Last night, my colleague, agent Jacqueline (Jacquie) Flynn and I met up with our subagents in Beijing (for Mainland China) and Taipei (for Taiwan) at the illustrious Algonquin Hotel. Jackie Huang and Whitney Hsu, met as friends while taking a degree in publishing at Oxford University in England. They work for what may be the premiere agency in their respective territories as part of London-based Andrew Nurnberg Associates International and are pioneers in terms of helping to bring English language works into translation in their countries so that they can be read by millions. Our agency has been working with them since they set up shop ten years ago, and we have marveled at their keen intelligence, knowledge of both their marketplaces and ours, and their passion for books.
So how does this work? Essentially, they are partners with our agency in representing our authors in this part of Asia. They help us to select which titles they feel have potential in China and Taiwan (two distinct markets). We can send them a proposal or manuscript and ask them for their opinion. Or we can wait to have a finished manuscript or even published book for them to evaluate. Over the years, they have brought many of our business and parenting titles, for example, to leading publishers in China. Currently, they tell us, there is strong interest in science as well. In fiction, there is growth in YA and middle grade novels, which parallels our experience here. And there is burgeoning interest in romance, but of a sweeter and cleaner variety.
Over drinks and tea, we gossiped, pitched, exchanged ideas and experiences. At one point, Jackie became so animated that she knocked over a glass of white wine, but this did not seem to faze the Algonquin bar staff the least bit. I find it extraordinary to know that four women from four corners of the globe, can connect and partner through common interests. And part of what makes it work is understanding, too, how our lives are similar and so very different, in our attitudes and practices. When I mentioned a desire to visit Taiwan, Whitney responded earnestly that if I come, she will share her wonderful city with me. And so, it seemed, these women are not just my colleagues, but my dear and courageous friends.