In our CanLit on the Move series, Livres Canada Books interviews Canadian publishers about their foreign marketing activity and the role of Canadian books in the international marketplace. For this installment, we’ve caught up with Simon Payette from Éditions Chouette, who talks to us about children’s literature crossing borders.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Simon Payette, Business Development Manager, Éditions Chouette. I am mostly responsible for English-language sales, foreign rights sales, and the development of new publishing and web projects.
2. Describe your publishing program in one sentence.
Caillou! And as of this fall, new works from local talent!
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?
Since our launch, our best seller has been Caillou: Potty Time. It’s universal – all children go through the toilet training stage and who better than Caillou to help them out. Our experience is to develop a strong brand and build long-term relationships with our partners. We’ve established lasting business relationships and we always prefer to renew an agreement with an existing partner rather than look elsewhere.
4. Where are your primary export markets? What do you think makes these compatible with the titles you publish?
Our best markets vary from year to year. Right now, China, Spain, Portugal, and Germany are doing very well with Caillou. The American market is always interesting.
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?
Right now we’re especially proud of our first title that isn’t a Caillou book. The first in nearly 25 years! Goodnight Sleepy Animals and its French equivalent Dodo au clair de lune will be distributed in Canada, France, and the US this fall. The book includes a built-in nightlight to help children fall asleep. We’re also proud of our Caillou nightlight book Sweet Dreams and its French equivalent Bonne Nuit, Beaux Rêves!
6. What are some of the greatest challenges you face in promoting books in international markets?
Our greatest challenge is creating winning conditions for success. In other words, coordinating our launch efforts with television and other related products. We have to communicate with all possible stakeholders in order to channel our efforts in the best way. Finding the right partners can also be challenging.
7. What is your favourite book event outside of Canada?
I know that most people would say Bologna (for children’s publishers). But I’m a bit different. I love Frankfurt! I love the frenzy of Frankfurt. But more importantly, it’s the city where I met my wife and I’m happy to see my in-laws every year!
8. If you could recommend one Canadian book to an international reader, what would it be?
L’hiver de force by Réjean Ducharme.