Friday, May 9, 2008

A Unique Collaboration


Each year Annick participates in the Bologna Book Fair. It was during one such fair in 2003 that we were approached by Erica Wagner, Publisher, Books for Children and Teenagers at Allen and Unwin in Australia. Erica told me about a German book entitled Mimus that she felt had great potential. Interestingly, the same book had been pitched to me, and I had the same response--it seemed exceptional. The problem was the book was very long, and since translators charge by the word, the cost of producing an English edition was prohibitive for Annick.

Erica proposed that we think about sharing the translation cost and dividing the English language territories where our respecitve companies were strongest. A & U would take Australia, New Zealand and the UK (where they had a distributor), while Annick would take North America. Thus began a unique collaboration in publishing outstanding books originally published in a foreign language. We each found German readers and asked them to produce assessments. We then shared our respective reports before deciding to make an offer to the publisher: two distinct territories, two separate rights contracts

In addition to being shortlisted for the prestigious Marsh award--a UK award that recgonizes stellar translations, Mimus went on to receive wide acclaim in review journals, including the following: Best Books of the Year, School Library Journal, YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, and the Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Magazine.
Since the publication of Mimus, A & U and Annick have collaborated on three other novels, and are currently exploring a fifth. Not only have we shared translation costs, but some of the editing costs, and in each case, have agreed on the cover treatment, thus splitting design and permission fees as well.

Together we are able to search for the best fiction in other languages, an experience that has been beneficial to our respective companies, to our position in the international market place, and to the idea that there are unique opportunities for publishers to work together in new and exciting ways.

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