Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How the World Reacts to Day for Night, a Post About Translation Rights

It's almost time for Day for Night, my spring obession, to arrive. It's time to start posting.

About a year ago, when I was in my throes of Little Bee love, I did a post about the book's two titles, and the various jackets. It turns out the publishers' were correct--the two titles were appropriate for different markets. Or...the book was so good that you could call it Immigration Detention Center Story or Batman on the Beach and it still would have found its market.

That said, I thought the hardcover jackets for the US and UK versions for Little Bee/The Other Hand were quite similar in style. For the paperbacks, the visions diverged greatly. The US stayed the course with their beautiful artwork and bold color that popped that book off the shelf in a big way. The UK went with a more traditional paperback jacket--a photo of a boy on the beach. Both worked.

It's an interesting topic, and I could talk about international rights with just about every author and get some sort of insight, but surprisingly enough, it came up again with my new book obsession, Frederick Reiken's Day for Night. The book has started shipping!

I asked Mr. Reiken to talk a little about how foreign rights have gone for him.

"I can tell you that the foreign rights thing has always seemed pretty random in my case. My first novel, for instance, had German, Dutch, and Greek translations. You can see all the foreign covers on my web page and I still have no idea what those kayaking Eskimos are doing on the cover of the Greek version, but I've been told it's a good translation (by a Greek speaking person who still has no idea about the Eskimos).

"So far, with Day For Night, there are going to be Dutch and French translations, as well as editions in the U.K. and Australia. I'm told that these days there is sometimes more international action after the pub. date. Here's hoping -since I really thought more European countries would be interested. The book will be available throughout most European countries in English (the British edition, I think).

"What might amuse you is that the same house (Little Brown UK/Abacus Books) is doing both the U.K. and Australia editions, but they decided to go with two completely different covers - which you can also see on my web page (go to the "books" link and look on bottom right of the Day For Night page) both of which are radically different from the U.S. edition cover. I was told by the British publisher that Brit readers are cynical and don't like anything that might have spiritual connotations (i.e. the sunburst on the watery blue U.S. cover), and I suppose the Aussies will always like animals and motorcycles."

You might think these jackets represent three different books, but to me, they work on a continuum. The UK cover plays up the serious aspects of the novel, while the Australian cover emphasizes the playful ones. The American cover seems to try to balance them.

Still to come--why do the Dutch love Reiken so? It looks like his second novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey, had trouble getting international publication, and not surprising, because of the place-centered aspect of the novel, which doesn't work outside of the international tourist destinations of New York, San Francisco, and a handful of other American locales. That said, there was still a Dutch edition.

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