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May 1, 2024

The world of foreign rights publishing is an open and exciting one. Having secured some intriguing deals recently, I asked Rights Team Manager Melody Travers to tell me more about her team and their latest success. 

One recent highlight was the sale of Italian rights to The Japanese Art of Living Seasonally’ authored by Natalie Leon. Melody has noticed a general trend of interest in Japanese culture across Europe in the last few years. Particularly in central Europe like France, Germany, Italy, Spain. Melody says the team was able to secure a significant advance for the book in Italy, which was a nice surprise. Given the fact that Italy is a smaller country, there would be higher production and translation costs in relation to the usually lower print runs compared to countries with a higher population and readership. Additionally, the dense nature of the writing will require a large amount of translation. Recently, the costs associated with translating books has risen due to the rise in the overall cost of living. In the case of ‘The Japanese Art of Living Seasonally’, it is a larger volume title which would therefore be more expensive to translate as translators are usually paid word for word. This can be off putting to publishers outside the UK. This makes the Watkins’ rights team’s achievements even more impressive as it attests to the quality of the material and credentials of the author. 

Books with a lower word count such as art and photography books can be a popular choice for foreign publishers, as long as the content is universally applicable. For example, Watkins produces many books focused on the UK market like ‘England on Fire’ by Ben Edge and his latest book ‘Folklore Rising’, which is currently available to pre-order. These titles address cultural practices unique to the UK which correlates to foreign readers interested in the topic expressing a preference for reading it in English instead of translated. However, at present, folklore and witchcraft books are in demand across Europe and the wider world. These trends open doors to new markets. 

Cookery books have a wide range of appeal. Who does not love learning new recipes and eating delicious food? Melody says, “cookbooks can be interesting as culinary trends vary from country to country; and recognised British chefs might not be as well known abroad.” On rare occasions, particular ingredients have to be changed to account for what is regionally available. In these cases, the author is consulted to see what the best substitute would be or whether it is worth patrons paying a higher price for imported ingredients essential to the dish. These are the unique and engaging challenges working in foreign rights publishing presents. 

Melody expressed her joy at seeing international designs of Watkins books. A recent French edition of Easkey Britton’s ‘Ebb & Flow features a new blue wash across the internal illustrations, tying in with the aqua cover. “Foreign publishers pretty much always design a new cover to match their regional market,” says Melody. If you are curious to see more covers in different languages, check out our Instagram page @watkinswisdom. 

Melody told me her favourite part about her job is building relationships across the world. Whether it’s seeing familiar faces and making deals at Frankfurt Book Fair, having meetings with people from all over at the London Book Fair or attending online meetings that cover several time zones. The personal element of publishing can never be overstated. From the passionate teams who make books to the curious minds that enjoy reading them.

I would like to thank Melody Travers for taking the time to speak with me about her role and successes. For more blogs, visit https://watkinspublishing.com/blog/ and subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates on new books, upcoming events and special deals.  

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