I visited the Frankfurt Book Fair last weekend and though the sky may have been falling around the world with the stock market crash, you would never have known it from the boisterous mood. It is amazing to see the international landscape of publishing at work. Someone I know described it as a Turkish bazaar with frenetic buyers and sellers trading their wares, which is not far off. Farley Chase, who handles the foreign rights for the agency (as well as his own full list of clients including the recent big bestseller Waiter Rant) set up more than fifty meetings with publishers from Europe, Asia and South America. Publishers were very interested in a bunch of our titles, particularly a new YA book that Holly Root sold called Demonglass that Hyperion is publishing in the US and which we’ve now sold all over the world. But what Frankfurt really does is remind you that people all over the world still love to be in the business of publishing good books, and they very much enjoy meeting each other and sharing their favorite new projects. No doubt YA fiction and big publicity driven non-fiction are the books du jour.
Of course, being back in New York brought an immediate return to reality. A publisher sent a cancellation letter for one of my books, even though there were no editorial problems with the project. It turns out the publisher was having financial problems and decided to cut some titles, and used the fact that the author was a couple of weeks late with the revisions as an excuse to ask for the money back. I won’t name the publisher, (it’s not one of the big five) but suffice to say that business is getting tough and authors need to make sure to hit their deadlines. There is going to be very little leeway from publishers in the coming recession. I will be sticking up for my author on this one though so wish me luck.
So, though we may have been ignoring the reality in Frankfurt, the publishers at home certainly weren’t. Maybe they just live closer to Wall Street than the Frankfurter Hoff.