Monday, October 18, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair: A personal journey through the eyes of a South African publisher

Macmillan Stand at Frankfurt Bookfair
Heading to Frankfurt was the culmination of many weeks of preparation in terms of setting up meetings with various literary agents and other publishers, mostly with the goal of generating overseas rights interest in our local publications. I had 31 meetings lined up for the three days I was at the Fair and I was ready for the challenge!
Macmillan UK Stand at Frankfurt Book Fair
Fortunately, I had heeded the advice of various people who had been to Frankfurt before in terms of packing comfortable shoes because the scale of the Fair was both daunting and inspiring. To give you an idea, the ENTIRE Cape Town Book Fair could fit into half of ONE of the halls at Frankfurt – and there were eleven halls, some of which had more than one storey!

Cape Town Book Fair Floor Plan

Frankfurt Book Fair Floor Plan
Initially it made me feel completely overwhelmed by how small our publishing scene is on the global scale – we are a really tiny piece of the global publishing puzzle. But fortunately, as I went from one meeting to the next and spoke about our books to people and saw the interest that some of the titles generated, my faith was restored in terms of the quality and variety of the titles that we are producing.
Rights Centre

Key results that came out of the trip to Frankfurt for me include the following:

-         The chance to meet and talk to many of the publishers and directors of the various companies in the broader Holtzbrinck group at the Trade Publishers’ meeting the day before the Book Fair started. It was great to be able to showcase some of our South African titles and to hear what the other companies have had success with and are looking forward to in 2011.  
-         For our local titles that we own world rights to we now have literary sub-agents selling rights to some of these titles in France; Italy; Holland; Germany; the UK; Australia; and the US interested in seeing some of our books. This increases our chances of selling rights to our local titles, which would be fantastic for our authors as well as for our brand and profile.
-         Being exposed to such a variety of publishers and titles from around the globe. Even when my feet were aching I kept walking – and collecting catalogues along the way.

Beautiful Stand
All in all it was a fantastic and eye-opening experience. 
View from my Hotel

For all you Wally Fans!

Andrea Nattrass
Pan Macmillan South Africa


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