Category Archives: Translation Rights

Getting Into Publishing – Emma Winter Rights Assistant

Emma journey to publishing

‘Don’t worry, you’ll get there soon enough’ and ‘If it’s worth getting, it’s worth waiting for’ were among the many platitudes that kept me going  whilst trying to get a job in publishing.

Having graduated in 2011, with a BA Hons in American Literature and Creative Writing, there was nothing I really wanted to do more than work in publishing, even though I’d had little experience of it. I did know that it wasn’t all Daniel Cleaver and see-through tops, though.

Sadly, university doesn’t really prep you for the hard slog that is getting your first job. You have to equip and motivate yourself to actively seek things out; being in publishing is a very proactive career path and, almost always, starts with interning or work experience. There is one thing I would go back and tell University Emma: do some early internships during university holidays, it’ll help in the long run and allow you to get where you want to be faster than the two years it took Graduate Emma.

In the last ten years or so, it seems that publishing has become a really desirable career. And quite rightly – it’s hugely exciting, constantly evolving and pretty darn wonderful. I started interning immediately after graduating with a lovely boutique literary agency based in Pimlico with authors such as Andy Stanton and Yvvette Edwards on the books.

The two months turned into three months and I was absolutely hooked. I even got to work with an author on a very special teen book which I submitted to publishers (not under my own name) and it was signed up for a three book deal. Since then the book has been shortlisted for a national book award! It was an incredibly special feeling and one that has stayed with me throughout.

I sailed out on a high into a second internship in another agency, based near Carnaby Street, and quickly realised I had picked up a lot more than I thought, or even realised. As a slightly bigger agency with an in-house foreign rights team, it allowed me to experience another exciting side of agency life.

After that was finished, I went to a children’s publishers where I spent time (again in a small team) with all the different departments and got a feel for how publishers work.

Shortly afterwards, I did something slightly different to be able to fund future internships, and managed a restaurant which turned into an 18 month stint. During that time, I also interned in the publicity department of a huge publishers and in the editorial department of another children’s publishers.

I finally left my restaurant job in May this year, having decided to take a leap of faith and move to London. I was asked to return to my very first internship to help out part-time and loved being back in the loop at an agency again.

When that finished I went to a scouting agency, my very first experience of this rather secret sector of publishing, and enjoyed every minute. It was very busy and involved huge amounts of reading, which doubled by the time Frankfurt Book Fair came around. I also really loved the foreign rights aspect – I attended an international school for seven years so it almost felt like home; I’ve always been drawn to international affairs. After a hectic three weeks of preparation, my colleagues descended on Frankfurt Book Fair and I stayed behind to look after the office. Being on my own during that time really proved how far I’d come and how much experience I’d earned.

During the two years I spent looking for a job post-graduation I accrued 25 interviews and 25 rejection emails, with some more helpful than others. I laughed, I cried, I hoped. I had some very near misses, including getting down to the last two of 300 applicants at Penguin as well as some flat out ‘We know you’re not right’s . Some of the time it was hard to remain positive in such a competitive environment, and having received mostly positive feedback from my interviewers it was hard to see where I was going wrong. There was only one thing I could do and that was to carry on.

With internships becoming just as sought after as actual jobs, I felt the end was nigh and I might have to give into encouragement to find a job in another sector. But, I’m no quitter, and I kept going.

It proved to be worth every moment when, one day in rainy October, the lovely Clare and Mary interviewed me for the role of Rights Assistant at Darley Anderson. And I was offered the job.

Entirely surreally, that day feels quite blurry and nothing felt cemented until I’d had my first day here. It still didn’t quite feel real that after two years I’d secured a job in exactly what I wanted to do and at an agency – somewhere I knew I was destined for. Having settled in now, I’m having a great time and feel very lucky to be part of such a fantastic agency with a brilliant and supportive team.

So, to all you hardy interns and people looking for first jobs in publishing, my tips are:

  • Be an enthusiastic intern. Help out where you can and never forget to smile, even if it’s only photocopying. You don’t know who is watching.
  • Prove to employers why they should hire you – get involved in things that demonstrate your passion for publishing i.e. blog on the side, volunteer with local libraries or reading groups, set up a book club, network. You need to set yourself apart from the other hundreds of people who probably have similar experience.
  • If you haven’t already, join Twitter. Invaluable, invaluable, invaluable. You can follow the right people, read the right things and hear about things that you wouldn’t necessarily have access to otherwise.
  • Read, read, read. You need to demonstrate that you know what’s out there. Why should a publisher hire you for a children’s book role if you have no experience of the market, or what even makes a good book?
  • Do your research. Look at what an agency/publisher does, who their big clients are, what they specialise in, what’s important to them.
  • NEVER GIVE UP. It’s a long game, play it and you’ll reap the rewards.

Emma often tweets about entry-level publishing jobs @MsEmmaWinter and she also blogs at:

We’re Back!

Welcome back to the Darley Anderson blog after our summer/Frankfurt Book Fair break.

Did you miss us? We missed you. Hope you’ve all had a brilliant time in the sun reading only great stories and that the writing process has been kind to those of you who write.

We’re excited to get going again and we’ll be hitting the road running with the latest in the 11 Ways Not To Start Your Novel series any minute now.

But first, we’ve had some great responses to our challenge to name those five novels that start with their protagonist waking up. (If you haven’t yet had a chance to play go back now to 11 Ways Not To Start Your Novel No. 6 before we give away the answers.)

To set your minds at rest here are the authors and their books responsible for those opening lines:

  1. Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadWhen he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him
  2. Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus: The Lost HeroEven before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day. He woke in the back seat of a school bus, not sure where he was, holding hands with a girl he didn’t know.
  3. Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Other StoriesAs Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect
  4. S J Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I come to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.
  5. Douglas Adams’ Life, The Universe and Everything The regular early morning yell of horror was the sound of Arthur Dent waking up and suddenly remembering where he was

Did you get them all? Have you read them all?

Excellent. Then we’ll continue…

Getting Into Publishing – Mary Darby Rights Executive

Don’t you have to know somebody who knows somebody who knew somebody else’s Grandfather’s niece? No. At least, not always. My job search, for example, didn’t involve anyone but countless internship enquiry letters and me. James Caan would have been proud.

Having recently returned from a year working as an English teacher in a far-flung corner ofPicture for blog BARBADOS the Caribbean, I was keen to steer my future career down a foreign path if possible, and fell in love with foreign rights. So I submitted my enquiry letters to a few choice publishers and waited. And waited…

The waiting was dreary and each rejection made me question my decision but at last an offer came in: A 6 week placement in the Rights Department at Bloomsbury. I was absolutely over the moon! But, I had to wait 8 more months! So I lived and worked at home in Norfolk to save my pennies.

The placement was to be part-time, temporary, and unpaid (enough to move to a new city for?) so I got myself a Saturday job at Stanford’s Map and Travel Guide Book Shop in Covent Garden. This Saturday job soon turned into a FridaySaturdaySundayMonday job so I was working 7 days but loved it all. Working at Stanford’s was absolutely brilliant experience. I enjoyed meeting customers (and travelling vicariously…) and learned a lot by talking to the buyers and floor managers, as well as the publishers’ sales reps. I also loved getting books into the hands of paying customers!

My 6 weeks interning were soon up but I was delighted to be kept on as a part-time assistant to the Bloomsbury rights team on a temporary basis. While I was there, the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency sent out an email which the kind rights people at Bloomsbury forwarded to me (okay, then I knew somebody who knew somebody).

I came for an interview for the part-time Rights Assistant job and have been here ever since! I continued at Stanford’s part-time, but was offered a full-time role at Darley Anderson after two months and went back to just doing Saturdays which I finally stopped completely after about 18 months.

Maryfbf.jpg blogI have now done three London Book Fairs and two Frankfurts and enjoy each one a little more than the last. The months before the fair are an incredibly busy time (I have just scheduled six meetings for this year’s Frankfurt and it’s only June!). Between reading all our new manuscripts and meeting with Scouts to talk about our new titles, we juggle what feels like a million things at once. And, as you can imagine, by the time the fairs come around, we are quite frazzled! But energised and excited too.

One of the things I value most about my job in foreign rights (apart from having a job in publishing) is working with such friendly and interesting people from all walks of life from all corners of the World. This includes authors, editors and everybody else in the industry. I also enjoy the social side of my job and I get to attend book launches, publisher parties and the odd film premiere and, to top it all, my home is filled to the brim with the latest releases which I am encouraged to read!  I feel very lucky indeed and not once have I had those Sunday Night Blues.

So, if you would love to work in publishing, start by finding out as much as you can about the role you are looking for and decide the kind of books you want to work with.

Approach specific people within organisations; if you want to go into foreign rights, or marketing and publicity, don’t contact the editor in chief just because theirs is the first name you found. The internet has made this task easier than ever, plus there are endless blogs out there, and agents and publishers are often on Twitter so get online and do some research.

Then be patient. Waiting can be stressful and the rejections disheartening. But, if you can, use that time to read read read (after all it could be the last opportunity you have to read ‘non-work books’).

Once you have that first foot in the door, get involved, take on over-time if you can, go to networking events and company meetings, ask questions, and be helpful. And, like I said, working in a book shop is a brilliant way to experience the completion of the publishing process.

It really isn’t all about being in the right place at the right time, most of it is persistence, determination, positive thinking (and a high tolerance to a pasta-pesto diet… ).

Much the same as what is needed to be an aspiring author. Funny that.

Book Fairs and Book Worms

Jon Holder has dedicated Monster of the Month to London Book Fair and has created these bookish creatures… And Mary Darby, Rights Executive, is talking foreign rights.

Reading Time colour

In the frantic run up to the London Book Fair I thought I’d take some time out from preparing for my 56 meetings and introduce you to the exciting, and somewhat mysterious world of Foreign Rights. I say exciting, because it truly is – we liaise with foreign publishers every day, discuss excellent books and lovely authors, and negotiate exciting deals. And I say mysterious because not many début and aspiring authors know foreign rights even exist…

LBF takes place next week (15th – 17th April) and Earl’s Court is bracing itself for another fantastic Book Fair where it will be filled to the brim with book people talking about… books! Rights people will be pitching next year’s bestsellers and editors will be looking for them.

Bestselling Darley Anderson author Tana French commented, “Before I was published, I knew basically nothing about foreign rights, and I didn’t even think about them.”

So if you’ve never heard of them, you’re not alone. However, Tana French’s books are now sold into 31 languages, so sit up and take note.

Foreign Rights (also known as translation rights) are one sub-right of many that make up a manuscript/book. They are the rights that mean the manuscript can be translated and published in another language. And the best bit? The author doesn’t even have to pick up their pen (or fire up their laptop) to write another word. Foreign editions are translated from the original manuscript.

Tana went on to say “I didn’t really expect them [the foreign rights] to sell; I was just crossing all my fingers and toes that the book would sell in English that even thinking about other languages felt greedy. So foreign rights sales still feel a bit magical and unearned to me, like un-birthday presents being dropped through the letterbox by a fairy godmother.”

Let me translate. What this means is that because we, the Agency, handle the foreign rights and not the publisher (foreign rights can be sold in bulk to the UK publisher – more about this later) the author receives an advance on top of any other advance already earned (UK & Commonwealth; US.). Each foreign rights sale is a separate deal and so is separately accounted. So as you can see, foreign rights can be very valuable and the author has had to do nothing more!

Alternatively, if the agent sells foreign rights to the UK publisher (WORLD RIGHTS) then the publisher’s in-house rights team will handle them. A publisher’s rights team won’t differ all that much from an agency’s rights team; deals are negotiated and rights are sold in much the same way. But, any income generated by foreign rights sales through a publisher’s rights team will go towards recouping the initial advance paid out. Only once the total sum has been recouped by the publisher will the author see any more pennies or pounds for that manuscript. This is what’s known as earning out.
Big difference and a discussion for another day.

As I’ve said before, if you’re an author thinking about submitting to our agency, think about international appeal. Will the manuscript work well abroad? Is it too British? Is it easily translatable and does it deal with universal themes? This isn’t a deal breaker, but it can be a sweetener, and as an aspiring author, it’s something to think about.

And also remember that I, and the editors I will be meeting with next week, will have between 15 and 20 back-to-back appointments each day, so please also bear us in mind before you submit and try the elevator pitch; you have 30 seconds to pitch your entire novel. Use this pitch in your covering letter; this will help the agent who opens your submission, and will help the rights agent pitch it to publishers at the International Book Fairs.

From Monday Earl’s Court will be buzzing with the sound of rights agents pitching their new titles to editors. Because the fair is only three days long, we try to cram in as many meetings as possible to make the most of the publishers being in our city. This makes for a really exhilarating and very busy three days. And we can’t wait!

LBF 2013

By Mary Darby