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Closing a Deal in Bologna

handshake-recruiting-sepiaI’m still in the midst of doing my Bologna follow-up, which basically consists of reading through my scribbled notes of my meetings with foreign editors, scouts, and movie people, making note of what we spoke about, titles they asked to see or expressed interest in, other books they might have passed on, and making sure that I share this information in the right places. I use a pretty basic tracking system for all my books, but I still have to send it out to my subagents, so that I can follow up when I have material (like a final manuscript), and we can get the manuscript to the people who asked for it.

That’s a pretty rough idea of what Bologna mostly consists of — talking, making notes, and following up.

But Kate/Daphne, you ask, what about all those awesome deals you surely do at a fair?

To which I respond by laughing, and laughing…

Sorry. It’s just that these fairs (Bologna, London, Frankfurt, for instance), are more about making contact than making a deal. Do deals happen? Sure! I got an offer from one publisher while we sat at my table in the Agents Center, and we expect to close shortly. Same thing last year.

But that’s one offer out of dozens — maybe even a hundred — meetings. Many more deals may come out of these meetings, but it doesn’t happen at the fair, or not usually.

If that’s the case, you may ask, why don’t more authors go to these fairs? Isn’t it useful for them to make contact too?

Yes, absolutely, but I would argue that in most cases, with most authors, the BEST time for them to come to an international rights fair is when they’re already an international success, so they can meet their publishers and foreign editors, and see how their books are doing around the world. For new authors, I would recommend you save your money (it’s rare that a publisher will pay to bring an author to one of these fairs, and then only if they’re the one holding all the rights) or look to something closer to home, like BEA or ALA, where you can make contact with booksellers and librarians. After all, if you’re not a success with them, it’s rare that you’ll be a success outside the US.

Questions about this? To the comments! Allons-y!

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