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Countdown to Frankfurt part one: Planning
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Posted by IPG
In the first of a series of blogs, Ruth Tellis and Clare Hodder of Rights2, partners on our Frankfurt Rights Showcase, share tips for preparing for the Book Fair
The biggest rights selling event of the year, the Frankfurt Book Fair, is now less than three months away! If a visit is beyond your budget or you simply can’t afford the time to attend, then don’t despair: much of the advice in this series of blogs is still applicable—and even If you can’t be in Frankfurt in person, your titles can be! The new Frankfurt Rights Showcase means that we can present your titles to a broad range of international buyers and agents on your behalf, passing back leads for you to follow up after the Fair. Guidelines and criteria are here, a submission form is here, and this episode of the IPG Podcast explains more about the Showcase works. The deadline for submissions is Friday 19 July.
If you are travelling to Frankfurt, here are three areas to consider now: logistics, content and customers.


Accommodation and flight or train tickets are your top priority now. Be warned: good, reasonably priced accommodation in Frankfurt during the fair is like hen’s teeth. Solo travelers can sometimes strike lucky on Airbnb, but in the main, to get anything for less than £150 a night you will likely need to look out of town. Luckily Frankfurt has a good transport network, with trams and trains taking you right to the heart of the Fair. Don’t forget that grants may be available to help with costs.
The Fair itself is a ticketed event. Be aware that visitor tickets don’t allow entry until 9am, and this is strictly enforced—resulting in long queues which, when combined with security checks, mean that 9.30am is the absolute earliest you should book your first meetings of the day!
If you want a visual presence at the Fair, you need to think about booking a stand. Limited space is still available on the IPG’s collective stand, which includes an exhibitor pass that allows you earlier entry into the Fair and access to a meeting area; more information is here.


This is a good time to be thinking about your list, and which titles you want to pitch at Frankfurt or have pitched on your behalf. You should focus on frontlist titles publishing in the second half of 2019 and early part of 2020. The ideal timing will depend on the nature of the content and the rights you are hoping to sell. Buyers of coeditions, audio or other rights where simultaneous publication of the licensed edition is desirable should obviously be approached much earlier. Whatever you are pitching you will need to be sure you have something to submit to interested parties for them to review soon after the Fair, like proofs or final copies.
When curating your list for rights sales potential, put yourself in the shoes of an acquiring editor. In many international markets your books are competing with locally produced content, so what is special or unique about your book that they couldn’t source locally? The acquiring publisher has to be able to market and sell the book effectively, and authors can be key to this—so if yours has any kind of presence in a market (social media, professional, academic) you might be able to capitalise on it. Remember that long books rarely work: the additional costs of translation and other pre-press makes it prohibitively expensive to take them on.
Think about which parts of the world will be interested in the content you are selling. Books with lots of colloquialisms and UK-specific examples are unlikely to travel, and there are political and cultural differences which can impact the potential for rights sales too. The trick is to work out which books on your list have content that is going to appeal to a broad range of readers in certain markets. It might be that the subject matter is a hot topic in some countries, that your author is well known to that part of the world, or that there are case studies or examples in the book that relate to the region concerned.


Having established what might have some licensing potential, you can now focus on who you might be able to sell it to. Research potential rights buyers using book fair catalogues, social networks and other sources. The research phase can take some time, so start as early as you can.
Once you have located potential purchasers you can start sending out requests to meet them in Frankfurt. Keep emails short and to the point. A brief introduction to your business and why you’d like to meet is more than enough. You can supply links to your website or online catalogue if relevant. Many European publishing businesses close down for August so it is well worth trying to get appointment request emails out before the end of July, as come September you may find people have no slots left. Frankfurt appointments are strictly 30 minutes duration and are usually booked on the hour and half hour. The Halls are quite spread out, so if you need to move between them make sure you allow enough time.
If you have submitted content to the Frankfurt Rights Showcase you can skip this phase and relax, knowing that appointment bookings will be taken care of on your behalf! In our next blog we will look at what needs to happen in August and September to ensure you are Fair-ready come October.
Clare Hodder and Ruth Tellis are co-founders of Rights2, an agency specializing in helping people to get started on their rights selling journey. Email Ruth Tellis for more information.

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