First, please allow me to apologize for my odd and not always timely posts the past few weeks. I’ve managed to go from Passover to the London Book Fair to having my back go out to a death in the family, so the juggling of life and work and writing and generally being efficient has been…challenging. The fact is, this particular post has been percolating since I was in London, in the middle of April.
Three years ago, I went to the London Book Fair for the first time. HSG had just begun, we wanted to announce our presence (with Authority—kind of like Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham). And while I met with lots of fascinating people, the overwhelming feeling I had when I returned was that there had been an atmosphere of great apprehension around Earl’s Court. European publishers were unsure how stable American publishers were; how the emergence of digital media was going to cut into international sales (if they were); and with growing economic instability in some of the larger European countries (Spain, Italy, Greece), whether folks who were having trouble putting food on the table would be overly interested in a paranormal romance.
So I was curious as to what the atmosphere was going to be this year, in a new venue (with its rights center tucked away in a corner approximately ten miles from the entrance to the Olympia) with continued economic unrest in Europe but the publishing world somewhat more stable. E-books have begun to be more predictable; the latest mergers and squabbles have been completed and resolved. I know our business at HSG has improved in the past two years, with more sales and a sense that business was rebounding. The issue on everyone’s minds has more to do with marketing and discoverability than whether publishers would survive to next year.
And while I certainly heard some difficult news from a number of territories—Spain wanted only books that already came with enormous buzz and preferably a film deal attached, for example—it was heartening to hear from the Japanese market, many of my British colleagues, and even the French. A little. Between espressos. And only reluctantly.
And then there were the Germans. First of all, I’m incredibly fortunate to work with one of the great people in publishing, Tilo Eckardt at Mohrbooks (whose name we at HSG have, almost inevitably, shortened to the less accurate but hipper T-Lo.). And it appears that my clients’ writing has dovetailed with the German market’s needs. Or perhaps, the German economy is simply strong enough that their publishers are willing to take greater risks than many other places. Regardless, in the past six months I think we have sold eight or nine projects there, far more than in any other territory. And this week, we were the beneficiaries of an auction between two houses on a book by one of our Dead Guy bloggers that had been bought by another of our bloggers…but I’ll let our writer make that announcement…very early next week.