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Interview with Co-Agent Kate Rizzo About International Rights

In this video clip, our co-agent Kate Rizzo shares insights on her role in the foreign rights market and tips on how to identify successful books and find the right translators. Kate emphasized the importance of understanding European markets and author expertise, as well as working closely with publishers to find appealing books for translation.

As Lucinda and Kate spoke, we knew we’d want to share this interview with our community.

Here’s an adapted excerpt of the interview—and you can watch the full video here.


Lucinda Halpern: So, this is a question that many writers have, which is, “Can I seek an American publisher?” And maybe this is one more for me to answer, but it goes into reverse to [ask], “Can I seek a publisher abroad, if I haven’t actually sold the rights here?” Or maybe [an author has] sold the rights to their publisher, and they’re still inquiring about American rights abroad. We’ve sort of clarified the first: you have to check your contract if you’re with a British publisher, or a German publisher, or a Norwegian publisher, because that’s your territory of residence. But should they be approaching American agents? Should they be approaching someone like you first and foremost, if they’re based in that territory? What are your thoughts on that?

Kate Rizzo: It’s interesting, because we’re all so spread out yet able actually to connect. Obviously, most of your authors tend to be based in the US and Canada. I would say most of our authors, or at least mine, are usually based in the British Commonwealth somehow. And then some of that is just natural affinity—you just go to someone you know, or that’s familiar, in terms of representation. Actually, for the deal that you mentioned earlier: “I’ve sold a UK publisher and you now have a really great US publisher…” Actually the UK deal kind of came together a little bit faster than the US in that instance. And usually that does not happen.

Lucinda Halpern: From my perspective, I often say you really need to find a publisher in your native country first. Unless there’s an obvious American audience that you have here, which are going to need to prove to me. You either rather do regular speaking here, or you have some sort of demographics on your email list or social media, and [agents will] find that [about] you as well. So, my perspective is, don’t go seeking an American agent before you can make a case for why it is you couldn’t get published in your own country or that you have the rights available to sell if you have been [published in your own country].

Kate Rizzo: Yeah, I agree. There’s not just English language agents out there. If you’re a French author, or Norwegian author, there are a lot of local agents who work the same way we do and represent native speakers and then licensed the rights to American publishers. And again, I think if you’re from somewhere and you kind of have a great idea, part of it is, as you say, show that that project can work from where your native market is, and then we can see if it can grow and expand. Because they are all different! The demands for what an American publisher needs, or what a UK publisher needs are two different things.


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