Part of the Around the World in 8 Hours virtual conference. Next, we go to Brazil with Carlo Carrenho, moderating the chat between Renata Pettengill and Luiz Gaspar. Renata is the executive editor at Editora Record, which has eleven imprints including fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Her job is to acquire translation rights. Record are the largest trade publisher in Brazil, so a very important company.
Luiz is the Head of Nielsen Book Research for the area. What they do is to measure the sales of physical books around the world. His section started in Brazil, currently include 10 countries, and continues the hope of expansion.
“We need to see the bright side here.”
For Brazil, they’re facing a very hard time in the economical and political environment. There’s a lot that the country has to deal with, like a decrease in consumer confidence, but “we need to see the bright side here.” They’re starting to get more control on the economy and with exchange rates – though it keeps coming up despite attempts to move on that Brazil’s economic status at the moment is more impacted by political issues than something within their control.
“This chart here is just to give you a lot of ideas of what’s going in the Brazilian market,” says Luiz. The numbers put here do not represent 100% of the market, but approximately 60%, and that’s important to mention. Another thing that’s interesting is the number of active ISBNs, c. 250,000 per year, most of them are in the long tail. “Then we have an important concentration in the top 500.” Colouring books come up yet again, with Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden taking the number one title in Brazil.
“We’ve got to be very responsible.”
As for the top 500, the majority are fiction and non-fiction. 0.2% of ISBNs make one quarter of the revenues of these books. Money-wise, publishers are often thinking how much they can make with these events like Black Friday, and booksellers do it to get people in. Some are admittedly thinking of opting out, but many feel forced into doing it when everyone else is.
With their economic issues, payment does come up. “Agents have been very understanding with our situation so we cannot actually complain,” explains Renata. “We’ve got to be very responsible with our ongoing success and with our authors. There has been some negotiations where we show them that it’s just a matter of they can accept a lower advance, but at the same time but if we’re willing to buy the author, it means we believe in the author. it’s just a matter of working together and being a team.
“Instead of having higher advances, we have lower advances and aim for more sales. The more we sell, the more they’ll get it. It’s about thinking long term.” They have to be responsible otherwise they could end up offering advances far above what they can afford.
The opportunity for Brazilian authors…
“Just by analysing the top ten, you have this feeling that it’s predominantly foreign authors,” says Luiz. He says he sees a bigger opportunity for Brazilian authors to do fiction, and if you expand your search into the top 50 will find far more Brazilian titles. In non-fiction, it’s predominantly Brazilian writers.
Renata turns to trends. Minecraft was the most popular video game in Brazil, so immediately they started looking for titles that would appeal to children in that group. Now that there’s dozens of Minecraft titles available in the market, their YA team is working on developing new trends. They look for Brazilian authors, but if they can’t they’ll go to the international market to find something for translation. People have really been responding to Youtubers and bloggers.
“The thing with bloggers and Youtubers,” she notes, “is what helps their books to sell is their audience. It’s their target audience. People who follow them – they have huge amounts of followers… For you to be able to sell rights to a book for a Brazilian blogger, the Youtube blogger would have to be successful abroad as well so people abroad would be interested in acquiring those rights.
“Literary agents should be the one doing the job of selling our authors to international countries. We saw in the past that this was not happening and we couldn’t understand why because our authors are really, really good.” She turns to Frankfurt Book Fair, but notes “we cannot sell rights to their books because we’re a publishing house. We do not have a team doing this. It’s the literary agents who should be doing it. It’s a shame they don’t do it more, but it’s growing. A few more agents are working more actively in selling translation rights to other countries.”