When I first heard that an expert in publishing rights was coming in all the way from France, I was excited and curious. A number of questions went through my mind. What would she be like? What is it like working on international rights? How does it feel to work for one of the biggest French publishing houses and to have interacted with reputed authors and translators? I was filled with anticipation at the glimpse we would get into a whole new world.
When Florence Giry first walked in, I couldn’t help but notice her warm smile and the enthusiasm with which she greeted the class. She began by explaining the basics of publishing and the procedures and systems by which rights to books were bought and sold. Filled with interesting and comical anecdotes about the world of French publishing and her own life and her love for books, there was never a dull moment in the three days that she taught us. She fielded questions with ease and gave detailed explanations to every query.
During her time here, we were treated to an interesting glimpse into the life of a person who has not only become a renowned expert in her field over the past decades but who is also an avid lover and reader of books and a meticulous researcher of everything to do with the world of publishing. She gave us an idea of what type of books would do well in what country and how and when she would pitch the sale. As an example, she used the sales of Fifty Shades of Grey, rattling off statistics for our own country that we had no clue about. The culture of a place and the market and its trends were what most affected her decision-making as to what rights to sell where.
Her moral code in terms of pricing was very clear and based on what was affordable. This particularly impressed me because she was most interested in getting good books to people all over the world. More than anything else, she wanted great writing to reach people everywhere, especially where it would be understood, appreciated and inspire readers. She also stressed on the importance of relationships within the industry, citing several instances and stories of her own friends and colleagues. At the same time, she explained how she separated the personal from the professional and treated everyone equally.
With her dry, sarcastic sense of humour, Florence gave us a completely fresh perspective to the world of books and the way it functions. In a world where books are quickly losing their importance as people turn to simpler modes of entertainment, we need more people to fight for their cause. The cause of reading for pleasure. With her work and her passion, Florence fights the battle tirelessly everyday and has inspired us to do the same.
She made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of the publishing industry and gave me the assurance that I would be a part of something wonderful.
Sarah Jane Vasu