Thursday, December 08, 2011

Snutt the Ift - Finding a Gem at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

When Rana DiOrio visits the Bologna Children’s Book Fair each spring in Italy, it isn’t just to market her own titles for Little Pickle Press, the publishing company she formed several years ago. She is also looking for foreign rights acquisitions, particularly picture books with stunning artwork and stories that fit her award-winning collection. At the last show, she acquired a title by popular UK artist and illustrator, Helen Ward, a reclusive artist represented by Templar Publishing since her graduation from art school. For some of us, obtaining foreign rights to a book might sound daunting, but Rana DiOrio has a former life as an attorney, so when asked how the entire process transpired, here is what she had to say:

I found the book myself in the Templar booth. I quickly brought our Foreign Rights Agent, Sylvia Hayse, over with me to see if she liked it as much as I did. She did. 

We subsequently set up a meeting with David McMillan, Templar’s U.S. sales manager. Sylvia continued her dialogue with David after the Fair. We inked our deal on July 25, 2011. As part of the agreement, Templar and Helen agreed to let us change the title, subject to Helen's final approval. The pub date was September 2011. 

That is lightening-fast timing! 

An important consideration in the contract is one that every agent and publisher is negotiating these days, and that’s the issue of digital and other rights. Because Little Pickle Press is a B Corporation and has a strong environmental focus, all the books are printed in North America with recycled papers using soy inks. But another major part of their production model involves digital, product, and performance assets for all their titles. So the negotiations with Templar Publishing included rights to create e-books, enhanced iBooks, posters, apps, and even original music for the North American market.

The book was first published as Wonderful Life in England, but that title was entirely too reminiscent of the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. So the title was changed to Snutt the Ift, after the main character, and was thus re-born in North America.

What is the book about? Please take a peek at the content by watching the lovely book trailer:

The story, about two explorers from different species and different worlds, who nevertheless discover common ground, will strike a warm and resonant note with anyone who has ever felt homesick or lonely or lost. It’s a children’s picture book, yes, but the message, like most classic children’s literature, will also resonate with adults. Consider giving it to your best friend. BUY HERE

Readers, if you have questions for Ms. DiOrio, please leave them in the comments. Also, there is a grand prize driving for nine award-winning Little Pickle Press books if you sign up for their monthly newsletter at their website or blog. May the best fan win!

A little about the author: 
Helen Ward has written and illustrated children’s books for over twenty years. She trained at the Brighton School of Art under such well-known illustrators as Raymond Briggs, Justin Todd, and John Vernon Lord and has accrued numerous awards and accolades for her work, including twice winning the prestigious National Art Library Illustration Award. 
Helen’s illustrations are renowned for their vitality and painstaking attention to detail, and this is never more in evidence than in the fantastical, imaginative world she has created in Snutt the Ift, a Small But Significant Chapter in the Life of the Universe. Originally published in the United Kingdom as Wonderful Life by Templar Publishing, the poignant story speaks to all who have discovered the elevated beauty of a world shared with kindred spirits. The message will resonate with those who understand, value, and seek true friendship. A children’s picture book, this book speaks to adults as well, and makes a lovely gift for all ages especially during the holidays.


  1. Wow, you guys travel far to find books!

  2. And another interesting story is selling foreign rights to Rana DiOrio's books. Kind of interesting to see a Little Pickle Press title in Korean, for example!

  3. The Bologna Children's Book Fair is the biggest children's literature event in the world on an annual basis. All of the players in the industry–authors, illustrators, agents, publishers, wholesalers, distributors, supply chain vendors, press, etc.–gather in one place for 5 days. It's exciting and productive! ~ Rana

  4. Selling foregin rights has always been on the back burner of my mind. Now that my series is going global I think I can market it better in Europe and southeast Asia. Good luck to you Helen and for bigger things to happen on a global scale!

  5. Great job LLP. I am following you guys for life now that I know you will have a diverse library.

    Cheerfully, Adriana Palmeira

  6. My books are available in many foreign countries, but translations into other languages would be nice. Or audio books.

    Thank you all for stopping by.

  7. Really interesting - thanks for sharing! :)

  8. Nice grab on the Helen Ward title! Can't wait to see what you bring back from the Bologna Book Fair in a few months!

  9. I found this most interesting to read. Thanks for sharing.

    Also thanks for the visit and comment, much appreciated,


  10. That's an amazing story. Rights are always a complicated issue.

  11. I'd love to go to the book fair, but I'll leave all that negotiating and legal stuff to the pros.

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  12. This was interesting reading, foreign rights sounds difficult.

  13. Very interesting post. Thanks for the preview.