In our CanLit on the Move series, Livres Canada Books interviews Canadian publishers about their foreign marketing activities and the role of Canadian books in the international marketplace. For this installment, we’ve caught up with Beth Bruder from Dundurn who talks about one of the most popular book genres, mystery novels.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Beth Bruder. I am the vice-president of Dundurn and one of my roles is to look after the rights. I sell and manage the rights division area.
2. Describe your publishing program in one sentence.
Dundurn is the largest independent Canadian-owned publisher. We publish across non-fiction and fiction and we publish approximately 100 books a year. Our mysteries are our bestselling line of books.
3. What is your most successful title on the international market? What do you think makes that title successful? Generally, what makes an international success?
The Amanda Doucette series by Barbara Fradkin has just made a big sale and the Jack Taggart Mysteries series by Don Easton has sold across several countries. I think what sets a book apart is if it has won an award, if it has critical success in your own market, or for non-fiction, if it covers an issue that everyone is dealing with for example obesity.
4. Where are your primary export markets? What do you think makes these compatible with the titles you publish?
The United States and the United Kingdom. The US is our primary export market because they are a very similar market to ours.
5. Name one of your books that you love to peddle on the foreign rights market? What titles from your publishing house are you currently excited about promoting? Why?
The Birder Murder Mysteries series by Steve Burrows. I think that is a great mystery series. The Amanda Doucette series by Barbara Fradkin is not only great but also a little different. I call it an anti-urban mystery. Strange Things Done by Elle Wild has also had a lot of foreign interest. We also have a non-fiction book that I am really excited about called Stolen Child by Laurie Gough which is about living with a child with OCD. Another one is A Daughter’s Deadly Deception: The Jennifer Pan Story by Jeremy Grimaldi. I love a lot of our fiction but stand-alone fiction is much harder to sell especially if it’s by a new author.
6. What are some of the greatest challenges you face in promoting books in international markets?
The sheer volume of books that any publisher or agent has to look at. You have to make your particular book stand out and highlight why it would be good for their market: either it’s a beautifully written book, it has something to do with their country, or maybe it’s by an already bestselling author. It has to be something like that.
7. What is your favourite book event outside of Canada?
We attend the London and Frankfurt book fairs. London is lovely to go to. Frankfurt is the event though, for me. It’s the biggest and the most useful from a business perspective.
8. If you could recommend one Canadian book to an international reader, what would it be?
I am a fan of Joseph Boyden. I think Three Day Road is exceptional. I am also a fan of Margaret Laurence. If I can mention more than one, our Birder Murder series is great. Another book that we have just done that I think is beautiful is Five Roses which is set in Montréal. A really wonderful book.