In honor of the holidays, I thought I’d share with you my Christmas wish list:

  • A universal territory schedule: If you have a book deal in English, you might’ve seen a long list of countries in the back of your contract, often labeled Schedule A.  That’s the territory schedule, my nemesis.  You see, the world gets carved up into blocks by the publishers buying rights, so there are a variety of territories you can sell, most often World (which includes translation rights as well), World English, US/Canada, or UK & Commonwealth.  Anything excluded from that is either reserved to the author, licensed exclusively to a second publisher, or part of the Open Market, which is primarily the world’s non-English-speaking countries, where US and UK publishers are typically free to distribute competing editions.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Except that apparently we can’t just agree that when we said UK & Commonwealth, we meant, you know, UK & Commonwealth.  There are the most common exceptions, like Commonwealth Canada going on over to the US side and non-Commonwealth Ireland getting grouped in on the UK side, for proximity reasons.  And then there are the many inane fights I have every year about whether Malaysia is Open Market or Commonwealth.  Hey, guess what debate is easily settled by the Commonwealth of Nations website?  (Fortunately we’re not believers in granting exclusive Europe to UK publishers, because otherwise I’d have to add “Israel is not in Europe” to my list of regular grievances.  This isn’t Eurovision or UEFA, my friends.)  And yet, we must argue these things all the time.  If you want to fight with me about whether or not you should get to sell books in Tristan da Cunha, I need you to fly me there and show me your distribution chain.  I will then contemplate your argument for several days on the beach and get back to you when I’ve decided.  Alternatively, I’d accept a Universal Schedule A that all of us in publishing agree to now, so we can stop having this conversation ad nauseam.  Then anyone who wants to pretend South Africa’s not a Commonwealth country or Iran is will have to say so, up front, when making their offer.

  •  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Popular science and interdisciplinary nonfiction.
  •  Mandatory naptime.  Look, I work in foreign rights, and it’s really important for me to be in tune with cultural differences.  So I’m going to start taking siestas.  I really think it’s going to do amazing things for our list in Spain.
  •  A robot that can be programmed to clear up my office clutter to my exact specifications each night when I leave, because I am very very particular, very very busy, and very very sick of tripping over the books that I knock on the ground each day.
  •  A wall-sized magnetic world map and teensy tiny book cover magnets so that when I sell a book, I can put it in the appropriate country, because how cool would that be?
  •  Peace on Earth, good will towards men.
  •  My two front teeth*
  •  You**


*Worst Christmas song ever?

**Best Christmas song ever.