Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for December 12th, 2014

The Bulgarian job

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Game of Thrones in Bulgarian

Back in March, I got some exciting news from my agent: The Icon Thief would be published in translation in Bulgaria. If I haven’t mentioned it here before, it’s because I’m always a little superstitious about these things until I have a check in hand, and I know from experience that foreign rights tend to move very slowly until the end, when they can start to move very, very fast. The business end of writing can be frustratingly opaque, even for the authors involved, which is mostly a good thing—one of the best reasons for having an agent is to avoid any more contact with the financial side than necessary. Foreign rights are particularly mysterious: agencies contract out to other agencies in each market, which creates an additional degree of separation, and you don’t know who might be reading your manuscript or where else it might be going at any given time. But occasionally you get a nice surprise. (For those interested in hard numbers, I may as well reveal that after foreign taxes and fees for two agencies, the check I got yesterday from Bard Publishers came to just under a thousand dollars—not a fortune by any means, but a welcome bonus as we enter the holiday season.)

If nothing else, the Bulgarian sale puts me in decent company: Bard’s other authors in translation include Umberto Eco, Dan Brown, and George R.R. Martin. (That’s their cover of A Game of Thrones pictured above.) That said, I’m under no illusion that I’m in the same league, in Bulgaria or elsewhere—the rights payment covers a fairly modest initial edition of 1,500 copies. And if you’re wondering why it’s coming out in Bulgaria, as opposed to any of the other countries that have presumably passed on the chance so far, I know about as much as you do. This marks the second foreign edition of The Icon Thief, after last year’s release of Il ladro di reliquie, and all I can say is that if Italy and Bulgaria seem like a random pair, it’s only because we’ve gone out to everybody else. Writing, as I’ve often said before, is about playing the odds, both on the level of your daily work and in the larger shape taken by a career, and you can only hope that the result averages out into something that looks halfway reasonable. You put yourself out there, or trust someone else to do the same, and every now and then, it pays off. So if you end up in a Bulgarian bookshop next year and notice my name in Cyrillic characters, I hope you’ll give it a nod: it’s just one more stop in this novel’s long, strange journey.

Written by nevalalee

December 12, 2014 at 8:43 am

Posted in Books, Publishing, Writing

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Quote of the Day

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Henri Focillon

I never regarded technique as the automatism of a “craft,” nor as the curiosities, the recipes of a “cuisine”; but instead as a whole poetry of action, and…as the means for the achievement of metamorphoses.

Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art

Written by nevalalee

December 12, 2014 at 7:30 am

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