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July 31, 2019

Industry Insider – Subrights Spotlight with Alex Granato


Next up in our Publishing Industry Insider blog series, we interviewed our editorial and subrights associate, Alex Granato. Read below for Alex’s insight into the field of subrights and trends in the publishing industry.

What drew you to working in subsidiary rights aka subrights?

In the day to day, I really enjoy working with contractual language. I love that every word has meaning: a word covers this but not that, it opens a loophole here or there. Someone can change a line from “shall not refuse” to “shall not unreasonably refuse” and it absolutely changes what’s permissible under that agreement, which is fascinating. In the big picture, I really enjoy seeing which books translate (no pun intended) to other countries. I’m always surprised when a topic I think of as uniquely American really resonates with international readers, and it’s been fun to learn which stories work where.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

A little of everything! I am lucky that we work with a fantastic rights agent, so the majority of my subrights duties involve coordinating with her: keeping up with contracts for translations and audiobooks, making sure our authors get paid for licenses, and getting our foreign publishers the materials they need. I also am usually the one to notify authors that an audiobook will be coming out or the one to send along a new translation of their book, and that is always exciting. Speaking of new audiobooks, one of our most recent deals for A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away is available to preorder now.

Are there any trends you’ve noticed in the publishing/subrights field lately?

I remember a few years ago we were having a “how can we take care of ourselves” moment, which was lovely. Coloring books and hygge were everywhere. I may just be lucky with the company I keep, but it feels like we’re now having a “how can we take care of others” moment, which is even lovelier. The books that I hear people talking about, that I see people buying and recommending, all really seem to be about hearing the unheard perspectives, challenging injustices, pulling apart social problems. It’s a very hopeful thing and I am deeply proud of the books we’re contributing to that space.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a job in publishing? Any advice for working in subrights in particular?

I remember when I started looking, someone told me, “If you’re applying for a job, it’s unacceptable to have a typo in your resume. If you’re applying for a job in publishing, it’s unthinkable.” That may not be very original advice, but it’s definitely sound. Beyond that, though, I would say embrace chances to learn about the industry. Internships and publishing courses (like Columbia’s) open an incredible number of doors and can help you decide what role would be the best fit for you.

And, of course, what are your top five favorite books?

This is such a good question, but I’m afraid the answer changes all the time. Right now I’d say for nostalgic rereading, Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher; for lines that stuck with me, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie; for reflections that stuck with me, Sula by Toni Morrison; for a good laugh, Bossypants by Tina Fey; and for something recent and hopeful, Becoming by Michelle Obama.


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