Lara Clift is Sales and Rights Director at Leicester-based, children's trade publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing.
Q1 How did you get into publishing?
I studied Spanish at university and wanted a job which let me travel and learn about different cultures. I didn’t know how publishing could offer me that until I met Abdul (Sweet Cherry’s Managing Director) I handed him my CV and it all started from there.
Q2 Is it true that rights professionals travel a lot?
Yes!! It is the best part of the job!! I’ve been so lucky over the last couple of years to have gone to amazing countries such as China, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Italy, Germany, India and Hong Kong!!
Q3 What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Languages always help! Going to the Guadalajara Book Fair really opened my eyes to the necessity of having a language. I conducted the majority of my meetings in Spanish. You also need strong negotiating skills and to be very organised!
Q4 Whatis the most interesting part of selling rights?
For me, it’s seeing what’s trending in different cultures! It is amazing to see how something which is super popular in one country does not sell at all in another. I really love the negotiations, working with amazing agents and visiting the international book fairs.
Q5 What's the biggest project you’ve worked on?
The Sweet Cherry Project! Over the last few years we have grown Sweet Cherry from 5 employees to over 20. It has been a crazy journey full of late nights, early mornings and constant surprises. I am so proud of the passionate and dedicated team we currently have.
Q6 Do you ever work across film or TV?
Yes! As we are a small team I deal with all forms of rights. We work with a dedicated number of producers and agents who are always looking for the next new thing.
Q7 How are rights bought and sold?
It all starts with the pitch. Usually myself, Divia, or an agents meet a client at a book fair or on a trip and they tell us what they are looking for. We pitch appropriate titles, follow up with sales material and KABOOM they make an offer!
Okay, this is how it works sometimes but usually there is a lot of negotiation, follow up emails and discussions involved. Rights can sometimes be a slow business but it all pays off in the end.
Q8 What makes a perfect pitch?
Pitching at the book fairs is generally quite relaxed and more like a conversation. You only have a very limited time to get across the main plot line and USPs. Including marketing and publicity information along with other right sales is also key!
Q9 What are your busiest times of the year?
All the times around book fairs, especially before and after Frankfurt, London and Bologna book fair. There’s a lot of preparation involved before fairs like booking meetings, sending your samples and preparing files so it can get quite hectic!
Q10 Have you seen any interesting growth areas over the last couple of years?
Picture books and books for younger children have always been strong but more recently I have seen an increasing request for middle grade. It’s good that more children are finding enjoyment in reading. My last trip a couple of weeks ago to Shanghai confirmed this!
Q11 How are children's rights different?
I think it is even more important to visit your clients in person. Children’s books rely a lot on the format (touch, feel and even smell!). It is important for the clients to get a sense of the product. With this said, the co-editions business is big for children’s publishing.
Work in Publishing Week (19th-23rd November 2018) is a week long campaign to celebrate careers in publishing.