Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Not Always At Once But Sometimes At Last

STATUS: I’ve got contracts on my mind.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ME AND MRS. JONES by Billy Paul

As y’all know, I’ve been working on contracts and quite a few foreign rights sales as of late. I’m particular fond of some of the recent deals because they were several years in the making.

See, we submitted the project back when we did the US sale but alas, didn’t have any takers. The US sale had been a strong one so we were quite flummoxed. We received quite a few rejections that the project felt “too American” for the foreign audience.

In a sense, I get that.

But now the deals are happening, so what has changed? Several things actually. The global market climate for that genre. The strength of the US sales can be a tipping point factor. General excitement created by readers with the US copy (or of an English-language copy that was imported into a particular country). There can be a number of reasons.

The door is never closed. It’s a good reminder that even if a foreign sale doesn’t happen at once, it can certainly happen at last (and the money, and the love, can be better the second time around). This happens in Hollywood as well.

Just last year I sold a project to Hollywood that I had been shopping for three years. I hadn’t given up hope but things did look a bit unpromising. Then a surprise summer hit made this type of project suddenly hot again and voila, interest, and then a sale.


23 Responses

  1. Rose Green said:

    Congrats on the sale!

    Just curious (since I’m an American living in Germany at the moment and find it interesting what does and doesn’t make it over here from the American market, and vice-versa)–what are some things that make a book more likely to sell in foreign editions? Less likely? You said if it makes it big in the States it’s good. Too “American” (whatever that means) is bad. More insights/observations on what makes a successful transfer book?

  2. Anonymous said:

    ok, I am posting as ‘anon’, so shoot me. I could make up an id with a clever alias too, would that make my point any stronger? But my point is — why isn’t the genre mentioned? What made this book suddenly sellable in a foreign market — just the US book sale #s? Why not talk about what is considered “too American”.

    Yes I can do the research. Yes, Yes, I hear you. But what is the point of the post — to persevere and you’ll eventually sell? Great. I think I have an inspirational calendar on my desk that says something along those lines.

    OK – call me a troll. But do I have a point here?

  3. Anonymous said:

    Anons, I don’t get you types. I read a lot of blogs from literary agents, and this one seems to attract the most snarky comments from anonymous commenters. What’s the deal with that?

    Consider if you were an recently published author and you had no idea how foreign rights worked, or what timetable they worked on … this post might actually hit your sweet spot. And has it also occurred to you that Kristin’s primary responsibility is to her authors, and that she might withhold some information, such as names/genres/deals, out of respect for their wishes? Believe it or not, protecting fragile and anonymous egos is probably pretty low on her list of priorities.

    LurkerMonkey

  4. Anonymous said:

    L. Monkey:

    Protecting genres???? Really?

    And I gotta think that it is atypical for foreign rights to take several years to sell, unless an older US book has suddenly taken off. And if that is the case, why not mention that. I mean, Holy Vague, if that is the point.

    And if the post gave any info on how foreign rights are actually sold, I could agree with you.

    I do agree it is not a bloggers “job” to worry about my ego. But I would hope that the posts would have more value to them.

    Snarky? Maybe. I can live with that.

    –cindiindahaus

  5. Merry Monteleone said:

    Just a suggestion, you might want to look into banning ip addresses or more simply, blogger allows you to censor the comments so they don’t show unless they’re approved… I’m not normally one for censorship, but at this point I’m starting to avoid the comment section altogether… pity, too, the comments were usually a wealth of good conversation.

  6. Samantha Dayne said:

    The talk of foreign rights sounds vaguely of bragging. For a blog that is supposedly lending a helping hand to unpublished writers by giving inside tidbits on the biz (and that is the claim of the agent’s ardent supporters), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to talk about selling foreign rights when most blog readers haven’t yet sold American rights. Sounds like more bragging about busyness and success. Blagh.

  7. Anonymous said:

    Taking time out of the day to monitor what goes into the comment section? Phooey. This is FREE advertising, Merry Monteleone. Putting time in means it is no longer free. Bababooey, bababooey.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Not everyone reading this blog is unpublished – my novel sold a year ago to a major publisher, and I’m very encouraged to know that foreign rights and movie deals can happen long after that fact.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Still wondering what the hell Bababooey means. It’s the stupidest “word” I’ve ever heard and makes the commenter sound either like an ape or a child imitating one.

  10. Anonymous said:

    “For a blog that is supposedly lending a helping hand to unpublished writers”

    Who the hell said this is to help unpubbed writers? It’s called PUB RANTS, not PUB HELP.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Okay, so then maybe she should stop bitching– isn’t that what a ranting is, bitching?

    Maybe if she just responded to valid questions raised here instead of continuing to brag about her super-duper accomplishments, no one would get ticked off and go off on demented screeds. Seriously, there isn’t enough volume on these threads for her to get too bogged down in questions. Try and believe it if you will, but she’s not that popular.

    Bababooey has something to do with Howard Stern, google it or something. I remember it from ten years ago.

  12. Linnea said:

    Anonymity certainly brings out the worst in some people. If you don’t like Kristin’s blog and think she shouldn’t be bragging about her accomplishments then DON’T READ IT.
    By the way, I got one of those lovely hadwritten rejections many years ago and I’m hanging on to mine. Now that you don’t respond to snail mail any longer it’s bound to become a collector’s piece!

  13. Anonymous said:

    omg, “collectors piece”?!! although ur clearly kidding, the a-kissing tone is exactly y people spew on this blog.

    Eva Reade
    Torrance CA

    (is that non-anon enuf 4 everyone?!)

  14. Anonymous said:

    This is her blog, so who else would she be writing about? That’s what live journals and blogs are about. Tracking ones daily life and making note of events that you see fit to share.

    Now of course she’ll be talking about her latest sales and any forth coming books, because it coinsides with her daily work life. It only makes sense to bring it up.

    Is it advertising at the same time? Ya, but so what. The name of the agenting game is show potential clients that your dedicated to your job and your clients, then have a track record to back it up. There is no shame in posting successes, especially if you worked hard at it.

    Besides, I like reading about debut authors breaking through or books that found a home in the foreign market after many years of pushing for it.

    But she also includes talks with editors, trends she notices in her query box, reasons she requested or past and so forth in her posts.

    So if this type of blog is not your cup of tea, then simply move on and find something else to read. There’s plenty on the net to choose from.

  15. Anonymous said:

    I agree with 4:31 – promote yourself great — it really is a huge reason to have a professional blog. Talk about sales, trends, foreign markets etc etc. But just saying you have 5 contracts to review, sold 37 foreign rights etc etc doesn’t make a blogger look successful unless you add some dimension to it. Some details, again, not specifics that betray identities, but what genres, how the process worked, hurdles overcome, trends it seemed to follow etc. Not blow by blow, but show some insight. What value is there to a reader that somebody made 5 sales, sold 14 foreign rights if there is no dimension added to it. Bullet pointing those sales is not the value, it is the insight that can be added that could be the true value.

    I think people have glommed onto this blog and thrown mud because it is easy to do. Does that make it right? No, but at times the blog seems like a house of cards. I don’t know KN, never met her, never submitted to her. She may or may not be the best agent around, but the blog doesn’t present her in the best light, and trolls, naysayers etc exploit that, and that is when the venom, mud and name calling amps up.

    –cindiindahaus

  16. Anonymous said:

    I read the blog to balance what my own agent tells me, even though it can seem a little self-congratulatory sometimes.

    As a comment, however, I actually think there is too much disclosure here. For instance, if I was the author with the book at MacMillan mentioned two posts ago, I don’t think I would want to see them publically railed for an aggressive non-compete clause, even if it is only in a small corner of the net. Strike it from the contract, sure, but why air it in public?

    I also thought that publically advertising that an author was stumped on a title and then going to the peanut gallery for advice had the potential to hurt the author’s credibility as being someone who could generate their own creative ideas.

    -Anonymous from necessity

  17. Anonymous said:

    Obviously, KN asked the author’s permission before asking for title help from the audience, so to speak. Although I agree. As a published author myself, I would be mortified to have this happen to me. Although I’m sure this isn’t the case, the author comes off as too inept to come up with her own title, which bodes poorly for the book. As I said, I’m sure this isn’t the case, but asking help from the public makes it seem that way. Now, if it had been a contest to generate publicity, and had been spun that way, it might have come off differently…

  18. Linnea said:

    Thanks for sharing your name, Eva. Yeah, I was kidding about the collector’s piece although I have kept all personal rejections I’ve received over the years. No, I’m not kissing up at all. No reason to. I’m not looking for an agent. If people are spewing on this blog it means they’re talking about it and that’s always good news.

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