Subsidiary Rights Workshop
Speakers: Lauren Abramo (Dystel & Goderich Literary Management) and
Elizabeth Jennings (Author)
BY EDIE CLAIRE
The format of this workshop was that the speakers each gave a 10-minute presentation, then opened up the
session to questions from the audience.
Author and translator Elizabeth Jennings says that living in Italy and being immersed in the local writing
and reading culture of Europe has made her feel like an explorer who has discovered gold—a vast and still
largely untapped market for American novels. The largest romance publisher in Europe sells books by 400
authors, and 380 of these authors are American. Although we may feel as though a huge curtain separates us
from our European readers, this does not have to be the case.
Lauren Abramo, who handles foreign rights for Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, says that her job
is to put the best foot forward for her agency’s clients by looking not just at how well a book sells in the U.S.,
but also whether the authors have ever lived abroad, if they speak a foreign language, or if they have relatives
in a given country or visit there often. Therefore, any author working with a literary agent should be sure to
let that agency’s foreign rights agent know of any such information that could be helpful. Many factors go into
the viability of a book in a foreign market, including genre, trends, and cultural sensitivities. Success in foreign
sales depends on a good knowledge of the markets, presentation, and ability to “cut through the noise” to
reach the appropriate buyers.
Elizabeth explained that Europeans in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy are used to seeing American movies
and are familiar with American cities, geography, and culture, which makes sales of American novels easier.
Over the past two years, a thriving community of bloggers has developed who read and review commercial
fiction. The romance community is especially robust, and is attentive to American authors. Authors with a