Since we got so many enthusiastic responses to Rachel’s great write-up of Samantha Steele last week, we thought we’d give you another peek into further developments for young folk wanting to pursue a career in translation or foreign rights.
On a balmy evening last week, around 50 young book-biz folk and other noteworthies gathered in the courtyard of a Soho bar to celebrate the launch of Publishing the World. The undertaking is a joint venture between the German Book Office and the French Publishers Agency, hosted by Brittany Hazelwood on the German side, and Sam for the French. I arrived early and got to meet their lovely interns, both incoming for the Fall Semester and outgoing from the Summer term.
Besides getting to talk to a smaller group of people in a leisurely fashion, the free margaritas on offer were an excellent incentive for punctuality. But, let us be accurate: these beverages might more honestly be termed “jargaritas.” A multicultural celebration indeed.
What was remarkable to me was that people actually talked to people they didn’t know, and they talked about international books and book business. How ’bout that? It was a pleasure to meet Lucinda Karter, with whom I’d previously corresponded for Publishing Trends business, but had never met in person. She introduced me to Marine Aubry, Program Director, Fiction, for the Book Office of the French Embassy. (Look for her profile sometime soon in Book-Jobs, Not by the Book.) Once I’d finished repeating “the embassy. The French Embassy” over and over, she told me, (and blogger Rachel Stark, who joined us later) that it’s been considerably harder to sell French rights in the US this year than it was last year. When asked why she thought this was so, she mused that she hoped the portion of translations that used to be dominated by French and German books have become spread out among many languages that never used to have a chance. “If that’s the case, I don’t mind. I don’t mind sharing.” Which, I’m happy [and amazed] to say, is the kind of generosity of that seems par for the course among the many international/translation folk with whom I’ve interacted in the past year.
We spent a while talking about the ins-and-outs of Marine’s uphill climb of a job, she paused and asked me, “And you? What do you think will be next for international book business?” I laughed heartily.
And then I saw it wasn’t a joke.
This was a conversation where the person with whom I was speaking wasn’t under the illusion that I ACTUALLY knew what the future of book business is going to be. But, amazingly, that didn’t stop her from wanting to hear what I thought.
Have you had that experience yet? Where you’re so worried about seeming naive that you put on your best world-weary face before you go into any conversation that could possibly involve big dreams or plans for the future? That conversation with Marine, and with so many others at the Publishing the World launch re-presented me with the crazy idea that it’s OK to think–and to think aloud–about big things you care about, even when no one could honestly call you an “industry veteran.” There’s a time and a place for it, sure–but that time and place may be nearer and more frequent than you think.
For their part, the German Book Office and French Publishers Agency expressed great enthusiasm about the young allies in their mission. The GBO told us that, “With nearly sixty passionate attendees, a hearty toast was lifted to foreign literature amongst the company of its future allies. PTW’s guests are the future trailblazers of publishing in America, and we were thrilled to see that international literature sits near and dear!” And from the FPA, “We hope that this new generation will be the one to break the stereotype of American publishing’s aversion to translation. If this crowd was any indication, translation has a bright future.”
Publishing Trendsetter heartily congratulates Publishing the World on such an auspicious beginning, and thanks them for valuing the “next” generation of book business as it is even now.
If you’d like to be added to the Publishing the World mailing list for updates on further events and activities, please email email@example.com.