At a publishing house, there is a department devoted to subsidiary rights and foreign rights, and it is the job of the directors and managers in that department to keep their lines of communication open with the rest of the industry. They meet with book editors at other publishing companies. They meet with editors at magazines. They meet with movie scouts and scouts for foreign publishers (a lot of publishers around the world keep someone in New York). They work with agencies to stay informed about what is coming out and what books are getting what reviews and what is selling particularly well. Why is everyone buying vampire books, for example, and why are books on sailing suddenly working better than they did before?
There are always trends, and the publishers want to keep on top of that, so people in subrights, travel to conferences and large conventions all over the world. There’s one in London called the London Book Fair and another in Frankfurt called the Frankfurt Book Fair. These fairs aren’t open to the entire world; they’re places where agents and publishers meet to talk about books they have coming up and what rights are still available. If you’ve signed a contract with an agent or publisher, you want to make sure they’re talking about you, and you should give them any information you have that will help—the fact that you’ve won some awards or been asked to take over the Junior League in your home town can make a difference. It’s the job of subrights people and agents to know what the trends are and then fit information about your book into those trends. They should know where a book about vampires is likely to sell particularly well or where to find a market for a book about yoga and meditation, for example—and that means keeping track of what’s happening around the world.
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