What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Just coming off the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, I would say the trend in science-fiction novels has continued and grown, with many authors diverging from the traditional space opera and taking their stories and characters to many exciting new places, like our author Gabrielle Prendergast and her upcoming novel, Zero Repeat Forever. The genre in itself offers so many different landscapes and storylines that it’s an exciting category to see taking off.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Anything well-done. I am not picky in terms of topic; I just like to see a good story with good characters that hooks me from the very first page to the last and has me running to my phone to look up the author.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
There is nothing I’d never like to read again. I do believe each author offers his or her own unique take on a story. Just look at all of the fairy tale reimaginings we’ve had lately or the wonderful things that have been done to Jane Austen’s books. I’d hate to close the door on anything, since I’ve seen firsthand how a good and creative writer can take a centuries-old story and make it fresh again with his or her own unique spin. Having said that, I could definitely step aside from sick-lit for a little bit, which I do often find to be a bit depressing—that and stories where terrible things happen to children. Sometimes they’re just very hard to read when you have young kids of your own.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Foreign rights is something that almost no one outside of publishing has ever heard of and many people within the publishing world know little about. This means I do a lot of explaining, which I don’t mind at all because I really love to talk about my work and why it’s so fun. Not only do I work with such a diverse array of books and topics, but when I come to the office every day, I travel via email from Malaysia to London and speak with so many different people from all different cultures that it makes my every day so different. It’s fascinating to discover what works in one place and why it doesn’t work in another, to look at my screen and see 30 different covers of the exact same book, and to work on a book for many years, continually selling [it] in new languages and renewing existing licenses. Our work on a book is never done, even if we have sold it in 30 languages. There is always somewhere new to explore the possibilities of publication.
How have you worked with self-published authors?
I have worked with several self-published authors, and I find them to be very business-savvy and driven. It’s always a pleasure to work with authors who really understand the ins and outs of pricing, self-promotion, and all of the little details involved in getting a book to market and making it successful.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m a firm believer in the power of words, and I never forget that when we sell a young-adult book about a powerful heroine in a country that is still developing, we may have just inspired some young girl to have strength and confidence so that her voice may be heard one day. Much of what we do is about developing and growing our authors’ careers and platforms, but there is this other very important aspect that I try to think about at least once a day.
After attending Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, Heather Baror-Shapiro entered the magazine world, first working at Condé Nast Publications and then transitioning over to Hearst Magazines. A few years later, she joined Baror International as a literary agent, having been drawn to the more literary aspects of book publishing. With her editorial background in magazines, Heather combines her writing experience and agenting skills, creating a unique package that allows her to understand the literary work in the most beneficial commercial sense—working to procure the best possible arrangements for the authors and publishers alike. At Baror International, Heather sells foreign rights, focusing on young-adult titles as well as adult literary and fiction works.