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by Andrew Zack

In the publishing business, we often talk about the value of subsidiary rights when selling or acquiring rights to publish a book.  Yet many authors are relatively ignorant of what exactly subsidiary rights are.  In a nutshell, they are the right to publish the book in other countries, as well as in Audio, Large Print, Book-Club editions, etc.  As well as the big ones like film and television.  Of these rights, translation rights can be among the most valuable and publishers often negotiate hard to get those rights, especially if they think the book will “travel.”

Many thrillers written by American authors are deemed too “American” for the foreign markets.  Imagine a novel about a militia in Michigan, for example.  While it might be a great thriller, will it appeal in France, Germany, Italy, and the UK?  I think not.

Hence, the pool of “international” thriller writers is smaller than one might imagine, which makes the success of Spanish writer Juan Gómez-Jurado all that much more impressive.  Published in over forty countries, he is the author of three acclaimed novels, GOD’S SPY, THE MOSES EXPEDITION, and the forthcoming THE TRAITOR’S EMBLEM (Atria Books; $24.99; July 19, 2011).

Asked about his secret to success, Gómez-Jurado responded, “I think that the most important thing is resonance.  An international bestseller must deal with emotional impact, which is the universal language for thriller fans.  International settings, spies, life in danger… they can attract a lot of people everywhere.  But it’s not only what you write, not even how you write it.  It’s how people like it what it counts, so you are always on the tight rope!”

Discussing his relationship with his US editor, Atria’s Johanna Castillo, he said, “She is the most amazing and intense editor in the world.  She is my favorite of all the editors I’ve worked with….  We understand each other perfectly.”

When it comes to reading the competition, Gómez-Jurado offers high praise, naming Steve Berry, Brad Thor and Javier Sierra as authors he’s found to be good role models.  “I knew them first as authors and then as persons.  Believe me when I tell you: no matter how freaking good they are as authors, they are even better human beings.  They have been a constant inspiration and support.  If you want to write a novel that gets the reader gasping for air, read Thor’s.  If you want to write a thriller so rich in characters and situations who carries the reader to another world, read Berry’s.  If you want to raise thousands of questions in the reader’s head, read Javier Sierra.”

And if you want to read a novel sure to have you on the edge of your seat, read THE TRAITOR’S EMBLEM this summer!

For more information, please visit Juan Gomez-Jurado’s website.

Andrew Zack
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