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On the Road with Editors from North America, New Delhi and Moscow

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Almost every year, the offices of the Frankfurt Book Fair abroad organise editors’ trips to Germany, generously funded by the German Foreign Office. In June this year, delegations from New York, Moscow and New Delhi visited their counterparts in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. We asked some of the participants about the ideas and incentives for their own work that they would be taking home from this exchange with their German peers. Here’s what they said:
 
 
Will Evans Photo: private
Will Evans
Director/Publisher, Deep Vellum Publishing, Dallas, Texas
‘The most valuable thing for me on this trip has been meeting the publishers and authors I didn’t know. And what I’m taking home from this trip are some ideas about how to provide authors with opportunities to make a living outside of selling their books. How can you make people be as excited about books as they are about music or movies? It’s about reaching out to the readers in new ways, doing crazy events.’

Will Evans is the founder of Deep Vellum Publishing, a not-for-profit firm that publishes ‘awesome translated literature from all over the world’.
 

 
Sarah MacLachlan Photo: private
Sarah MacLachlan
President and Publisher, House of Anansi Press, Toronto, Canada
‘It will take some time to process everything we’ve experienced. Before I came, I’d already bought Robert Seethaler’s book Der Trafikant, and we’ve sold books to a number of German publishers before. But it was very interesting to see the spread between Berlin and Frankfurt and then understand that German publishing is not centralised – that you have good publishers in every major city. The variety of work that’s being done is interesting, and there’s a great diversity that I perhaps wasn’t so aware of before I came. And you have publishers that have been around for 150 years, or 250 years. That was a revelation.’

Sarah MacLachlan has been working in Canadian publishing for twenty-nine years. She came to Anansi in 2003 when the press had only five people working in the office and a turnover of about $400,000. House of Anansi Press now has thirty people in the office and makes over $6 million in sales.
 

 
Ekaterina Vladimirskaya Photo: private
Ekaterina Vladimirskaya
Corpus Publishers, Moscow
‘Since the trip I have a better understanding of what kind of people our German colleagues are, of their way of thinking and working, and of their production. We have greater clarity now as to what publisher to turn to when looking for a book on a specific topic, or if we’re interested in selling rights. There are large differences in working methods, that’s where we can learn a lot from them. The working conditions in German marketing and press departments are enviable. Having said that, the majority of Russian publishing houses lack the financial resources to create similar conditions.’

Corpus publishes high-quality fiction and non-fiction, including a large number of translations.
 

 
Aleksander Kabissov Photo: private
Aleksander Kabissov
Text Publishers, Moscow
‘I’ve benefited from this trip in many ways. We have tightened ties with German publishing houses that have similar focuses, and the personal contacts we have made are a basis for good cooperation. At Suhrkamp we’ve been able to learn how to turn authors into future classics. The publisher’s work with its authors goes far beyond a mere proof-reading of their texts. We’ve also received new input in terms of marketing – we are now considering providing booksellers with sample copies and involving them more strongly in the planning of events.’

Founded in 1988, Text Publishers is one of the top independent publishing houses in Russia, with a list including numerous international authors in Russian translation.
 

 
Ameya Nagarajan Photo: private
Ameya Nagarajan
Assistant Commissioning Editor, Children’s Division, Penguin Random House India
‘I’m taking back a strong desire to publish more thriller and picture books, hopefully in collaboration with the GBO and publishers we have met. There is no shortage of excellent English-language authors in India, and they certainly write across genres – yet everything we see in the Young Adult genre is imported.’

Ameya Nagarajan started and runs Penguin Random House India’s young adult list, Inked. She intends to build a strong and active list that publishes YA books of an international standard. Nagarajan wants to create a space for those excellent Indian voices that tend to be overlooked by mainstream publishing.
 

 
Sudeshna Shome Ghosh Photo: private
Sudeshna Shome Ghosh
Editorial Director, Red Turtle Rupa Publications
‘The Editors’ Trip to Germany, organised by the German Book Office New Delhi, has provided many interesting insights into the workings of the German publishing industry, in particular in the YA and children’s space, as well as the way bookselling works here. It has been heartening to see the dedication with which the rights managers here represent their lists and are ready to listen to our views.
I have seen how fiction and non-fiction can be brought together in interesting and creative ways for children, by way of books and comics. Mosaik’s ‘Abrafaxe’ series is a long-running and successful example of how time-travel and geographical locations can be presented in a fun way for children. At a different age level, I found Carlsen’s series of YA nonfiction graphic novels very interesting. If the topics are well chosen, this would travel well to our milieu too.
All the rights managers have expressed an interest in making their books available in India, and a willingness to work with us in making this a success for all parties concerned. Their open and accommodating attitude was refreshing and encouraging.’

Sudeshna Shome Ghosh has worked in publishing for sixteen years, starting at Penguin Books India and heading their children’s imprint Puffin, before moving to Rupa Publications where she launched the children’s and YA imprint Red Turtle in 2013. Her aim is to bring both established and fresh voices into children’s and YA writing through intelligent, well designed books.
 

 
If you would like to find out more about the editors’ trips, please visit www.book-fair.com/international.
 
 

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