March 23rd, 2015

The Pontas Agency at the “Salon du Livre 2015” in Paris & Chigozie Obioma's first book tour

The “Salon du Livre de Paris 2015” took place from March 20-23 and Marc de Gouvenain and Marina Penalva, on behalf of the Pontas Agency's team, attended the important French publishing event, as well as many meetings  with authors, scouts and at several publishers' offices in Paris.

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Marina Penalva (Pontas) with Jean Arcache (PD-G Place des Editeurs) and Frédérique Polet (Presses de la Cité) // Marc de Gouvenain (Pontas) with Maggie Doyle (Robert Laffont)

Among other editors, they caught up with Gallimard (who will publish Milena Busquets’ novel in May under the title Ça aussi ça passera), Mercure Noir (publishers of Dolores Redondo), Metailié (discoverers of Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Olivier Truc), Les Éscales (ready to go with Blanca Busquets), Robert Laffont (who recently acquired Sara Lövestam), Stock (publishers of Maria Àngels Anglada, Carmen Domingo and Hyeonseo Lee), Denoël (who will add Susan Abulhawa and Marie Bennett to Emmanuelle Urien in their catalogue)…

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Marc de Gouvenain (Pontas) at Gallimard stand, with Lali and Jorge Herralde (Anagrama) and Milena Busquets' translator Robert Amuti // Marc de Gouvenain (Pontas) with Beatrice Duval (Denoël)

Marc and Marina and discussed with them launches, promotion plans, translations and ideas to help our authors and their novels thrive in France. They also pitched many new and interesting projects such as the novel Lalita by Marie-Thérèse Schmitz and the illustrated project Ulysses, the diplocat by Olivia Snaije and Mónica Santos.

France, with Germany, remains one of the top buyers in international rights sales and one of the primary business markets for Pontas. French translations are often a priceless gateway to other markets, such as the United Statesor Asia, and French writers are turning more and more to agencies to seek professional representation.

Though most meetings were conducted at the stands or at the BIEF stand, one of the highlights of the Salon this year was the "Talenteux Indés" conference, showcasing independent French publishers to agents, scouts and publishing professionals. Despite the absence of Hachette this year, the fair was buzzing and editors in general were very interested in all the titles Pontas had to offer. There was also much talk about the sales success of Le détroit du Loup by Olivier Truc in France and the international deals obtained for a debut literary novel such as Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

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Marc de Gouvenain (Pontas) with Ariane Fasquelle (Grasset) // Marina Penalva (Pontas) with Gustavo Guerrero (Gallimard)

Before the Paris book fair, Jessica Craig enjoyed meeting German publishers in Munich and Cologne and joining author Chigozie Obioma for his German reading tour.  The most exciting meeting on Jessica’s first day in Munich was accepting a pre-emptive offer from CBT Verlag at the Random House offices for Jack Cheng’s debut novel See you in the cosmos, Carl Sagan.  Susanne Krebs and Jana Breunig (pictured below) read this hot, new submission over one weekend, fell in love with the heart-filled voice, and offered for German rights even before a UK or US deal.  In Jessica’s meeting the details of the pre-empt were agreed and CBT plans to publish See you in the cosmos, Carl Sagan as their lead middle-grade novel for Fall 2016. Jessica gathered interest for many other Pontas authors in her meetings with the Random House adult fiction editors, and also enjoyed office visits to other Munich publishers (Hanser, Piper, and Thiele) before catching a train to Cologne.

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Jessica Craig (Pontas) with Susanne Krebs and Jana Breunig (CBT) / Jessica Craig with Annette Weber (DuMont)

In Cologne Jessica enjoyed lunch with Helga Frese-Resch and Martin Breitfeld/Kiepenheuer and office visits to Lübbe and DuMont where she was Annette Weber’s first international meeting since Annette started in her new position as Editorial Director.  Jessica and Annette enjoyed comparing notes about how exhilarating it is to have a mid-life change of company and city (for Jessica London to Barcelona and for Annette Munich to Cologne).  The main event in Cologne that Friday night, and the highlight of Chigozie Obioma’s 5-city German reading tour was his reading and presentation of The Fishermen to a sold-out audience of 500 at lit.COLOGNE.

In Cologne, Chigozie Obioma also had interviews for German television (WDR) and radio (WDR3) and the German newspapers were full of praise for Der Dunkle Fluss.  After Germany Jessica flew to London for one special night to celebrate the UK publication of The Fishermen with Chigozie Obioma, ONE/Pushkin Press, and special guests from the London literary community. Both trips were an extraordinary and unforgettable opportunity for Jessica to spend time with Chigozie Obioma for his first international publications (Obioma is normally based in Ann Arbor, Michigan), and to have face-to-face conversations over two weeks in three cities with fiction editors and journalists.

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Dinner in London to celebrate the publication of The Fishermen