rights Roundups, Seeck’s prodigious output and publishing success are well known. With Ahlback’s agency support, his writings—by our count, at least seven novels prior to Milo—have sold into at least 40 territories and languages. Generally classified as Nordic noir, his work is often sold with his book covers depicting characters walking away into foreboding settings full of snow and ice. His success shows that he’s getting readers’ attention.

Known for his background in business—and in marketing, in particular—Seeck, since starting his writing career in 2016, hasn’t been shy about his interest in film. Jukka Helle’s Solar Films also produced The Knocking in 2022, with Seeck co-directing and co-writing the screenplay along with Joonas Pajunen. Another work, The Faithful Reader, was announced in 2019 to have been sold to Stampede Ventures for adaptation as a television series.

“Especially people who don’t follow the book market so closely but the TV and movie markets instead,” he says, “are perhaps introduced to my books the first time” through screen productions.Max Seeck

Seeck has talked of the rituals of networking and schmoozing in Hollywood—the rounds many make to alert the cocktail circuit to their work—and with his business background, we were glad to have a chance to put a couple of questions to him for today’s Roundup, relative to how a writer sees the film and television deals he’s getting.

“I think news like this,” he tells Publishing Perspectives, referring to the news of his Milo contract with Solar, “is always really good in terms of familiarity and marketability” for his work.

“Especially people who don’t follow the book market so closely but the TV and movie markets instead,” he says, “are perhaps introduced to my books the first time” through screen productions.

When it comes to production, he may actually be a bit less hands-on that some would expect. “Despite doing my share of screenwriting and producing films,” he tells us, “I wouldn’t necessarily participate in adapting my own books into TV series or feature films. I believe a certain amount of dialogue is needed with the production executives and screenwriters in order to maintain the heart of the novel, but I don’t feel I need to be a part of the writing team, nor should I be needed on the set once the production starts.”

And when we ask about the opposite direction—starting with a film and then producing a book, his experience with The Knocking seems to have knocked that idea right out of him. The film, he says, “was welcomed so well that I’ve been asked to turn the movie into a book. However, I don’t think it will ever come to that. Making The Knocking was very interesting and rewarding but the story as I want to tell it is now been told, and I’d rather write completely new stories from now on.”

Meanwhile, Helle at Solar Films says, “We at Solar are very happy to continue our cooperation with Max” on the coming adaptation of Milo, and Ahlback says the new book is about “Milo, a criminal profiler and art gallery owner who struggles with sexual frustration,” ending up having to become good at chess to catch a killer.

Children’s Books in Ukrainian

Literary agent Karolina Jaszecka from KaBooks—whom we last saw at the Taipei International Book Exhibition in a professional program presentation—has contacted us about the “Books of Hope” project from Widnokrag, a Polish house Jaszecka represents, and its effort to get several free ebooks, specially translated into Ukrainian for children.

Karolina Jaszecka

“We dedicate the Ukrainian translation of the award-winning Polish titles Prawy i Lewy (ages 3+), Something and Nothing (4+), Yesterday and Tomorrow (5+) to children who had to flee from the war,” the publisher says at its site for the project.

These books, in ebook format, are available on the publisher’s site free of charge, with  translation credit to Olga Smolnytska.

As always, we add only a note that for all the incredibly generous efforts to get literature to the children of Ukraine, it would be good to think of the adults, as well. They’re caught in a horrific experience of trying to keep those precious children alive and happy and unafraid. Often these parents are alone, too, either fighting on the front lines or trying to keep the faith for the kids at home.

Surely publishing has something in the form of a needed escape for such adult heroes after those kids finally get to sleep.

Books for Ukrainian adults: that’s a humanitarian outreach we rarely see.

Three Polish ebooks in Ukrainian for parents to download, from Widnokrąg

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.

Is the Algorithm Plotting Against Us?
A Layperson’s Guide to the Concepts, Math, and Pitfalls of AI
By Kenneth Wenger

Reported rights sales:

  • Poland: Helion

“Although artificial intelligence is everywhere, most of us don’t understand it. We hardly know what it is, let alone how it affects us. As a result, fears of self-aware machines taking over the world obscure more pressing concerns we should address about the role AI already has in our lives.

“In Is the Algorithm Plotting Against Us? AI expert Kenneth Wenger explains the complexity at the heart of artificial intelligence. He celebrates the elegance and ingenuity of AI algorithms—and you don’t need a computer science degree to follow along.

“Wenger proposes a test to determine for which human-related problems AI could serve as a solution and when it’s likely not the right answer. But more importantly, he empowers readers to answer these questions for themselves, an essential step we all must take at a time when AI’s hold on tech, society, and our imagination is only getting stronger.”

Hafni Says
By Helle Helle

  • Publisher: Gutkind, Copenhagen
  • Rights contact: Winje Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Sweden: Norstedts
  • Norway: Forlaget Oktober
  • The Netherlands: Querido
  • Germany: Penguin Verlag

In Helle Helle’s new Hafni Says, “Hafni says … she’s getting divorced. She’s phoning the novel’s narrator from a lay-by. But it’s Hafni doing the talking.

Helle Helle

“She’s celebrating the divorce with a smørrebrød tour as she calls it–from Roskilde by way of Ringsted, Korsør, Nyborg, Svendborg, Faaborg, and the Bøjden-Fynshav ferry to Gråsten, there to sample the South Jutland region’s renowned afternoon tea. A tour that was meant to take a week. But ends up taking nearly a month.

“Now Hafni’s phoning to talk about what went wrong along the way. She says:

“‘I don’t want to be me. I want to remake myself. I don’t know how to remake myself.'”

In Berlingske, a critique says, “Helle Helle surpasses herself with Hafni’s shame and screw-ups  … Like few writers, Helle Helle manages to reproduce herself in such a way that each new novel buds from the one(s) before it, not as a clone or a one-to-one copy, but as one of those small wonders that life (biological and literary) every once in a while bestows upon us. A kind of literary-evolutionary self-propagation, a self-refining process of cell division, the art of writing at its very best.”

The Lodge
By Ebru Ojen

  • Publisher: Everest Publishing, Pune
  • Rights contact: Ayser Ali Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • World English: City Lights (a translation by Aron Aji and Selin Gökçesu)

Ebru Ojen

Lojman tells, the domestic tale of a Kurdish family living in a small village on a desolate plateau at the foot of the snow-capped mountains of Turkey’s Van province.

“Written in startling, raw prose, this novel  is reminiscent of Elena Ferrante’s masterful Days of Abandonment, though its private dramas are made all the more vivid against an imposing natural landscape that exerts a powerful, life-threatening force.

“Abandoned by her husband, marooned by an epic snowstorm, a mother gives birth to her third child. Her sense of entrapment turns into a desperate rage in this unblinking portrait of a woman whose powerlessness becomes lethal.”

The Atlas of Colors
By Tommaso Maiorelli
Illustrated by Carla Manea

  • Publisher: Giunti
  • Rights contact: LeeAnn Bortolussi, Giunti Editore
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • South Korea: Nermer

Tommaso Maiorelli and illustrator Carla Manea

“Each color in the rainbow is a reservoir of stories, each shade has something to tell.

“There are colors with a date of birth, such as Orcein (or Natural Red 28), discovered by chance by a Florentine merchant; others have meanings that have changed over the centuries, such as blue, once associated with female figures.

“This is an illustrated atlas to take us on a journey through the world of colors, to discover their significance, their personalities, and their histories.”

Rafsa Wildfur
By Lena Frölander-Ulf

  • Publisher: Forlaget, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Hanna Pajunen-Walsh, Rights & Brands
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – German: Thienemann-Esslinger
  • Danish: Staarup & Co.

Lena Frölander-Ulf

“The first title in a new trilogy: “Rafsa: The Fight for Stonefield” introduces Rafsa, a rebel marmot girl who doesn’t want to fit in and conform to rules.

“Together with best friend Kotten and their flock they all live in Stonefield in the middle of the woods, where they encounter the many dangers of the forest.

“This book is a big, bustling adventure full of suspense and humor, a story about friendship, solidarity, and how we can live at peace together and with nature.”

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.