Conceding publishing rights? They ought to be biting off your hand…

Hoping I'll be able to present the second novel I'd like to put on the Library of Translation shelf.

Hoping I’ll be able to present the second novel I’d like to put on the Library of Translation shelf.

Things went smoothly during my quest for the rights to publish an English-language translation of Haroldo Conti’s Sudeste a few years ago: the family (heirs to their father’s work) were excited to think Harold’s expressed wish to be read in English would, after a long half-century, come to be realised; they only asked via their efficient and interested legal adviser for a modest increase in the fee I should pay to obtain the rights, and they were more than kind to me on my visit to Argentina during the preparation of the book.

I’m working hard on the second volume for the Library shelf, now, and after five months’ trying, I’ve yet to sign an agreement for the publication of another classic novel that deserves a readership in English after a similar half-century waiting. I’ve yet to receive any response from someone who might legitimately authorise a ceding of rights, in fact. Perhaps this is only the natural swing of the pendulum after the ease of the Conti agreement.

What’s happening?

I was initially misled by the Spanish publisher of this novel into believing I only had to send in my project plan to formalise an agreement, as they had a rights agreement “in perpetuity”, signed with the author in the days when this was legally permitted. A long silence followed the submission of my project, before a bit of bothering of the company secretary produced a reply from the Foreign Rights Manager, to the effect that no one could lay a hand on the alleged contract; hence no agreement with me was possible. However, along with an apology, he supplied me with the address of the Foundation dedicated to the author’s work, to whom I sent a couple of emails and a note directly on their website. More months past, and I asked my son – making a new life for himself in Colombia – to do a bit of hunting of addresses for me. His diligent work must have had some effect (if not directly), for I suddenly received a reply from the Foundation, along with the email address of a member of the author’s family responsible for communication around their father’s (I presume) work. I wrote at once, and waited… for another six, silent weeks.

I’ve just reapplied to the Foundation in search of progress. Meanwhile, I’ve got half the new translation into draft, now, after five months’ work, and in another three I’ll be arriving in Colombia – a not very helpful clue, admittedly – to do the additional work required in the preparation of a similarly complete introduction to another novelist new to the English-language reader. One might ask: why am I working on the translation already if I have as yet no concession of rights?

The final days' work on Conti. What will it take to reach this stage with the new novel?

The final days’ work on Conti. What will it now take to reach this stage with the new novel?

The daily work is a pleasure; and this is why I do it. And the idea of making a delightful job of translation, of living more deeply with the source text, into an adventure in life is enough reason to spend a couple of months in a South American country I’ve yet to see; add the wish to prepare the best possible biographical note on the author, and to make sure I’ve understood the matices of Castillian Spanish as it’s used in the zone where the novel is set, and a visit is no more than necessary to the work.

But what if I fail in the end to obtain the permission to publish?

There are few certainties in life, and if only the certainty of success were a motivation to set to work, I wonder if I’d do more than roll downhill to the local market for my fruit and veg each Monday morning. Meanwhile, on with the pleasure of the text, and with my fingers crossed.

Jon Lindsay Miles

Awaiting the And Other Stories edition of Haroldo Conti’s “Sudeste”

It’s just a few short months before the first in our Library of Translation receives its opportunity to be widely read with the August publication of Southeaster by the innovative And Other Stories publishing house. This is the kind of opportunity we work to give the novels we translate and publish, so Stefan Tobler and his team’s interest in South-East – as our first English-language edition was titled – was welcome indeed.

As you can see on the AOS page for Southeaster, there is some review comment available as pre-publication publicity. Stefan was kind enough to send me a photograph of Tim Winton‘s feedback:

Tim Winton postcard quote re Conti

We are working hard on our second title, which we hope to publish in 2016; there are still some details to work out, so for now no more details are available. But we can give a not very helpful clue by letting you know that Jon is spending his summer in Colombia this year. There’ll be more details if and when things are finalised.

An interview with the author (and translator, founder of Immigrant Press) [in Spanish]

Jon on Diéz TV, 17 10 14

Jon on Diéz TV, 17 10 14

For those who understand the Spanish language, Diéz Television, the local station in Úbeda, where the Press does its work, interviewed Jon about his literary project a few days ago, as well as the story of his departure from Britain and decision to settle in this rural area of north-eastern Andalusia.

The video appears, along with last year’s short film on Haroldo Conti and the novel Sudeste [South-East in Jon’s translation], on the Immigrant Press YouTube channel, here.

Jon has a dedicated website here.

Immigrant Press and Haroldo Conti appear on the Latino Life Hot List 2014

Haroldo Conti makes it into the top five!

Haroldo Conti makes it into the top five!

We’re very happy to see that Haroldo Conti‘s classic novel of the Paraná Delta – South East, which we published in late 2013 as the first volume on our Library of Translation shelf – has been included in London’s Latino Life magazine’s Spring Guide 2014 as one of the top five items on its cultural Hot List (see page 5)

Use the link for more details, and to see what else caught the magazine’s eye.


GoodReads - jlmWith the publication of South-East, the first translation into English of the work of Argentine novelist and short-story writer Haroldo Conti, Immigrant Press, Jon’s vehicle for his independent not-for-profit publishing projects, is now on the increasingly influential GoodReads site.

You can find us here, on Jon’s GoodReads author page.

Haroldo Conti’s “South-East” on sale at Muswell Hill Bookshop, London

The translator with before-and-after-copies of Conti's classic (and also members of his Colombian family).

The translator (accompanied by members of his extended family) with before-and-after-copies of Conti’s classic 

Following a successful presentation in London, at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence, copies of this first translation of Haroldo Conti’s classic novel of the Delta of the Paraná River, South-East, are available for purchase at the independent Muswell Hill Bookshop in North London.

You can find details of this fine bookshop here.

The fine, limited-edition paperback costs £12. For more details of what’s inside its covers, have a look at the dedicated tab on this site.

The book can also be purchased direct from Immigrant Press; send an email to <>. Payment can be made into a bank account in either the UK or Spain.