Finnish literature is taking a big step forward in the international publishing scene. There are several new authors, who’ve signed plenty of foreign rights deals, even movie options have been sold to Hollywood. This is quite an achievement from such a small language and such a different publishing market from many other countries.
FILI helps foreign publishers
Behind every successful author, there’s a determined agent and publisher. But that’s not all. Besides excellent literature, the new Finnish success has benefited from the back up of the Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI), an export organization awarding grants to more than 300 different projects every year totalling in 600 000 euros. Typically these grants go to translation and publishing costs of foreign prints of Finnish books. If you’re considering to translate and publish a Finnish book, check with FILI – they might give you a grant!
Our Dear Neighbours Again!
Despite the recent surge of Finnish literature out to the world, we’re still far behind our neighbours in the west. As the Finnish literature exports was valued to appr. 2,3 million euros in 2015, the Swedish exports were in the region of 15 million euros already in the 2010. The Swedes have been rolling on the crime wave, but the Finns have found the YA fiction boom. Such authors as Salla Simukka (Snow White Trilogy) are paving the way for a new kind of northern literature.
The authors need help in telling the world about their books. Finland has long been a lonely wolf in the world filled with literary agents – there hasn’t been any. In the domestic markets Finnish authors can still send in their unsolicited manuscripts to all publishers. Traditionally foreign rights sales have been taken care of by the publishing houses, but now there are a few independent literary agents working in the field. This market is still very small as is evident from the value of the exports.
New Agents Wanted
However, potential is there. FILI arranged yesterday a seminar to plant the seeds of a new literary agent career into the minds of interested participants. While the Swedes are talking about hundreds of titles being exported every year, the Finns still move in dozens. More agents are needed to bring the market on the level it deserves.
Besides the fiction, non-fiction could prove an interesting field in this perspective. Non-fiction books are seldom translated from Finnish into other languages (while the opposite is very common). Publishers outside Finland are happy to take in good ideas for non-fiction titles, but produce them later on by themselves. This can be prevented by offering content that cannot be reproduced by anyone other than the original author.