How do you market a book written in a foreign language by an author who’s now dead, that was originally published 60 years ago, and has been overlooked by mainstream publishing ever since?
Speaking from experience, literature in translation is the hardest category for me to sell - and I represent so many imprints that publish it regularly. Which is exciting for me as I get to be introduced to so many great writers, but it certainly presents its challenges. The reading public is a funny old beast. They'll read a book in translation that wins a big literary prize (i.e Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses) or suddenly captures the zetigeist and the bestseller lists (i.e. Steig Larsson) and as a rep, you think you can capitalize on that because Petterson's next novel is coming out and surely people will want to read that? Or there's tons of great Scandinavian crime on your lists and Larsson fans will flock to that once the trilogy is read. And yes, there is some interest but never in the numbers you anticipate or think those books deserve. Alas. Still, we soldier on and hope that someday readers will catch on in huge numbers to how enriching reading international literature can be. (And if you love to travel, trust me, there's no greater ice-breaker than talking about writers to the locals). In the meantime, we're very grateful for presses that do put some creative energy behind marketing their books. Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone has been a huge fave of mine and I'm thrilled all the hard work is paying off.
You can read their series here. You'll notice two Canadian items of interest. One of the posts describes using subway ads on the Toronto Transit system. And under the post about t-shirts, those librarians librarians from Ontario or who have been following the Dewey Divas for a number of years, will recognize a familiar face.