Thursday, April 24, 2008

Would you like another cappuccino? Or, how to do business at the Bologna Book Fair.

We've just returned from the Bologna Children's Book Fair where Annick exhibits every year in order to meet with international publishers. What do we do there? Aside from consuming a lot of cappuccino, gelato, and other Italian culinary delights, we have a booth to display our recent books and present them to foreign publishers who may wish to acquire rights to publish our books in their market (depending on the market, that may mean publishing in translation).

Here's a photo of the corner of our booth this year:

We set up meetings in advance, every half hour for the three and a half days of the fair, and meet with about 60 different publishers and sub-agents from countries in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Australia, Latin America... It's really exciting finding that synchronicity, talking with a publisher from across the planet who shares our publishing sensibilities and aims. There's a wonderful global community of children's publishers out there. And personally, I love working with people from different countries and cultures and languages. Books really can bridge cultures!

Preparation for the book fair begins about three months in advance with the booking of appointments, preparation of catalogues, and cover blow-ups, shelf talkers, and other booth display materials. And the follow-up - that is, sending publishers the books they requested to review - can also take months, but the results can be very rewarding and very exciting (see The Little Black Book for Girlz goes to Italy! for an example of what can result from a book fair).

Though we've only just returned, here are some of the Bologna highlights this year:

  • Receiving an unexpected offer from a prestigious Italian publisher for The Apprentice's Masterpiece by Melanie Little (the cover of which is featured in the large poster in the photo above). Stay tuned for an announcement of an Italian rights sale!
  • Hearing several publishers describe The Bite of the Mango (to be published September 2008), the astounding true story of Mariatu Kamara's voyage from victim of war to UNICEF Special Representative co-written by Susan McClelland, as the most outstanding book of the fair! We expect international rights sales of this memoir will be swift.
  • Receiving so many compliments on the quality and innovation of our books (kudos to our editors!)

So now it's all about follow-up. And the great thing about cappuccino? It can be enjoyed while working here in Toronto too.

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